The whirlpools get wider and wider

Our 3rd session showcased some lovely aides to learning and retention.

Teresa introduced a simple way of revisiting and testing student memories:


‘The stamen is a male reproductive organ of a flower. It produces the pollen. The stamen has two parts: anther and stalk. The stalk is also called a filament.



Mark brought his trusty IPad to demo strategies that will enhance learning…

1.Some teachers in the school have an Ipad. There is a lot of software packages available that make the Ipad a powerful learning tool and for little money. (in terms of apps). They will allow you to produce work on the fly, set up quizzes. Create rubrics for marking, You can use Idoceo (School management) You can even do the register and seamlessly connect to SIMS and Go4Schools.

2.By using the Ipad you can work the room and allow students to have an input and diffuse any disruption in the class room.

3.You can get timers and quizzes such a Kahoot and Socrative.

4.You can also record pictorial and video evidence for exams and have it saved against a students progression record.

5.It is small enough to take to parents meetings and parents evenings and deliver a comprehensive report.


Next up was Jen with some fantastic supports for student reading, understanding and retention.

‘I’ve been looking at reading and understanding properly what is read. Students cut out an article and stick it into the middle of a page. They then work through the article at their pace – highlighting key words, adding titles for each paragraph on the left and a very short summary on the right. The teacher then reads this discussing titles and summaries with the class. By doing this the students really understand difficult chunks of text.

This can then be used to check understanding but asking a big question and getting the students to answer in one minute using images on a mini whiteboard’


notesnotes 2notes 3notes 4

It’s been a great term of teaching and learning, thank you to all Butterflyers.

Sam Cole has re-branded us as well. Love the whirlpool look!

Wow Butterflies II is well and truly branded.

Next session is Tuesday 30th April. make sure you’re there…


Reaching all children in the classroom

Lena presented this week on what a difference differentiation can make with our students.


“Summer’s over kids! Now,all you round pegs get back into your square holes!”

As teachers we often make the mistake and think that teaching is a one size fits all. At Westfield Academy we have a range of students from those who are gifted and talented to those who are extremely academically weak. We have students who lack confidence but don’t lack ability, students who need support with organisation and students who need to be supported to complete basic tasks or pieces of work. Above all, all are students who need to be stretched and challenged every lesson. As teachers how do we cater for all and what key strategies can we implement to compliment our teaching and support our students?

Differentiation can take many forms including:

  • By outcome
  • By task
  • By questioning
  • By support
  • By input

When planning lessons we need to know what should students know, understand, and be able to do as a a result of this learning assignment?

This Learning Direction is fundamental…

Following this, comes further consideration…

How am I going to know who’s learning what I intend, and who already knows it?

What am I going to do now that I know who’s where relative to my learning goals?

What do I need to do to ensure that my classroom actively supports the success of each student?

To answer the questions above it is imperative that each teacher knows their students as well as they possibly can. Teachers need to access provision plans where available and along with this liaise with their LSA where necessary. LSA’s are a vital resource that play a big part in the success of our weaker students.

Strategies to consider…

By outcome:

  • What are your objectives for the lesson? Know where you are heading with a lessons and make sure your students know too. This gives focus to students who may be unorganised or unsure of what comes next.
  • ‘All’ ‘Most’ ‘Some’ ? Always keep an open mind when planning lessons and be mindful that a range of tasks is important along with the fact that not all students will be able to access all of the work set. Plan with Gifted and Talented, SEN and average ability students in mind.

By task:

  • Language – modify language for G+T/SEN. Questioning from teacher can be styled towards particular learners, open and closed questions (obvious to observers).
  • Limit reading/writing for SEN pupils, often where difficulties lie.
  • Provide prompts/key vocabulary.
  • Activities – expectations higher for upper levels – Quality not quantity!
  • Extension work – challenge more able (open ended tasks)


By questioning:



  • Are we aware of Blooms Taxonomy and where our students sit? Are we providing the skills and language break down to allow our students to access the skills they need to move up the hierarchy? Blooms can also be used to gauge the types of questions we use with our students and slowly build a students confidence and in turn access their higher order thinking skills.



By support:

  • Your LSA….. Tell them what you want them to do. Communication is key to success. LSA’s rarely need to be stuck beside ONE pupil only.
  • Use their expertise of the child to support your expertise of teaching and subject knowledge
  • Discuss with them about the pupils’ progress/needs/difficulties

By input:

  • Do all pupils need the same input?
  • Consider differentiating the teaching of the task as well as following tasks…
  • For example, if you’re aware that part of the group don’t need to ‘overlearn’ – why not set them off on a task while focussing on those that will require extra input?


 Differentiation is

  • Varied tasks for students at different levels of readiness or achievement
  • Authentic choices for students to demonstrate what they have learned
  • Adjustment of pacing, resources, and instructional strategies to meet the needs of ALL students
  • Using pre- and post- assessments to create a good fit of instruction to the students

Differentiation is not

  • Just more of the same work for advanced students
  • Random groups all doing the same work
  • Advanced students tutoring struggling students
  • Mostly whole class instruction with the same assignments for everyone
  • Only for weaker classes
  • Grading differently based on perceptions of students’ capabilities
  • Blue paper vs. green paper

Overall with keeping differentiation in mind we allow the following:

  • Increased academic progress
  • Increased confidence in learning
  • Enhanced intrinsic motivation for learning
  • Increased independent learning


cup of tea

Lena’s test yourself test:

1. The teacher’s responsibility in providing appropriately differentiated instruction includes what five tasks?

2. What will you consider trying in your classroom?

3. Have your ideas about differentiation changed? Explain why or why not.

Overall, how would you rate your current skills and expertise in differentiation? What information or assistance do you still need?

Give these a go:


  • Simple: quick and easy to do
  • Little more effort: about a minute or two of your time
  • More effort: Preparing longer term resources – but can be used over and over again



  • Give out homework at the beginning of the lesson
  • Use “comic sans” or Century Gothic font
  • Change background to light blue

Little more effort

  • Make laptops available for those who benefit from/need  word processing
  • Allow them to show what they know in a variety of ways, e.g. mindmap, bullet points
  • Copying from board:  write each line in a different colour – easier to find their place

More effort

  • Scribe for them
  • Create ‘fill the gaps’ sheets
  • Have writing frames/templates available in classroom
  • Drawing grids/tables/graphs etc. can be REALLY difficult to complete for those with poor motor skills. Unless that is the focus of the task/assessment, provide the grid
  • Top ten topic vocabulary or *subject specific words. Must allow over-learning – won’t be recalled otherwise
  • Encourage pupils to identify words they don’t know – reward ‘I don’t know what that means’ so pupils know it is ok to be unsure.
  • Prepare a reduced version of text, find simpler synonyms for more sophisticated vocabulary.
  • Find a simpler text – for LA learners it might be worth looking at texts aimed at KS2 or even KS1 for specific pupils.
  • Provide a glossary –pupils may be unable to use a dictionary.
  • Homework: 
  • Staple homework instructions into their planners or email to them.
  • Limit time spent/amount required otherwise if they are struggling they might be there for hours!
  • Research: written questions which must be answered on paper rather than “Find information about the Tudors”
  • Limit number of facts to find (find 5)
  • Break big questions into smaller steps – bullet point mini questions. – When did the Tudors come to the throne? What were their names? Etc.
  • Provide key words and teach “Find” on computers – give specific websites.
  • Teach pupils how to skim and scan (Skim = general info – Scan = searching for key words/information.
we can
Because that’s what we would want for our own.

Assessing Students: TS6

As part of our CPD for trainee colleagues, Clara presented on TS6,

Make accurate and productive use of assessment.

This vital area of teaching was broken down into the following areas that matched with the teacher standards:

  • To know and understand how to assess the relevant subject and curriculum areas, including statutory assessment requirements.

Each subject bar PSHE is teaching pupils content to lead to a qualification in most instances. Knowing your Exam Board’s Specifications is the key to success. Most exam boards have afternoon or training online training available. Also invaluable are local exam hubs or Teaching and Learning meets which are subject specific as these provide staff with lots of ideas outside of the school and its great way to share with other staff exam successes or struggles and strategies.

  • To make use of formative and summative assessment to secure pupils’ progress.

Looking at formative and summative assessment areas for teachers to assess where pupils are at in different stages of their learning. Formative assessment can be used throughout the lesson to check on students understanding of learning. Formative assessment can be used as a gauge to see where they need to improve, as well as providing pupils with useful feedback on where they need to improve.  How can this be achieved? If the Teacher sets out clear objectives, then this helps set goals. There are a variety of ways of getting the formative assessment through questioning in the classroom, RAG or dot marking and redrafting of work.  Other ideas could include drawing a map to see where students identify their strengths and weaknesses or simply writing an exit ticket based on their understanding of a topic.


Summative assessment is used to gage progress after a series of lessons and at set benchmarks of learning. It provides pupils with feedback and it’s an opportunity to evaluate areas of weakness. Examples of Summative Assessment can include end of Unit tests, a final project, mock exams, or course work. The data and information from these assessments can help Teachers know how to plan and structure future learning.


  • To use relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons.


Data can be collected from Summative Assessment testing cycles to help support teachers to monitor and evaluate a half term or terms progress and see where there are gaps in the classes knowledge for learning about the pupil. The Summative Assessment information can see where the progress is going well and where topics need to be revisited. Spare a thought for the pupils who may struggle to retain information or find tests stressful and difficult. They may need to be supported with useful strategies to revise.


  • To give pupils regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking, and encourage pupils to respond to the feedback.

super man

Feedback is part of everyday life. We are asked for feedback from companies all the time after having purchased a product or been on a holiday. Feedback is just as important to our pupils and during this session we explored firstly the different forms feedback could take. Teacher to pupil and vice versa; peer to peer; self-reflection; group to group; and ultimately external examiners feedback our examinations.

Feedback in the classroom is immediate and relevant and can aid learning by helping Teachers adjust their lesson or provide further feedback. Student planners or a traffic light cards can be turned over by pupils in class to show understanding or needing help in a lesson by showing red, amber or green. Equally the use of voting by showing the number of fingers or prearranged hand signals can provide teachers with valuable insight into how the class is doing.

Feedback sheets can also provide pupils with an opportunity to show where they have understood or an opportunity for peer assessment. Feedback sheets for GCSE pieces of work can be an opportunity to share the mark scheme with pupils also.

Feedback can be made more interactive and fun by using various websites, including Kahoot!, Socrative, and Plickers. These provide staff with useful information about how well a class knows a topic and Kahoot quizzes often create a buzz in the classroom with eager students aiming for the top.

Question boxes are a good way of getting pupils to feedback through questions they might have on a topic. This can be anonymous and can be helpful in some PSHE lessons if the topic is sensitive or embarrassing for some pupils.

At the end of lessons, it is useful to get pupils to feedback to staff about what they have understood in class. The spinning wheel which can be found on TES resources is a fun and interactive way to close a lesson gain valuable insight into how the lesson has gone. The wheel spins and whichever icon it lands on the pupils need to feedback with that style. Eg The Twitter bird means pupils will create a ‘Tweet’ to close the lesson.


Memories and dotting the t’s

Marcel Proust wrote of his childhood memories of madeleines, how a simple memory can evoke so much more, contrasting voluntary memory with involuntary memory. At Westfield this week, we shared strategies on how to trigger and develop student memories for that all-important recall of facts and skills, with some nice croissants for breakfast.


More a nudge and a target than a memory…

The dot – Teresa Porter (Ben Lee)

A simple dot in the margin of a book to remind students of how much work they have completed and what you expect to see the next time you circle the room. This can be extended by writing the actual time in the margin of a student’s book, as a visual reminder for both of you.


A great, simple way to keep students on task and to raise expectations.

Little and Often – Chris Gilder


In order to help Year 11 with being able to recall information about the different topics they have studied, we have introduced a recap quiz at the start of some of our year 11 lessons. This focuses on testing them about three different topics they have studied; one from last year, one from last term and a question about what they learnt last lesson. In order to get students into the habit of writing something even if they are unsure of the answer they are not allowed to leave a question blank. Even if they don’t know the answer they have to guess. This helps us see which students have retained information from previous topics and helps the students themselves understand which topics they will need to revisit for content before their exams. We have created a bank of questions from each topic over the last few weeks so that we can extend this idea to all of our GCSE classes.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve – Josh


Josh took us through the forgetting curve and spacing effect and how we can use them to shape our starters, homework, tests and schemes of work to ensure retention of knowledge.

Proust couldn’t stop himself once he started remembering. he never had a time limit on his exams obviously.

And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine.”


Spirit of Westfield

Over the last week I have posted a daily thought for staff. This is based very much on the ‘beating wings’ model of our Butterflies CPD, alongside our drive for the embedding of the Westfield Way across the school for all our students and staff. I will continue to update this post each week.



It is great that Teresa has taken on the Butterflies again, this gives all colleagues the opportunity to come together and share in what really can make a difference with our students.

The Spirit of Westfield posts take a simple idea each day and offer a nudge to our daily practice that like the butterflies, can make a difference in the classroom and with our students:

  • Embed WW with all our student contact – start with my form group!
  • A happy, positive greeting with each and every student on your door makes a huge difference. Give it a go!
  • What do you most want your students to learn today? How could everyone in the class achieve this?
  • Find the most fantastically presented book in your lessons today, take a quick photo and showcase on your whiteboard to the class – this is what everyone is capable ofRemember to reward them
  • Be the most collegial we can all be this week, follow the Westfield Way and provide that consistency and support that all our students need, from corridor presence onwards.
  • Bring out the wallflowers in the classroom, question and assess their understanding, praise their progress and feedback areas to think further on.
  • If a difficult situation is developing with a  student, use your voice, and speak calmly and quietly if the opposite is being directed at you. Meet with calmness, and objectivity
  • Positive relationships are built with every interaction we have.
  • Show students how to make that extra bit of progress – modelled examples, 1 to 1, thinking time or breaking it down will all enable this.
  • Today, please start with the basics for student learning:
    Equipment out for all students – check on Planners, writing equipment and rulers / rubbers / sharpeners.
  • Geek Week, so this week, try something new with your computer:
  1. Socrative, Kahoot or Desmos
  2. PPT animations
  3. ActivInspire
  4. Split screens to showcase work & further information
  5. Modelled student work / formative assessment
  6. Diagnostic Questions (+ student planners)
  • For each lesson, envisage the learning direction – what will be your success criteria for all?
  • How would you like to receive students? Send them on their way to their next class as if you were receiving them – calm, orderly and in a positive frame.
  • Stick to the absolute basics – how far are they embedded in all of our daily practice?
  • Students should be sat boy/girl, and learning and progress determines the decisions we make on this. Remember, as teachers we are in charge of our classroom, and where students sit.
  • In preparing for the assessments, please show students how to answer specific styles of questions. Do the same with your feedback
  • Who was your form tutor when you were at school – what did they do that helped you during your school days?
    How can we do the same at Westfield?
  • We can smile AND follow the Westfield Way with the students.
  • Reach all students in the classroom with some simple strategies – 
    • Give out homework at the beginning of the lesson
    • Use “comic sans” or Century Gothic font
    • Change background to light blue.


  • Try a variety of approaches to reviewing student learning – traffic lights in Planner, white boards, think-pair-share – all are easy to implement and a change from targeted questioning.
  • Try a little quiet in the classroom. Set the work up and let them get on, with the right blend of support and challenge. Some, if not all students, really appreciate a silent classroom. This is the perfect antidote to what may be noisy and unsettled elsewhere.
  • To paraphrase Muhammed Ali, great learning starts in the corridors in our hard work with students, every day, all day,

    away from the lights

  • Always challenge – steadily withdraw the scaffolding for students to keep them thinking and learningsteady steady
  • Teresa delivered a great session last week on this…


  • As assessments are returned to students, think about ‘what next’ – misconceptions need to be identified and feedback is clear and direct.
  • To ensure the day goes smoothly, corridors, lining up and meet and greets right through the day. Thanks to all.
  • Finish well with the students today and tomorrow – tight on Westfield Way and continue to build and embed good relationships.

And finally, today…

  • Mind yourselves and the students this morning, and have a great holiday.

Nudge, nudge

Tom Sherrington wrote about the force field analogy, where core values and principles are aligned everyday. This is the intention of the Spirit of Westfield – a shared vision that we can all lead and get behind, with a simple nudge each morning.


Maria Popova wrote about how the word genius originally emphasised the role and impact of place on the individual as genius loci. The Spirit of Westfield focuses on what we as a collective do – what we can all align around to benefit all.