It is that time of year when you start to look back and reflect upon what has worked well (and what hasn’t gone quite to plan). We all start the year with lots of new ideas, plans and reignited enthusiasm for teaching…unfortunately I am lucky if I see new ideas through until Christmas! With this in mind, I have learnt over the years that having a select few gems to focus my attention on throughout the year, often means I see them through more successfully. This year’s new focus was the HW booklets (see Homework – who is it really ‘work’ for?.) I am so pleased to report that they have been a huge success:
- Only two students, out of about 70 students that I taught this year, lost them.
- Students got into a routine quickly of completing the different sections, mostly on time.
- The standard of work in a lot of cases was outstanding because students could maintain consistency of work throughout.
- Students now have a record of extended activities, wider reading and exam practice all in one place.
- It was easy for me to remember where we were up to with HW, I didn’t have to worry about setting it and constantly reminding them.
- The designed activities were relevant and purposeful for development of understanding – rather than a last minute thought of ‘just finish off …’.
- Above all else…they were so EASY to mark! The students were doing more work than me (which is very unusual when it comes to marking and work load), I could write feedback relevant to the task and all of the feedback is in one place.
I have to admit that I wasn’t as regimented as I had hoped and struggled to keep to the every Friday was HW set and collect but the booklets did mean that if I had five minutes here or there during lessons, I could grab a couple of booklets and mark them.Students comments on the HW booklets included:
- “Loved the homework booklet, having a set structure really helped with remembering homework and creating a system (x3).”
- “Helpful – helped me keep on top of deadlines, various activities were engaging.”
- “It was easier to have homework all in one place (x4) and I could look back at essays, introductions, info that I needed to help me.”
- “Found it much more convenient (x2) – I knew what it was and when to do it.”
- “The variety of tasks and questions was helpful to develop skills and ideas across the course.”
- “I liked being able to see all feedback together and helping to reflect on the previous work.”
Also new this year:
- Using social media (FB and Twitter) for silent discussions: Silent Discussions on Social Media!
- Students setting up their own discussion group called the Philosocast: The PhilosoCast: Philosophy Student’s Podcast
- Different speakers and workshops including a Humanist speaker: “You can’t be religious and a humanist”: Humanism Explored and Singing Bowl workshop: Himalayan Singing Bowl Workshop
- My first trip to Rome with students: When in Rome…
- And of course the debut of Mark with Me (which I am desperately trying to find the time to do more of)
I have actually done quite a lot of new things this year 🙂
Looking towards September, there are three things I am going to trial…Topic Consolidation packs, a half termly quiz and folders. The rationale behind these has come from the current buzz around short and long term memory and how well students are remembering and recalling material.
Topic Consolidation Pack:
These are currently under construction but the main idea centres around the Key Knowledge Exams that I have already being doing for a number of years (see “How do I improve my grade?”: Assess the Obvious). My plan is that once a week (the same day every week to establish a routine) is a consolidation lesson. This lesson will be one week after the topic has been taught, giving time for students to ‘forget and re-learn’ the material (a recent talk from leading psychologist Bradley Busch emphasizes this idea.) During this lesson students will have 15 minutes to revise by whichever means they use (i.e revision cards, notes, power points), 5 minutes on Blank Sheet Summary where they write down everything they can remember, 5 minutes sharing what they remember with the person next to them and adding missing information, KKT to test knowledge and understanding, then essay practice with whole class feedback and support. This means that students are revising, recalling, testing and then applying this knowledge into a routine for learning.
If you would like your own copy of the Consolidation Packs for the first and second years, just click on the image below to add it to your shopping cart.
Half termly quiz:
In order to develop my students short to long term memory, I am going to set a quiz at the end of every half term…the difference with this quiz from other quizzes…it is going to be the same one each time! Why? Because this way the key concepts and terms will be imbedded more deeply into students memories by the process of repetition. Each quiz will have the previous questions and new questions added for that half term e.g. What is the meaning of A Posteriori – questions that apply to a range of topics not just topic specific.
Some of you might have seen my recent FB page post about students’ folders- the before and after…
I started thinking about routine and consistency when it comes to how students organise their work. Now that A Levels are linear it is of the upmost importance that students have a wealth of resources to support them in their revision and that these can be accessed easily (and not through emptying a rucksack of paper onto the floor). So drawing inspiration from an outstanding college I recently visited (who already have folders for every student in every subject) I have put together this folder which has tracking materials at the front, dividers for each topic and assessment and revision sections as well.
I will keep you up to date in September with the progress of each of these areas 🙂 If you are going to try anything new or would like to share anything that has worked for you this year, please feel free to leave a comment below 🙂