Down in science, NQT Eloise Tuck was doing an experiment with her new Y8 class. What was impressive however, was the absolute insistence on neat and careful presentation of their work – diagrams and tables were all drawn using a pencil and ruler and looked impeccable. A great example of the teacher setting the bar of expectation high and students producing a ‘benchmark of brilliance’ at the start of the year.
In maths, there was a great example of live marking going on by our fantastic head of maths, Lee Ridout. A simple, but highly effective, feedback method. As students were busily engaged on a task, Lee moved around the students, marked their books, discussed what they were struggling with and set them an improvement target. The students were then able to progress with their work and challenge themselves to a more difficult task.
Also in maths, NQT Natasha Bedford was using students to model a solution to a complex problem, in front of their peers on the whiteboard. This was being done with confidence!
In geography, our new Director of Humanities, Martyn Simmonds, was giving live feedback to Y11 students. So as they were working on a task, Martyn was circulating around the groups, checking how they were doing. Whilst doing so, he picked up a few common threads that they were getting stuck on. He then stopped the class, but rather than just giving them the easy option of him simply telling them what to do with the topic they were struggling with, he questioned them and got them to come up with the solution. This ‘unstuck’ them and allowed the lesson to flow.
Moving down to art, there was the simplest but brilliantly effective group critique taking place with our Head of Art, Gail Christie. Gail had kept a sketch book from one of her students last year who achieved an A* (one of many students who achieve brilliantly under Gail’s charge). The book was spread out on the table, and the whole Y11 class were gathered round as Gail showed them the book, questioning them on the quality work – what has she done that is so effective? Why do you think she has done that? Why did she choose this type of paper? The students were transfixed. This exercise ticked so many boxes – setting an ‘ethic of excellence’, public critique to name but two. Why don’t we all do this – in every subject? At the end of the year, get our best students to donate their books and then use this to set the standard for our new cohort in September?
In history there was some great probing questions with Jack Tyler – students weren’t able to get away with a simple response, as their responses were developed further by great questioning – what else could you add to that? Why do you think that happened? What was the consequence of that? What do you think about that? (to another student to get them to elaborate on the last response).
And finally in English, NQT Russell Shoebridge was finishing off his lesson really well. A piece of writing that a student had produced during the lesson, was being shared with the class, with students being asked to highlight the strengths of the piece of writing. Another great example of group critique.
It was great to see so much great stuff going on in our classrooms – 2014/15 is going to be a good year!