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Showing posts with the label theory

Difficult Student Relationships: The Paper Crane

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Building solid relationships with your students is, hands down, the most important part of teaching. Every single other aspect of teaching is much much easier if you have put some time into this.
But. Every now and then, you will end up with a student that doesn't respond to your respectful but firm boundaries. Sometimes the problem is them, sometimes it's you, and sometimes it's down to forces beyond either of your control. 
I had a student like this. Bilal (name changed, obviously) had a very difficult home life, and acted out in school. I tried the usual, followed the behaviour policy to the letter, and quickly learned that all that was happening is he was getting more and more frustrated with me, the school, the work and life in general. Our teacher/student relationship was extremely poor, and getting worse. The lessons I had with him were frequently disrupted. 
Then I stopped, and thought. The system wasn't working for this kid. Detentions were pointless, and the…

Stress-busting Exam Revision Game

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Exam season is in full swing, so you are probably seeing a lot of zombified students in your lessons. They usually come in two flavours -- dead-eyed nihilists, and panicky zealots who want copies of every past paper that's ever happened and for you to mark their unsolicited work.

If you're still making meaningful progress with these kids, then by all means, keep doing what you're doing. I salute you. 
If, however, you are at that point where there are still one or two lessons left before the exam and there is literally no more that you can stuff into their heads -- not that they're in any condition to learn anyway at this point -- then BOY do I have the lesson for you. 
It'll blow the cobwebs out of the heads of your nihilist zombies and satisfy the obsessive revision urges of your zealots. You'll all laugh, bond and do some intense revision. Sound good? Cool. Presenting -- the Best Revision Game I have Ever Found.

Try this lesson: Making Choices about Tense and Voice

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I'd like to share a really simple, one-off lesson that is both fun and really digs deeply into some technical aspects of creative writing. It was my go-to lesson whenever I had to do cover for an English class (best for year 8 & up): it fits beautifully into a 55 minute slot (with plenty of scope for extension if you teach longer lessons) and requires no prep, powerpoint or resources. It's fun, and it resulted in a lot of 'aha' moments for kids and hilarious writing.

Sold? Good. Try this lesson:

Objective: Explore the effects of choices about tense and voice in your creative writing

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Get each student to choose a number between 1 and 3, and a letter between a and c. Have them write this down on a piece of paper and swear solemnly not to change it after the lesson begins. Extension for very able students: add another letter - either y or z.

Starter: Outline this simple plot: A boy is walking down the road, holding a balloon. A car goes by and hits a pu…

Free Download: Printable KS3 Spoken Language Rubric Bundle and lesson prep

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It's exam prep season, which means that sadly, KS3 probably isn't getting much love at the moment.
To rectify this, I'm going to share a couple of really easy English Speaking and Listening lesson formats that take approximately zero planning and work from years 7-9, plus a couple of downloadable rubrics to make sure that you're evidencing progress.

If you're just here for the freebie rubrics, I've bundled together a discussion rubric and a presentation/speech rubric. You can download the bundle here. It's aligned with the current National Curriculum expectations for KS3 English, but you could easily adapt them up or down. 

As always, if you are a SmartRubric user, you can bypass the printable and use the interactive version of these rubrics. It means all of your rich formative assessment data will be automatically captured, and targets, levels and grades will be generated for all of your students. They're in the template library. If you aren't a us…

Student Presentations - the X-Factor format

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Here's the problem: Student presentations are boring. One student is talking, and twenty-nine students are bored out of their skulls. The problem compounds itself as time goes by, and you need a class full of orators to avoid a riot by minute 45. It goes without saying that you should limit the number of student presentations per lesson, but the X-Factor format helps too. Here's how you do it: 
Pull a long table or three desks into the center of the room, facing the front. This is where your judges sit. Everyone else is audience. In front of each judge seat, stick a copy of the presentation rubric. In fact, every student in your class should have one. Give the judges a stopwatch, and a whiteboard or a big bit of paper and a marker for scores. 
The judges should be rotated out every couple of presentations, and it's a great way to give That Kid a place to showboat a little bit in a productive way. The judges have strict rules for criticism. They must be constructive, they mus…

The Maker-Mindset is a powerful catalyst for learning. Here's how to foster it in your students.

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Most teachers have probably come across occasional student who is a maker. There was a girl in my year 8 English class who made the most adorable jewellery out of tiny, perfect, sculpted baked goods and sweets ('Get thee to Etsy!' I may or may not have cried, 'get thee to Etsy!). There was a boy in my year 10 media class who saved up his pocket money for years to buy a video-capable DSLR camera and was teaching himself to make films. He has an incredible, artistic eye. A girl in year 7 wrote pitch-perfect sci-fi genre prose.

All of these makers have really important traits in common - they are highly motivated, resilient and independent learners (all things we desperately want students to be), but these traits are a product of something deeper and more powerful - the maker-mindset.

The maker-mindset is a way of looking at the world that includes an awareness that you have the capacity, the access to tools and learning and most importantly the right to manipulate your envi…

Free download - Metacognition and Student Engagement Rubric

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A good rubric isn't an assessment tool, it's a learning tool.

Download this rubric for free to help students develop the vocabulary and skills they need to become reflective, strategic learners.

If you're already a SmartRubric user, you can add this rubric to your library by getting it from the Template Library. Just click here and 'add this rubric to my library'.

This rubric would be a great starting place for a conversation with a student about their learning during a tutorial, mentoring session or one-on-one meeting.

Here's a list of questions you can use right now to elicit meaningful student response to your feedback:

General:
What is your biggest priority to work on for next time? Why?
Explain one specific thing that you are going to do before next time to improve. Why do you think it is going to help?
Make a list of small, specific actions you can take next time to improve on a target.
What are your goals for next time? What are you going to try to do to …