‘Sharing is Caring’, Care Bears, 1986.

With term time fast approaching, I thought it might be nice to share some of the highlights of my PGCE year, and outline some of the things that worked for me. The best thing about Twitter for me is the instant inspiration of others, and I think I make the mistake of assuming that everyone already knows everything, and that I am simply recycling. Then you can create a resource for the eighth time, post it online and BOOM, people are asking how it worked, how you designed the lesson, delivery etc and you realise that we don’t have the same brain.

Roles Cards:http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Differentiated-Role-Cards-6327496/

For folorn Y7s with very little sense of what on earth is happening, role cards are a fantastic way of getting to know the students, including everyone in the experience and providing a sense of ownership to students that are not as forthcoming, or could do with channeling the post-lunch Redbull. You don’t have to feature them in every lesson (I use the Objective Oracle religiously though, it is always nice to have someone remember our direction) but leave them displayed with Velcro so that they can be used if the lesson seems that it would welcome particular roles. I have also developed a set for literary circles that can be found on @TES, but these would be best suited for wrapping up a novel scheme and are not as generic.

Role cards are just one way of developing a group to work collaboratively; this is an aspect of the classroom environment that I am extremely passionate about but as this is now my chosen topic for @TeachMeetLeics I will blog about that at a later date.

Whistle while you work: Choosing music to accompany a given task worked wonders, and is such a tiny implementation for a teacher. Set up correctly, music can add to setting expectations for working conditions, and create the correct ambiance for the task at hand. Y9 produced inspirational speeches to the Transformers soundtrack (it basically makes you feel like you’re about to save the world), and there are oodles of suggestions out there to follow OMAM. When looking at madness within Simon Armitage’s poetry, and particularly because it was P5 Friday with Y10, this seemed fantastically apt:


You get the idea. If it fits your teaching style, it is an ideal way to introduce a topic and give your lessons another layer; as a dyslexic student (diagnosis at 31 years of age), I would have really appreciated this twist to comprehending anything.

There is more than one way to the brain: I am proud of this lesson during my PGCE over any other. Not because it was the best on the Observation sheet, but because it was the lesson that students achieved amazing things on a personal level.

This was with a low level (levels 2 to low 5) literacy group with specific physical, emotional and behavioural needs. Teacher-led learning was not an option, ever. I compiled this lesson to focus on writing with the senses as part of an Introduction to Shakespeare scheme (lesson can be found here http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Shakespeare-Elizabethan-Virtual-Theatre-Experience-6330264/ ) so I designed a virtual theatre. The RSC ‘As You LIke It’ trailer played as students entered and were handed a theatre ticket, posters were displayed, and one student was handed a crown to parade as Queen Elizabeth. We had a small amount of hay, cheese, sweets and bread as the classroom was segregated into the gentry and the groundlings. Talk tins (http://www.talkingproducts.com/educational-resources/talking-tins-education.html?___store=edu) produced sounds of the crowd, and the announcement of the Queen’s arrival. The students’ then wrote of their experience at the theatre and I have never been so proud.


Sometimes, you have to see, feel, hear, touch, taste things to truly understand them.


This post may be a little more for me than for anyone else; I want to start this year remembering the kind of teacher that I want to be, so that when there is no time on my hands, or feet, or down the back of the sofa, I can remember to keep the important aspects of my lesson present and ensure that my teaching identity is still well and truly on display. 


Will You Start The Fans Please!

So. I have a four week stretch to transition with my little teeny weeny year sevens, and I wanted a fun and interesting way to teach grammar. The reasons behind this are to be rather frank with you, I despise grammar. I was not taught any grammatical instruction during my entire educational career, I comma splice like a first class splicepert and the old fashioned bird in me has resigned herself to the fact that it never did her any harm and she can write good. Dead good.

So, at two am, suffering from an intolerable bout of insomnia now that term is only a week away (so naturally, any ability I have to sleep has now disappeared again) I came across the Twitter account @crystalmazegame. That is the point that I had my massive grammar-Crystal Maze hybrid epiphany.

There is so much to grammar, why not develop a Crystal Maze format to break It down into chunks that students can then consolidate within the final round of the Giant Crystal! No, I am not going to build a giant crystal.

This is currently a work in progress, but I can never leave things undone for very long. The same workstations would exist, to give a theme and allow us to use the fancy map of course.

The key concept is that students will progress around each workstation, with two stages of the task; the first part will be comprehension, to ensure that all parties understand the mini LO, and can successfully identify a clause etc. then, students have the choice of the type of task that they undertake to assess their learning- mental, skill, physical or mystery. Then, groups choose a representative to complete the task alone, but with the team’s verbal encouragement and assistance. If the group successfully manage to complete the task, they receive a crystal for their efforts.

No lock outs- a table of failed types would not be good for morale- and teacher’s say is final. So as an example, the Aztec section uses a focus of word types, the Futuristic is for clauses, Medieval is for sentence types and Ocean for punctuation. Once the groups have collected a crystal from each zone, they then progress to the Crystal to consolidate their learning. Again, this could be student led; pose the question to them- what task will allow you to use all of the skills that you have developed today?

This will happen. Promise. Any suggestions you have for tasks etc would be fab, I have already found this marvellous site (who are these people, god bless them) to get me started- http://crystalmaze.marcgerrish.com/games/index.htm

Until then…


Ten Ways To Use Your Box Of Things

You don’t have a box of ‘stuff’? Get out of town. You’re a teacher. You have overflowing drawers of craft equipment, pens, pencils, novelty pens, novelty pencils, bookmarks that people buy you because ‘that’s what teachers like’, cups from Disneyland that your 9 year old daughter no longer fully appreciates (how on Earth could Ariel bimbling about in a load of glitter gel EVER get old?!) and we will not get started on the Christmas decorations that are currently in between positions of employment from the ‘to keep’ pile to the ‘I give up, that knot is never coming out of that bloody tinsel’ pile. You have stuff, dude. Put it all in a box, and here are ten things you can do with it until your creative, explosive mind takes over and you think of ten more that are even better. 1. Character Profiling: what object would describe Lennie? A feather, little Danny? Oh how come? Please justify that response. Maybe he is a little too heavy handed to be a feather…. a piece of carpet you say, talkative Tiffany? Because he is strong and durable, yet soft and fragile? Lovely justifications for your ideas. Work with little Danny. Collaborative learning. 2. Walking thought machine: get a bit of string. Ok, a lot of string. Select students as characters, themes or issues within the novel/poem/whatever and groups use the string to make links or contrasts between them. Post it notes or sections of the text could be used as labels. 3. Learning Objective Stuff: Set up your stuff on the desk and students have to guess the objective that they are demonstrating. Too hard? Pathetic fallacy- rainbow of feathers, happy couple stolen from top of wedding cake. Yes, they are in the box. 4. Storytelling: Ready Steady Cook-ish task. Each group can choose an item each to take away, and create a story that features those objects. The box of stuff is an endless supply of stimulation. We’re only at #4 and you’re sold, right?! 5. Creative writing: I used this with Y10 for developing ‘show don’t tell’ writing. Students choose an item and then describe it using the five senses to the reader, without revealing the object itself. You can make this really fun by everyone keeping their object a secret and then sharing work to try and guess the items. Wow words ahoy. 6. Scene Reenactment: This is an extension of the talented @nicnacraph’s Tabletop Shakespeare. Students choose a scene from Shakespeare, a novel etc and lay things out on a sheet of paper to represent themes, ideas and characters. They then jot down why that particular thing, justification for proximity of characters, how themes are demonstrated e.g power, vulnerability etc. This can be then shared through the class using the classroom as an exhibition of their pieces. One person could remain to act as curator 🙂 7. PSHE: Used for Y7 bullying. Each student chose a thing from the thing box that represented them. They then worked in a group to compile reasons why the other people’s items were not as impressive as they’re own items. This normally brought out lots of mean generalising comments. Then, students compiled a list about why the other items were equally as impressive, just in a different way. Highlighting the wonderful nature of human life; difference. 8. Creating characters: Again, students select a thing from the thing box (this bit is mandatory for most thing-related activities, as I am sure you have spotted the pattern) and use it to create their own character. They could think of the qualities related to woody’s hat, or a toy soldier, or a feather. This was used for Skellig with Y8 to create our own Monsters. 9. Creative writing club: Perfect for choosing a random theme. This could be used in conjunction with the innovative @100word challenge for that extra push! Pick a thing. Use the thing as a basis for your story/character/mystery/fantasy/reason the word needs saving. Yes little Danny, That Lego man is trying to destroy the planet. 10. I’ve left this blank. I want you to fill in the number 10. Not because I’m a lazy bum (i AM a lazy bum) but because I want to see if you make use of your wonderful thing box. Now, go and scavenge through your junk drawer and the kid’s toy box. My top tip? Don’t steal anything that they may notice. Unless it is a REALLY good thing of course. BQmno4zCQAEVSlq