I attended my first TeachMeet event at Scalby School recently and it was fantastic. Don’t get me wrong I love teaching and learning anyway but after a long day at work and three more hours of ‘school’ it has to be pretty good to engage me. And it did! The buzz of sharing ideas through quick, snappy sessions was structured and organised (my favourite sort of learning) but more than that I picked up a hoard of teaching ideas that are just golden! Ideas that are so simple you immediately know which class and topic you are going to try them with. So here is my summary of the key ideas from the evening:
Differentiated classroom activities written as a menu with starters, mains and desserts comprising of differentiated tasks and extension sides. This technique enables students to develop independent learning through challenging themselves.Revision Clock
Using the face of a clock, split the sheet into timed segments to focus revision on short, snappy pointers. This technique maintains focus and pace when revising. I’ve already tried this!
Achievement Display: Inspiration Board
Straight forward really – reward the little things (best piece of work, most improved) rather than just top performances.
Similar to the Learning Menu above however designed for homework. Starters focus on key words, Mains are extended pieces of work and Desserts are a bit of fun. Students can pick from the menu what they would like to complete, promoting independent learning as well as motivating students to complete homework. (I’ve tried differentiated homework before which worked very well but have never given the students the options – next on my list to try.)
If you have some spare money in your department then this might be worth the investment. Paint your walls with this special paint that dries like a whiteboard. Students can then use whiteboard pens to write on the walls. Clever and creative way of visualising group work and key ideas but not cheap!
Oldie but goodie – using a countdown clock to signal how long students have on activities and how much time they have left. Avoids students becoming distracted and remaining focused on the task at hand.
Create online discussions using Google word docs. This collaborative and interactive technique allows students to engage with a stimulus through typing responses, which can then be seen by all the class taking part. These responses can be annotated and highlighted and enables simultaneous responses in real time.
A clever tool that can be downloaded which allows you to add questions/ pointers to video clips to help extend students thinking, prompt engagement, whilst supplementing theory into a context. Students can then use iPads or phones to answer questions (open, closed or multiple choice options) with analysis of answers/ stats available.
Power of Four
Creating a seating plan where students sit in fours, based on data analysis of high, high middle, low middle and low learners. Recommended that genders are split equally and this is rotated every half term. The perks of this is that students collaboratively work together, creating an effective group-work environment. Unfortunately sometimes it is fairly impossible to split genders equally (most of my classes for example are females) and often do not have equal share of the four different ability ranges. Plus that awkward moment when a student realises how the tables are differentiated.
Moodle is a free database that can be used by teachers to organise and monitor all their resources in one place. Teachers can upload work, videos, homework activities, links etc. all in one place that can be accessed by students. This consolidation of work creates a personalised learning environment that promotes students independent learning by enabling them to access work and resources anywhere.
Final thoughts from the evening:
Focus on your own wellbeing and stress, don’t wait until all “the lights on the dashboard come on at once”. Focus on the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. Negatives will always be there in education but searching, finding and holding onto the positives and looking at something from a different angle enhances staff wellbeing. (Keynote speaker James Hilton.)
And the new poster inspiration for my wall: Are you a Hog or a Log? (Do you hog a discussion or sit there like a log? – Are you a discussion ‘Log or Hog’?)
Thanks to all the speakers and the staff who arranged the event.