Recruitment at Westfield Academy

One term in at our new build and we are looking for new teachers to join us for 2017-18.

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We have an Open day for teachers on Wednesday 29th March from midday, so get in touch at Recruitment@westfield.herts.sch.uk if you would like to meet us and look around.

We have opportunities for colleagues of all experiences, including training for those wishing to join the profession. We believe our CPD programme, outlined in the Blog, will support colleagues to continue developing their skills, and deliver outstanding learning in the classroom.

We believe the following applies to schools as much as it does classrooms.

The best classrooms are those where nobody feels anonymous, unsupported or under-valued – and that includes the teachers and teacher assistants.

 

The Westfield Way

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Every school is a unique environment, and that concoction is often what gets under our skin, and us up in the morning. In setting out our core procedures, we wanted to establish a set of expectations for the classroom, and specifically for the new build, based on what we know about our students and how they learn best.

We make no apology for this, some are very much old school, and they are what we believe in and have found to be conducive for successful learning. Our CPD goes hand-in-hand with these expectations so we ensure that staff are supported in driving them.

So without further ado…

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The way in…

The Westfield Way

  1. Meet, Great and Learn

Teachers meet their classes, 1 foot in 1 foot out. Pupils stand behind their chairs, based on the class seating plan and take out equipment and Planners. A Hook should be visible and ready for pupils to complete.

The classroom is a safe, engaging and stimulating environment for all to learn.

  1. Learning Objectives

Objectives ensure pupils are given clear and precise guidance on what they will learn by the end of the lesson (the lesson direction). Outcomes must stage the skills they will learn (Blooms) and embed during the lesson, and must be linked to grades / levels. They should link with the I-A-R cycle and be referenced and reviewed throughout the lesson.

  1. Input Activity Review I-A-R

Teachers must plan lessons making maximum use of lesson time and coordinate resources using the IAR cycle. This allows for exposition, engagement and assessment / feedback throughout the lesson.

  1. Challenge for All

Teachers differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to learn effectively (scaffold up & down). The class context sheet must be used to illustrate an assertive understanding of all pupils in the class, so that consistent high expectations of learning and behaviour are embedded.

  1. Checking for Learning

Teachers must check the learning and progress of all pupils, through effective questioning and formative assessment strategies. This will enable teachers and pupils to be aware of the gaps in their understanding.

Teachers will use examples, models or exemplars to model quality and less than quality work.

  1. Regular Testing & Assessment

Teachers will provide summative assessments, as per the marking Policy: 1 blue Sticker and 1 regular test, per half term. Teachers will record this data on Go4Schools, and use this to provide descriptive feedback and guide students to set improvement goals.

  1. ICT

Teachers will promote and use ICT to design focused lessons, to meet students’ technological needs in the 21st century. Teachers must use their Promethean board to deliver engaging and purposeful lessons.

  1. Homework

Teachers will set Homework, as per the Homework guidelines: KS3 ½hour once a week and Ks4 1 hour once a week. Homework should extend the learning in the classroom and be engaging and purposeful, promoting a love for independent learning.

  1. Consolidation

Teachers must incorporate a plenary/consolidation phase into the end of the lesson, to ensure pupils are able to present their learning and what skills they have used and developed. This is essential for teachers to be able to reflect and address any obvious gaps in knowledge and plan for a successful sequence of learning over time.

  1. Smooth Dismissal

At the end of the lesson it is expected that pupils pack up silently, stand behind their chairs and wait to be dismissed. It is expected that teachers follow them out and ensure behaviour and conduct is appropriate in the corridors.

These expectations are the foundation for improving learning in the classroom.

Successful Extensions

When Olivia and I were first asked to look into extensions we began to ask ourselves: just what is a meaningful extension task?

Our starting point was reflecting on how we usually set extension tasks. The most common way of setting an extension was to have an extension task displayed on the board, typically a task that related to the main activity, but which required the application extended writing skills. The other way we would set extensions was to have a more difficult question displayed under the subheading, ‘Challenge Zone’. Many enthusiastic learners are keen to get stuck into the ‘Challenge Zone’ when it’s pitched right and when it’s advertised positively (e.g. a raffle ticket will be given to anyone who tries the ‘Challenge Zone’ and manages to get x amount of marks). In many ways this kind of extension task is like a variation of the teaching strategy ‘Into the Pit’ where we clearly signify to learners that the task will categorically be difficult, but we sell this as the opportunity to really learn. The picture below summarises:

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This prompted us to reflect on the quality of extension tasks we set. If More Able students finish tasks at a more rapid pace from the outset of the lesson, how frequently do we need to set extensions on our slides or lesson plans to challenge them and make sure they have something to do? Even when we include extensions on extended writing activity slides, are they always purposeful? We realised that sometimes this style of extension task can lack real purpose and involve writing more rather than learning more. We came up with the following table of advantages and disadvantages to an ‘extension task’ on slides approach to extensions:comparison-table-properAfter this , we started to think about and research alternative styles of extension tasks and happened upon another education blog (https://misstait.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/finished/) which had a range of excellent ‘ready-made’ extension tasks with handy hyperlinks to all the resources. Thank you Miss Tait! We printed off some of these colourful, useful and thoughtful extension tasks and shared them with our Butterfly group and they went down a storm!We especially loved the idea of running with an extension of DeBono’s hats (or, as we discovered on Google, Thinking Cats!) across the entire school. Have a look!

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There was definite agreement that there is scope to have students associate colours with particular skills relating to critical thinking (“today you excelled with your black hat – thinking critically and negatively – now have a go at approaching this question with a red hat, thinking about the emotions involved in this kind of decision”). The best received idea was, without a shadow of a doubt, the idea of ‘Extension Cards’ with a different colour card for each extension.  An excellent editable example of these kinds of cards can be found thanks to this lovely TES user: extension cards. Since these tasks tend to be more taxing and time-consuming (e.g. ‘Throughout time many books have been banned by governments. Write an essay exploring why Literature can be seen as dangerous’), we suggested that perhaps the back of student books could be dedicated exclusively to these longer project-style extensions which require critical thinking and higher-order skills.

The final style of extension we considered the benefits of was creating a laminated ‘extension card’ much like the Reading Group Accelerated Reading Cards used down in the Learning Support Base. Individual copies of this extension sheet could be glued into the back of student books.An example of this that the teachers had fun having a go at is shown below:

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The terms, ‘Developing’, ‘Securing’ and ‘Mastering’ have been used here to indicate increasing difficulty, but this could be adapted to the levels or skills involved in any subject. The purpose in this style of extension task is that students who finish earlier than their peers must work their way down through each and every task on the ‘Extension Sheet’. When they complete it, the task is ‘checked off’ by the teacher, before they move on to the next one, to ensure they really have mastered that skill or successfully achieved that task. Each task can be levelled depending upon the skills required within your unit and an extension task card could be issued half-termly or termly, depending on the subject.

Ultimately, we enjoyed putting on our ‘green hat of creativity’ when preparing for this session. The traditional PowerPoint slide extension task can, if done right, be highly useful and relate to the task and learning challenge at hand. However, this approach can be time-consuming and can mean more written work for the sake of completing written work (and thus more work to be marked!) A viable and creative skills-based alternative is to create a display wall packed with pre-prepared and relevant extension tasks which gives students some autonomy over their extension work. The final idea we suggested was an extension card which students can work their way through, with rewards for completing every level (e.g. moving from ‘Developing’ to ‘Securing’) to help incentivise completing the extension card.

We hope that you have found the ideas we have outlined here useful – now it’s your turn to put on your blue hat and figure out what’s next for you and your future extension tasks! Thanks – Chris and Olivia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge and support for all learners

Challenge for all’. From an outsider’s perspective, this might sound simple. But imagine being a teacher, preparing and teaching lessons to classes of up to 30 children. How can you be sure that each and every individual, unique child is being sufficiently challenged? We all know that everybody is different; we have different interests, likes, dislikes, abilities, personalities and ways we prefer to learn. So thinking back to the term, ‘challenge for all’… it’s actually not that simple.

However, as a transition team, we wanted to find ways to ensure that each child did feel challenged in our lessons. After all, the only way for somebody to make progress is if they learn something new. You will never learn something new by repeating things that you find easy all the time. On the other hand, we can’t lose children’s positive attitude to learning by giving them tasks that are beyond their reach. That’s where scaffolding and differentiation comes into play.

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In education, scaffolding is a wide range of strategies which are used to help students make progress so that they have a stronger understanding and greater independence in the learning process.
Differentiation is the process of tailoring lessons to meet individual needs. It is important to note that teachers should not only differentiate activities but that they also differentiate content, process, products, assessments, groupings and the learning environment.

In our transition classes, we encourage children to take ownership of their own learning by reviewing their progress and deciding what they need to do to improve. Therefore, in lessons we create three different challenges for the children to choose from; Challenge One, Challenge Two and Challenge Three. Challenge One will be the ‘easiest’ activity whereas Challenge Three will be the ‘hardest’.

But how do we create these challenges?

First of all, we must decide what the learning objectives and outcomes are for the lesson. We then categorise our learning outcomes into three sections; developing, securing and mastering. These will ultimately help us differentiate activities within the lesson. For example, Challenge One will link to the ‘developing’ learning outcome.

From experience, this works really well in our classrooms for the following reasons:

  • Students really enjoy choosing their own challenge and are more motivated to complete tasks that they have chosen.
  • It encourages friendly competition in the classroom which engages the children in their learning.
  • The differentiated activities give all the students the opportunity to feel challenged within the lesson, no matter what their ability is.
  • The difficulty and understanding of the challenges will always link back to the learning objective and learning outcomes so children know exactly what it is they are learning and how they are going to get there.

Scaffolding learning is vital in our transition classrooms. Children are very capable in our forms but many have barriers to learning. Scaffolding is vital to ensure that children make enough progress within lessons.

We use the following scaffolding strategies:

  • Simplifying language and breaking instructions into small steps.
  • Modelling how to complete an activity.
  • Thinking out loud helps to teach the children how to manage their own thought processes during challenges.
  • Discovering children’s pre-learning and building lessons from there.
  • Give children time to talk before writing.
  • Pre-teach key vocabulary. This can be done using a variety of games or spelling assessments.
  • Visual aids.

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Just remember that just like the children in our classes, every teacher likes to work in different ways too. We can all agree that differentiation and scaffolding is vital for student success. We just need to continue sharing ideas and find the right strategies that will work effectively with our teaching styles and with the children in our classes.

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Thank you for Jodie and Bijou for a wonderful blog.

 

Input-Activity-Review- the best cycle to get the most from your pupils!

Stuck with an effective way to teach and plan your lessons? Look no further. By splitting your lessons into 3 parts: Input; Activity; Review, you will allow greater structure and clarity in your lessons for you and students.

In today’s CPD we used Table tennis as a way of using Input, Activity, Review.

 

Input

This stage is about introducing the lesson and giving the students the knowledge to apply to the tasks that you set them. This begins by the teacher sharing and specifying the learning objectives and outcomes, so that the lesson direction is clear again to you and your students. Following onwards pupils should be engaged with the ‘Hook’ which is a settling activity to engage students as they enter the classroom.

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Activity

Set the task for the students and give them time to get on with the task set. Sometimes as teachers we struggle to let go of the reigns, and allow the pupils the time and the space necessary to engage and grow through independent work. By allowing pupils the time to engage with the activity and refer back to learning outcomes, pupils are able to develop more autonomous learning skills. In practical subjects it is easier perhaps to allow fight or flight attitude towards students learning as it is important for pupils to know that it is OK to get things wrong. This develops perseverance which is an important life skill for students.

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Review

In this part of the lesson pupils would be led back to the learning objectives and outcomes and given the opportunity to reflect on their learning and the work completed also. At this point questioning can be used effectively to gauge the level of understanding of students. Questioning methods such as random name generators; quiz with Kahoot; Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce; or questions on a beach ball, are simple ideas of ways to identify learners needs for future lessons. An alternative review method could be whole class engagement activities where the learning is reviewed through a series of games. These could be hot seat, head bands, pass the chicken, socrative. (Ideas on Teachhub.com) There is also good ideas of review activities on the TES including this template which has been adapted to reflect ICT review activities we offer in the school.

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You can complete this cycle between 1-3 times, depending on the suit and ability of your class. With a more able class, you may find that you have to add extension tasks, or quicken the pace in which they complete the cycles. Or alternatively, you may set them more challenging concepts and therefore they will require longer to do the activity, to create independence.

Why plan and each this way?

It is easy, stress free and more importantly allows progress to be ascertained very quickly. The review sections of your cycle are crucial. It is imperative you are checking constantly and asking questions and AFl tools to gauge where your learners are at, and how you can help them reach their end goal.

It is an expectation that all teachers at Westfield Academy teach this way- to ensure our pupils are getting the best possible education and teachers have high expectations which cater for every student in our school.

children schools.jpgClick here for a model lesson on Input-activity-review

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Importance of starters and the big’ picture’ within a lesson

So you have planned the contents of your lesson- you know exactly what you want them to know and understand by the end, you are proud of yourself… next… how do you get them interested and engaged from the minute they enter your room? How do you get them to understand how and why this lesson is important? How do you get them to understand where this knowledge will lead?

The Big Picture

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What is it?

The ‘Big Picture’ is a snapshot for the students to see at a glance, where on their learning journey they have been, where they are now and where they are going.

This can be done in different ways:

1.You could have a long term big picture where the students get to see each term/half term what their learning journey will look like

2.Each lesson, a slide on the powerpoint shows them at a glance on a lesson by lesson basis what their learning journey is.

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So what is the rational behind the ‘big picture?’

*By providing students with a ‘Big Picture’ they are able to see what they are working towards and what their plan for the lessons and school terms will be.

*You can expand upon this with students by adding in assessments etc. as well.

Another important and effective way of getting pupils involved in their earning and their own big picture- is by printing Long term plans and placing them into the front of their workbooks. This is a great way to instil independence, forward planning and keeping parents in the loop.

Starters- they should be quick, easy and engaging. 

The best thing is- once you have taken the time to design your PPt slide once/ or your active inspire flip-chart… they can be reused and recycled.

  1. Four pictures- One word

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2. Spot the difference

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3. Pass the parcel

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4. Bananagrams

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FREE RESOURCES!

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Attached is a fantastic little resource from:

https://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Fun-Starter-Activities-Energisers-Fill-Ins-and-Reviews/pdf?dl&preview 

Which contains lots of quick, easy and engaging activities.

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Another amazing resource included is the lesson starter generator- ppt slides which are made ready and waiting for your use! Simple!

https://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Fun-Starter-Activities-Energisers-Fill-Ins-and-Reviews/pdf?dl&preview

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Tell them how to be successful and watch them grow!

Flowers, plants, animals, children, adults- we all require food, energy and water to grow and thrive. Think of your opening 5mins of the lesson.

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This is your moment to ensure your pupils are getting the sustenance they require to grow and to bloom in those 60mins. They need the core essential ingredients of learning to help achieve and make progress.

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At Westfield Academy we have core ‘Westfield Ways’ to ensure our pupils are taught consistent steps to help guide and ensure they make the best progress they possibly can.

In the classroom, at Westfield Academy, teachers must ensure:

  • Learning objectives and outcomes are visible on the Promethean Board and or whiteboard, at the start of the lesson.
  • Outcomes must stage the skills pupils will use (blooms) and be linked to levels/ grades
  • Pupils write down the Learning Objectives and Outcomes into their books, underneath their Hook activity/ Title and Date.

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This will enable pupils to be part of their learning cycle and most importantly, take responsibility for their learning.

When the teacher makes the Objectives and outcomes clear and broken down in steps- it acts like an ingredients list- a checking point for pupils to ensure they are on track.

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Jen and Sam made sure that all staff at Butterfly knew the difference between Objectives, Outcomes and Success Criteria:

Objectives: What the pupils will be learning in your lesson

Outcomes: The skills (tasks) the pupils will use during that learning cycle (BLOOMS)

Success Criteria: Providing the pupils with tips/ advice on how they can achieve the above. E.g: listen carefully, use a ruler, use high level vocab using a thesaurus etc…..

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Sam provided the staff with a challenge: create a LO for making a cake-easier than it sounds! It really  made the staff think and highlighted the importance of planning and really thinking about what you want your pupils to have learned in 60 mins.

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The next task was to illustrate the importance of success criteria:

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Sam explained the vital importance of success criteria, especially in a subject like Art. the staff were asked to draw a Key without any success criteria or instructions- the results were varying and highlighted limited artists!

After the inclusion of success criteria- the results drastically improved! SUCCESS!!

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So there you have it: a short and easy guide to how and why we need to use Learning Objectives, outcomes and where necessary- success criteria in every lesson.

As Benjamin Franklin once rightly said:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”