Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Health and Social Care - Benefits of Active Participation

This blog is for candidates studying Levels 2 and 3 of the Health and Social Care Diploma, BTEC Health and Social Care, Dementia Care units and other courses relevant to the field of health and social care

What is active participation?

Active participation is defined by Edexcel (2010), the body that sets the specifications for the Levels 2 and 3 Health and Social Care Diplomas, as recognising an individual’s right to participate in the activities and relationships of everyday life as independently as possible; the individual is an active partner in their own care or support rather than a passive recipient.  This definition accentuates two key principles underpinning care: the rights of the individual and the independence or autonomy of the individual.

Many people who experience health and social care, especially individuals with significant needs, are marginalised, excluded and disenfranchised.  They are not given the same opportunity to have a say in how they live their lives as most other people in the general community; their choices in what they do are severely limited.

What are the benefits of active participation for the individual?

Active participation is an approach that enables individuals to be included in their care and have a greater say in how they live their life in ways that matter to them.

The benefits of active participation can be divided into primary benefits and secondary benefits.

Primary benefits include:

  1. Physical benefits including greater activity levels.
  2. Increased independence and autonomy in what people do.
  3. An opportunity for individuals in health and social care settings to have a say in matters of direct concern to their lives.
  4. Increased opportunities for social contact and interpersonal relationships.
  5. Encouraging involvement and self-awareness.  Individuals become more involved in the community and more aware of opportunities and what they can hope for themselves. 
  6. Increased opportunities for learning and development of important skills, knowledge, education and employment.
  7. Enhanced well-being, with increases in self-confidence, self-esteem and self-belief.

The benefits of active participation include the above primary benefits where the individual gains from its application in the real world of health and social care practice, but there are also some secondary benefits.

The secondary benefits can be described as benefits that occur as a result of active participation, but are not a direct aim of active participation.  These include:

  1. Decreasing the likelihood of abuse. As the individual engages positively by actively participating is area of their life, such as in personal care, the scope for abuse by others is reduced.  
  2. Decreasing vulnerability. As individuals gain in their self-confidence and self-esteem they are less prone to exploitation and harm from others

Active participation is an approach that empowers individuals in the activities and relationships of everyday life leading to them living as independently as possible. The importance to the individual as an active partner in their own care or support is that it brings physical, psychological, relational and over all wellbeing benefits.

John Rowe works for the Open University and has a wealth of practice experience in health and social care settings.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Secondary Business and Economics - Evaluation in A Level Essay Writing

The skill of writing decent evaluations often evades students within their essay writing. It is a skill that can easily be taught, but it is their ability to discuss the validity of an issue well that takes time. As we know it cannot just be an opinion, but an argument that is fully supported by a stimulus, be that Economics or Business.

I tell my students early at AS Level that you cannot simply memorise judgements, but must use the stimulus material or understanding of the key issue to form a judgement that is both focused, logical and doesn’t simply sit on the fence. They must take a stance. If the argument is well supported then the student will do well.

One way that I have always found effective is to deliver a case study with an essay question that requires evaluative higher order thinking skills in the following way:

  1. Prior to the lesson prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation. These will represent 20 images directly or indirectly related to the case delivered in 20 seconds for each slide. This is something I have only just started experimenting with, but you would be surprised how well it works. See here: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/what. The idea is to quickly focus their attention on the stimulus and discuss the theory once again at a quick pace. Remember no longer than 20 seconds for each slide.

  2. Provide the students with the stimulus/case study after the presentation.

  3. On their own they are given a short period of time to read the material. I will then ask for the following:

    a) Command word/Definition to introduce essay. (2 minutes)

    b) 10 points that they think are worth considering in simple note format. (5 minutes)

    c) Then in pairs they are to compare these points and decide on only those issues that they feel most relate to the stimulus/question. (5 minutes)

    d) They then return to working on their own to flesh out these points into four paragraphs that highlight understanding of the point, illustrated with examples, use of graphs, applied well to the case.

    e) Next, I will ask students to exchange their paragraphs with their partner one more time. Their partner must then explore their arguments critically, making notes around their work in terms of cause and effect. Allow students to then feedback with each other. This allows for wider implications and evaluation that may possibly have passed them by. Allow for a period of discussion.

    f) Finally, they themselves decide what they would like to include in a concise and focused essay.

    g) I will normally end by having a discussion with the whole class as to how they might like to conclude their essay. Refer back, express judgement, express argument and make a decision.

In Economics I have always liked the WEE STEPS. Pushing evaluation within their writing through the consideration of Wider context, Efficiency, Equality, Scope, Time, Effectiveness, Prioritisation and Scale. These can be seen within an excellent resource provided by tutor2u.com, using inflation as a perspective:

Daniel Baker
Business and Economics Department, Trinity Catholic High School

Friday, 27 January 2012

Secondary Geography - Group Work

I often observe lessons where group work is used. Whilst the teaching is often outstanding, the learning is often lagging behind because not all students take an active role in the group work. As a result I have been working with my faculty in strategies to ensure all students are participating in group activities.

The first area is to engineer group dimensions and structure. Groups of 3-4 seem to work better than larger groups, in which it is easy for some students to take a ‘back seat’. Whether the teacher or students chooses the groups is a personal preference. I operate a ‘home and away’ set-up, where my home groups are decided by me. These groups are engineered on ability so I use assessment data to divide the class into 4 bands. Each group then has a student from each band. I also consider friendships and behaviour. The students are now used to working in these groups and are able to support one another. If I want different groups e.g. friendship or ability then they work in ‘away’ groups and are able to organise themselves quickly. Having strategies such as this avoids time-wasting setting up groups at the start of the lesson.

Sometimes I begin lessons with 'home groups' but then they break off into 'away groups' depending on the activity. For example in a recent lesson on Earthquake Preparedness, each group had to develop a plan for Japan to cope with Earthquakes. Each group had to produce a design for an Earthquake Proof House, an emergency box, a plan for an Earthquake drill and a leaflet to explain what to do in the event of an Earthquake. They discussed their ideas in their home groups and then assigned one task to each member of the group. This has the advantage of ensuring that all students are involved as they are all responsible for one task. They then worked in ‘away’ groups depending on their tasks – in other words all members of the 'away' groups were doing the same task. This is successful as they can then share ideas and it also means that they have to complete the task for their home group and can’t hand it over to a fast worker within the group who has finished their own task. They also get support from students completing the same activity.

I think in any group activity it is important that the activity has a structure so that students can take responsibility for a portion of it. De Bono’s thinking hats are useful in allocating each student in the group with a different coloured hat and asking them to come up with ideas for each hat. It is possible with this strategy to have larger groups of 5-6. I have done this successfully in a GCSE lesson looking at impacts of tourism on Antarctica. Each student took one hat e.g. the ‘white hat’ found out facts and figures about tourism in Antarctica, the ‘red hat’ looked at the positives of tourism and so on. They then held a group discussion using each of the hats and finally compiled a report together.

Another idea to ensure full participation is to have a log sheet for students to complete to show who has done each task in a group activity. This means they have to think about sharing the work out. However you need to watch that it is completed honestly as often students will just write down all names for an easy life! This tends to be more of problem when they are working in friendship groups.

If you are doing group work where students are required to complete a mind map, ask them to add the initials of who contributed to each idea. I explain that I want each student to have their names down at least once. You can then ask the individual students to explain their idea to you or the rest of the class.

All of the above both allow all students to make progress and you demonstrate clear differentiation as it makes learning accessible for all!

Tania Grigg
Head of Humanities at Clyst Vale Community College and Senior Examiner for AQA (GCSE and A level)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Secondary Business - News Quiz 26/1/12

As the first half of the year comes to an end with the January exams we now start looking towards June and the final exams of the year! For any A2 student a good understanding of the external business environment is vital, and researching the news each week is a great starting point! This week we have seen UK economic activity shrinking to 0.2%, does this mean a double dip recession will be happening? Also a week after Tesco's market share has declined, we se the growth of Android  getting closer to the dominance of Apple in the computer tablet market!

Download the Word version (with answers and weblinks) to print off and use with your classes here!

  1. How many iPhone’s did Apple sell in the last quarter of 2011, this was twice the amount of the same period in 2010?
    45 million ( )
    37 million ( )
    35 million ( )
    47 million ( )

  2. Which fast-food chain said it would create 2 500 jobs in the UK in 2012?
    McDonalds ( )
    KFC ( )
    Burger King ( )
    Pizza Hut ( )

  3. In 1979 some 13.5 million workers in the UK were members of a union; today that figure is what?
    9.5 million ( )  
    10.5 million ( )
    6.5 million ( )
    7.5 million ( )

  4. Which mobile company has apologised for a technical problem which caused users' phone numbers to be disclosed when using its mobile data?
    T Mobile ( )
    02 ( )
    Vodafone ( )
    Orange ( )

  5. UK economic activity shrank by how much in the last three months of last year according to official figures?
    0.4% ( )
    0.8% ( )
    0.5% ( )
    0.2% ( )

  6. Which company that went into administration has said that items bought within the last 28 days in a UK Peacocks store could be exchanged with a valid receipt? However, refunds could not be offered or vouchers accepted!
    Black’s leisure ( )
    Jane Norman ( )
    Peacock’s ( )
    HMV ( )

  7. Which business' share of the tablet computer market has risen to 39%, from 29% the year earlier?
    Apple ( )
    Blackberry ( )
    Android ( )
    Microsoft ( )

  8. Which low-cost airline saw revenues rise 16.7% in the last three months of 2011 as passenger numbers rose 8.1%.?
    Jet 2 ( )
    Ryanair ( )
    Monarch ( )
    Easyjet ( )

  9. Government debt has risen to a record figure of what from £883bn a year ago?
    £1 trillion ( )
    £1.5 trillion ( )
    £2 trillion ( )
    £2.5 trillion ( )

  10. Which sandwich chain will open 600 new branches in the UK and Irish Republic and create 6,000 jobs over the next three years, and has also said it would display calorie information on all its menu boards?
    Earl of Sandwich ( )
    EAT ( )
    Subway ( )
    Pret-a-manger ( ) 

Donna Jestin
Teacher of Business Studies Notre Dame College & Senior Examiner for AQA

Secondary RE, PSHE and Citizenship - True Tube

How long have we accumulatively spent searching through the reams of videos that have been uploaded to You Tube in the hopes of finding a video clip to help our students to explore big social or global issues such as war or the environment and how useful would it be if we could find those rare clips that show different opinions and beliefs?!

Welcome to True Tube. This website has been a god-send in assisting me with short and relevant video clips, to bring not just the issues but different beliefs and opinions into the classroom in a way that engages students. I have found this website particularly useful for my GCSE religious studies classes as a means of introducing a controversial topic or moral issue and sparking a discussion or debate, as well as allowing me to introduce different opinions and views, especially those from a faith perspective. There are also some very good resources for KS3 RE as well, such a ‘Holy Cribs’ which are tours of various places of worship by young people and clips explaining the 5 K’s of Sikhism and Muslim prayer.


The website is well laid out and provides a really good range of free resources. Video clips are primarily sorted into 9 categories (Body and Health, Crime, Culture, the Earth, Ethics and Religion, Global, Jobs and Money, Relationships and Society) that you can click on and browse through, however each video clip has a number of key words linked to it, so if there is something specific that you are looking for, you can simply type in ‘Drugs’ and ‘Buddhism’ and it will list any clips that may be useful or relevant to you. The video clips provide a fresh and young approach to social and moral issues, which students can relate to. There is also a ‘staff room’ on the website which provides some thought provoking and interactive assembly plans and lesson plans which can give some ideas on how to further develop the information from the video clips within your lesson.

Teresa Langler
Head of Beliefs and Values
Clyst Vale Community College

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Secondary English - Using song lyrics to teach poetry

The aisles are full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs …
bringing pop lyrics into the classroom!

As the trendy ‘out there’ teacher has always known, song lyrics can be a rich source of inspiration for the introduction and revision of such crucial poetic elements as rhyme, rhythm, symbolism, imagery and emotive vocabulary. You can even use them to reinforce more traditional English language concepts such as parts of speech and punctuation.

Of course, there is a clear distinction between song lyrics and their more traditional English-teaching counterpart, poetry. Song lyrics often make little discernible sense, especially when the composer appears to have focused more on the integrity of the music rather than that of the lyric. After all, what on Earth is a ‘Wonderwall’?

This is not so much the case with poetry - published poetry, I mean - not the tortured angst of the painfully introspective internet balladeer. However, there is a very rich vein of quality song lyrics out there just waiting to be explored. Examples of much respected lyricists which spring to mind include John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Now, I’m not suggesting that every lyric written by such musical greats would bear intensive literary scrutiny… but some obviously would, e.g. the overtly political ‘Power to the People’, the sensuously surrealistic ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and the transcendent ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ which is so musically and lyrically sublime that it breathes new life into what would otherwise have been a mere repetition of a rather tired cliché. Of course, if you are really ‘hip’ (which I’m obviously not, having used such an archetypal 60s word) you could even delve into the lyrics of artists who are currently in vogue… if you find them to be sufficiently meaningful, that is. And, even if you don’t, their obvious lack of depth might be a wryly amusing learning curve in itself!

I certainly intend to make much use of two classic songs from the last century: ‘Vincent’ – Don McLean’s moving eulogy to tragic artist Vincent van Gogh - and the sublime, ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’, the Oscar winning musical theme to the 1968 box office hit, the Thomas Crown Affair. With regard to the latter, the metaphor which forms the song’s title makes no literal sense whatsoever; however, on a subliminal level, it implies much. The windmill comparison suggests relentless motion and so has connotations of uncontrollable, racing thoughts. The grinding action of such a large machine further implies a psyche in crisis. In this respect, the metaphor works on a similar level to Macbeth’s agonised cry: ‘O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!’

Of course, you could also experiment with the holy grail of cross-curricular links and record your own deeply symbolic anthem with the aid of a willing collaborator in the music department.  It’ll look good on your CV, and it’ll put you ‘out there’as well – just as we ask our students to put their own credibility on the line when they perform something for us.

But if musical self-glorification isn’t your thing – a teacher’s creativity should be seen and not heard! – then leave your comfort zone severely intact and go with the greats.  If nothing else, you will have introduced your students to a classic song… and given yourself a well-deserved quality three minutes in the classroom!

* The following downloads illustrate how song lyrics might be used as a teaching aid and, if you wish, can be used as ready-made 30 minute lesson plan with extension activities.

Peter Morrisson
English Teacher and author

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Secondary ICT - Michael Gove at BETT 2012

Well, Moses has descended and we have listened; the problem is what does he mean? We have the commandments, “Thou shall honour thy computing”, “Thou shall not worship false idols such as IT or even ICT”. We might like these commandments, but how do we make a religion from them?

Michael Gove’s speech to BETT is the most direction changing speech I can recall in educational policy for over 30 years, but making the changes he sees as necessary is akin to avoiding the nasty consequences of an economic collapse in the eurozone: in both cases complex structures need to be broken up and new systems put in place, but all of the intermediates between the old system and the new need to function all of the time. Added to that problem, we have in both cases, it seems to me, a major disincentive to making changes happen in the form of human selfishness.

We must have recognised the problem years ago; how was it possible to timetable a double qualification in the same slot as a single science GCSE? The two were not compatible in intellectual demand. The problem was even more obvious at A level; Computing required much greater mental processing and as a consequence delivered lower attainment results than ICT. Gove’s view seems at the very least encouraging; he must have prepared himself for the smack of poorer results following a move away from cosy word processing with a touch of design and the disapplying of the ICT program is heroic. It’s not often that politicians show courage in adherence to ideals which are intended to benefit those with little political clout and in the same process risk disruption and numerically less flattering exam results.

Freedom at last to make choices?
What are we to make of the ideas of freedom? How can we make use of this opportunity to design courses which suit the needs and abilities of the youngsters in our classes? This seems to me to be a remarkable opportunity, somewhat after the style of “Mode 3 CSE” which offered the scope for teachers to be creative in the delivery of ideas within a framework of curricular axioms. Teaching can be rewarding in the cut and thrust of the classroom, there is no doubt in that, but designing the pathway to knowledge, rather than marching to someone else’s map, is of equal merit.

Seamless change may well require that all parts, curriculum, assessment, perception of the value of awards, need to function all of the time. Let’s hope that change will not be a result of evolution, where we are stuck with inheriting the results of previous design lash-ups and the only hope is waiting for the cull of Natural Selection.

John Giles
John has taught in various secondary schools for over 30 years, including roles as ICT coordinator and Head of ICT. He is also an established author and has worked as an examiner and moderator for a number of exam boards.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Secondary Technology - Revision Games

When it comes to exams, I often find that a lot of my pupils struggle to revise for Design & Technology, finding their practical experiences hard to associate it with written exams! In lessons, they enjoy the practical side of the subject but often find sitting down and concentrating without distracting each other a challenge. I have developed several basic revision games to use with my pupils as a "reward" for revising quietly for 10 minutes. These often work as great starters to lessons especially if the pupils are in a particularly "unsettled" mood!
  1. "Confidence". Pupils sit and revise a certain subject (of their choice) in silence for 10 minutes. I often put a countdown clock on the board to stop them asking how long is left! Once the time is up the pupils have to stand in a circle around a desk. The idea of the game is that the pupils have to recite some of the information they have just learnt. I often kick the game off by asking the pupil to my left a question on what they have just been revising, e.g. name a type of hardwood. That pupil then has to decide if they can name a hardwood. If they can they say, for instance, "I can name two types of hardwood". The pupil to their left then has to decide if they can name three types of hardwood and so on. However, if a pupil is not looking very confident about their statement, e.g. "I can name seven types of hardwood" then the next pupil can "call" them on their statement and the pupil who has been called has to recite the seven types of hardwood. If they correctly recite what they have been "called" on they get a prize if not the person who "called" gets to recite the correct answer.

    Admittedly from my description the game does sound quite complicated but it's not and the pupils get the hang of it quite quickly after a few goes. The game involves all the pupils as they never know when they are going to be "called" so it ensures that they are all thinking of the answer to the question rather than just sitting in their seats and nodding off when you just fire questions out to pupils in the class!

  2. Technology Word Association game. This game improves pupils' subject knowledge and is a useful game when it comes to revising. Pupils are given 5 minutes to revise a certain subject. Again I then get them to stand in a circle around a desk. I usually then fire off a word to one of the pupils about what they have just been revising. E.g. hardwood. The pupil I point at then has to say a related word. e.g. oak and at the same time point to another pupil in the circle. That pupil then needs to say a related word and point to someone else. If one of the pupils can't think of a word or hesitates, then they are "out" and have to sit down. The winner is the pupil left standing at the end of the game. If you have a large group it might be an idea to hand out a prize as you go rather than getting the loser to sit down. This game also works well as a lesson plenary and could be based on the lesson's key words.

  3. Picture, word and description matching exercise game. This game is simple. Pupils have to revise a certain topic for 10 minutes then they are given a set of cards (you'll have had to make these in advance!). You can make these quite basic - you'll need a set of pictures associated to the topic that the pupils are revising (i.e an LED), a set of words (to match the pictures) and a set of matching descriptions, which should all be shuffled up. The pupils then need to match up the set of cards again! I find this game works best if the pupils work in teams of 2 or 3, with the prize going to the team that gets all the answers right first (though if they submit an incorrect set of answers they are disqualified from the prize to stop students just guessing!) This activity works really well to encourage peer assessment and also group discussion.
James Randall
Technology Teacher, Barking Abbey High School

Inspirational Starters

Having recently visited two high  achieving schools in Somerset and Dorset,  I have reaffirmed my belief that inspirational starters are a key cornerstone to achieving excellent exam results.  It has also reminded me of the saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression  - very powerful words for our lives and for the lessons we teach.

Freeing up team meeting time to share learning and teaching ideas has been very fruitful for aspiring teams across the country.  There are some fantastic resources for starter activities for mathematics lessons and having a ‘Starter of the Day’ folder,  easily accessed by colleagues, can lead to even higher quality mathematics lessons for our students.  A request to the maths team to ‘bring a starter that has worked for you’ to the next meeting can lead to the sharing of very imaginative and innovative ideas.

Heads of Departments in a number of schools firmly believe that starters are especially effective if they take a journey through an array of mathematics concepts and not just related to the bespoke lesson objectives of the day.  I am piloting a ‘Quick Seven’ questions of the day using notepads or mini-whiteboards which are proving to be popular with both students and teachers – for example: (1) 4/5 as a decimal, (2) which is a better deal – 30% discount or a third off? (3) 0.7 times 0.8 (4) how many vertices does a tetrahedron have? (5) One half plus one third is not two fifths – what is it?  (6)  a circle has a radius of 10 m – find its area in terms of pi  (7)  divide £120 in the ratio 3:2.   

One particularly successful starter with my top set year 11 group  at Frome Community College was just a little more zappy because a post-it note was stuck on the back of each whiteboard on the students desk.  There was an on-entry starter involving conditional probability and students raced to the front of the whiteboard when they had worked out a solution on the mini-whiteboard and shared their correct solutions – the challenge to get the correct the solution and then race to the front with a post-it note, ahead of other students, sets the scene for a very productive lesson.

I have just put together my favourite seventy seven starters with solutions from the excellent Transum resources which are definitely worth a look at http://www.transum.org/.   My favourites of these include the starter for January 22nd – A lamp and a bulb together costs £32.  The lamp costs £30 more than the bulb.  How much does the bulb cost?  Feedback on the site from other schools is also very helpful e.g., ‘What a beautiful question’ .  The ‘Estimate and Calculate’ starter for September 30th is a gem and I have seen this work very well in a lesson:  Estimate and Calculate – then arrange these five statements in order of size:  Population of the UK,  Number of seconds in a week, A thousand squared, Number of Calendar Days since 1st January 1500 AD, 99 x 99 x 99 x 99.  Another favourite is the starter for House Numbers  for January 26th – The numbers of 5 houses next to each other add up to 90.  What are those five numbers? Feedback on the Transum website included:  ‘What a great starter!  One of my groups was working on odd and even numbers and another one on algebra (for the same starter).  With some hints for learners who are not so far along on their maths journey, this starter works for everyone at all levels’.

You may also like to have a go at this starter before you teach the topic of ‘trial and improve’ in mathematics:   Two whole two digit numbers multiply together to give the emergency telephone number 999.  What are these two whole numbers? Calculators are allowed.   (hint - you may like to start with 33 times 33 and increase one number and decrease the other number).

Very best wishes for 2012!  What other job involves helping hundreds of people in a week where no two days are the same?

Christopher Curtis
Head of Mathematics
Frome Community College 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Primary - Teaching reading in the Early Years

I have used many approaches to teaching children to read in the 18 years of my teaching career, some successful, some not so successful.
One of the more unusual approaches I encountered was at University. I was fortunate enough, or should I say unfortunate enough, to find myself in the midst of the real books philosophy. “Give a child a real book and they will learn to read it.” Even as a fresh behind the ears student this appeared bizarre. The children were not in fact learning to read but were simply retelling the book in their own little way adding in a few more details.  As a naive student I found myself on a placement with a teacher who was probably tearing her hair out at my lack of knowledge of reading and how to teach it.

As a newly qualified teacher I began to grasp the idea that children need a bank of key words to help them read and it was here I came upon the endless flashcards that were sent home, probably boring the child to death before they were ever actually introduced to a book.

Moving to a different school brought new methods again; no more flashcards in fact no more books.  Instead a sheet of paper with all of the words from the books typed on it. I had the courage to challenge the deputy head teacher’s notion that “Books never come back to school, not round here” and be rebellious. I gave the children real reading scheme books and much to her annoyance, and my secret joy, the books did come back to school.

It was at this time that I started to appreciate the importance of phonics as a stepping-stone to reading. Through phonics the whole puzzling question of which of these methods was the best way to teach children to read started to unravel – it was in fact all of them!

With this in mind, in a new school and with a new age group, I introduced a successful beginning reading programme. Children need certain foundations to read and the key foundation is letters and sounds. As part of the foundation stage I tried to teach the children without them even realising. I immersed the children in sounds:
•    we sang them
•    printed them
•    made them with our bodies
•    traced them
•    hunted them around the room
•    collected items representing and matching them
•    played skittles knocking down our sounds.

Once the children had a grasp of 20 initial letter sounds I made up a pack of 6 individual sounds (s a t i p n) on laminated card and sent them home with the children to physically move around and make words such as tap pat nip pin etc. This was then reinforced in class with the children being given the opportunity to blend these sounds together in a range of ways:
•    on big dice – role and make a word
•    on an interactive whiteboard – moving sounds
•    find the letters hidden in the sand and water
•    tabards with the sounds on for the children to wear and move around making words 
•    treasure hunts outside find the letters and make a word

The next key foundation was for the children to blend these sounds independently. For this I introduced a bingo style game, the children need to read the word and then match it to their bingo board - once again adding a fun element to a key skill. (Making up the boards and cutting and slicing the cards is a lengthy process but once done this was a valuable resource that is still used in that class today)

The next step is for the children to understand the workings of a book and begin to discover the wonderful world of books through:
•    Stories
•    big books
•    interactive books
•    books with cds
•    puppets to re-enact stories
•    shared books to take home
•    an inspiring book area where children would love to sit and relax - I myself would sit in there if I could fit

Another essential foundation for reading is key words (high frequency words). I teach this a little while after the blending as children need know their sounds to be able to look at initial sounds and end sounds in words. Immersing children in these words throughout the room and using various activities really helps to reinforce these key words. We also made up another set of bingo card games this time containing key words for children to share with parents.

Once the children had grasped the blending and could recognise 10 key words I would then give the children a reading book. A real reading book! This was an important part of my reception class, which we celebrated with a certificate, and a badge, which were awarded in assembly. This ceremony would then encourage the more reluctant readers to try a little more as they too wanted a real reading book, certificate, and badge along with a little bit of fuss of course.

As a leading literacy school we have shared this now well established system with students starting on their journey as I did many years ago. Moving to a new school last year I have successfully introduced the lotto bingo system here and we have been able to move children from non-readers to real readers.  As for me, I now feel I have at last grasped the question, how do you teach a child to read.

Click HERE to download your free Bingo phonics cards.

Joanne Bruton
Primary teacher

Primary - Reach for the Skype

The Problem

For years we wanted to do video conferencing with schools in other countries but were restricted by the cost of setting up the system and the bandwidth required to stream live video both ways simultaneously. Then along came Skype and took most of the problems away.

We were early users of www.epals.com to help us get in contact with other schools around the world to exchange data and become ‘pen friends’ with children from other countries. We had partner schools in Chile, the US, Australia, Japan and Ghana. Each week the children would write to their friends over the internet and wait expectantly for a reply. We used our links for geography lessons and for citizenship and it worked very well. Two things were missing though; spontaneity and face to face contact. All the schools we had contacted and ourselves investigated the possibility of video conferencing as a way to get together but because of the cost and technical knowledge required, the plan fell apart.

The Solution
Someone in school suggested that we try Skype and so we asked all our partner schools to set up Skype accounts. The only requirements were a webcam, a PC with a broadband link, a microphone and some speakers. We were able to send microphones, a webcam and speakers to the school in Ghana who couldn’t afford that level of equipment. At our end we attached the PC to an interactive whiteboard and positioned the camera centrally and twin microphones linked by an adaptor on either side of the room. The speakers were wall mounted by the whiteboard and we were ready to begin.

How we used the system

Understanding the views of children in other cultures

Our first topic concerned attitudes to bullying and how it was dealt with. The children prepared questions that they could ask the partner school and they did the same. We laid down rules for who should speak and clicked ‘Connect’. Moments later we could see them on a 2.4m x 1.6m screen and see who our camera was focused on. The children introduced themselves to each other and we then had a break to allow the children to get the excitement of seeing their new found friends out of the way. That period also allowed the teachers to tweak settings for sound and video quality before we began the question and answer session.

We began by getting the speaker to come closer to the camera but then found it better to move the camera around the class, with the teacher acting as ‘cameraperson’.

As Skype developed, it allowed true ‘conferencing’ and we were able to invite other schools to join in. It began as an observation session for the third school but we soon worked out a way we could harmonise the involvement of each school.

If there has been a major news story in one of our partner school’s countries, we have contacted them by Skype and talked about how they feel about the news. We did this for the Japanese earthquake in March 2011and the outcome was extraordinary after our children could see how events affect ‘real’ people. One of the children in Tokyo had grandparents in the quake zone and hadn’t heard from them since the fateful day. Our class were brilliant in displaying great empathy for him and his teacher emailed later to say how the boy felt better knowing his friends in the UK were concerned for him.

Keeping in touch

One of our pupils left to move abroad because of her father’s job. She asked if she could keep in touch via Skype and we now have occasional lunchtime sessions asking her about her life in Cyprus. Another child in our class was off school for several weeks due to a broken leg and was able to keep up with lessons by having Skype operating, enabling her to still receive the teaching and participate in the lessons.

Master classes 

One of our parents had a friend who worked in the film industry and managed to persuade a ‘B’ list actress to join us in a Skype lesson for drama. It was great fun and the children acted for her with the actress giving tips on their performance. We have since written to other personalities and asked if they would be prepared to do a short ‘master class’ session with our children. The response so far has been encouraging with a fire service chief doing a session with the children and a children’s author helping us with our creative writing. All schools should be able to do this quite easily, adding another dimension to lessons.

So how do I get started?

Just go on to www.skype.com and register with a username and password. You’ll need a webcam and microphone plus decent speakers. We used a splitter jack that enabled us to use two microphones to cover the whole classroom and a mini-jack extension cable to get the video camera and microphones around so the children could stay sat at their desks. If you’ve got an interactive whiteboard you’ll be able to have the video of the partner school, full size on full screen. Our broadband connection was 12 Mbps and so video and audio were nearly perfect. Don’t forget that the picture and sound quality you receive and send will also depend on that of the partner school.

Dave Lewis
Primary Teacher

Primary - It's a Blog's Life!

What is blogging?

Blogging has been around for years and some people make a lot of money from it; telling people about their lives, giving their views on the news or offering reviews of products and services. It’s a communication method, a little like a diary, where consecutive ‘posts’ are added to a website that can be viewed by the world or just within a private domain. In education, we too can make use of blogs and in many different ways and the good thing about it is that:

•    It’s FREE
•    It’s easy to set up
•    It’s easy to manage

That should hopefully have put the minds of the school’s finance officer and technophobes to rest!

Which provider should I choose?
There are many providers but my favourite is Wordpress. Their interface is user friendly, they’ve got a wealth of free extras and their security settings mean that instead of being published to the world, you can operate the blogs on a closed, private system visible only to those you invite. Wordpress also offers a clear guide to getting set up including templates that mean you can get started straight away. Just visit www.wordpress.org to get started.

How can I use Wordpress to help learning and teaching?

In our work on non-fiction writing I asked my class to consider the style and language used in diary writing. We talked about how the text is personal to us and often demarcated by time adjectives. Normally we would have kept a paper based diary for a week or two, or perhaps over the course of a school holiday but on this occasion we decided to set up a blog for each pupil. In an ICT lesson we ‘decorated’ our diaries with a design theme from the software and then got started. Some of the children noted that they could add photographs and yet more commented that it was like Facebook in that they could post what they were doing and attach photographs whilst other users they allowed to view their page could comment on it. Even after the topic was finished, many wanted to continue using their private Facebook and, like a traditional diary, referred back to things they’d done.

News Casting
We were concerned that the children in our school had little idea of what was happening in the news and initially we set homework where, over a weekend, the children would have to watch the news and bring in some information from it to report to the class on Monday. This worked very well until one child compared our diary blogs to the pages of the BBC News website and made their own using Wordpress over a weekend. On the Monday she asked if she could show us her blog as part of the report back and she had reworded the news she’d seen or read about and added pictures from news websites. Many of the rest of the class were impressed and asked if they could do theirs in the same way so we decided to produce our own news websites.

The project extended in our citizenship lessons to the children collecting their own local news from the community and took pictures. They visited a local council run nursing home that was earmarked for closure and interviewed the manager and the residents before conducting an interview with the town’s financial director. See the link for an example of the children’s work http://epecjames.wordpress.com/

Creative writing
Another great use we made of Wordpress was for creative writing. We do a lot of partner editing of stories and the comment section of blogs makes for the perfect place to feedback to writers what we thought of their work and how they can improve it. Wordpress is also a great repository of children’s work, enabling them to look back at automatically dated work and identify progression for themselves. It’s a good tool for teachers as we can join in with the comments and moderate them before the author reads them. Children can write the stories in Word and paste them in or type straight into Wordpress. The benefit of this system is its portability as children can access it easily at home or at school. Pictures can be added, drawn by the child themselves in MSPaint or scanned and uploaded. At a more advances stage, video can be added too.

OK, so how do I start?
First you need to go to www.wordpress.org/download  and register. You’ll need an email account but as you’ll be going for a private or private group privacy setting, entering an email address is still secure. Once you’ve completed the basic details, the ‘dashboard’ will appear…

You now need to click on the ‘Privacy’ tab in ‘Settings’ and click the button as shown to keep the blog private.

Now you’re all ready to start. Click on the ‘Dashboard’ tab, then ‘Posts’, then ‘New Post’ and you’ll get this screen…

The title goes in the white box under ‘Add New Post’ and the body of text in the large box. You can upload a picture by clicking the rectangle in a box to the right of ‘Upload/Insert and can then browse for an image before inserting it in your post. You can adjust the position and often the size of the image too.

Those are the very basics of getting started but the Wordpress guide will give you more tips to produce a polished piece of work.

Dave Lewis
Primary teacher 

Primary - Use Your Image-ination!

We’d all love to do great art but some of us just aren’t designed to be the next Picasso, Mondrian or Monet but there’s a great art form that passes many of us by and it’s good because it can be FREE!

Have you ever looked at the work of Andy Warhol, especially his coloured ‘negative’ images of Marilyn Monroe? You might think it’s very difficult to complete such work but with photo editing tools, it’s easy and quick. Using their own photos or ones downloaded from the web, children can use free tools to produce their own. We’ve had pop art Mickey Mouse, pop art head teachers and pop art pets and all of them look as convincing as Warhol’s original.

What do you suggest then?

The very basic but free www.paint.net is a good starting point, a big step up from MS Paint, you’ll find loads of ways to alter pictures to create new art.
We began by giving the children digital cameras and asking them to take a photograph of a friend, an object and a scene. We used each of these in different ways. We began with the ‘pop art’ image and copied it in different colours into a Word document. Very easy, the children said, but it gave them the first steps into image manipulation. We then moved onto the everyday object picture.

Many had done shoes, pencils, pencil cases or bags and using the software, we distorted the images and stretched and twisted them before pasting them onto a scene. We then went back to the portrait image and using a grid, dissected it into pieces before reconstructing it in the wrong order. Others used this process to produce pieces of a jigsaw for their friends to reconstruct. The possibilities are endless and with a variety of different software packages available for free -
- the world of image manipulation is your oyster.

We liked ‘Photo! Editor’, ‘Phantasmagoria’ and ‘Artweaver’ for the ease of use and the number of tools each has. In some ways, the three programs complement each other in offering different techniques but with all of them, it’s really easy for the children to complete some art which is unique to them and of which they can be proud!

Dave Lewis
Primary teacher 

Primary - Going Digital!

We live in a digital age with one new technological revolution seeming to swiftly follow another. Some survive and almost seem to take over our world whilst others fade as they are rapidly replaced by the newer, faster and better. Do you remember podcasting? Billed as the communication and learning tool of the decade, it faded because it just wasn’t tangible enough to matter.

Within the world of education, savvy teachers keep a watchful eye on technology and dream up ways of using it creatively in the classroom. There are many technological revolutions on our wish lists but as ever, funding issues wither the dreams of video conferencing or tablet PCs for all pupils. Hotspots of innovation, backed by funding, do exist but they are few and far between. Some years back I visited Kingscourt School in Hampshire to see their ‘semi-paperless’ school in action. The head had no office as his work environment was on his tablet PC and each teacher had a tablet with all their lessons, planning and all the important school documentation on it. They would simply enter the classroom, dock their tablets and wirelessly display the work on the interactive white board. It worked for them because all staff were well trained in its use and the system was fully supported.

Introducing technology and digital resources needn’t be costly and in some cases it can be completely free. You’ve just got to look around for what’s out there in cyberspace and identify if, and how, it can help improve learning and teaching. The introduction of new technology, like new books and other resources, can initially create a peak of motivation in pupils and teachers but it’s ensuring that the enthusiasm continues that is important here. Some years ago, a school I worked at introduced an electronic voting system to be used in lessons and the teachers received extensive training on how to use it. On the first few occasions, the teachers and the children were excited by the innovation but after a while, the repetitive nature of the way the technology was used and the time it took to prepare and test the activities soon meant that it now sits, dust covered, in a corner of the staffroom.

Key to the success of technology is making sure you understand exactly what it does and what it can do to help learning and teaching, being confident in its use, avoiding overuse, ensuring that its use can be varied and knowing that the cost of it is commensurate with the projected shelf life, not only of the hardware but also the concept.

I’ve managed to negate the last issue by finding technology that is free to use and which has the potential for a number of different uses so that it rarely looks stale. The other benefit of the technology is that much of it is day to day or simply marries technologies with which we are familiar. Even teachers who are fearful of technology will be confident users in no time and who knows, may even become the technology detectives of the future, tracking down new ways to make learning fun.

Dave Lewis
Primary teacher

Secondary English - Best Reading Buddies

I have two big problems with my reading lessons, at present. Firstly I am becoming increasingly frustrated by students saying ‘I don’t like ANY of the books in here!’ as they point vaguely at the library shelves containing hundreds upon hundreds of books. Next on my list is that although Ofsted now officially approve of reading for pleasure ("Schools that take the business of reading for pleasure seriously, where teachers read, talk with enthusiasm and recommend books, and where provision for reading is planned carefully, are more likely to succeed with their pupils' reading." Ofsted, 2011), we still need to prove the impact of reading lessons on our students’ learning. So, what’s a teacher to do? Turn my whinging students into Reading Buddies.

The first stage of this experiment was to do a reading audit with my year 7 class. The audit asks basic questions about their favourite genre and how much they enjoy reading. (Download the printable audit here). I then used the audits to pair up the students in my class. The theory is that students will be firstly paired according to their favourite genre(s) of books and then by how much they enjoy reading, with more enthusiastic readers paired with a less fervent one. The result is hopefully going to be that students can now advise and enthuse each other about what books to read in a much more effective way than me dragging them round the library and pointing out all the books I feel they should enjoy. In order to encourage this affiliation, all students will need to recommend a book to their buddy, which they will then need to read and write a short review on before the end of the term.

The second stage of this experiment is designed to prove the impact of reading in these lessons.  I have put together a reading journal, which asks students general questions on all of the Reading Assessment Focuses. Students have a choice of questions to answer in the second half of the reading lesson and then they will take part in a self and peer assessment activity. This should hopefully aid students in becoming more analytical about their own reading choices with the help of their reading buddies. Download the reading journal to try with your own classes here.

I think this will all work best if the relationship between the reading buddies grows into a positive collaborative partnership. To aid this I am going to intersperse these activities and silent reading, with paired reading; recommendations of the ‘best bits’ from the lesson’s reading; along with some other reading games so that working together becomes less of a duty and more of a joy. Hopefully then my reading lessons will finally become about ‘reading for pleasure’ (in a measurable way, of course).

Naomi Hursthouse
Advance Skills Teacher 
Steyning Grammar School

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Secondary Business - News Quiz 19/1/12

Here is today's ‘Business News Quiz’. Download the Word version (with answers and weblinks) to print off and use with your classes here!

  1. Which business has halted the sale of what from its stores in China, after large crowds disrupted the launch of the product by throwing eggs?
    Windows phone 6.5 ( )
    iPhone 4s ( )
    iPad 2 ( )
    Blackberry playbook ( )

  2. Which football club has de-listed its shares from the stock market and gone into private ownership this week? 
    Arsenal ( )

    Manchester UTD ( )
    Tottenham Hotspur ( )
    Portsmouth( )

  3. Which company has sparked Twitter outrage this week for a blackout of their broadband service?
    Sky ( )  

    02 ( )
    Talk Talk ( )
    Virgin Media ( )

  4. Which company that has £240m debts, employs more than 400 in Cardiff and over 9,000 others across the UK. Has gone into administration this week? 
    New Look ( )

    Topshop ( )
    Peacocks ( )
    Primark ( )

  5. Which business has blacked out its English-language site for 24 hours, in protest against the proposed US anti-piracy laws?
    encyclopedia.com ( )
    Ask Yahoo ( )
    Google ( )
    Wikipedia ( )

  6. Facebook is adding a series of new applications to let users share such things as photos, travel or fashion, what is their new profile page called?
    Profile line ( )

    Timeline ( )
    Timeshare ( )
    Lifeline ( )

  7. UK unemployment rose by 118,000 in the three months to November to 2.69 million, which is 8.4%, this is the highest level since when?
    January 1996 ( )
    January 1997 ( )
    January 1986 ( )
    January 2001 ( )

  8. Which internet retail site has seen its profits rise to $789m in the last 3 months of 2011?
    ASOS ( )

    ebay ( )
    Very ( )
    Amazon ( )

  9. Inflation fell sharply in December on the back of lower fuel and clothing prices, what level is current UK inflation?
    5.4% ( )

    5% ( )
    4.2% ( )
    4.5% ( )

  10. Car production in the UK rose by 5.8% in 2011, industry figures show, what is the reason for this according to the BBC?
    Boost in exports ( )
    Increase in UK sales ( )
    Environmental awareness ( )
    More new younger drivers ( ) 

Donna Jestin
Teacher of Business Studies Notre Dame College & Senior Examiner for AQA

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Further Education and Adult Learning - Children and Young People's Workforce: Using Persona Dolls


In the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial, issues around equality and discrimination have once again become a focus for attention in the media.
Children’s service workers have a duty to help children and young people develop inclusive attitudes and this is a very important component of both the Level 2 Certificate and Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce. 

L2:       Unit TDA 2.7 Maintain and Support Relationships with Children and Young People
Unit SHC 23 Introduction to Equality and Inclusion in Health, Social Care or Children’s and Young People’s Settings
L3:       Unit CYP 3.7 Understand how to Support Positive Outcomes for Children and Young People
            Unit SHC 33 Promote Equality and Inclusion in Health, Social Care or Children’s and Young People’s Settings

A good starting point is to help your students understand their own perspectives and to think about how they view others. As we all know, this is potentially a very sensitive issue, but an important one to address if students are to fully understand the nature of inclusive practice. The wordsearch attached can be a useful opening prompt for discussion. (Answers available separately here).

Practical classroom sessions are a fun and valuable way of helping your students both to develop their understanding and demonstrate their competence in the real work environment. Persona dolls have been used for many years as a playful tool to help young children learn about diversity and individual differences and they can be equally valuable for students in helping them to prepare evidence for assessment.

The Persona doll website (http://www.persona-doll-training.org/ukhome.html), has some very useful information, including example scripts for stories to use with the dolls and a wide range of links to other sites relating to anti-discrimination and inclusive practice.

Dolls from  www.persona-doll-training/org
Your students could work in groups to develop their own Persona doll story dealing with a particular aspect of discrimination (eg. race, gender, or even bullying). An example story is given on the attached information sheet or use examples from the Persona doll website.

Students could then share their stories and discuss how they might be used with children in the real work environment. Some students may have already encountered Persona dolls in their placement or work setting and could be encouraged to share their experiences with others in the group. Some of the stories might be developed and the students could practice telling their stories in a simulated “circle time” using a puppet or large soft toy in place of a Persona doll if necessary.

Encourage your students to think about questions they might ask the children, for example “how do you think teddy feels now?” or “how could we help teddy to feel better?” . Students should also be prepared to respond to some of the children’s comments, for example “my dad says you should always hit people back” or “boys who cry are sissies”.

At different levels, students could use the evidence generated here to support their assessment for:
L2: Unit SCH 23 (AC 2.2 and 2.3); Unit TDA 2.7 (AC 3.2 and 3.3)
L3: Unit SHC 33 (AC 1.1 1.2 and 1.3); Unit CYP 3.7 (AC 4.1)

Janet Stearns
Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, former Lead Examiner for CACHE

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Secondary Psychology - Quizzes!

Quick quizzes are brilliant at any part of the lesson and a quick convenient way of measuring progress. The new OFSTED framework emphasises progress over time and within lessons. The quiz format provides an excellent strategy for demonstrating ‘rapid progress’ which can be an awkward thing to demonstrate visibly (i.e. so an inspector can see it in an observation) within an hour of teaching.

These measure progress at speed. Just how fast is entirely up to you.

1) On the spot quiz
They can also be compiled as quickly as you can think, for example you can say… “Quick quiz!… write 1 to 5 down your margin…Number 1… Name a behaviourist psychologist…”

2) Give me 5!
A snappy lesson starter where you ask 5 questions about the last lesson's content will pull the students thinking into context.

3) Mid lesson quiz
“ Cover your notes…Name 3/5/7 defence mechanisms ( for example)” will work well half way through your lesson and consolidates learning.

4) To finish
As a plenary, a less precise “Write down 3 key facts you’ve learnt today” works well.

To save time planning your plenary you can try asking students to write one “question for the quizmaster” each on a post it note from the lesson to ask the other students. They have to think about their learning, but the real plus is that it requires no planning. You get a variety of questions to ask, and they know they will know the answer to at least one of the quiz questions! Of course this depends on your class size. You’ll struggle if teaching 20+ and may have to be selective with the questions. I sometimes find there’s repetition anyway so not all questions are read out.

Never mark a quiz… you can ask them to mark each others or their own and give a show of hands for their score at the end. Save yourself time, I’m sure you can fill it!

And so to prizes. There’s the healthy budget option, the unhealthy budget option or the sweet stuff…
  • Healthy budgets can be spent on psychology related goods… just search for ‘psychology stuff’ on the internet and you’ll find brain sweets, Freud lollipops, badges etc.
  • Unhealthy budgets can be tricky but in our department there is an assortment of cheap prizes… car boot sale/ charity shop goods ( e.g. a copy of Free Willy for a debates quiz), budget half price crackers (though these may now have disappeared from the shops), Happy Meal toys and even a 2 day extension for the homework have all proved popular in the past.
  • You can always resort to the sweet brown goodies. After all who doesn’t like chocolate?!

Eleanor Hills
Subject Leader Psychology and Sociology
Roundhay School

Monday, 16 January 2012

Secondary History - It's Complicated...

To help our students make sense of history quite often we generalise, so Hitler’s war becomes Germany’s war, where all Germans are involved in fighting against the Allies.  During the Industrial Revolution all factory owners were oppressive, making their workers work very long hours for very low pay and beating them if they didn’t toe the line. I’m sure you can think of lots more examples from your own schemes of work.

But things are not quite so simple. For example, at one stage during World War Two, in the South of France, the head of the Gestapo was a Frenchman, and the leader of the French Resistance was a German! And of course some employers in C19th Britain built model factories [Titus Salt, the Cadbury brothers] and made children go to school for half a day before they were allowed to work [Robert Owen.]

The Church, we teach, was a force for good in people’s lives, encouraging them to live decent lives, not to cheat, or lie, to follow God’s teaching. But what about this example?

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas  pie: 
He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, 
And said, “What a good boy am I!” 

But do you know the real story behind the nursery rhyme?

‘Jack’ Horner was the steward of Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, in the sixteenth century. His real name was Thomas, but, as in playing cards, a ‘knave’ was always known as ‘Jack!’ At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, Thomas Horner was sent by the abbot to take a pie to Henry VIII in London. The pie contained a gift of the title deeds of twelve of the richest manors owned by Glastonbury. The Abbot hoped such a gift might persuade Henry to leave his abbey alone. The deeds were ‘baked’ in a pie partly to captivate the King (it being the fashion to have novelty pies at table – remember the ‘four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie?’) and partly as a protection from highwaymen. The story is told that Thomas Horner ‘dipped’ his fingers into the pie and removed the deeds to Mells Manor, the biggest and best estate of the twelve in the pie – hence pulling out the ‘plum.’

True or not, the Horner family moved in to Mells Manor shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries, and a descendent of Thomas was still living there in 1975. This story first appeared in print in 1764.

What a terrific way to bring Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries to life. An abbot – a leader of the Church – resorting to bribery and skulduggery to try to keep his abbey open; a trusted servant of the Church who steals in order to feather his own nest; a king who is obviously after money and susceptible to bribery – why else would the Abbot have tried to bribe him? Doesn’t that humanise the topic in a way that is often missing from our textbooks? Doesn’t it put another perspective on Henry’s struggle with the Church? And you thought it was all about having a son to rule after him. As I said, history is complicated!

Alf Wilkinson
CPD Manager for the Historical Association and previously National Strategist for Key Stage 3 History. Alf has over 30 years history teaching experience and was lead author for Collins Key Stage 3 History resources.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Secondary English - The value of formative assessment

Over the past few years, the pressure on teachers and schools to provide accurate assessment of pupil progress has been racked up to a point which, some say, is almost unsustainable. With the advent of the SSEF, schools had to provide paper evidence trails to demonstrate their knowledge of the working practices and efficacy of every aspect of school life: including learning walks, work scrutiny, student voice activities – all this on top of Performance Management and other lesson observations.

Is it any wonder then, that some teachers have begun to view marking as just another means of demonstrating that they are doing their job? At some training that I was involved with recently, I asked the staff to answer honestly who the prime audience was for their marking. Was it the students, really? Or was it to satisfy the person with the tick-box who was going to be assessing their competence.

I’m sure you know what the answer was.

Dylan Wiliam is passionate about the value of formative assessment as a means of securing student progress. He talks with enormous common sense about how marking is one means of giving students what they need, which is honest, valid feedback on where they are and what they need to do to improve. Metacognition is fundamental to this process – involving students in the language of their learning and sharing the process with them.

At one school, this has been adopted by all staff with quite remarkable results. Marking has been limited to twice every half term at Key Stage 3 (at Key Stages 4 and 5 more often might be more appropriate). All marking is linked explicitly to the Assessment Focus, and teachers use the acronym P A T (Praise, Attainment/Achievement, Target).

The T for Target has been interpreted by this school to mean: ‘now, you go and do’. The Head of English said he was becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that he and his team spent hours giving students loads and loads of written feedback on their work, only for the students to just look at their attainment grade, compare it with whomever they felt in competition with, and then close their books. Dylan Wiliam would agree with this wholeheartedly – he has often advocated not giving students grades / levels as part of their feedback at all when in the process of developing a skill. This particular English department have decided to use ‘target’ to mean giving students a task to do to respond to the marking; a paragraph highlighted by the teacher for them to complete again, for example.

This department has recently received an ‘outstanding’ judgement from Ofsted: the level of student autonomy was sited as one of the main reasons for the judgement. Perhaps more significantly, teacher workload is reduced, student performance has made ‘significant improvement’, and parents value and support homework as they can see that it is for a specific purpose, rather than the ‘tick-box’ function it tended to serve in the past.

Sarah Darragh
English Teacher and author of A Bridge to GCSE English

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Secondary Business - News Quiz 12/1/12

Here is this week's Business news quiz, we have finally seen Tesco's sales slow, and despite huge marketing campaigns their sales were lower than the same Christmas period last year. With both Sainsbury and Waitrose seeing increasing sales for the same period... is this the end of the monopoly of Tesco?

Here is today's ‘Business News Quiz’. Download the Word version (with answers and weblinks) to print off and use with your classes here!

  1. Who has confirmed it has acquired the assets of outdoor clothing retailer Blacks Leisure for £20m?
    JD Sports ( )
    La Senza( )
    JJB Sports ( )
    Tesco ( )

  2. Interactive episodes of Sesame Street are being developed by its creators in conjunction with what business?
    Apple ( )
    Microsoft ( )
    Samsung ( )
    BBC ( )

  3. The price of what juice on the global markets has hit a record high, after surging  25% over the past few days?
    Grape ( )  
    Cranberry ( )
    Apple( )
    Orange ( )

  4. Which High Street bakery chain has seen a boost in its sales by 5.1% over the Christmas and New Year period?
    Ainsley’s ( )
    The Pound Bakery ( )
    Greggs ( )
    Bakers Oven ( )

  5. One of the UK's largest energy suppliers, EDF Energy, has said it is to cut its gas bills by 5% from 7 February, by how much though did it raise its prices in November 2011?
    25% ( )
    10% ( )
    20% ( )
    15% ( )

  6. Which supermarkets shares have dropped 10% after the retailer said it was "disappointed" by its seasonal trading in the UK?
    ASDA ( )
    Morrison’s ( )
    Sainsbury ( )
    Tesco ( )

  7. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has said it is planning to cut jobs how many, with most of them to happen this year?
    3, 000 ( )
    3, 500( )
    4, 000( )
    4, 500( )

  8. The cost of car insurance could be cut if the government restricted the huge number of what?
    Female drivers ( )
    New cars being sold to young males ( )
    Teenage drivers ( )
    Whiplash injury claims ( )
  9. Company Wonga has removed pages from its website after it was branded "incredibly irresponsible" for targeting students. What do they provide?
    Credit cards ( )
    Expensive Insurance ( )
    Pay Day loans ( )
    Bank accounts ( )

  10. Which company will double the speed of its broadband service for more than four million of its customers, the company has said?
    Virgin ( )
    BT ( )
    02 ( )
    Sky ( ) 

Donna Jestin
Teacher of Business Studies Notre Dame College & Senior Examiner for AQA

Secondary Law - Legal Dilemmas in Film

Legal Dilemmas in Film (3 of the best!)

The love affair between the courtroom and the silver screen is nothing new. There is a natural, underlying tension in a legal case which is undeniably dramatic. Most law students will eventually be exposed to the classic 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mocking Bird, not to mention Legally Blonde and Erin Brockovich.

I’d like to offer up three new films for a place in the Pantheon. Each one is an excellent vehicle for promoting wider discussion and ethical debate. They resonate well beyond the law class. Be warned though. They are not ‘feel good’ films to be approached lightly. But with careful pump priming and selection they provide thought-provoking material for 16 year olds and upwards.

1) Pierrepoint (Lionsgate Films)

How does a man justify taking life on behalf of the state?

This film explores the changing mental landscape of the executioner, Albert Pierrepoint as he dispatches over 600 condemned men and women. Amongst his charges; the last woman to hang - Ruth Ellis and the wrongly-executed Timothy Evans (hanged for Christie’s crime of murdering Evans’ wife and child) as well as many of the Nazi war criminals. It is an A-Z of high profile cases of the last century. Timothy Spall’s portrayal of Pierrepoint is simultaneously humane and harrowing.

If you have time show the whole film, but it is graphic and raw in places. The dilemmas here are both legal and moral.

  • Can a man remain unscathed by such terrible deeds? 
  • What is innocence? And what is guilt?
  • And ultimately, what is punishment for? How should it be meted out and by whom? 

Of one executed murderer he philosophically reflects: “She’s paid the price. She’s innocent now.”

Further research at Amnesty: http://www.protectthehuman.com/tags/death-penalty

2) Touching the Void (Film Four)

What if the only way you could save your own life was by taking the life of another?

On the slopes of a remote Peruvian mountain, Siula Grande, two real, living, breathing mountaineers find themselves enacting a legal dilemma often imagined in legal textbooks. Joe, having fallen, is suspended off the edge of the mountain. Tied to Simon, his body weight is slowly pulling his friend towards the edge of the precipice. If Simon does nothing he will eventually be pulled over the edge. He finds a penknife in his rucksack.....

Show the 15 minute clip leading up to this crisis point. Then pause the film.

  • Should he cut the rope? Is it morally justifiable? 
  • If he does is it a legally justifiable act? If so on what grounds? 
  • Does he have the mens rea for murder?

Dudley and Stephens (1884) provides many of the legal answers.

3) Ghosts (Tartan)

Does slavery still exist in modern Britain?

Nick Broomfield’s disturbing account of the 2004 Morecambe Bay disaster when 23 Chinese migrant workers lost their lives by drowning is stark, elegiac, and deeply moving.
One of the most tragic cases of manslaughter in recent times, it raises profound questions.

  • Who is protected under our law?  
  • What is society’s attitude towards illegal immigrants? Does the Rule of Law work for them?

The journey from China to England is both a shocking beginning and a good place to start the discussion.

Nigel Briggs 
Head of Law, Notre Dame Sixth Form College, Leeds