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Teaching and Learning at South Worcestershire College - June 2013 #001 Welcome to Connect The new college newsletter on teaching and learning which will be issued once a term. The purpose of the newsletter is to share new developments in education and to disseminate good practice developed within and outside the college. Contributions from staff are invited for inclusion in the next newsletter which will be distributed in the autumn term. Please send contributions and suggestions to Lorraine Pearson by 7 September 2013.

Royal College of Teaching Tuesday 30th April saw the launch of ‘Towards a Royal College of Teaching’. The aim is to set up a Royal College independent of government and unions, which will help create the independent professionalism we see in other fields. The Teacher Development Trust is running an on-line consultation. Evidence-based teachers are encouraged to respond to the consultation by insisting that the Royal College be ‘evidence-based’ at its core. One significant difference between teaching and professions like engineering and surgery is that we do not have a shared ‘theory of learning’. There are several theories around teaching and, if this is not resolved, any College could simply result in endless debates between schools-of-thought. A full copy of the report and consultation exercise can be accessed at:

Register Today with the EBTN – Make a difference The Evidence Based Teachers Network is open to anyone in the teaching profession interested in using evidence based methods either in their classroom or as a strategy for improving learning in their school or college. The EBTN focuses on ‘what works’ in teaching and learning. Benefits include:

 sharing resources and best practice  practical advice which can be used in the classroom  keeping up-to-date with developments making sense of the learning process The EBTN encourages teaching staff to: Promote evidence based approaches to their managers as effective ways to boost learning Add evidence-based books to the staff library Suggest discussions around evidence based teaching methods in meetings – What works? How do we know? For further details and to join go to:

Thinking Classroom This website focuses on the promotion of thinking skills, multiple intelligences, learning styles and skills-based learning. There is a wealth of innovative resources available to support your teaching and learning.

There is a free standard membership which entitles you to a themed monthly online learning magazine including information and new thinking tools plus access to the resources library.

There is an enhanced membership for an annual fee giving you access to a greater range of resources. Website:

The college will be introducing Microsoft Office 365 from 1 September 2013 to all students and staff as part of a planned upgrade to our live@eduservices. Office 365 offers access for staff and learners to various services and software built around the Microsoft Office platform. You can work from virtually anywhere using the Office online applications. Files are stored on the cloud and automatically backed up. Your files are private and secure. Features:      

E-mails and Calendars: Students and tutors can access their e-mails anywhere where there is an internet connection. Office Web Apps: Create and edit Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel documents from any modern browser. File storage and sharing: You can store files in the cloud to work on remotely. Instant Messaging: Connect with others via instant message and let people know your availability with your online status. Collaborate: Work together on projects, in study groups that help keep related documents, notes, tasks and conversations organised together. Web Conferencing: Either using a webcam or by just typing in chat. Students and staff will be able to use Microsoft’s lync services to allow them to chat and collaborate together. More information can be found on the college publish sharepoint page

Tips for Outstanding Simple ideas to improve the lesson

Create thought provoking starter activities – have it ready as soon as they arrive on the desk/whiteboard – get them to start as latecomers arrive.

Colour coded to help students realise progression from green to orange to red means difficulty increases. Use learning outcomes not task based outcomes.


(green L/O) - Must

explain/compare/discuss/compose (orange L/O) – Should analyse/evaluate/investigate

(red L/O) – Could

Refer to learning objectives consistently throughout the lesson – not just the beginning and the end.

Use hinge point questions (questions to test understanding before allowing students to move on to the next learning objective).

Make sure your resources are creative and have learning objectives on worksheets so students know where they are in the lesson.

Avoid getting students to copy out definitions/key information- get them to work for this information themselves.

Step back from being the expert in the class from time to time and let students show their ability to learn independently (odd one out/ choose the correct definition/here's the answer- what was the question?)

Use different types of activities from lesson to lesson – aim to keep students on their toes each lesson so they do not know what to expect.

Re-model tasks verbally to help differentiate – you can verbally scaffold tasks for individual students without having to have 8 zillion different worksheets.

Ensure that you speak to every student in the room at least once during a lesson (say hello, ask them a question, praise them, comment on their work).

If students simply aren't getting the content of your lesson-don't soldier on in fear of deviating from your lesson plan. Instead re-model and re-shape your learning objectives and lesson.

Ask probing, open-ended questions – ask them to the students without their hands up- even better- apply a no hands up policy from time to time.

Be consistent with behaviour rules/discipline with every student in the class

Ensure you know where the learners are with their progression (AFL- mini whiteboards- post it notes etc.)

Ensure that you complete a plenary to find out what students have reached what learning objective.

Hinge Questions A hinge question is based on the important concept in a lesson that is critical for students to understand before you move on in the lesson. The question should fall about midway during the lesson. Every student must respond to the question within two minutes. You must be able to collect and interpret the responses from all students in 30 seconds.

This means you will not have time for learners to explain their answers. This feels unnatural – we always want to know why, but the point here is to check understanding, work out whether you need to recap or change direction and then get a move on. To make this work you’ll need make the questions multiple choice and have access to an essential piece of English teaching kit: a set of mini whiteboards. Here’s a couple of examples:

A good hinge question needs a lot of careful planning. The second example highlights the importance of asking the right question. What would happen if instead the question was: Which of these is an example of personification? The tutor would end up bogged down in a teacher lead discussion in which everyone, except for the keenest learners is thoroughly bored.

Balloon Game Question Technique As teachers we tend to pose questions that come back to us: We pose a question, the child answers, and then we re-phrase it for the rest of the class.

This means learners don’t listen to each other or engage with each other and it keeps the teacher at the front of the class. Try this technique – which is like the game where you have to keep the balloon in the air. You pose question to a pupil. You then immediately get another pupil to ‘catch’ and develop their answer by asking them: What do you think of that?” or “What can we add to that?”. Keep this going around the class – you are just there to facilitate.

In a great lesson, it is the learners who ask all the questions because they are more engaged and want to know more; they are leading the learning.

We can learn a lot from the questions that the children ask – use them to review your lesson as they can highlight learning opportunities that you didn’t even know were there!

Isabella Wallace: userpath=00000082/00015367/00083384/ &utm_source=frontpage&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign= STAFFROOM

There is a video example of the 5 minute lesson plan - Available from: http:// feature=player_embedded&v=HPPkwfLbzkM&list=UUpTS08s0egVhJRUHzURU4qg A template in PowerPoint of the 5 minute lesson plan can be accessed via the portal under college documents - teaching and learning folder or just e-mail for a copy.

Guide for the 5 Minute Lesson Plan The big picture : How does the lesson fit into your scheme of work / topic? What knowledge are pupils coming to the lesson with already? What links have you made / can you make? Describe the lesson in 30 seconds!

Lesson outcomes: Your objectives for the current lesson. The arrow is just a visual reminder that your lesson is building on what’s gone before.

Engagement : What’s the hook? How will you gain student attention at the start and throughout the lesson that is exciting and meaningful and that you’ll be using to lure pupils into learning?

Stickability : What will stick in pupils’ minds as they leave your lesson? What key point(s) do you want them to remember and bring back to the next lesson?

Assessment : How will you assess where your learners are at during the lesson, so as to know how to take them where you want to go? What AfL strategies are you going to use? What key questions will help you to lure pupils into learning? Plan for various (AfL) Assessment for Learning strategies to allow students to see progress. Use a Targeted-Question grid to help frame higher-order questions.

Keywords : Literacy has never had such a high-profile as it has at the moment. Encourage students to read lesson objectives out. Pick out keywords and extrapolate their meanings.

Differentiation/Individualisation: What activities you will provide to meet gifted and talented students; How will you meet the needs of SEN/D and EAL learners. What sort of groupings are needed?

Learning episodes : What is going to happen in the lesson from start to finish? Identify as many opportunities for pupil-led learning as possible. The four boxes do NOT denote a four-part lesson. Fill them up with what needs to happen.

Training students to cope with being stuck (Andy Griffiths and Mark Burns) Griffiths and Burns suggest the following techniques that outstanding teachers frequently use to help their students deal with being stuck or confused, useful. You can find more of their strategies in the book ‘Engaging Learning’ and with Osiris Educational. See references. Stuck Boards

Train the students to use their stuck boards to develop new routines when they get stuck. The boards challenge them to use a range of strategies before asking for help and encourage the learners not to give up. The statement at the top of the board is important too. ‘We’re great learners’ is both an affirmation for the students and shows that their tutor believes in them. Wonderwall Create a space in your classroom for the Wonderwall. Here students can place questions on sticky notes throughout the lesson. He trains his students to share these questions without any fuss. When students are tackling their work the tutor can look at the Wonderwall and then speak to individual or groups to help them with questions. 3B4ME This routine is great for getting students to work longer on activities before they give up or ask their teacher for help. Stage 1 encourages students to think hard about ways they have tackled similar problems before and the successful strategies they used. Stage 2 encourages them to use all the available resources such as their books or the help desk. Stage 3 means they can ask a friend or other students. Only after these three stages have been tried can the students ask their teacher for support.

TEACHING AND LEARNING WALLS - SHARING GOOD PRACTICE Tutors are invited to share good practice and make recommendations to colleagues on the teaching and learning walls set up under ‘How to Teach’ on the staff portal. To make a post, select one of the following walls: 



Pace, Stretch and Challenge


Managing Behaviour

When in the wall, double mouse click anywhere and a text box will appear for you to complete (as below). You can also add a URL or file using these icons. If you need any queries please contact me.

References Beere, J (2012) The Perfect Ofsted Lesson 2012 Criteria, Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing Griffiths, A and Burns, M (2012)0 Outstanding Teaching – Engaging Learners. Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing The Thinking Classroom. Available from ThinkingClassroomPhilosophy.aspx Osris Educational, Staffroom Volume 1, Available from: McGill R (2012) 5 Minute Lesson Plan. Available from: storyCode=6170564

Connect summer 2013 (issue 1)  

Teaching and Learning Newsletter, Issue 1 - June 2013

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