Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Differentiation Strategies for SpLD

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Now I’m no expert in SEN or SpLD for that matter, but these are 5 strategies that I have found that work for my students over the past 5 years. These strategies have come from research or CPD I have undertaken.

1 // Pastel Colours for Powerpoints
Since I can remember I’ve been using pastel colours for PowerPoints and other digital documents. I read somewhere during my NQT year that pastel colours are preferable for students with dyslexia but are also beneficial for all students as white backgrounds can cause eye strain. Ever since then I’ve been using pastel colours for displaying information on the whiteboard. Yellow for task instructions, blue for information and green for assessment for learning. In addition the background is a light grey to reduce glare and sensitivity to bright lights.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

2 // Structure Scaffolds
To support students to develop their extended writing I’ve used a variety of scaffolding strategies over the years in order to enable students to break down the task and focus on demonstrating their knowledge as opposed to structure (initially). Some approaches include sentence_starters_mat, structure sheets/strips and tasks broken down into sections which come together as one piece in the end.

atstructure stips differentiatedtask break down

3 // Note Taking Supports
Students with dyslexia regularly struggle to take notes, the challenge of listening and writing at the same time is clear. In order to develop note taking skills, I’ve provided what many people these days call ‘Knowledge Organisers’ as a reference point and note taking supports to support laying out and recording information.

independent learners topic placematsindependent learners note taking

4 // Differentiated feedback
This really applies to all students, however there are things I focus more or less on with students with SpLD than others. For instance focusing on subject knowledge as opposed to spelling, punctuation and grammar, making students respond to questions as opposed to making improvements to a previous piece of work and editing as opposed to full re-writes.

5 // Words to use in a lesson
Really simple but effective way to develop subject specific terminology in SpLD students and their practice of spelling such terms has been the list of key terms to use during lessons. These appear as a list at the bottom of PowerPoint slides and students are given the key word list at the start of the topic. They’ve then been able to highlight the words for the lesson that they need to focus on using. These are the only spellings I have focused my attention on in the marking of their work and these are the only spellings I have had them correct. I found this worked particularly well with boys, particularly one higher ability boy in year 8 that particularly worried about the structure of his written work and SpAG, he’d focus too much on these rather than showing his understanding in written work. When we started to focus on the spelling of key terminology instead he wrote more about what he knew and understood. independent learners key word lists

I hope this post is of some use to you.

Share your approaches in the comments.

Mrs Humanities


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Whole Class Feedback Examples

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The time was September 2016, I shared a version of a Marking Crib Sheet from @MrThorntonTeach at Pedagoo Hampshire 2016 and since then I’ve been seeing whole class feedback every where. It even forms part of my Marking and Feedback Toolkit.

Now I’d say it’s nothing new, teachers and educators from across the world have been doing it for years. Marking work, then telling students what they could have done to make it better, where they went wrong, what misconceptions came up etc.etc. it just didn’t have an ‘official’ name. I remember RAG rating students work on a separate piece of paper during my NQT year, I’d have 3 columns and i’d write their initials under the relevant column so I knew who I needed to invest time in during the next lesson or would need to check their books at the end of the lesson to see how they’d done. Nowadays people are using crib sheets, whole class feedback, book look records or whatever other name they been given to record and SHARE such information with students.

Here are some examples I’ve seen that maybe of inspiration to you.

1 //  Mr Thornton Teach

The original example I first shared at Pedagoo Hampshire 2016. When I told people how book looks had cut down my marking time and gave me more of a work/life balance it was like a revelation for many. Pleased to see Greg’s post has gone far and wide influencing educators across the country.

2 // @TGEngTandL

I really liked how this example had an exemplar of good practice included along side the feedback to help students to develop their own work. A useful ad developmental strategy.

3 // @Greg_Parekh 

This one I feel is good for younger students or when you are first developing the strategy with students in the sense that it directs students towards the comments and questions that apply to them; Scaffolding them in the initial stages of identifying relevant feedback and how they can improve. I’ve done this through simple codes in their books before which relate to the next steps comment on the sheet. Once students become better at identifying what is relevant to them, I take the codes or direction way.

4 // @matthewmoor3 

This example works alongside a marking code system and has been used to mark an assessed piece of work. Matthew used the codes on the assessed work to identify to students what they needed to do to improve in order to provide students with precise targets whilst the ‘warm, hot and super scorching’ tasks give students choice in how to act on feedback.

5 // @ScienceLP

The simple and effective style. Easy for everyday use to check progress and understanding before using to plan subsequent lessons. Easy.

Now the key point to remember with whole class feedback is that the aim is too reduce the time spent marking but ensuring that students receive high quality feedback that enables them to progress. Scaffolding the technique is important at first but once students are confident it can be taken that away so that you encourage students to reflect and determine their own improvement actions. Again takes some support and scaffolding but eventually students can master it becoming drivers of their own progress (oh but then it’s the end of the year and the training starts all over again in September).

In addition to the provision of feedback, these sheets provide an excellent basis for planning. Sometimes I just use the book look sheets to formatively assess a class, so I know where to go next lesson. Often misconceptions influence my starter and RAG rating student understanding helps to identify where the direct support, where to scaffold or differentiate.

Hope these have inspired you to give #WholeClassFeedback a try.

Mrs Humanities


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 wellbeing strategies

mrs humanities shares

Wellbeing is being flung around from here to there these days…. and about time to be honest. However, my concern is that too often schools are merely paying lip service to staff wellbeing and not embedding it into the ethos and foundations of the school.

Here are 5 things I feel help to embed staff wellbeing…

1// Thank yous.
It doesn’t take much to sincerely say thank you. It doesn’t need to be a public affair (in fact it’s the little thank yous that I always find have the most impact), but it does have to be meaningful and sincere. A note card or post it note with those little words can make all the difference to somebodies day, being recognised for the hardwork and commitment they make to the school and the lives of their students. It doesn’t take much to show a sincere thanks.

2// Acts of kindness from Senior Leadership
Every now and then surprise staff with an act of kindness; leave surprise cakes or fruit in the staff room, take cups of tea to Middle Leadership meetings, provide snacks for twilight meetings. Anything that’s not forced and is supplementary to anything that insists participation by all staff like whole-staff wellbeing days… get rid of them. They’d rather have the time to do work so they can enjoy the weekend with family and friends.

3// Shout out boards
A little something I really like to see in schools is a shout out board, where staff can share the great things they’ve seen going on in the school. I’ve seen shout out boards have a range of focusses such as

  • T&L focused – ideas seen, magpied strategies, inspiration from further afield etc.
  • Wellbeing focussed – motivational quotes, thank you messages etc.

or just a mix of this and that worth shouting about. Personally I think making it anonymous makes it even more rewarding but that’s just my opinion.

4// Leaving early
Encouraging all staff to leave early at least once a week, but it mustn’t be made compulsory. Just that SLT should lead by example and shout about making sure one day a week you leave earlier than you do on other days, just half an hour can make a big difference. That could be half an hour for making a cake, spending time with your kids or other family members, going to an exercise class maybe even just half an hour more of reading. As long as that gained time is spent on you, just once a week.

5// School social activities
What about activities in school for staff, run by staff. Maybe an after school exercise class, termly quiz night, a morning yoga sessions, morning meditation? Although not all staff want to socialise with their colleagues, I think it’s nice to have the opportunity. When I started at my current school last September, I was thrilled to find they did several exercise classes after school. It meant I quickly got to know people and was made to feel welcomed and comfortable. The sessions were free, run for by staff for staff and we all donated money to a cause close to the heart of the teacher running it. As soon as my wedding is out of the way, I’ll be back to them this year.

What does your school do to embed and promote staff wellbeing?

Share your thoughts and ideas.

And don’t forget to check out Teacher5aday and Teacher5adayBuddyBox for more inspiration.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… T&L accounts to follow on Twitter

mrs humanities shares

This week I thought I’d share awesome twitter accounts for general Teaching and Learning inspiration.

So in no particular order… (although obviously I’ll start with mine)

Magpied Pedagogy

MP

Magpied Pedagogy simply collates the amazing practice shared on twitter. The twitter account simply tweets the posts from the webpage –https://magpiedpedagogy.wordpress.com/ – where you will find over 750 ideas collated from across twitter.

Pedagoo.org

ped

#PedagooFriday is probably one of those tags I find most inspiration from. If you’ve not come across Pedagoo Friday before you’re seriously missing out. I won’t lie, when I’m collating tweets to embed into MagpiedPedagogy it’s one of the first hashtags I seek out; there’s a huge array of ideas and subjects covered by it.

Pedagoo is a community of teachers learning through sharing classroom practice, you can join in at  or through the previously mentioned weekly hashtag: 

Pete Sanderson & Lesson Toolbox

ps

Collator of great ideas shared under the hashtag  

Pete shares ideas from far and wide. If you ever need a sprinkle of inspiration check out the Lesson Toolbox twitter feed or his site – https://lessontoolbox.wordpress.com/.

 

Try This Teaching

ttt

Created by  | Try This Teaching shares and promotes a toolkit of T&L ideas based on the site http://www.trythisteaching.com/toolkit/  

Outstanding Teaching

ot

Affiliated with Andy Griffith & Mark Burns, the Creators of the Outstanding Teaching Intervention and the authors of Engaging Learners and Teaching Backwards, this twitter feed regularly shares tips, ideas and good practice from classrooms across the UK as well as links to research and publications.

Isabella Wallace

iw

Now technically it’s not Isabella that I’m recommending here, but more the pedagogical hashtag she created – . If you’ve not heard of the concept of Poundland Pedagogy, then let me briefly explain it to you. Quite simply it’s the idea that cheap products from shops such as Poundland and PoundStretchers can be used to enhance teaching and student engagement through creative and innovative approaches.

There are a huge range of ideas to be found under the hashtag and I highly recommend taking a look.

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 tips for NQTs

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I remembed my NQT year as incredibly stressful, more so than my PGCE. I found myself in a challengeing school with extremely high expectations for staff. Whilst my department were amazing as was the NQT co-ordinator and lots of the other staff from across the school were very supportive, it was a difficult year.

Within the 1st term Ofsted decided to turn up, madness struck by the October half term. Workload was relentless, constantly planning, marking and assessing progress. It was hard work but taught me so much. So I thought I’d share a few tips for those embarking of their NQT year soon, these are based on personal experiences and others may have different advice.

  1. Forget progress in the first term. 
    Honestly spend the first term getting to know your students; how do they learn? What learning activities do they enjoy? What contributions do they make to school life? What hobbies do they have outside of school? Get to know the young people you are teaching. Build those all important relationships and make it clear what your expectations are in the first term. Personally I wished I’d done exactly that during the first few weeks of my NQT year rather than worrying about whether students were making progress. I now like to spend the first term finding out where my students are in regard to their subject knowledge, a bit about them and making my classroom expectations explicit. I make sure they are doing the little things that make the bigger things easier e.g. keeping their book tidy, meeting homework deadlines etc. and if they are not I crack down on it immediately – detentions, phone calls home, no second chances.
  2. Set up clear routines.
    My first school had a clear routine for students once they entered the classroom. Collect books, get out equipment, write the date, title and learning objective and underline them and then get on with the starter task until the register had been taken. This made it easy to set up initial routines. If your school doesn’t have a specific start to lessons, create one. Students like consistency and knowing what to expect. Lay that out for them from day 1; once they know they then know your expectations as well.
    However it’s not just the start of lessons you need to set up routines for. Consider routines for some of the following:
    – End of lesson
    Peer/Self assessment
    Class discussions
    – Handing books in
    – Toilet requests
    The list could continue but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone.
  3. Know your expectations
    Ensure you know what you expect from your students before the first day of school. It’s important when setting the foundations with your classes that you are clear in regards to what you’d expect from them and what they can expect from you. You will find yourself spending the first few weeks constantly repeating these rules and expectations but once your students are clear on them and are able to remember them (if you work in secondary, remember they will have numerous teachers with different expectations and routines they won’t instantly remember yours) you can then start to focus on the bigger picture – student progress. Word of caution though, ensure your expectations are achievable – if students feel there is no way or chance of them meeting your expectations you maybe faced with some behavioural issues.
  4. Know the school rules
    Consistency is important, ensure you know and understand the school rules and behavioural routines before you start teaching. In the long run it makes life in the classroom easier for you; give warnings clearly, set detentions and chase them up. Phone home if you have to. Once student’s know they can’t mess you around and that you a consistent and follow through life in the classroom eventually becomes a little easier. Also it’s really annoying when you constantly follow school behaviour routines and find that others are not, it makes your teaching life a lot more difficult if staff are not consistent and following the school wide routines. Firstly students know what to expect if they consistently come up against the same routines, also they can’t argue back if you do what everyone else is (or should) be doing. Be firm, be consistent. Ensure that you and other NQTs know and follow the routines set out.
  5. Smile before Christmas
    I’m sure you would have heard plenty of words of wisdom like the old ‘don’t smile before Christmas’. Ignore it. Greet your students on their way in and around the school. Talk to them off topic now and then. Tell them little snippets about yourself. Be human. Personally I tried too hard to be ‘a teacher’ and not a human teaching other humans; I felt I had to be 100% the professional and didn’t feel it was acceptable to share anything about myself with my students. I later realised this doesn’t work. It makes you unapproachable and unrelatable. Once you’ve established routines and expectations you can begin to ‘relax’ a little with your students and let them see a bit of you – you’re favourite colour (often related to the colour pen a student is using for their notes), your favourite parts of the topic (*insert excited face here* don’t get me started on climate change, I could talk about it for hours), your favourite books (oh,  I see your reading….I love it, have you got to the part where…. whoops was that a spolier?). I’m sure you get the picture. Have those conversations with your students; let them see you are human too.

I hope this is some use to you, feel free to ask questions or for the more experienced of you feel free to add your top tips in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Mrs Humanities