A few months ago at an INSET day, having just read Ron Berger’s ‘An Ethic of Excellence’, I spoke to the staff about the importance of the fifth point on the image above – the importance of showing students examples of excellent work. This raises their aspirations and shows them the standard they should be aiming for. At the time I used Steve Bloomer’s art/textiles classroom as an example:
To be fair, I could have used any of our art teachers to show this, but I had a photo of Steve’s room. The art department consistently achieve fantastic outcomes for our students and all of their classrooms have an incredible array of excellent work on display, as can be seen in this photo. I am convinced that the two are very strongly connected. When students enter this room, they are immersed in excellence and so cannot help but be inspired and see the standard they are aiming for. On a board in the room, Steve also explains why the work is A*:
So students can not only see excellence, but it is also clearly explained to them what makes it excellent. The same principle can also be seen in Product Design. As students enter the corridor to the Product Design classrooms, they are now met with a gallery of excellence:
Andy Tharby blogged about this recently in his article ‘Pride in the Product’. Not surprisingly, Andy has been leading the way with this in the English department. He has asked his colleagues to take a copy of examples of excellent student writing and save them in a folder, on the network. An example follows:
Teachers can then share these examples with their classes, then use them to deconstruct and discuss what makes them excellent. A brilliant idea that could certainly be done in any subject, where students have to write.
In geography, Ben Crockett, Chris Davis and Hannah Townsend wanted to show students what they should be aiming for in their written work. So they produced this excellence board:
This has been really useful in terms of showing students what they should be aiming for in their controlled assessment and what makes it excellent. For obvious reasons, this can’t be a permanent display in a classroom – so it’s on a very large piece of card, that can be moved from room to room and in the classroom, from group to group.
In Science, Kerray Rawlinson has been trying a couple of things to show excellence. Firstly, she has taken an example of an excellent answer to a 6 mark question, blown it up and displayed it on a board:
Not only does it include an exemplar answer, but it also includes the assessment criteria as well as some key words/phrases to show how the answer was scaffolded. A really useful resource to use when modelling with students how to write these answers.
Secondly, Kerray has picked some specific examples of student work and displayed them in her room:
I love the fact that this celebrates the work of specific students – by the title ‘Excellent work by…….‘. It’s also great that it is celebrating written work in science. All too often the only work that is celebrated in science labs around the country, is posters and drawings. Whilst these are often very nice to look at, it’s not anything that students are ever assessed on – whereas their written work is. With this in mind, it’s excellent writing that should be celebrated and shared in this way. Kerray has also highlighted her comment on the work, that explains what makes it so good.
Maths have been doing this for a while – and not surprisingly are one of our most successful departments. In each maths classroom, there is an annotated display of excellent student work. The example below is from Sam Down’s classroom:
In ICT, excellent student work is shared via our ‘Student Learning Blog’:
This blog is used to share examples of excellent work not only from lessons, but also extra curricular clubs and competitions e.g. the maths challenge. It’s not just used for ICT. A wide range of subjects have used it to celebrate their successes. The blog is managed by our great ICT/Computing Leader, Chloe Gardner. The advantage of using a blog as an online excellence gallery like this, is that it allows parents and other people from other schools to look at and comment on excellent student work.
MFL have set up an ‘Excellence’ display in the corridor. This shows examples of A* written work, annotated to explain why they are excellent. This is already being used as a great modelling tool – setting the standard of expectation high for all students.
So some great examples of sharing excellent work that students have produced in terms of objects and writing. What about subjects such as dance and drama, where the excellence is in the performance of the students? How can then be shared? These two subjects do this brilliantly by sharing the excellent performances and victories in the national ‘Rock Challenge’ competition – via a big display board in a very public part of the school:
This is a great way of raising aspirations and sharing excellence in a performance based subject.
So, as can be seen, students can and should be shown excellence across all subjects – to raise their aspirations, show them the standard they are aiming for and then challenge them to achieve it. Only by doing this, can we really develop ‘An Ethic of Excellence’.