Monthly Archives: May 2013

Education Blogs

One of the most important recent developments in UK education is the emergence of a thriving “blogging” community on teaching and learning and education policy. There’s a fantastically well-informed and thought-provoking debate taking place on all the key issues in UK education, and its being led by practitioners – teachers, senior leaders and experts up and down the country. Reading blogs is fantastic CPD – a great way to stay connected with all these debates, as well as being a brilliant source of lesson ideas and resources.

So we’ve added a “Blogroll” to the PA T&L website to help you find useful material. It’s just to the right of where you are reading, right now.

This list will grow over time, and there should be something for everyone. There are subject specific sites in here (including English, Maths, Art, Science, ICT and Physical Ecucation) as well as general blogs on T&L, school leadership and education policy.  If you hover over the link for each blog, you get a short description.

In future, I’ll also post links to specific blog entries of interest from around the web, such as Tom Sherrington’s thoughtful post on what it takes to get a ‘great teacher’ reputation or David Didau’s brilliant discussion of the evolving role of ‘Teacher Talk’ in his lessons. 

A quick disclaimer – linking does not necessarily mean PA endorsement! There are obviously lots of views out there, and many controversial issues in education on which to disagree. These bloggers hold a range of contrasting views, but its good to join in the debate.

Please let me know if there are any blogs or online resources you read that you’d like to me to include on the blogroll or to flag up more generally.


T & L activity of the week – Challenge and Defend

This is a useful student-led questioning strategy that encourages high level thinking skills.

  • Students work in groups of 4;
  • A question is posed and each student writes a response on a post it note;
  • With their partner, they need to challenge the other pair’s ideas by questioning it and  also defend their idea to the other pair;
  • Swap the post it notes so each student now has an answer that is not their own one;
  • With their partner, repeat the challenge/ defend process (the idea is that it should be harder as students are not defending their own idea so it should require more thought).

T & L activity of the week – Consensus Circle

This is a useful student-led questioning strategy that requires students to discuss and refine their understanding of a concept, problem or topic in order to reach a judgement. Consensus may be used in preparation for work on a exam question or extended writing.

  • Give groups of students a piece of flipchart paper with a large circle in the middle;;
  • Pose the big question to the class and each student individually writes their own thoughts outside the circle;
  • Students discuss their thoughts and whenever agreement is reached the idea is written in the circle;
  • Contradictory statements or complex evidence can be provided for more able students and definitions and scaffolding for less able students;
  • Students share their consensus thoughts with other groups of students.

concensus circle

T & L activity of the week – Tarsia jigsaw puzzles

Tarsia Jigsaw

Tarsia is a nifty piece of software that creates complex jigsaw style puzzles. This is a engaging way of introducing challenge and independent learning

       To download the software go to

       Input the information and the software will create a puzzle automatically for you;

       In pairs or groups, students then match up the sides of the triangles so that they complement or correspond with each other in some way. This could be matching keywords to definitions and examples;

       This activity can be made less challenging through providing a simpler shape (several shape options are available);

       Challenge can be introduced through using images instead of descriptions and removing triangles and asking students to identify the solution.

T & L activity of the week – top trumps.

This strategy is an engaging and fun way of encouraging evaluative thinking. It requires students to analyse, compare, contrast and rank information and ideas.

       This activity works best when students produce their own trump cards

       The following example is from a PE lesson but trump cards can be used in many different ways!

       In groups students agree on five key characteristics needed to be a Premier League football referee.

       They then create cards for different referees using data and examples from recent matches to assess their performance across the five characteristics

       Students then play the trading game of top trumps  using their cards

       This activity can be easily differentiated depending upon how much information you give to the students

Top trumps