Five minutes to a calmer classroom

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I have used this in KS5, pupils real found it valuable. From experience try using it with smaller groups as it works best when students opt in to the meditation session and watch out for random giggling at the beginning. Once your class/group get used to it and experience the true benefits, they begin to request it 🙂

PBL in Music

Project Based Learning (PBL) is a central part of what we do at KS4 in the Music Dept. I get a lot of questions for other staff about what it looks like when a PBL lesson is going well so (with the girls’ permission), I created a short video that shows exactly that.

The video is less than 50 seconds of the lesson but shows just how much learning is taking place. Captions at the bottom left of the screen show what they’re working on. As you can see, it looks like organised chaos but a lot is actually happening.

Click here to watch the video

Adopt an escargot project

Year 8 pupils studying French have been working on a special project called Adopt an Escargot.
They have each adopted a baby snail from France to save it from a grizzly fate at the hands of overly zealous French chefs.

At the start of the project pupils were given individual personality profiles for their escargots telling them about their snail’s favourite things, what they like to eat and what they are frightened of. One snail loves jet skis but is terrified of water, which is ‘une grande problème’. After reading and translating their profiles pupils completed an adoption application form outlining why they would be suitable parents.

Pupils were then presented with their adoption certificates and their baby snails in a special ceremony where they promised to protect and educate them, and to keep them in touch with their French roots. The snails are in fact empty shells, although some girls are still convinced there is something hiding in them. The snails are all different shapes, colours and sizes which makes them all the more special.

Pupils will now be in regular contact with the Grand Escargot in France via email to tell her how their little snails are settling into life in the uk and to ask for advice on how to care for their escargot.

This project has really captured pupils’ imaginations and they are incredibly motivated. It has done wonders for independent learning, and I have already seen improvements in pupils’ reading, writing and speaking. I’m sure this progress will snowball once they start emailing the Grand Escargot.

The six imperatives of social learning

I was at a conference in January where the keynote speaker was David Price (the man in charge of the international Learning Futures initiative). If you have ever heard David speak, then you will know that he is truly inspirational. During his keynote, he put forward his model of social learning, which outlined his ‘six imperatives of social learning’ (from the pupils’ point of view):

Do it yourself – don’t sit back and expect someone to spoon feed you or for a teacher to cajole you into getting things done
Do it now – don’t wait for the deadline, get it done and get learning whatever comes after
Do it with friends – if you are working with someone, treat them as a friend. Support each other, take interest in the other person’s contribution, push them to learn better
Do unto others – if you have knowledge or possess a skill, share it. If you see someone struggling, lend them a hand in a way that enables them to help themselves later
Do it for fun – enjoy your learning. Even if it’s not your ‘cup of tea’, find the joy in what you’re doing
Do it for the world to see – your work is valuable beyond the classroom. Blog your work. Put your work on SoundCloud, upload your PowerPoint presentations to YouTube. This will establish a ‘learning commons’ community

David summarised these imperatives as:
Autonomy
Immediacy
Collegiality
Generosity
Playfulness
High Visibility

I was so taken with these imperatives, that I had posters made and turned them into the only six rules that I need in the classroom.

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The first Baylis Court Teach Meet

Our first ever TeachMeet was a big success. We had presentations from Paul, Kajal, Lisa, Iain and me. Lots of great ideas shared and, for me, it was a rare opportunity to see not just what other departments are doing but why they’re doing it. There’s certainly some creative thinking going on during the planning process and there’s no doubt in my mind that our pupils are lucky to be on the receiving end of this.

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SoundCloud

SoundCloud.com is an amazing resource for sharing audio in lessons. You can record straight onto the website (no additional software required) and then all pupils can have access to this straightaway.

The Music Department uses it for obvious reasons but there are so many other applications. You could explain a concept out loud, saving you from having to create a written resource. You can record pupils as they give their presentations so that you have a permanent record and share it so that they can learn from each other. The fact that the site is audio-only makes this much safer than using YouTube for similar reasons.

The basic service is free but you can pay €100 for a year’s worth of unlimited storage. Get an idea of the site by looking at the Music Department’s page.

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Padlet

http://padlet.com/

I have been using this website to set homework in KS3 & 4. Have a look at the examples in the gallery. Also, you can setup the security settings to pre-check any comments before they get posted on the wall. Quick and easy. From experience, its best not to give the same wall to more than 1 class as you can get bombarded with posts 🙂

Pupils just need the weblink and away they go.

Putting a wide range of inspirational figures and experts in front of students

Why I can’t live without TED Talks: using tech to bring speakers into class.

Click -> TED