Archive for the ‘Creative Learning and Teaching’ Category

The Ped Pack

June 6, 2014 1 comment

The Background:

As part of my work this year around Teaching and Learning I produced this pack to assist in improving the quality of learning in lessons. It is designed to assist teachers develop new and existing strategies, building on work done within our CPD sessions this year.

I have always been blown away with the resources shared on Twitter. I’ve previously called it the perfect pedagogical Big Mac. Concise yet effective communication of strategies and ideas that work. I have all year tried to find ways to share this amazing practice with colleagues who may not see it.

The Book:

Designed around @teachertoolkit’s 5 minute Lesson Plan the Ped Pack is a one stop shop for assistance in developing your Teaching and Learning. It can be utilised when planning lessons, during lessons for on the fly activities, after lessons for reflection or feedback or several other ways. It uses ideas and contributions from all over twitter and some original work.

The Magpie-ing:

This truly wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing resources shared on twitter – the Primary tool for compiling this was Twitter. Therefore many thanks to:


I have tried to fully reference the work in it – If I have missed someone please let me know so I can make amendments.

You can download your copy by clicking the link below:

The Ped Pack

Blogroll and online resources being continually updated.

With thanks to

(Book –
(Blog –


Top Tips for Teaching & Post Ofsted Reflection

June 9, 2013 1 comment

In January myself and @trueenglish365 developed this list as top tips for teaching and learning. Here is my reflection of this list post Ofsted.

Clear objective with progress based success criteria accessible for all

Ensure l/o’s are not activities or amounts of work to be completed. No set format for l/o’s was discussed.

Learning activities focused to promote engagement and differentiated to ensure progress for all

Intervention within lesson is key. Differentiation must ensure progress in learning, not increased quantity work.

Teacher talk tightly managed. Student activity and learning time maximised. Think a 70:30 split.

This needs rehearsal in order to build confidence.

Variety of questioning strategies. Consider no hands up, lollipop sticks, randomisers, target based questioning and rehearsal time with peers when students are developing answers.

Don’t get caught up in setting up a fancy PowerPoint as a randomiser. This wastes your time and offers little value in a lesson. Spend more time thinking about the question, look at blooms, a question matrix, Socratic questioning or thinking hats.

There are always high expectations of learning, behaviour and achievement.

This is usually judged from the kids themselves begin asked.

Opportunities to develop literacy and numeracy are fully exploited and resources by teachers and utilised by learners.

It takes nothing in a subject such as music to put some words up when listening to a piece of music. Some in red, some in orange, some in green and some in purple. For example nice, lovely, beautiful, exquisite

Writing frames. A dead word grave yard for alternatives. Dictionaries.

Feedback is frequent, focused and easy to understand. Learners are in the habit of responding to feedback and can communicate how assessment works in the lesson.

This is essential for the over time judgement. Not only for lessons but also for the teaching and learning judgement, these routines must be practiced and can be the first thing to slide!

Pace is intentionally geared to accelerate progress and consolidate learning. This is not too slow so they drift off task.

Lessons judged as boring are usually down to a lack of pace, not a lack of ideas of activities.

Engagement is sustained throughout the lesson by creative teaching strategies and prompt intervention for behaviour or misconceptions.

Prompt intervention to pick up misconceptions is a canny skill that most teachers have. I struggling thinking about your location in the room and how you can use it to help you see more. If you find it hard to move utilise something like PRAG cards. Pupils pull out the amber card if they think they’re going wrong. Then other kids see if they can help. If they can’t they flash red and you go over.

Routines are habitual, rehearsed and clear to see with limited prompting.

This is absolutely key to forming a positive impression around a judgement. Can your pupils start a lesson without you in the room? Take time to rehearse routines. All my classes practice a new routine. We add in humour to make it more fun. Use techniques like fast forwarding or slow mo. worth the fifteen minutes each time you introduce a new routine.

Assessment for learning is about measuring progress to inform interventions within lessons. It is a measure that then requires an action.

Feedback from a number of colleagues showed that afl was seen as a measure of progress and removing pupils from activities where they made progress in order to measure it was dimly viewed. Take time quickly after a task is set to get a quick view of how pupils are feeling then target specific groups/areas of the room to help you follow up afl with intervention and support.

I’m just on my iphone sir!

May 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Tweet me a question. Check in to an activity. Write a few notes. Send a message to a friend.

Active engagement hook for afl, increasing active learning and part of my boosting independence drive.

Printed a4, laminated and available in every room, every lesson.


Boosting Independent Learners

May 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Inspired by @teachertrying







This “Passport” was given out in form and lead learners (4 in each class) had to sign for other pupils to confirm other pupils had done this element in a lesson. Pupils were given a week to get it all signed off with a prize draw at the end of the week!




A display was made and put up in a prominent corridor within the department for pupils to be sent to if they needed help or feared failure. Around the display pupils annotated the frames with ,top tips’ and ,easy mistakes to make’. All week pupils have been grabbing tips or replacing them with their own, adding their own ‘easy mistakes to make’ or just moving the contributions nearer to a relevant frame. Interactive display’s are key for preventing your content becoming just wall paper!

Independent Monkeys

May 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Consider this a lesson structure to train your kids into in order to boost their independence. Adapt it for your department at will. I completely stole it from two NQT’s I’ve never met who presented it at a school I’ve never been to and a colleague of theirs I follow on twitter wrote it up and posted this link –


IMG_4193 IMG_4194 IMG_4195 IMG_4196 IMG_4197 IMG_4198                                                                  IMG_4199

The Outstanding Teacher Programme – Session 1

May 19, 2013 2 comments

What does an outstanding teacher look like?

Last Monday was my first day on the “Outstanding Teacher Programme” (OTP).

Task 1 – I challenge you to sit and list four or five one word qualities that demonstrate what an outstanding teacher looks like.

If you were to do this now you may end up with some similar responses to our post it note filled learning wall. Do outstanding teachers look happy? Stressed? Tired? Exhausted? Approachable? Are they Resourceful? Hard Working? Passionate? Motivational? Inspirational?


Task 2 – Are any one of these things singularly outstanding?

Are a collection of these outstanding? What does outstanding mean anyway? Whose definition of outstanding are we going by here? Is it defined just by lesson observations? Ofsted? Curriculum Leaders? Senior Team? Ourselves? The pupils?

Task 3 – Prepare an engaging and informative presentation introducing your group to the cohort.

Being creative with strangers was a harder balance than I thought it would be. Being a pupil in a group trying to communicate my idea’s clearly enough so others could see them and think they were as good as I did was challenging. Should I push my idea forward? I believed in it, but that doesn’t mean it was the best idea. Plus there was the added challenge of getting to know the people well enough to try and add a little humour for it to be engaging. A quiz type idea? A game?

We opted for a series of mini games. Guess the name. Guess the years teaching. Where in the country were we from? 2 truths and a lie and a pin the tech lesson on the teacher. Post it’s prepared and ready for presenting.


Task 4 – Excitement / Concerns.

I was excited to speaking to colleagues about teaching and learning without someone saying “I just throw out a text book.” I was excited to not have to defend my excitement.

My concerns were based over whether the benefits of being on the programme would be drowned out back at school. Schools are busy. FACT.

Task 5 – The presentation

We did not go first. Relief.

We did not go second. Still busy going over post it notes and whispering – so quite happy.

We did not go third. Someone did a bit of our idea and did it better.

We did not go fourth. Everyone is really good. Ours is rubbish. We’re trying to fit too much in. This is going to be a disaster and people will laugh at me.

We went fifth. I spoke over a team mate stealing their section as I was so worried about time (life lesson alert). We had to skip a bit out as we were running out of time. Where did the time go. Can’t breath. Relief it’s over. It was rubbish though, bless the rest of the room for sticking with us.

Another group went sixth. They were better than us too. Our feedback is sat on the desk but we’re not allowed to read it yet, I’m cringing inside already.

BREAK – read feedback.

Feedback REALLY positive. They loved the different activities and found it memorable. They remembered the information about the group members and found the humour within the presentation a real strength. WOW. Shocked.

Task 6 – Ofsted vs Outstanding

We took the criteria and highlighted common words and ideas that were present in the outstanding descriptors.


We then looked up and saw the following acronym on the white board.

D – Deepening Thinking

R – Role modelling learning

I – Impact on progress

C – Challenging Expectations

E – Engaging in Learning.

Was there a difference? 20 minutes later in content – NO. In usefulness – YES. Ofsted’s criteria didn’t come out too well from the conversation. DR ICE did.

Task 7











Can you find a link between any two of these?

Can you write a definition of each one in 30 seconds? Can you write how it benefits your pupils in 20 seconds? Can you write what an outstanding version of each word looks like in a lesson in 20 seconds. No me neither – but I had a good go at it.

Task 8 – Challenge, Starters/Plenaries, Assessment, Differentiation Engagement Presentations.

New groups. New people. New Topic. Plan. I don’t want differentiation, don’t want differentiation. Random choices don’t give us differentiation.

Our group were given differentiation.

We all spoke over what it was for us, in our classroom. We discussed ways we did it well or wanted to improve. We discussed brilliant examples we’d seen and examples we’d personally avoid. The result was the melon of differentiation. As named by my Deputy Head who saw the picture the day after I returned from the OTP. We had a diagram. A definition and interactive activities planned. We were on to a winner.

Task 9 – The presentations

First up was assessment.

How much time do you think you spend assessing pupils? (we said 55%)

How much of that time spent assessing do you find useful? (we said 60%)

What would you say? What’s the right answer? Is there an ideal percentage to aim for?

This presentation was brilliant, thought provoking and fitted within 5 minutes. I became nervous.

Second up was starters and plenaries.

There were 4 sheets of paper with a question on. Each group was given 30 seconds to discuss and write an answer and then the paper was swapped. Slowly 4 levels of discussion were built up as each new questions arrived and you added to it or challenged what was already written down.

This was very clever, a brilliant idea to steal for the classroom and fitted within 5 minutes. I became terrified.

Third up was challenge

Modelling, Independence, Classroom Climate, Risk, Questioning, Tasks, Assessment, Creativity, and pick one of your own (we did perseverance)

Arrange them into a diamond 9. Most important and the top least at the bottom.IMG_4207

This presentation was massively challenging as we all had different answers in our group. When a representative from another group came to explain what they had we all agreed, disagreed and then a greed again. In conclusion – we decided it changed for each group depending on the variables at play in the room at the time. Darn it – this one was amazing too. Now full of doubt over the diagram about differentiation which I think will take too much time to explain, give away the answers and not lead to any discussion or engaging activity but rather passivity from our audience.

Fourth – us – Differentiation

We presented a definition. A thought provoking question: Is differentiation doing the same task differently or different tasks?

We presented our diagram and briefly explained it.IMG_4208

We then asked for our audience to just asterisk anything they hadn’t heard of before. We then described a couple of things that had been asterisked. Then each group added some of their own ideas onto the diagram. Finally groups came up with one thing they would change about the diagram.

Finish. Practically traumatised from time limits, general feeling of inadequacy and worried about judgement from others. I have to say I feel much more in touch with the nerves of my year 7’s who sing in front of each other in small groups. Man they’re heroes this is rough stuff to be doing day in day out.

Feedback – QFF – Questions Favourite Feeling. Questions people had were about some of the ideas or how to select the right idea. Favourite things were the diagram and the amount of ideas it had in it. Feelings were spread from a feeling of needing more time, to a feeling of reassurance that we may do more than we think in the classroom to a hunger for more information.

Finally – Engagement

List the following tasks in order of preference. What would you engage the most in.

A snakes and ladder style game.

A series of statements to respond to.

A block of text.

A photo to annotate.

Now take the one at the bottom of your list and do something to make it more engaging. Does engaging = engagement in learning. No probably not. Ouch. Do I teach things sometimes because everyone looks active. Do I teach things sometimes because I like teaching them? Is it really LEARNING or is it just DOING?

Final task – Learning cycles

Take the words Planning, Reflection, Learning, Strategies, Assessment, Planning etc and put them into a learning cycle. Which goes where and why?

Since this session – I have done learning cycles with my kids in lessons. I have spoken to colleagues at length about the contents of the course. I have already started building some ideas into my department learning environment. I have become so motivated in pushing my teaching and learning forward even more.

WWW – a feeling of excitement about the week ahead. This is actually the week just gone and my lessons were sometimes in a different league.

EBI – I wanted some kind of permanent reminder of the day like photo’s of resources everyone put together rather than just a memory. To hit some middle ground with this I made a scrapbook!

Prezi – PowerPoint for the Ant n Dec Generation

June 4, 2011 1 comment

Basically it allows to get info over to kids in a way like PowerPoint but it’s more interesting to look at.

I say this a solely personal opinion having been at TeachMeet Leeds recently and when someone used it I was gripped.

Get going at –

Watch an example below:


and because I’m a huge fan of Queen: