Student Ownership and Leadership

After carrying out student surveys for all my classes before Christmas( beginner’s guide to GoogleDrive here) I provided feedback to each class using a ‘you said, we did’ approach. I wanted to show them that not only was their feedback valued, but it had a direct and positive impact upon classroom life. Feedback included mixed feelings to homework choice, which was remedied with a takeaway homework menu courtesy of @teachertoolbox, and a desire to change seats with a seating plan! Suggestions were made for the specific tasks that they felt were most beneficial to their learning, and I also highlighted all the conflicting feedback that I received to emphasise that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. I felt that by sharing this data with the class, they could see the benefit of providing meaningful feedback and taking time to reflect upon their learning.

This term, as part of a T&L triangle, I have decided to push the idea of student ownership in a different direction by running a series of student-led lessons. My key focus and aim is to challenge the high attainment of the group, but also to get the problem-solvers’ brains ticking. I also feel that whilst I am not completely shabby on the teacher-talk front, my control-freak alter ego could do with letting up a bit and seeing what happens.

The sample is a thirty-strong Y9 high attainment group, all girls and currently working to KS4 C-B targets. We’re studying Much Ado, and I want to encourage them to explore their own interpretation, but beyond that, value the perceptive ideas that will come from their peers’ analysis. Beyond that, I want them to guide the direction of the tasks, objectives and outcomes (risky business). Confused? Let me outine it a little. Using the #5minplan (thank you @teachertoolkit), I have sketched out the following overview for the week:

Lesson 1: A hook for our themes of pride and honour. Prince Harry’s contraversial nakedness as a talking point. What is the ripple effect of his actions? Discuss the transferability of the ripple effect to the plot of the play. Poor Claudio and Hero. Violins.

Outline the week’s agenda. Groups will have specific parts of scenes to understand, analyse and prepare tasks for the rest of the class. Students will then need to present their findings to evidence their learning from the other groups.Think Pair Share- how do you learn best? Can you remember a task that has helped you to learn? Share ideas to act as a scaffold for a later point.

Each group has a student in a managerial role, they will delegate and oversee other members. Groups are provided with their key scene extract, guidesheet with prompt questions and asked to spend this lesson ensuring that they understand the detail of the text, and have selected three quotations that could demonstrate the presence of pride or honour within the play. Managers will create a learning question that has emerged from their comprehension and analysis. Plenary will be a differentiated response to explain the ripple effect based upon their analysis so far.

Lesson 2: Provide a learning objective centred around the key themes. Providing a Bloom’s stimulus, groups will need to rephrase the objective into a learning question that they will answer at the end of the lesson.

Students take this lesson to prepare their learning task based upon their scene that wil be completed by the other students next lesson; the task needs to be independent of them being present. Managers wioll need to compile a key question that could be answered using their scene analysis. These questions are saved for the final lesson.Plenary will be to form the learning objective for the final lesson.

Lesson 3: Students share their learning questions and choose one to respond briefly to with their initial ideas. They then take part in student-prepared tasks on a carousel basis, note taking to ensure that they collect any relevant information for their question.

Students will then select the particular question that they wish to write an extended response to in order to present their findings. This can then extend to a homework task, and act as a peer assessment starter for the following lesson.

Plenary will be an evaluation of the week’s lessons, with reflection from students regarding both their own performance but their feelings towards this format of learning.

The plan is that the exit slips will act as a point of evaluation for me to judge the confidence of the students. I am hoping that whilst others will observe the lessons at some point, that I will be able to observe myself during the student led tasks to gauge outcomes. The higher attainment will lead others through their learning, and recognise the strengths and productivity amongst their particular group members. The lower attainment will be scaffolded by the collaborative element of the lessons (big fan of collaboration- NO ROWS in my room) and guided by their own scaffold creations; by discussing their own learning successes, they will provide their peers with a differentiated list of things that work for them.

Gaps? Heaps. That is the terror of student led learning. It is unclear to predict the direction that students will take, and this is where the OCD me will be waving theme buzz words in the air whilst desperately trying to remain mute. Most of all, remember that the sky will not fall in if it doesn’t go exactly to plan. They will learn something. They will they will they will.

I will be sure to blog following the lessons and evaluations; I intend to have a more philosophical blog that the itinery that I seemed to have created here!


Acceptable Enthusiasm

It appears that people are strangely suspicious of happiness.


I am being inecrdibly upbeat about January. Maybe it is the ridiclous amount of fruit that I am consuming in order to keep myself on the sugar-free wagon, the fact that I am actually bothering to exercise, or the exciting but terrifying prospect of owning a house on Friday. Either way, I’m pretty positive at the best of times but even by my standards, I’m proton-charged with happy thoughts. This has been met with a variety of responses:


what’s up with you?

Are you alright?

Why would you think its a good day?

(My personal favourite) You’re mental.

I am taking part in a teaching and learning strategy that is run every term at school, and really enjoying the challenge of pushing my own ideas that little bit further. T&L is my bag, and I would quite happily throw ideas back and forth with someone all day when it comes to classroom ideas and enforcing positive behaviour (check out @pivotalpaul for a bit of heartwarming positivity for your classroom). My chosen area of focus is student leadership and ownership, which I will blog about separately, but it has really stretched my noggin which is always a nice feeling. I’m more awake, the children are all fresh and shiny new as opposed to sleep-deprivation grotty-gremlin December, and stuff is good. I’m up to date, I can plan faster and better, and my child no longer panics that the house has burnt down if I turn up to collect him before 5pm. So why all the PMA beef?

Part of my #Nuture1314 was to be nice, for nothing. Now, this wasn’t a case of consciously recognising that I was being an ass kissing-motive-shielding sneak, but simply that I think people forget to be nice just because. We are all a little bit selfish as human beings (only natural, think we’re centre of the universe and all that jazz) and forget that other people have stuff going on and bad days and all that nonsense. So, I smile at every child, I have some very funny morning conversations with my tutor group first thing and I try to make people’s days a little bit nicer. So if I do smile at you, it really REALLY is just because I’m being nice. Not because I’m unhinged. Honest.