**Breaking news: WESTFIELD ACADEMY TEACHMEET 27th June**

Teachmeet

 

On Wednesday 27th June, Westfield Academy, Watford are hosting their 2nd Teach meet on the topic of ‘Raising Achievement’.

After the roaring success of our previous teach meet 2 years ago and our beautiful new building- we thought it a perfect time to host another CPD event for all of the enthusiastic teachers out there!

Teach meets are a golden opportunity to hear best practice, get some fantastic ideas, listen to inspirational teachers and win some prizes along the way! Our set up will be relaxed and fun, so please come and join us for superb and FREE CPD.

Have a nosey at our previous Teachmeet success  here:

https://westfieldacademytandl.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/teachmeet-success/  

Westfield Academy would love to have as many new visitors to our new school and use the opportunity to hear/ or share some amazing strategies teachers/leaders/mentors use to raise achievement in pupils. 

You can visit us as simply a spectator or even better- offer to deliver a presentation 🙂

Presentations format:

  1. Between 3-10mins long- short and purposeful is our goal!
  2. Presentations can be classroom based strategies, whole school, pastoral or leadership orientated. We would love to have speakers from a variety of different educational backgrounds and use this opportunity to learn from one another.

**If you are interested in joining us from 4.30-7pm on Wednesday 27th June please email Emma Keys at teachmeet@westfield.academy  or eke@westfield.academy by the 10th of May. **   

 

 

Polishing our use of consolidations

Consolidation

Consolidation is a lesson stage where new material is reviewed, and learning is reinforced. It normally occurs at the end of the lesson. Consolidation can be compared with revision, which takes place at a later time and serves to remind learners of key learning points. As well as helping learners retain material and reinforcing it, consolidation is an opportunity to clarify and address any doubts. It can also offer a different ‘angle’ on new language, which is productive for learners with different learning styles. The key to any consolidation activity is to ask students to complete a short task which enables them to show their understanding of the learning objective but in a different way to which it was taught.

This week during our Teaching and Learning Briefing, teachers were asked to create a t-shirt design to show their understanding of what consolidation means in the classroom. Check out their masterpieces:

 

As a group, we spent some time sharing ideas and designing a variety of ways students can show what they have learned in their lessons.

Consolidation

  • An answerphone message.
  • A newspaper editorial.
  • A twitter style message of 140 characters. Also, known as a tweet.
  • A wallpaper design.
  • A billboard design.
  • A picture of a postage stamp.
  • A modelling-clay sculpture.
  • A comic strip.
  • A game of charades.
  • A stand-up comedy set.
  • A medicine explanation leaflet.
  • A short film.
  • A short film script.
  • A slow-motion sport’s replay.
  • A podcast.
  • A T-shirt design.
  • A railway platform announcement.
  • A puppet show.
  • A 3D mind map.
  • A set of flash cards.
  • A greeting card.
  • A Mr Man character.
  • A short rap or poem.
  • A magic spell.
  • An illustrated menu.
  • A notice in a workplace.
  • A traffic sign.
  • A message in a bottle.
  • An astrological prediction.
  • A weather forecast.
  • Partner quiz.
  • This is the answer. What’s the question?
  • Create a revision card.
  • 30 second JAM time. (Talk about topic without stopping)
  • Character profile/ Top Trump card.
  • Glossary for the lesson.
  • Story/ information mapping. Draw a set of pictures to explain what you have learned.
  • Plan a lesson.
  • Kahoot.
  • Revision Pong.
  • Demonstration of activity.
  • High 5. Draw a hand and fill it with 5 key words.
  • Problem-solving quest.
  • Write an email to explain to your parents what you have learned.
  • Expert Instagram. Create 5 tiles sharing your expert account on the ‘gram’.
  • Snapchat video.

traffic lights

Take the time to experiment and plan some new ideas for the next academic year- trial them in the summer term and see what works for you! and most importantly- Share your ideas with your colleagues 🙂

 

 

Engagement through Games & current Trends

Engaging through games and trends. 

In order to get student’s ‘hooked’ it is important that learning is relevant, purposeful but mostly enjoyable. If you can engage a learner in the first five minutes they are likely to be hooked for the rest of the lesson.

In the teaching and learning morning with Physical Education they discussed what effective methods of ‘hooking the learning’ do they use.  All staff were introduced to the game top trumps where the aim of the game was to get as many cards as possible. Through that game the staff were naturally learning the components of fitness but similarly developing their application skills by creating links between athlete and their fitness component scores.

PE 1

Engaging learners through games can be a good tool for learning as competition enhances focus and the result has an outcome. Similarly Mr. Murphy talked about this being an opportunity to create rapport with students by helping play the game but also adding personalised touches to the game. In the pack of top trumps created Mr. Murphy created himself as a character, which as a result made people question his scores give reasonable suggestion of what his scores should have been, therefore developing the higher order thinking.

PE 2

The P.E department then discussed other games they utilise such as ‘a question of sport’ and  ‘who wants to be a millionaire’. Which can now be found on the Westfield School system.

Late in the session the PE department talked about the use of trends to enhance learning. They gave the example that finding links between trends in school and the classroom can enhance the outcome. As a result they displayed some ways that current trends can be used in the classroom; such as fidget spinners, fortnite and FIFA. They discussed that if used purposefully can enhance engagement and not become a distraction.

English came up with some ideas about how they could use Trump cards for Macbeth

PE 3

History discussed how they could use the cards for world leaders and specific characteristics. All-in-all a very successful morning whereby lots of faculties though outside the box for starters and really considered what it takes to get the pupils engaged from the outset of the lesson.

Remember: I feel there are three key elements which all good starters share: they focus on learning; they make students think; and they hook them in to the lesson”

Here’s a link to an interesting Guardian Teacher Network article on successful starters!

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2011/oct/17/guide-perfect-starter-teaching

Enjoy the experimentation and creativity! 🙂

Music is the sound of …revision

Miss Dunkley led a fantastic session on Wednesday about using Music to engage and inspire pupils during revision.

Picture2

As teachers we can appreciate the vast range of subjects and content our pupils have to revise coming up to exam season. Therefore we thought we would give a different method a go!

In English Lessons this week we have been using the Macbeth revision song as a challenge to remember Key quotes! It has worked fantastically (even if the boys pretended it wasn’t their preferred music genre)

 

 

 

The rule is- use the song if it is able to do 1 of the following:

  • Explain a formula or rule
  • Recite key themes
  • Recite key quotes
  • Understands the topic/ genre or context

You might even like to go as far as making one of your own You tube videos or setting it for homework so the pupils make their own.

A lovely Heart song for budding scientists!

 

The key to success with music and revision is to enable the pupils to apply their knowledge after listening to the song 2-3 times.

Mrs Keys did this with her year 11 class and they then produced mind maps of key scenes- feeling very proud of their ability to remember a great amount of key quotes for their literature exam.

file-7-e1521194482386.jpeg

 

Here is a fantastic worth-a-read Guardian article by an educational psychologist who talks about the benefits of varying your revision strategies’.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/may/07/the-way-youre-revising-may-let-you-down-in-exams-and-heres-why

We would love to hear your success stories using music for revision! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge in Sixth Form Lessons

 

For this week’s Teaching and Learning briefing I was asked to present on ‘Challenge in Sixth Form Lessons’ which I tried to narrow down to ‘Visual Learning’. What did I mean by ‘Visual Learning’? Well, let me try to explain. I started by stating the premise that in general Sixth Form students want to be treated like adults and they, like most learners, will give less time to a task or activity if they do not find it engaging or understand its purpose.

I started by explaining that in A Level English Literature we teach Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry collection Feminine Gospels. Because this collection is all about female experiences, it is useful for students to understand the seminal changes that took place in the 20th and 21st centuries that have contributed to many modern female experiences and liberties, for instance, the suffragette movement. A fun way of getting students to engage with the experience of the suffragettes was to get them to play a ‘Corpse Talk: Grave Matters’ board game called ‘Suffragette: The Board Game’. The game has been cleverly and wittily devised to get students to reflect on the hardships experienced by the suffragettes. For example, one square reads, ‘Heckle some anti-suffragette politicians. You’re promoting the cause. Go to jail!’ while another more positive square reads, ‘You took part in a suffragette march. March forward three spaces!’ After giving students time to play the board game, I asked them to explain what they learned about how the suffragettes were treated, how they were seen by others, how little support they had, how they gained support, and whether more squares had bad luck than good luck and why this perhaps reflected the treatment of the suffragettes. While they played the game during the session I asked staff to think about:

  • What a suffragette is
  • The types of experiences that females went through to get the vote
  • How you are meant to feel while playing the game
  • In what ways women felt oppressed
  • Why the movement was important – what its purpose/goal was, who stood in its way and why.
  • Whether the idea of luck while playing is relevant to the treatment of the suffragettes

a level game

Shortly afterwards in the session I talked about how sometimes I try to get creative and visual with the homework I set for sixth form students. The most interesting one has to be ‘The Real Housewives of Mississippi, 1960s Edition’ where students had to do a key scene enactment followed by turn-to-camera style mockumentary interviews (in the style of TV shows like The Office and Modern Family) acting as characters from The Help. The purpose of this was to get students to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the characters, theme and context and to have fun doing so. In this particular case, I got them to achieve this goal by becoming the characters. Truthfully the results ranged from disastrous slapstick chaos to hilarious asides through to scenes that were genuinely thoughtful and insightful. Additionally, when teaching Streetcar it’s important students understand the setting, New Orleans. One of my first homework tasks set was to create a pamphlet on New Orleans. The parameters I set were that students should demonstrate an understanding of the following key words: The New South (or the post-war South), The Beat Generation and Women in the 1940s. The results were excellent, as captured in the image below.

alevel 2

This way the staff, like the students who I’d played this game with the year before, learned about the suffragettes, had fun doing so, and actually engaged with (on a miniscule scale albeit) some of the frustration felt by the cause – especially when locked up in jail or told to miss a go for challenging the government! At these moments it was great to hear that universal teenager exasperated sigh that indicates things aren’t going their way as they engaged with the plight of women a hundred years ago! It is worth admitting that a board game lesson might take a little extra preparation and planning time, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, including the challenge of gathering up a box of dice; that said, it can take the same time as a well-planned lesson but is often more stimulating and easier to get students on side with. I planned my questions in advance, but I could just have easily have typed them up and printed them off for students to complete as they played the game. If you’re feeling extra creative you might insert a 5×5 table into word and even make your own board game on the topic you want the students to engage with! Typically the squares state a fact, tell players to move forward, tell students to miss a go, tell them to go to jail (usually centre of the board) or to roll again. Once you’ve done this, get it printed A3 and laminate! It might sound like a lot but it isn’t usually too difficult to get your sixth formers to focus when you tell them they’re playing a game that lesson, so it pays off in the long-term.

a level 1

In short, I try to be as inventive as possible when setting homework for sixth form students to avoid the dredge and monotony that can sometimes be tempting to set because the students are a little older. I encourage you to do the same, see the results and share your ideas and your results in the comments section below!

Last but not least I set the teachers’ minds racing early in the morning by getting them to try to crack a cryptogram! I used (and highly recommend) Discovery Education’s cryptogram maker to make our school’s Code of Conduct into a difficult code to be cracked, thus introducing an element of competition into a task where I wanted them to think about what it was they were actually reading and talking about. Admittedly, I think the website doesn’t yet autogenerate an answer sheet so it’s worth adding that you may want to crack the code yourself before setting the students off to do so! Nevertheless, you know a task like this is a huge success when you have teachers frantically trying to recite the Code of Conduct at pace to solve the cryptogram first! I think a cryptogram is a great way to get students reciting harder passages or key bits of information or reading a source you need them to that is perhaps a little less exciting to read.

a level chris

 

Continuing to show Year 11 the water…

 

Every Wednesday morning at 7.55am we meet as a teaching cohort to discuss and share strategies. This follows our Butterfly programme from previous years, and is an opportunity for colleagues and faculties to showcase what works for them. These then become further choices and opportunities to stretch and challenge our students.

Showing how to… is vital. The platitudes of ‘you need to get on’ are just not enough; strategies have to be modelled to students to equip them for study and success. Why should they know before we show them? We certainly didn’t.

Following up  the Year 11 Study Skills day in January, all teachers have been trained this week in a system to further strengthen the 12 revision techniques that all GCSE students now know .Picture2

Any revision resources are strengthened by using the following:

PUCCU:

-Pictures

-Underlined

-CAPITALS

-Colour

-Unusual

The theory behind this is that the very act of thinking about which colour pen to use or stopping to underline a word helps the brain make links which improves our memory; it also means that looking at the resource later, whilst revising, is so much more stimulating.

Consider mind-maps.  Creating them on computer doesn’t have nearly as many benefits and looking back at a personalised one has far more meaning than a computer-generated one.

So Year 11 and 13 as you move in to this final intense period of revision and Year 11s start their Saturday revision – a few packs of post-its, some highlighter pens and a ruler can take you a long way!

Staff session on revision strategies

Teachers during their 1 minute trying to remember a set of 25 words with using the PUCCU system.

Think PUCCU

As a staffing body, we gave now been putting this into action with our own teaching…

Music students trialled a Will Smith-style rap

Mel has gone from a post-it to a sing-it!

“Now here’s the development all about how

Beethoven turned tonality all the way round

The expo’s in C and now it’s in E

Then straight after he turns it in to a G

He’s like a rollercoaster going round an’ round

Uses legato to make real smooth sounds

Now it’s staccato and mums, it’s not relaxed

It makes it bare lively, short and detached

All dynamic contrast, it’s so extreme,

Including f, double f, triple f, FP!

Crescendo’s, diminues, everythings used

You’ll have to be a virtoH or be confused!”

 Our Saturday sessions started this weekend, and were fantastically attended. Well done to all involved!

 

 

The Journey of Year 11: Revision Techniques that quench the thirst

This week’s training focused on revision for Year 11 and the old adage of leading a horse to water, and its’ conundrum of how do you make the students thirsty? Intrinsic motivation is ideal, but our focus has been on strategies that will engage and inspire students to crack open the books and (re-)learn their stuff.

In January, The Life Skills Company worked with our Year 11 cohort in building their own independent skills to revise, and they came up with 12 strategies. On Monday, Jacqui and Katy led a staff session sharing these strategies, with the aim of building them into our day-to-day teaching.


  1. Map It – This technique is all about mind maps and the best ways of using them to make them work.

There are 2 options – the first looks like the more traditional way with the title of the revision in the middle and lines coming off from it.  The importance of this technique however, is that the lines must include capital letters over them with the part they are looking at in bold before they splinter off at the ends.

For example:

The students will also need to use colour, bold writing, underlining and pictures to make the information stand out and bold.

The alternative way of using the spider diagram would be more chronological from one side to the other using more straight lines and boxes however, still using colour, bold writing, underlining and pictures to make the information stand out and bold.

For example:

2. Journey it.  This technique is where students remember items or lists of information by placing them on a journey – preferably somewhere that is familiar to them.  This technique would work well for subjects that have lists of ingredients or indeed lists of chemicals that could go into an experiment.

The best sorts of journeys would be ones that are familiar to the students so they can picture it easily in their minds.

For example for a list of ingredients:

‘As I entered my front door, I encountered a huge red tomato that was pulsating and blocking the doorway.  I took my knife and cut the tomato in half and stepped through it into my hallway that seemed to be covered in long strands of spaghetti.  This made a slippery route to the couch where I fell into a pile of raw mince waiting to be cooked.’ (and so on)

  1. Index it. This technique is where students use their revision cards to transfer the key points of a topic/paragraph. The card should have as few words as possible and should include pictures/colour/diagrams/capital letters etc to make them stand out.  The card should only cover one topic and not more so that they do not get confused.

4. Story it.  This technique is where the students create a weird and vivid story using the key points.  This would work well for remembering steps of an experiment, ingredients or processes.

For example, remembering the eight principle that a Data Controller has a duty to abide by when using personal data.  They must make sure:

  1. Data must be collected and processed fairly and lawfully.
  2. Data must be collected for specific purposes and cannot be used in ways that are not compatible with those purposes.
  3. Data must be adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purposes.
  4. Data must be accurate and kept up to date.
  5. Data must not be kept longer than necessary.
  6. Data must be processed in accordance with the data subjects rights under the act.
  7. Data must be protected against unauthorised access and against accidental loss or damage.
  8. Data must not be transferred to a country that does not have appropriate data protection legislation.

The students would then put the key words from this into a weird and wacky story so that they remember them.

  1. Mnemonic it. This technique is where the students use the first letter of the key words to create a sentence to help them remember key information in order. This would work particularly well for students to help them remember chemical symbols or the order of the planets in the solar system. For example:

My Very Early Morning Jam Sandwich Usually Needs Plums.’ (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)

 

  1. Click it. This technique involves students creating a power point presentation about the key points of a topic or a unit of work. This technique would work best for subjects with a lot of information that would be needed to be recorded. Students can then use these visual aids to help them revise.
  1. Flip it. This technique is where students create cards that have a question on one side and an answer on the other. This would work best with a small flip book that is on a keyring that the students then could write short snappy questions and answers on.

For example:

‘What did Queen Victoria reign?  1837-1901’

 

  1. Timeline it. This technique is where the students have to put key points along a line in date order. This technique would work best for topics that have a chronological sequence such as the plot of a book, the events of a play, historical dates etc.Image
  2. Sing it. This technique involves students putting key information onto a popular song background. This could be used for any subject but it does involve some creativity and time if the students are going to do it properly. For example – one on Macbeth:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXPVS-n8-0o&index=7&list=RDJQVKT4rU4sIYou could find some that are already made or you could get the students to make their own versions.
    1. Record it. This technique involves students recording themselves saying key points or key ideas and then playing it back to themselves. This technique would work well for audio learners.

    This technique does involve the students being confident enough to hear their own voices so will not work for them all.

    1. Post-it. This technique involves students putting key words/phrases onto post-it notes and then moving between them to learn them. This technique would work well if students have access at home to put the information onto their steps upstairs, around their bedroom/bathroom etc.  This technique can be used for any subject and can involve as little or as many post-it notes that the students can remember.

    For example, the students may want to put down the chapter titles of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ onto separate post-it notes and remember them as they go up and downstairs.

    1. Comic it. This technique involves students putting key information into a comic strip with images/pictures to go with the key events.   This technique would work in most subjects however, I would suggest best for subjects that need students to remember events/sequences in order.Ultimately, it is whatever works best for students, in enabling their confidence and learning in a sustainable way.