During the course of this year, aside from the 25 hours a week of lessons, our students have turned up after school and weekends amounting to 1100 revision sessions since April. This is obviously more than just turning up. They are the acts of buying in, of making a start and accessing opportunities. The hard part is the getting up, the travelling and the arriving. Once through the doors the opportunities can open up, 1100 sessions of them.
Time travels so fast; going back to previous posts I found a clip of our current Year 11 as Year 8s. They were preparing for a fashion show as part of a recycling project in their Building Learning Power lessons. Sam Cole organised the show with some local help, and the clip has some ‘faces’ from the current cohort. This is their 2nd act on Shakespeare’s world stage. Contrary to the perceived wisdom they are not ‘whining with their satchels’ or ‘creeping like snails’, but are showing enthusiasm, energy and activeness with their ‘shining morning faces’. They’ve grown up fast and make us very proud.
This week the Humanities department looked at how we use the library and its resources in our lessons. Using the library is something we incorporate into our teaching and have special “library lessons” based around research tasks using the libraries resources.
There are a number of benefits to this. Firstly, it helps build our students to become more independent learners. The lessons’ main focus is on research tasks, meaning students have to find information for themselves, and are developing their own independence and study skills. In our media-age this is vital that young people access for themselves a multiple set of resources to compare and contrast.
We focused on this in our session by giving staff a list of topics and then asking them to find books on those topics using the library guide. This is an example of the independent research skills we are trying to build in our students. This allows students to take responsibility for their own learning and engage them by allowing them to discover information for themselves.
The second aim of using library resources is to link student’s research directly to GCSE exam style questions. We did this by giving staff a GCSE style question based on the Battle of the Somme and asked them to research the topic using selected books and articles.
This half-term, Year 7 & 8 students have been spending time in the library during their History lessons to develop their research skills. Year 7 have spent time researching the Witch trials whilst Year 8 have been studying the Battle of the Somme, as well as discussing the actual causes of the Great War.
We use a research strip grid when teaching this, which allow students to format their research. This is important as it gives students an opportunity to practise skills needed for writing a bibliography such as author, publisher, and year published of any of the books/articles or websites that they use.
The students have enjoyed their time in the library and have picked up some valuable skills such as how to use a glossary, finding information for a bibliography and researching using trusted internet sources, but not Wikipedia.
On Wednesday, the staff participated in some acting hosted by the Creative Arts faculty. As a department, we really wanted to showcase some of the areas within the faculty and Drama we thought would allow everyone to enjoy themselves and display not only the skills we all use in our subjects but the thespians in all of us!
One of the threads that runs through the whole faculty and many other areas within the school is:
Staff shared some of these skills using a range of physical theatre tasks- this was a fantastic opportunity for staff to appreciate the importance of explanation/ clarity and the learning direction of the lesson. Sometimes it is really easy for us to get an idea of where we want our learners to be by the end of the lesson, however, it is not always as clear for the pupils. Enabling staff to practise the 5 core values above really helped embed and made us much more reflective as teachers.
Now for the fun part- Staff had to form groups and create a crane, a dinner service and a functioning Tower Bridge which was purely for our entertainment I think! (Much harder than it looks- credit to the pupils!)
Thank you to everyone for getting involved and enjoy the pictures! 🙂
Teaching and Learning information and ideas at Westfield Academy