2016 – a Review

As the end of the year approaches (and thankfully the end of the long and busy Autumn Term) we wanted to take an opportunity to review the year from this blog. Shaun and I have selected our favourite post from classteaching, as well as our favourite ‘Blog of the Week’ from each month.

January

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Andy Tharby gave a very insightful 15 Minute Forum on cognitive load theory. Essentially the message was ‘Keep it Simple’, to ensure that we do not ‘overload’ our students’ memories.

Thinking Hard … and why we avoid it

A great blog from Alex Quigley which discussed the importance of thinking hard for students’ memories and why teachers avoid it in their lessons.

February

Chris Runeckles presented our whole-school approach to homework which explores how we can make it more meaningful for student learning. There are four aspects to our approach to homework; each task should either extend, embed, improve or apply and shouldn’t require any further direct teacher input.

Learning is Liminal

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This excellent post by David Didau highlighted the complex path between students knowing and not knowing a new concept. He described the transitional state of liminality and as such the difficulty that teachers and students have when trying to identify when a concept has been learnt.

March

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As a school we promote hard work and effort and believe that both are linked to successful outcomes for our students. Jo Grimwood gave a great 15 Minute Forum review of Matthew Syed’s book ‘Bounce’ and investigated the key idea – Natural talent is a myth – you’re not born good at something, you work hard to become better at what it is you do.

The danger of dressing up our subjects as something else.

In this interesting blog Michael Fordham articulates why teachers should spark an interest in their subject because it is intrinsically interesting, rather than trying to make it interesting through other means.

April

Jack Tyler led an excellent 15 Minute Forum demonstrating how he used an IPEVO desktop camera to help improve the quality of his teaching. Jack showed how he used the camera for modelling, peer feedback and explanation to extend the understanding of his students.

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Is effective teaching more about good relationships than anything else? 

Carl Hendrick wrote this excellent blog about the importance of relationships. This is certainly something which is important in our school and the strength of the relationship between teacher and pupil is intrinsically linked to the outcomes of that student.

May

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As exam season began with earnest, Shaun wrote about two conversations related to the front of the classroom. These two conversations involved two small, but significant points about why teachers should stop and think about how they deliver their lessons.

Using exit tickets to assess and plan: ‘The tuning fork of teaching’

This blog by Harry Fletcher-Wood discussed the impact that exit tickets can have on how teachers plan their lessons. Whilst, it will not be accepted by everyone, the content will certainly raise some discussion.

June

June saw the fifth annual Durrington High School TeachMeet with a mixture of paella and pedagogy. This blog summarised the keynote speech by Sir Tim Brighouse as well as the presentations from the contributors.

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You can sign up for TeachMeet Durrington in 2017 here.

Not all practice is created equal.

Sporticus wrote this excellent blog about the importance of purposeful practice. This type of practice rather than naïve practice will have the greatest chance of improving our students’ performance.

July

At the end of the academic year Durrington confirmed that during the next year, department meetings would take a completely different approach. Rather than being administration based, each department would meet fortnightly to discuss subject-specific CPD.

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The aim of these sessions is to allow departments to collaboratively plan, discuss common misconceptions and discuss the best strategies for teaching each topic. This would then lead to the ultimate aim of improving the quality of our teaching and learning and improving the outcomes of our students. This blog from September summarises the first of these sessions.

12 Pointers Towards Great Teaching Assessment and Learning

Stephen Tierney suggested these 12 excellent approaches to improving the quality of teaching, assessment and learning.

September

A new school year began and as always expectations were high. The first 15 Minute Forum of the year was led by Director of Art and Design & Technology Gail Christie. She discussed how we can use the enthusiasm of our students to set a benchmark of brilliance which can then be used to raise the quality of student work throughout the year.

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Incorporating (Good) Active Learning in the Classroom

The Learning Scientists wrote this excellent blog about active learning. They discussed how active learning is very different from good active learning and suggested a number of ways that teachers could use this effectively in their lessons.

October

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In October, Shaun wrote this blog about getting the most from our lazy boys. The post included a number of excellent suggestions from teachers at Durrington in relation to how they teach their lazy boys.

The Secret of Effective Feedback

Dylan William wrote this excellent article, which focussed on the principles of proving effective feedback. It was a timely reminder for us at Durrington about the purpose of our feedback and the importance of ensuring that students use the feedback to improve their performance.

November

Chris Runeckles and I wrote this Bright Spots post based upon practical subjects. Our title ‘What can we learn from practical subjects?’ was actually an opportunity to celebrate the excellent work that takes place in practical subjects with a focus on modelling, explanation and practice.

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What learning looks like to me.

A Blog of the Week with a difference in November. Zoe Elder created this video post to share her thoughts on what learning looks like to her. Very thought provoking.

December

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Emma Bilbrough and Danielle Walters delivered an excellent 15 Minute Forum focussed on teaching Tier 2 vocabulary. This was a summary of their action research project with Brian Marsh, and discussed how important vocabulary is to students’ progress, as well as how MFL can be used to develop a students’ vocabulary.

10 Teaching Essentials and 10 Teaching Pitfalls

Tom Sherrington shared these excellent blogs about essential teaching qualities and potential teaching pitfalls. They are designed to be read alongside each other as many of the contents link together.

2016 was an excellent year and there are already a number of new developments planned for Teaching and Learning at Durrington in 2017. We look forward to sharing them with you.

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Posted by Martyn Simmonds and Shaun Allison

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