Beating Wings II

‘If sufficient butterflies were to beat their wings in the Amazonian forest they could trigger a hurricane thousands of miles away…’

Previous Butterflies have been a successful way of meeting informally, having breakfast and discussing classroom best practice in a relaxing and convivial atmosphere. Underlying this is the key driver – sharing what we are all good at, what we are all here for … and providing the very best teaching and learning environments and strategies for those we ultimately work for, the students.

So these sessions are here as a fortnightly supportive ‘every little helps’ pathway where little indispensable nuggets of information are shared and readily available for immediate and effective use.

The power of thank you- Chris



Raise expectations instantly by not saying please…you expect that the task is done, so end your sentence with a thank you. …students will soon become accustomed to this ‘no way out’ and high expectation approach.

Constant recap- Teresa

It is crucial to read through examiners reports as a way of steering us by learning from past ‘mistakes’ to aim for the highest grades possible.

-One point raised was students lack of using key terminology when answering even simple questions, therefore losing out on crucial marks.

A simple strategy is to use 1, max 2 slides per lesson, with 20 secs of recap of that essential, long past material that will gain those few extra marks in an exam. Use at any point in the lesson, beginning middle and end would be ideal. Subliminal or what?!

Bringing alive the power point slide – Emma 

Use power point annotations and simple colour coding to explore pupil success and error – this makes a wonderful tool for AFL in the classroom. Using pupil’s work as a worked example on the board really allows the pupils to engage with common misconceptions and identify areas of improvement.

So there we are, 3 simple strategies designed to support and drive progress and learning for all.

We meet again in a fortnight – 12/3/19. As always, all staff are welcome – to listen and take-away or to bring their own nuggets and share-away!



Butterflies for Believe Strive Achieve

Way back in September 2014 we started a CPD programme based on strategies that could make that 1% marginal difference in the classroom, the premise being:

‘If sufficient butterflies were to beat their wings in the Amazonian forest they could trigger a hurricane thousands of miles away…’

Well guess what, the Butterflies are back, starting Tuesday 26th February.

Our fortnightly sessions will take this marginal gains approach, with strategies that enable all our students and staff to  Believe, Strive, Achieve.

Tuesday will take as a focus setting the absolute right tone for learning in the classroom:

-What will enable us to do our primary job of supporting learning in the classroom.

Teresa and Chris will present takeaway strategies that can make a 1% (or more) difference in the classroom.

Blasts from the past – can you name all these Butterflyers?

Not Pointless Questioning

Our Year 7s battled it out in their final Spelling Bee this Friday, with a gladiatorial contest finally won after many rounds.

Harry Lock’s questioning was properly old-school. Direct, uncompromising, and all-or-nothing.

Our CPD session this week aimed to diversify on the questioning – focused, varied and seeking depth.

How do we ask more questions to more students in more depth? How do we feedback to ensure learning comes out of these activities?

There were two key aims to Jacqui’s session:

-Firstly to get us thinking about how to get the students thinking!

-Secondly to consider how we can run assessment that makes the students work harder than we do.

We started with Bloom’s Taxonomy (where else?) but considered it through the medium of Goldilocks and the 3 bears …. Which question goes with which Bloom’s level?


Then we discussed DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time, QLA (Question Level Analysis) and our Academy’s Blue Sticker approach.  Numbered Targets Slides mean that students get quality, personalised, feedback but the teacher doesn’t have to write full sentences into 30 books at a time.  Thanks to Chloe for sharing.


An example of a Numbered Target DIRT Slide.


Building on Assessment for Learning we spoke about the joys of mini whiteboards and the different types of questions you can use with them…

  • Starter Questions – to assess prior knowledge
  • Hinge questions – deciding who’s just got it, who needs a challenge and who needs to practice more
  • Consolidation questions – so you can see what you need to cover next lesson


This year we expect Year 11 lessons to have a distinct ‘consolidation’ section at the end of the lesson.  Rather than having one question that every student attempts, having a range of Blooms differentiated questions better promotes student progress.

blooms cube


No session on questioning would be complete without a moment on Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce!  The pause is the most difficult (especially if you have over keen students who want to call out.    Try out the attached below to train students in this technique.


IAR: The Learning Cycle

Within this CPD, the goal was to allow people to share good practice and ideas and address the key areas needed to achieve teaching standard 4, plan and teach well-structured lessons. More specifically how can we:

  • impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time,
  • promote a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity
  • reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching.


In order to keep consistency and reliability within the Academy, the school utilises a system called the ‘Westfield Way’. A key part to the Westfield Way is the structure in which we plan lessons; INPUT, ACTIVITY, REVIEW (IAR).


Within the session the group was asked to complete their lesson that they completed previously in that day. This was to make them think as to whether in an average day to day lesson are they using IAR. We discovered that a lot of people completed each cycle as a lesson; but I actually said that people need to consider this more of a spring that has coils and each coil is a learning cycle. This infers that every lesson can have multiple cycles dependant on the group and the subject and similarly you can start at any point on the cycle as long as it includes all the parts.


Then as a group we discussed about input, more specifically how do we transfer knowledge as practitioners? We said that in lessons people like to use a variance of sources and methods to transfer information from teacher such as videos, PowerPoints and newspaper articles. We then discussed what was the average attention span of a teenager. The argument for this was because within a lesson it is said that a student can only pay attention for roughly 20 minutes. This means that if your lesson is content heavy they are less likely to be paying attention and retain information.

If the input section is used to help transfer knowledge the Activities section helps develop the understanding and higher order thinking skills needed in their subject. This was discussed by asking teachers what activities do they use to develop the skills needed in that subject, we can create a means of sharing great ideas, a big idea I discussed was the use of Everlearn road maps to answer questions as it uses a metaphor to make students write the perfect answer. This divulged in to talking about how do we build a love of learning, we concluded that building a love of learning initially stems from passionate teachers, but similarly a teacher that can link learning and the student’s hobbies.


Finally, in the Review section we talked about how we review the learning process that allows pupils to evidence their understanding. We discussed the use questioning to extend and challenge thinking (PPPB & higher vs lower order questions) as well as a proposing the question should we use a range of AFL strategies? We discussed that, although it is good practice to have and use a wide range of strategies it is difficult to use a wide range of AFL strategies in your regular everyday teaching but it is good to find 3 or 4 strategies that can used quickly and easily.

In the next part we listened to a podcast called the way of champions, Alan Keane (GB under 18 basketball coach) spoke about how he gets players to embed learning and how he gets players to continue for 15 minutes if they have not completed the outcome achieved. We spoke through how this would apply in an educational setting with the scenario:

‘You are teaching a termly scheme of work and your class has half grasped the concept and knowledge as a result of your review and consolidation activities, the exam is in 3 weeks, do you stick to the scheme of work set?’

The points raised was that teaching is more difficult as you have to balance progression and the embedding of learning in collaboration with developing knowledge of the curriculum.


Finally, we discussed the final another aspect of teaching standing four, the ability to reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching. We looked at Gibb’s model of reflection and we decided to speak specifically about what goes in to the Action Plan section of this reflective cycle. Gibb’s highlights that in the action plan section you should answer if it happened again what should you do? Although, further to this I added my opinion, about action plan as I believe it is good to look back at the past and see what you would do differently, it is more important as a practitioner to think what can I do to make the situation better next lesson?

Activity Stage, 12.30pm on Tuesday, 5/2/19

Presented and written by Ryan Murphy.