Monthly Archives: November 2013

T&L tip: Feedback follow-up tabs

bookstack 2v2

Here’s a great tip from Molly Faulkner that’s perfect for marking review fortnight! It looks quite labour-intensive at first sight, but is actually a great time-saver and should lead to better student reflection on their blue sticker feedback. After spending ages producing beautiful formative blue stickers for this year 10 history class. Molly wasn’t satisfied with the quality of student reflection and re-drafting from some members of the class.

Instead of simply moving on, reducing the impact of all that detailed marking, Molly used book tabs to quickly annotate the exercise books and draw students attention to either incomplete reflection, like here:

complete please tab

Or the opportunity for more considered and extensive student re-working, such as here:

more tabs1

The tabs were quick to write and will help embed the expectation that blue stickers require thoughtful and full responses; creating a no excuses, no shortcuts re-draft culture that will be to the benefit of year 10 in the long-run. They also look cool.

Getting Started with Lesson Study

Another excellent blog from Tom Sherrington and another insight into how to plan Lesson Study CPD.


As part of our CPD programme this year, we’ve joined the newly formed National Teacher Enquiry Network.  It offers a superb framework to help us deliver the best CPD programme we can.  A central feature of NTEN is the support offered for the development of Lesson Study.  I’ve been reading about this for a while now but it was the clarity of the NTEN materials that made me feel we should embrace it.

At KEGS our approach has been to follow our familiar ‘rainforest’ change process:  to create the conditions, sow the seeds, and then allow the ideas to flourish organically supported by some modelling. In practice this means we did the following:

  • Launched the idea at a staff day  – just a quick overview in few minutes, inviting interested parties to attend a voluntary meeting.
  • Explained the idea in more depth at a meeting to those who volunteered…

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Why don’t students remember what they’ve learned?

There’s lots of important research on the cognitive science of memory in the blogosphere at the moment. Here’s a fantastic post from Joe Kirby, with links at the end to some really interesting sources.

Joe Kirby's blog

Curricula and assessment aren’t designed with memory in mind



We’ve all had the experience of cramming for an exam and forgetting most of what we learned within a few weeks or days. In the immediate term, this is actually quite useful, because national exams are often bunched together, sometimes several in the same day. But in the long-run it’s unhelpful: if you asked me to take a GCSE physics exam today, I don’t expect I’d do very well: I’ve forgotten almost all of what I learned. Given the time invested, it seems a waste.


‘In one ear, out the other’

If you’re in teaching, you’ll have had the frustrating experience of seeing a class grasp and understand a concept perfectly in lessons, only to have completely and utterly forgotten it when you mention it later on in the year: they assure you they’ve never heard of it before in…

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Developing Independence

A great blog post on developing independence in science students, but the steps can be applied across every subject.

Class Teaching

independent2The 15 minute forum last night was led by science teacher Becky Owen, as this is the area she is looking at as a part of her learning innovator project.  Becky started off by saying how her thoughts have shifted around independence, as she has been thinking about ‘Growth Mindset’. She used to think about ‘Independent Learning’ as students working entirely on their own, without any input from their teacher.  The problem with this, is that without input and feedback from a teacher, students can often compound misconceptions, which are then hard to ‘undo’.  Also, they are unlikely to truly challenge themselves.

Last year, some students led a 15 minute forum on the big 4.  When asked about independence they said:

“Before we are set off to work on a task independently, the idea we are working on needs to have been explained to us thoroughly by the…

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Being gritty about getting our kids grittier

A truth we all implicitly recognise – persistence is key, often more important than talent. But the question is, how do we encourage it in our students? A great short post on a vital topic.

Class Teaching

grit2Browsing through twitter I came across this Ted talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, an American psychologist talking about grit as the key to success.  This ties in perfectly with the ideas of Dweck on ‘Growth Mindset’ and Berger on ‘an ethic of excellence’:

In it she describes grit as:

“sticking with your future — day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years — and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

“Passion and perseverance for long term goals”

“Working hard to make your future a reality”

true grit

So what does this mean in reality, on a day to day basis in the classroom? What do we as teachers need to be doing more of, to make our students more ‘gritty’?  Here are a few initial thoughts:

  • Not allowing students to…

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Lessons from Berger: Austin’s Butterfly and not accepting mediocrity

The power of specific feedback and re-drafts – a must-watch!


I’m preparing a CPD input for teachers at my school sharing some of my current thoughts about teaching.  One of the ideas I want to share comes from Ron Berger – and I got this mainly from David Didau and this post here:

The video by Ron Berger, as featured in David’s post,  is worth watching, even if getting a first grade class to ‘look like a scientist’ doesn’t feel too close to what you do in your lessons. :

I always love the boy early on, bursting with conviction in his knowledge: “It’s a Tiger Swallow Tail”;  “I knew it!!..

There are lots of things to take from this video:

1) The nature of effective critique. Most obviously, Ron is showing that critique that is kind, helpful and very specific, focused on a well-defined outcome is immensely powerful.  He is also showing that children can learn…

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The Quick, The Weird, and The Thorough: How I Mark Student Work

Some great ideas on marking from Laura McInerney

Laura McInerney

Bit late on this month’s blogsync but better than never, right?…

Topic (last) month was: Marking With Impact. Having taught several subjects across KS3 – 5, my marking techniques have varied. Here are just three which I think had impact even if they’re not faultless.

The Quick

In my first year I taught 580 students per week. I taught each class of 30 once per week, and face an SLT-imposed minimum half-term marking policy. If I did what was expected, I would have needed to mark 96 books per week. Except, I had to wait for students to fill up their books first which meant that by half-term I had 580 books to mark. In a week.

Hence my TeachFirst tutor recommended the following for the sake of my sanity:

Speed Tip #1 – Draw this, or even better, get kids to draw it in advance ….


Smiley Face…

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