This article originally appeared in the September 2012 Innovate My School magazine. It’s a familiar problem: you want to start a new project at your school, but there’s no money for the equipment or services you need. Don’t dust off the rolling pin for a fundraising cake sale just yet. Believe it or not, you may be able to get what you need for nothing! Organisations across the ...
The internet is awash with steps to success and these cover every field: professional, cultural, social and some I would not dare to mention. Often these generic codes are ideas that we could easily think of ourselves, but as the self-help industry has always been popular, perhaps we don't do this as well as we could. I wanted to look at one example of self-help thinking, Terry Starbucker's reminders for ...
2012 has been an amazing year for my growth as a professional. The main catalyst of this growth was when I started engaging with like-minded educationalists around the world on Twitter in January of this year. In particular, I learnt about new methodologies like brain-based learning, flipping the classroom and a variety of technology-based teaching aids. The area I explored most fervently was the bewildering array of educational software and apps ...

Plan on a Page

If you are involved in education and use twitter you can’t not have seen Ross McGill’s excellent 5 Minute Lesson Plan.  A great resource that supports teachers with planning effective lessons, in 5 minutes or less. This inspired us to produce a ‘Plan on a Page’, based on the great principles of the 5 minute plan: Saving precious teacher time Supporting teachers to plan for effective learning Satisfying the criteria for ...
1. Comic life - creating conversations as a comic. I remember being taught French at high school, and the first thing everybody had to do was a simple conversation with a partner. This is my third year teaching Spanish to Year 6, and I have always started with that same topic. To freshen up this tried and tested formula, though, I have the children create comic strips of their conversation. Most children ...
Sample questions from the Government's new “back to basics” grammar, spelling and punctuation test for 11-year-olds were released this week. Here are three superb literacy-related resources for all teachers - whether they're looking for a way to improve pupils' punctuation, a refresher course on comma conventions, or some intriguing information about where grammar came from and why it matters.     1. "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips" website Mignon Forgarty, otherwise known ...
I have it on good authority that autonomy is a problem when our sixth formers leave us for university life. Helping pupils recognise their learning and find ways to enhance their own exploration of the world in which they live, encourages autonomy; this must be developed earlier if we want to avoid spoon-feeding GCSE students and sixth formers forever, damaging their chances when their apron strings are finally cut. One ...
There has been a recent twitter exploration on deep understanding led by Peter Skillen, of www.plpnetwork.com. The thrust of the debate centred on the ways in which we can support pupils move from 'novice' learning to 'expert' learning. Skillen paints a picture of the novice learner as one that is unable to plan, monitor and reflect on their learning. With respect to metacognitive strengths, this might be the ...
The use of apps in the classroom is now commonplace. The challenge speech and language therapists face is knowing the best way to use apps in this environment. With the sheer magnitude of apps available, it can be difficult to sort through and find an app which targets specific communication goals. Many of the available educational apps can easily be incorporated into the therapy setting to collect data, record conversational ...
The Christmas holidays should be a time for mulling wine and pulling crackers. But many teachers will spend at least some of the festive period wondering - and worrying about - how well their pupils are preparing for January exams. To assuage the anxiety, here are six YouTube videos that should help your pupils maximise their memories.   1. The “Method of Loci” or memory palace In this video, Andi Bell demonstrates ...

Alternative reality

Isn't it curious that all of you and and all of your students use the internet daily but none of you exploit its potential for teaching, learning and creativity? Isn't it curious that schools force their students to inhabit this alternative reality for six or seven hours every day where the internet doesn't exist? Earlier this week I led a seminar for PGCE students at Nottingham University on the use ...
The ability to respond and adapt efficiently when under pressure is a skill that can make a huge difference to the future of secondary school students. Whether it’s having the strength to say no to a situation they are not comfortable with, the confidence to talk in front of a large group, or the aptitude to come through a difficult day smiling – mental toughness is key. It was a ...

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