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”

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Old Westfield, Hello new!

Tomorrow we move in, and the new build becomes Westfield Academy. Last week saw visits from all students and guided tours with our 6th formers. Pickfords picked up a myriad of boxes, and various dress rehearsals with break and lunch procedures were held. Tomorrow sees our 1st full day.

 

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Opening at 7.30am!

 

And what about old Westfield? Even on the Friday half day it was starting to resemble a post-nuclear town. I am sure the builders will look after it.

Photos by A-M Creber

 

 

Universal lesson cycle: Input Activity Review. And repeat.

The day had to come. After 70+ Butterfly sessions, we have said goodbye to BIT4, room 15 and our old Westfield venues.

Today we revisited a Core Westfield Way principle – the centrality of the Input Activity Review cycle in our lessons.

This cycle acts as a core to the 60 minutes, providing a focus on objectives and outcomes, and a cycle of exposition, engagement and assessment / feedback throughout the lesson.Image result for brighton stick of rock

The cycle progresses the lesson, and like a spiral around this core, challenges and develops the students’ understanding throughout the 60 minutes. By using this cycle, students can participate in a variety of stimulus and activity that will aid their engagement and progress.

Our 1st Butterfly session in September 2014 took this quote as its’ inspiration, and our commitment to caring about ideas and values and striving for excellence will continue in the new build:

“Of some of our teachers, we remember the foibles and mannerisms, of others, their kindness and encouragement, or their fierce devotion to standards of work that we probably didn’t share at the time. And of those we remember most, we remember what they cared about and that they cared about us and the person we might become. It is this quality of caring about ideas and values, this fascination with the potential for growth within people, this depth and fervour about doing things well and striving for excellence, that comes closest to what I mean in describing ‘passionate teaching’”. (Robert Fried, from ‘The Passionate Teacher’)

Our new Academy build really will support the learning that our students deserve. Butterfly CPD will continue to help all staff be the best classroom practitioners we can be.

Book Presentation: The greatest communication tool for our pupils!

BOOK PRESENTATION

Ever since the beginning, teachers have stressed the importance of neat book presentation:
“Underline your date and title.”
“Use a ruler.”
“Don’t draw in pen.”
“Is that your neatest handwriting?”

This can be a tiring process, especially for those children who struggle with their book presentation for various reasons or simply don’t try hard enough.

I asked the Staff at Butterfly on Tuesday morning and asked them to identify which work belonged to which set and which year group. I received a range of varying answers and in actual fact, they are all from my Year 7 Stephenson class ( a transition group) who have a range of learning needs and requirements. Why did i do this? To erase the myth that lower-ability students have weaker handwriting.  If a teacher has high expectations from day one- then you can guide all students in the right direction.

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So why do we bother? Why do we want students to present their work neatly?

Firstly, handwriting is a tool of communication in the written form. Handwriting is often linked to decoration and illustration, leading to a finished product which is pleasing to look at and which can be attractively displayed. However, there is more to handwriting than this. When children use their neatest handwriting, they are demonstrating that they have achieved a great deal of satisfaction from the way they present their work; they are proud of the progress that they are making within lessons. Also, neat handwriting suggests that children have thought carefully about their work instead of rushing through it as quickly as they can.

 

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To add to this, the presentation of work is very important too; it demonstrates what a child has learnt, their ability to clearly record their learning and the amount of care that they have taken in doing so. It even shows their ability to be responsible and look after things that belong to them.

So now we have established that it is highly important(and that we should persevere as teachers)- how do we ensure that every student presents work neatly in their books?

Well, here are my top tips:

  • Set your presentation expectations during the first lesson of the school year. Do not be afraid to plan a whole lesson that is dedicated for this. I did this, on the first day of school, with my Year 7 classes. They ended up writing a poem to remind them of how to maintain neat presentation. Having this poem written in the front of their books, meant that myself and the students could refer back to it as a reminder of the expectations that I set,

I promise that I will do my best,
To keep my pencil sharp and develop its lead,
To underline my date and title,
Cross out mistakes using one line and a ruler,
and to keep the Neat Presentation Law. 

  • Reward children for using neat presentation. Children like to know when they have impressed you so make it known that you are impressed with their neat book presentation too!
  • Highlight the importance of using neat presentation. How many times have we heard pupils ask, ‘But when will we ever use this again?’ Encourage pupils by making sure that the children understand the importance of neat presentation in school and out of school.
  • Set individual targets, with incentives, for those children who are particularly struggling with their presentation.
  • Teacher modelling is vital. Just as parents and carers model to children how to behave in everyday life, teachers need to model how to achieve neat presentation by presenting work and handwriting neatly when writing on the board and when marking children’s books.

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We all know that children enjoy routines and knowing what is expected of them. They like it when every child is treated fairly. This is why consistency is key! If every teacher had the same expectations in their subjects, then every pupil will find it easier to understand what they need to do to achieve. Setting a ‘set of rules’ that is expected in every lesson is one strategy that can lead to success:

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  • Full date written on the left hand side of the top line. This will help tackle spelling issues of some high frequency words.
  • Leave a line before writing the title (also next to the margin)
  • Date, title and sub-headings underlined using a ruler.
  • All words from the board copied with the correct spellings.
  • Pencil to draw pictures, tables, diagrams, lines.
  • Use a ruler to draw lines.
  • Black or dark blue pen (that is suitable) for writing.
  • Cross out mistakes using one line.
  • No doodling.
  • Spacing is used well.
  • Handwriting is neat and clear throughout.
  • No rips or bent corners of pages.

It will continue to be a struggle at times, but it will all be worth it in the end!

KEEP CALM

AND

PERSEVERE

 

Further to this, there is a fantastic article on how students can use their exercise books – they are the best revision guides:

https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/revisiting-the-best-revision-guide-ever/

Nest week, Input Activity Review, with a Christmas twist.