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Teaching and Learning Bulletin Issue Eight - July 2015



As we approach the end of the academic year it is time to reflect on the journey we have travelled since the Ofsted judgement which lead to the radical changes that have been outlined in the editions of the ‘Steep Learning Curve’. Back in November 2014 staff embarked on the initial training

Design by Adam Tate

for the TEEP programme and began to fine tune their teaching skills to ensure that students not only made progress, but also took greater responsibility for their own learning. Indeed our first edition of this TEEP bulletin featured an article on ‘flipped learning’, openly encouraging students to develop prior learning for a particular topic so that they can be more independent. The edition also celebrated the visual displays that staff had produced to use as learning tools in the classroom. The next edition of the bulletin looked at the TEEP Peep sessions staff had used to share good practice and at how collaborative learning could be used to develop group goals. The journey continued in the third edition with feedback from day 3 of the TEEP training and a review of how accelerated learning could be used to connect learning and engage students using thinking strategies. By the fourth issue of the bulletin we had seen the development of TEEP learning environments with staff encouraged to visit other classrooms to see how other staff had created a learning environment. There were also some creative ideas such as having a dry wipe area of the room which staff could consider. By April we were six months into the TEEP process and the fifth edition was able to feature both

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details of our HM Inspectors visit and reflections from pupils on how TEEP was changing their learning. As with most editions we also looked at the effective use of ICT and were able to announce the establishment of TEEP champions. These are a group of staff who have embraced the TEEP process in a positive way and have achieved good or outstanding in lesson observations. With staff fully on board with the drive for improvement it has been important to ensure that the Governing Body are also committed to the TEEP process and that they support the efforts staff are making. In our sixth edition we reported back on the TEEP training undertaken by the Governors and how we were making every effort to involve our parents in the learning process. With a new parental portal we were providing them with a unique way of engaging with the school and their child’s learning. This edition also saw an article looking at encouraging students to read which highlighted our continued commitment to improving literacy across the school.

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Often seen as a difficult part of the TEEP cycle, presenting new information can be relatively straightforward. Firstly having an effective teaching strategy is key as it provides an opportunity for the learners to connect with their prior learning and can help to foster effective learning. Yes I am learning something new, but I can see how it links to something I already know how to do. Clearly presenting subject matter can often depend on the topic, the


At the end of May, Janet Lawrence the Chair of the Interim Executive Committee and Vice Chair of the Governors took an opportunity to observe our TEEP Champions in action and concluded that the process allowed her to better understand what we mean by first quality teaching. She was impressed with how students learnt, encouraged by seeing students acting as partners in their own learning and felt staff were enabling students to succeed and know how they could improve. Janet spent a day in school

resources and time available and the interest level of the students. But an effective teacher will be able to take all of this into account when presenting the new information to their group. What is equally important is that you must remain flexible and adjust your delivery rather than expecting the learner to modify their learning to fit the model you are using. In conclusion presenting new information should be engaging and excite students about the new

content, it should also encourage the students to explore their thoughts, feelings, positions and applications to life and prior experiences. Presenting new information also offers the possibility for students to evaluate their knowledge of the new content. Always remember that strategies for presenting new information can include small group discussions, opening questions, think-pairshare, role play and a wide variety of other activities.

observing seven TEEP Champions and 3 Lead Practitioners. ‘What a day I had’ she said and was pleased to be able to produce a report for the Governing Body which contained an array of positive words, including ‘relevant’, ‘engaging’, ‘stimulating’, ‘active’ and ‘responsive’. She also felt that the day contained a number of ‘eureka’ moments including the moment a Year 9 student discovered a mathematical rule by recognising a pattern or a Year 7 student in an RE lesson who genuinely said they saw the purpose in learning a particular topic. It is not every day that a member of the Governing Body is able to spend quality time witnessing

the good work that is taking place in school and being able to see students gaining in confidence, enjoying learning and actually learning something new themselves, and Janet reported that she had found the day extremely valuable. She felt that the committed, enthusiastic TEEP Champions and Lead Practitioners demonstrated the best of TEEP and could see how the staff had been able to refocus their teaching and share and support each other. ‘What a recipe for success and improvement’ Janet concluded and she asked that a big thank you is passed to all concerned in making her day in school so rewarding.

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The Eclipse system will enable students to gain access to a personalised online learning resource, tailored to their individual research and reading preferences, wherever and whenever they want. With multimedia content that is In one of our recent issues we easily accessible, we will be able featured an article which looked to provide excellent teaching and at the power of reading, so it is learning opportunities both inside good to be able to announce that and outside the classroom. we have invested in a new library management system which will What Eclipse offers is the ability to help students find suitable reading track reading progress and trends materials and match their needs across the whole school, make with items available in our Learning reading fun for students, engage Resource Centre.

Much of what we know about the human brain we have learnt in the last ten years. With advances in scanning technology and brain research we have been able to analyse the parts of the brain that are active during teaching and learning. This has helped us to better understand preferred learning styles and plan and design lessons that help more students to learn. It has been said that the average concentration span for children is their chronological age plus two minutes! This means that asking a group of students to listen for a long period of time is a recipe for disaster and it is important also to remember that most learning takes place at the beginning of the lesson. So injecting pace from the start, engaging the students and tapping into their preferred learning style is the key to a successful learning experience.

Recent research can help us when it comes to understanding preferred learning styles. The research found that 29% of learners are visual learners, 34% are auditory learners and 37% are kinaesthetic learners. However what we also need to address is getting learners to use both sides of the neo cortex and become ‘whole brain learners’. Becoming learners who can respond equally well to a variety of learning styles. To become whole brain learners we may need to ‘exercise’ our brains with some brain gym exercises. You could get your class to try the following: »» Practice rolling their head in circles: slowly one way, then slowly the other. »» Or you could ask them to pat their head with their right hand

with parents and allow students to access a dynamic and intuitive search option. Having an innovative web-based library management system is further evidence that we have put literacy at the centre of our drive for improvement.

and rub their stomach with their left hand, then swap round their hands and rub their head and pat their stomach. A good exercise to encourage thinking in the classroom is a Think-Pair-Share task. Children are asked to consider an issue or a problem individually, such as reading and preparing a response to an information text, or preparing a news item to be read aloud. They then explain their ideas to a partner. After the pairs have discussed the issue, they may join another pair, share views and emerge with a group conclusion or perspective. Helping students adapting learning their styles and employing tasks designed to challenge students are good, effective teaching tools and will lead over time to outstanding teaching and learning practice.



One of the key features of an outstanding lesson is challenge and the best way to ensure that you have challenge in your lessons is to introduce it at the start. To ensure this happens it is crucial to have a challenging prepare for learning activity. An inventive way of doing this is to use ‘thunks’ (questions that have no right or

wrong answers, but are designed to make your brain work, or hurt depending on your point of view). Here are a couple of examples. You can then get the students in your class to produce their own ‘thunks’ and challenge them to be as inventive and as imaginative as possible. Put quite simply an affinity diagram is a way of organising ideas and data. As a prepare for learning task or as part of a group activity it is easy to produce a diagram which poses a question which has numerous responses. You can then ask that the students to select from their list of possible relevant responses a smaller number and prepare to share these ideas with the group. Deeper analysis will highlight common themes or areas of affinity.

SUGGESTED RESEARCH ‘Think You Can Think?’ explores the art of critical thinking and the logic of solving problems. From choosing the cheapest cherries in a supermarket, to scrutinising political debates, this book discusses how to take the most logical approach every time. Nelson has two pet tortoises, one called Wellington and one called Napoleon. Wellington is twice as old as Napoleon. In 10 years, the sum of their ages will be 47. How old is Wellington? A) 27 B) 18 C) 17 D) 9 E) 11 Think you could answer 50 questions like this in 90 minutes? Perhaps not, but reading this book will certainly help, and will give you plenty of ideas for developing critical thinking in your lessons.

The Steep Learning Curve - Issue Eight  

by St Chad's Catholic and Church of England High School

The Steep Learning Curve - Issue Eight  

by St Chad's Catholic and Church of England High School