It’s been a while since the last ‘bright spots’ walk around the school – so I did one today and as usual, I wasn’t disappointed! There was lots of fantastic teaching going on in our classrooms. Here are some of the highlights:
In science, NQT Alex Mohammed was kicking off his lesson on friction and air resistance with a photo of a cyclist. This was used to generate interest in the topic but also, through careful questioning, eliciting what students already knew about the topic. One student was reticent about answering a question so, rather than just moving on and letting him off the hook, Alex told him to give it some thought and that he would come back to him for an answer in a minute.
Down in maths another NQT, Sara Stevens, was working with y8. They were reviewing their work on algebra by answering some challenging questions on the mini-whiteboards. One boy at the front said ‘I can’t do this’. Sara responded with a smile, and said ‘yes you can, just stick with it and just think about how we solved it last time’. The student was then left to struggle – which he did. Two minutes later he had solved the problem and was very pleased with himself!
Ed Minor was using fantastic questioning skills in English. Students were discussing an exam question for ‘An Inspector Calls’ and thinking about how to answer it. Ed was prompting them to develop their responses by incisive questioning such as What else could you add to that sentence? Why would that improve it? How could we do that? Why do you think that? Talk to your partner for two minutes and see if you can come up with anything else to add?
More great questioning was taking place in history with Jon Mills (another NQT). The class was deconstructing a written response to a question, that had been shared with them. This was supported by questions such as What’s good about this paragraph? What’s missing from it do you think? What would you add to it, to improve it? What knowledge points are needed in order to improve the answer? What do you notice about the overall structure of the answer? What could be improved about it? These questions generated a rich discussion about the answer and was a great way of getting students to plan their own response.
In drama, trainee teacher Miss Pratt was working with Ms Graney’s class. Students had recorded their performance on an iPad and were watching it back as a group. They were critiquing their own performance and then setting themselves improvement targets based on this critique. What was impressive about this was the very specific nature of the feedback e.g. ‘I think you need to come in with that line a few seconds later, as that would create more dramatic effect’
In geography, Hannah Townsend was introducing the topic of coastal towns to her y8 class. This was great deal of discussion about coastal towns they had visited, in order to elicit their prior knowledge and to give them something to hook this ne knowledge on to. When the task of students being asked to locate these towns on a map was introduced, Hannah stressed the importance of accuracy when it comes to plotting them – just putting it ‘roughly’ in the right place wasn’t good enough. This embedded the ethos of high expectations and attention to detail.
In French, NQT Emma Bilbrough was getting her students to answer questions using a print out from a French website. Rather than becoming too dependent on the teacher, students were encouraged to ‘unstick themselves’ by using their French dictionary – they were getting themselves out of the struggle zone!
As always, this was a great way to spend an hour – no gimmicks, just solid and focused great teaching, that exemplified our 6 pedagogical principles: