Every year, on our May INSET day, we run a 90 minute session where all the teachers report back on the work they have been doing in their ‘teaching and learning workshops’, our structure of driving in-house action research. We call it the ‘carousel’ but it is more like a market-place where people mill around browsing, talking and exchanging ideas at their own pace. Here is the report from last year. Since then we have developed our thinking further and this year’s focus was on ‘Rigour and Scholarship’ from our Zest for Learning jigsaw. We also introduced a new format of Research as CPD via a range of CamSTAR projects, profiled in this post.
However, in true ‘Rainforest’ spirit, the format of the work remains very open and different groups and individuals produced a wide range of work to share with colleagues. It was a fabulous and fascinating morning generating superb discussions and extremely enthusiastic responses. Here is a flavour of the ideas on show in the market-place.
Philosophy and RE Essays: activity matching common errors to specific examples for students to identify; using AO criteria marking codes on work, forcing students to engage with the criteria and then make improvements; a similar approache used in Theatre Studies, using AO criteria grids to give structured feedback.. or ‘feed-forward’ to secure improvement.
Economics; embedding a range of AfL strategies and launching the Economics Journal and blogsite
Physics marking; developing a range of ‘closing the gap’ strategies including the idea of giving feedback via famous scientists. This was just a bit of fun but the main work focused on getting students to act on feedback in a consistent fashion. The work shown was highly evaluative showing where things had worked well and where they hadn’t.
Explorations into coaching. The initial feedback from some pioneer coaching pairs.
Differentiation in PE lessons. A wide range of methods were explored as part of a whole-school leadership project.
Developing a range of ‘hard sums’ approaches in Maths including extensive use of UKMT Olympiad questions in lessons.
Defining ‘Outstanding’ in the context of our Maths Department: A superb initiative to re-frame the OfSTED notion of ‘Outstanding’ into our own context; what do we expect to see in outstanding Maths lessons.
Exploring portraits in Year 7 Art. A highly creative process for engaging students with the work of artists by asking them to recreat the portraits at home in any way they wanted to. Some lovely outcomes.
An evaluation of our KS4 ‘intensive care’ Mentoring scheme: About 15% of our KS4 students are supported with one-to-one mentoring with strong outcomes. This was an evaluation of the process.
Trial and Evaluation of ‘How Science Works’ questions within iGCSE Chemistry. With a new iGCSE syllabus and no ISAs, this project looked at how to link practical work to the assessed questions in the exam.
Geography industry and crime projects in Year 8 with a range of mapping activities including embedded QR codes. This featured the work of Y9 Ollie Barnard, RGS Young Geographer of the Year for his ‘Chelmsford Walk’, now part of a national Discovering Britain website.
French CamSTAR project exploring the impact of grouping by ability or in mixed ability groups versus working individually. This was very interesting with an attempt at a controlled trial. The teacher involved identified interesting findings but was also highly evaluative about the methodology. A work in progress.
Profiling the use of IRIS for self and peer evaluation.
KS3 Reading Aloud project from English, featuring recordings of students reading and examples of the post-it feedback given.
Evaluation of the use of videos for ‘flipped learning’ in maths. This was another CamSTAR project and included some honest reflections from students. They weren’t all overly impressed but there was value in using the approach in certain conditions.
English A2/Pre-U ‘gallery critique’ approach to feedback on essay writing. Using ideas for David Didau, the English Department had trialled this process and found that is was very effective.
Resonant Latin; a trial with using spoken Latin to improve reading skills. Some lovely recordings of students and the teacher talking in Latin. Pronunciation aids with spelling and grammar.
Using student blogs in Biology to record class progress with the learning at A level. Students write up notes of lessons in the comments of a wordpress site
Use of ipads and Tumblr in PE GCSE and A level
Developing use of podcasts and social learning platforms in History. This included some excellent collaborative learning on the Middle Ages.
Exploration of Edmodo as a platform in Drama and in French at KS3.
English ‘wider reading’ project including the introduction of reading journals for Pre-U classes. Some wonderful examples of this were on display.
English and History essay writing issues explored via video-recorded interviews, examining the impact of dialogue as a precursor to writing and the differences in verbal and written responses and students’ perceptions of their work versus the reality of it. One example showed that a student thought he had cited three sources, when discussing this verbally, but in his writing he hadn’t actually done this. Another showed a big disparity between the depth of verbal answer versus a relatively poor written response. A very insightful piece of work.
Technology project to introduce more rigour with skills at KS3 with a more standard project including a range of techniques. This work also explored a solution to increasing students’ capacity for more expansive design ideas when not limited by feasibility in the school context.
Co-construction of lessons in RE and Physics This was a summary of the work I’ve been doing with a colleague as described in this post.
Extended Essays on Global Perspectives Pre-U course. A report on the process of extracting high level writing from the Pre-U GPR course requiring a 5000 word final submission.
As can be seen from the range of material covered (and this was not all of it), the carousel opens us up to a very broad spectrum of ideas. Teachers have put a lot of effort into their own explorations from which they benefit the most; however, the rewards from sharing in this way are significant, sowing the seeds for future collaborations. Thanks to everyone involved. A magnificent day!