Bright Spots

There was a great deal of effective and engaging teaching occurring during P3 today at Durrington. In particular, it is increasingly evident that our classrooms are rapidly becoming vocabulary-rich environments. This explicit pedagogical approach will be invaluable for the learning and outcomes of all students, especially our disadvantaged cohorts. It is powerful to see a teaching staff working collaboratively, and therefore successfully, on our main literacy objective.

In textiles, Steve Bloomer’s classroom was a hive of industrious and focused activity. The Year 10 students were working on their sea-inspired projects, and the pieces that are emerging are spectacular. Furthermore, the students in this mixed-ability group were all willing and able to talk about their work with clarity and pride. Earlier in the lesson, Steve had shared some rich tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary with the class, for example distressed surfaces and crystallised, and asked the students to use this vocabulary to talk about their work. This is an excellent way of using concrete examples (in this instance the students’ own work) to help consolidate understanding of more conceptual vocabulary.

Along the corridor in maths, Kathy Hughes was giving superb whole-class feedback to her Year 8 group with regards to their homework. Kathy spent time carefully going over mistakes that students had made in their homework and then modelled the correct method required to complete the tasks. What made this feedback particularly effective was that Kathy knew exactly what areas the class needed to work on, and then gave two or three examples and explanations of how to improve their accuracy in these areas, for example by reminding students to label what they are plotting on graphs.

Jack Griffiths was delivering a high-challenge lesson in his computing class. Jack was using clear metacognitive strategies as he modelled annotating code, talking aloud about his thinking as he did so. This moved on to some targeted and high-level questioning through which Jack could assess how much of their written work the students really understood. At one point, a student was struggling to understand a particularly complex sequence in the coding, and so Jack made excellent use of a sporting analogy to scaffold the student’s learning.

Downstairs, Ray Burns’s Year 10 class were midway through producing some very eye catching animal figures using a cut and slot method. Ray explained that he had encouraged the students to reflect on any mistakes they made as they went about the process of producing their pieces and adjust their plans accordingly. This kind of metacognitive thinking and self regulation is precisely what we are hoping to develop further in our students at Durrington over the coming year.

In science, Phoebe Bence was introducing a new topic to her Year 9 class. There was very methodical instruction taking place with the aid of a well-selected diagram in which the text was part of the image. Through her approach and resources, Phoebe was avoiding overloading her students’ working memories as they grappled with this new and complex information. Phoebe also demonstrated her awareness of the importance of literacy when she asked a student to use the more sophisticated ‘stomach’ instead of the student’s original, and more colloquial, word choice.

Kelly Heane’s Year 7 class were engrossed in their reading of a whole-class shared novel. They were at a gripping point in the narrative, and the enjoyment from the whole class was palpable. It was a great to see young people sharing in the pleasure of reading. However, what also made this lesson very effective in terms of learning was Kelly’s clear modelling of the essential reading strategies. For example, Kelly asked questions about the text to show her class what she as thinking as she read to help her comprehend. Additionally, Kelly had previously asked the class to make predictions about what might happen and now referred back to these in order to clarify the section just read. Finally, Kelly stopped to check what they might not have understood very well, and went back to the text to clear up any confusion. It is the explicit modelling of these strategies that can open up the world of reading to those who find it more challenging, and therefore helps to create inclusive classrooms.

Sarah Dedman’s Year 8 history class were busy tackling an extended writing piece in silent conditions. However, Sarah was not resting easy and took the opportunity to challenge her students on an individual basis. What was particularly impressive in this lesson was Sarah’s use of elaborative questioning as she pushed a student to keep developing his response using tier 2 and 3 terminology, for example alliance. The student showed many signs of reluctance to continue (he was in the struggle zone) but Sarah’s persistence and support paid off and enabled him to produce a very complex verbal response which he was then able to put into writing.

Finally, in geography Hannah Townsend was tackling misconceptions with potentially very serious outcomes not just in the classroom but far beyond. Hannah had used a graph to demonstrate the effect of immigration into the UK, and was openly challenging the perception that immigrant groups contribute less than they gain from UK systems. This was a very high-challenge and potentially contentious lesson, but Hannah’s approach using geographical methods to explain the facts meant that the students had a secure and valid basis from which to form their ideas. Hannah also exemplified Durrington’s literacy focus on using tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary during a questioning sequence. A student gave an answer using the word ‘make’ and Hannah asked them to upgrade to another word they had been practising – manufacture. This instantly lifted the response to a more geographically accurate explanation, and enabled to class to better understand the word by using it in a different context.

It is clear that Durrington students continue to enjoy and benefit from the diligence, expertise and care of a fantastic teaching team.

Fran Haynes.






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