The Outstanding Teacher Programme – Session Two

June 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Challenge and Engagement

Task One – Teaching Crossword

What are the following answers to the clues:

Measuring Learning (10)

Appropriate Speed (4)

Thinking Time (10)

Probing Understanding (11)

Stretching the Pupils (9)

Pupil Involvement (10)

What are we going to learn? (10)

Preparation (8)

Variety Of Tasks, Resources and Support (15)

A range of styles (7)

Important Terms Displayed For Pupils (8)

Demonstrating a Task (9)

Deconstructing A Skill and Telling Pupils (10)

Checking Understanding (7)

An Activity To Begin The Lesson (7)

A Skill For Life (8)

Task 2 – Extension Task

Try it the other way round. Take the answers. Can you come up with clues?

Assessment, Challenge, Differentiation, Engagement, Explaining, Keywords, Modelling, Objectives, Pace, Planning, Plenary, Questioning, Reflection, Starter, Thinking, Variety

Task 3 – Reflection

How has your practice changed since Session 1?

I spoke to my partner about how I had been especially focussed on Deepening Thinking. I had used Diamond 9’s and Learning Cycles in lessons with pupils, developed an Independent Learners pitstop, created a Behaviour for Learning pit stop by pupils for pupils and had been thinking a lot more about LEARNING rather than DOING.

I had also become less complacent in lessons and I was grabbing the opportunity to pack as much learning into the time I had with pupils as I could. Not at the expense of quality mind.

What new learning have you discovered? How would you use this as an outstanding practitioner?
Engagement Engagement in learning vs Being Busy Step back in lessons and observe. Reflect. Change if necessary.
Challenge Are all pupils challenged at all times? Challenge can be deepening of thinking on the same topic. Diamond 9’sLearning cycles.

Extension tasks?

Differentiation StimuliConversation – does it “just happen”? can it “just happen”? should it be left to “just happen”? Plan for different stimuli for differentiated starting points
Plenary/Starter Use the same activity at the start and end and review initial findings to show progress. Link to Learning to learn.Changing initial response can show progress.

Task 4 – Challenge and Engagement Audit


Take a phrase from the audit and place it where you would put it on the graph for your practice. Explain to the other’s in the group as to why.

We only got through 2.

Do you consider learning styles when planning schemes of work and individual lessons?

Do you think the students see what they have achieved and measure their progress lesson by lesson?

Task 5 – Lesson Observations – What Went Well / Even Better If

Think of an observation/observations you have had. What was good about them? How could they be improved? From these summations what would we say is Best Practice for a lesson observation?

We came up with:

WWW – SMART Targets in feedback,Specific feedback, Feedback that helps you to reflect on your practice, Feedback that helps you move forward

EBI – Consistency of feedback over time, CPD offered around feedback topics, Observer returning to see progress at a later date, Sharing of good practice from lesson observations in general.

Best Practice – A discussion of ideas to develop reflection and improvement, following the spirit of outstanding practice rather than doing it to the letter (for example, AfL to show you can AfL is different to doing AfL to provide a meaningful and useful measure of progress, learning and understanding). Feedback and support around making activities more independent.

Task 6 – Lesson Observation

Groups went off to see a lesson. Were asked to pick out parts of the lesson they thought went well and elements they thought could be improved. Groups would then return discuss their WWW/EBI’s and recreate part of the lesson and make it outstanding for a presentation later in the day


The lesson we observed seemed to come in 2 parts. The teacher got pupils to ask questions about pictures placed on the board, find a best question and then the class answered each tables best question.

WWW – engaging and doable starter. Created a give it a go attitude. Tasks were not right/wrong tasks therefore created an atmosphere where there was no fear of failure. Pupils took risks. Routines were clearly evident. Minimal teacher input as pupils wrote on white boards and discussed questions written on white boards to pick their best question. The starter set up the theme of the entire lesson.

EBI – Explicit links to prior learning could help reinforce the previous lesson/learning. Starter responses produced differentiation by outcome and this could easily be adapted to use different stimuli or adapt the use of the one stimuli. We felt the questions written throughout the lesson were well informed by pupils using the question matrix above however could also be improved by using the question matrix. Answers for each tables “best question” could have been delivered by a large sheet of paper on carousel around the room rather than Teacher led Q and A, this would give the whole class a voice and improve engagement in learning.

Task 7 – The Presentation

I found this easier than last time. It was certainly less stressful waiting and watching others doing theres. We also seemed to have our presentation ready to go a lot quicker than last week. I suppose that’s progress for you!

Other groups EBI’s included:

Improve Interactivity (pupils reformatting one style of text as another)

Collaboration (pupils could help pick up each others misconceptions. Working in isolation while sometimes beneficial can reinforce misconception)

Deepen Thinking (can pupils communicate their learning to you verbally straight after finishing writing a piece of work?)

Clearer Success Criteria (what four things will you do today to show learning)

Having a Literacy Success Criteria (just one mind)

How can you Improve a Lack of Passengers in a group?

Task 8 – Next Steps For You

I am using the energy from today’s session to recreate and reproduce a slightly adapted version of my active engagement toolkit to include resources aimed at deepening thinking. More on this story later!

Task 9 – Next Steps For Your School

This is a blog post in itself surely? I have some thoughts. I have quite some ideas actually. I shall share these. Just not quite now…

…To Be Continued…

Categories: OTP

Pedagogical Big Mac 2 Years On – Part 2 – Then and Now

June 1, 2013 Leave a comment

2 years after my first Guest Editorial for my second is about to be published. However, looking back on my pedagogical big mac how did I come to write it and how have things changed now?

This part recaps how I felt then, and how I feel now.


” I have no idea what is going in the world outside my classroom and the more I read about these issues the more confused I am getting”

Then: I found sources of information sometimes difficult to find and difficult to digest in isolation

Now: I pick things up constantly, follow specific blogs (bottom right of the homepage) and constantly find, get nudged, and advertise things on twitter.

“whether I have bitten off a little more than I can chew only 7 weeks after starting a new job.”

Then: I had but it worked. Hairspray was a massive success, as was We Will Rock You and Grease after it.

Now: Still biting off more than I can chew. Still love it.

“Equally I am facing the anxiety of planning for a yr 8 options evening Thursday night whereby it is up to me to lead the selling of Performing Arts BTEC to the masses to recruit. For numbers mean legitimacy – rightfully or wrongly no one wants to lead a department that doesn’t prove popular at options evening.”

Then: Fear. Staring into the barrel of my first options evening at the school when I was largely unpopular with pupils due to the fact I was new.

Now: 168% increase in uptake within the Performing Arts from last year. 200% since I arrived.

“Therefore in all honesty I do not have time for long winded theorising on the implications for the future that are hugely important for the subject I adore, and the lives of the pupils who gain so much out of doing them.
I’m a tweet generation teacher – I need my punch lines in 140 characters. I need Big Mac music pedagogy on the go, I haven’t time for 3 courses.”

Then: I don’t want to read your book I’m tired and falling asleep, it’s 1am.

Now: There’s a lot more pedagogy on the go. Both music and general school good practice is more readily available. Equally, and perhaps more importantly, the amount of music blogs I read now that help me understand what others have tried to implement gives me a better swing at it when I do it. I don’t think my piece changed this. However, it certainly has changed!

 “I completely understand the hypocrisy of the above statement knowing full well that I am already on word 493.”

Then: Hypocrite

Now: Probably still… My new editorial isn’t full of ideas. It’s just a rationale of why I did something. However I still think a summative diagram would make me feel better about things!

“I need help – not conjecture.”

Then: I really did need help, I was having a crisis of confidence and losing touch with my practice.

Now: The 5 min lesson plan is a brilliant example of how having something to try makes a quick and real impact in your teaching. I still think we need to work more at this as music educators. However, I realise now the power of the questions rather than just the supply of an answer.

“This is where music education has gone crazy. The teachers are the ground troops – we need the information, knowledge and expertise these giants of music education have to offer. However there is a touch of David Starkey around at the moment in the form of these greats forgetting their audience.”

Then: I felt academics were not standing side by side with teachers

Now: I feel the gap has moved closer but am still passionate that this gap needs further closing.

“The Conference got so frustrating; I am ashamed to admit I did what I see kids do on a daily basis. I ran away.”

Then: Sorry NAME. It wasn’t all bad, just not for me.

Now: Membership cancelled and can’t say I’ve suffered for it. I still campaign, still send feedback for curriculum reviews, still read widely and have a very active local subject leaders group to share good practice with, talk about resources, ideas and assessment strategies.

“At the conference I was left aghast as no one asked why there were only 6 secondary school teachers in the break out session where those with similar areas of employment got together. I wonder how many there were in the other sessions?”

Then: I felt this was shocking and time should be spent addressing it.

Now: I’ve met several music teachers who don’t know who NAME even is! However all are on twitter.

“Twitter is full of ideas – it’s incredible, not just a discussion there’s actual action.”

Then: Tweeting as a teacher was new, exciting and inspiring

Now: Tweeting as a teacher is old, exciting and inspiring. The main reason my practice improves and it’s the kids in my classroom who are feeling the benefit of my humble twitter account.

…To Be Continued…

Categories: Columns

Key Stage 3 Curriculum Mapping – Skills Over Content

May 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Having read a wide variety of articles around skills over content I have taken a look at redrafting and changing area’s of the Key Stage 3 Curriculum offered in the Performing Arts Department I lead. We have completely refreshed the curriculum this year and rather comfortingly only a few tweaks were needed.

Unit 1 – Vocal Coaching. (was singing) If your learning how to vocal coach you do it through singing. Therefore why not put the emphasis on being able to coach others. This also boosts independence

Unit 2 – Composing Soundscapes. This was introduced by my colleague last year and was by far my favourite thing to teach this year for music. I loved it. It’s quite a learning how to represent a particular acoustic environment using whatever you can find in a music room. We do storms, bus stops, the city, the forest.

Unit 3 – Staging Drama. We mix drama and music up at key stage 3 in order to more fully prepare learners for key stage 4 drama if they opt for it. It was also a strategy to boost numbers at key stage 4 which gave us our first ever key stage 4 drama class this year – 20 strong! It’s quite a skill coming up with a scene and then changing it if it’s going to be performed in the round, or on a proscenium arch stage. It also instantly helps bring to the forefront – face the audience not the action!

Unit 4 – Ensemble Performance. This used to be Samba but I’ve changed the name to represent the skill pupils learn. The skill is to stay in time and hit the drum and the right time. To not get faster. Then the skill is to take this a compose their own rhythmic piece on chairs. Can they all lead a whole class ensemble? Can they follow while playing in a whole class ensemble?

Unit 5 – Creating a Character. How to use stereotypes to create a character that the audience has a feeling towards. What stereotypes to ignore. Who are they? What do they do? Why do they do it?

Unit 6 – Guitar Skills. What is strumming. What are the patterns. Think of this as a one to one guitar lesson. Except it’s 30 to 1, they share guitars and test each other to see it they’re right. They also learn how to act as each other’s peri.

Unit 7 – Improvisation (Music). I’ve done Blues to death. 12 Bar Blues. Walking Bass Line with a Riff and Fill and then always ran out of time to do the improvisation at the end because we always seem to miss lessons. So let’s spin it around and do the improvisation first. If I treat the WBL or chordal riff as just a supportive after thought hopefully the kids will and instead of 2 weeks it may only take one. It’s not that hard after all!

Unit 8 – In at the deep end (Pop). Pupils learn to listen to pop music, independently seek out how to play the chords on whatever instruments they want and put it together while I play Candy Crush. (The last bit may be a little exaggeration but the point is THEY do it and NOT ME)Here’s another school’s results –

Unit 9 – Improvisation (Drama). Think Whose Line Is It Anyway. Brilliant fun. No content planned just skills practised with a lot of laughter and a flip cam/ipad to capture it all and allow pupils to instantly watch it back.

Unit 10 – In At The Deep End (Classical) – Pupils pick a piece and then learn it by ear. They either download the differentiated examples themselves or you have them available on a laptop/mobile device/tablet for them.

Unit 11 – Dramatic Form This is the skill of using Dramatic Conventions/Devices in rehearsal or Performances.

Unit 12 – Composing Without Limits Do you have to play the Guitar like that? How about if you didn’t

Download the document (not completed) here – FoxyMusicEd KS3 Curriculum Map

Pedagogical Big Mac 2 Years On – Part 1 – The Power of a Tweet

May 31, 2013 Leave a comment

2 years after my first Guest Editorial for my second is about to be published. However, looking back on my pedagogical big mac how did I come to write it and how have things changed now?

This part looks at how a simple tweet led to causing quite a debate!


2 years ago I was on a train reading a Guest Editorial on and getting increasingly irate as I got nothing from it that could help me in the classroom the next day. It didn’t fill me with optimism or inspiration, just despair. It went on forever and all it did was make me angry. So in response to how I was feeling and to pass the time on the train I wrote this:

I had casually made the decision to link my blog and my twitter account so completely automatically a link to the blog post was sent out on twitter. This one tweet changed my professional world!

After a retweet from @drfautley my PGCE Course Leader I began to get some attention from twitter.

For example

@mickblake: amen fellow someone who gives a damn….

Then out of nowhere I go a message via my new page at teaching from @davidashworth

“Hi Foxy – and welcome to the site!

Just found your ‘big mac pedagogy’ blog via Twitter. This is really good stuff.
Can we use a version of this for our guest editorial spot for April or May?”

This could potentially get a little awkward. The platform for my Editorial is the very page that left me so frustrated I wrote it… However I decided to go with it and 2 years ago I delved into the MusicEd punditry business.

I received some incredible feedback. I got emails, DM’s, tweets, blog responses. Gaining virtual plaudits (and notoriety) was an immensely fun experience. The contacts, the conversations. It changed my entire professional outlook.

“Dear Toby,

I really enjoyed your blog; it was honest, funny and relevant. Most importantly it’s that rarest of things in music education at the moment, an authentic voice from the coal face. I echo your feelings about Music conferences being potentially awkward spaces for music teachers; I sat through a conference at the IoE late last year about the future of music education, and when the absence of teachers in the crowd was politely raised, the questioner met with a distinctly frosty response from the stage. As a teacher who really struggled in my first job, the key thing is professional isolation. In order to reflect on things that happen, and to have a motivation to read widely and discuss contemporary issues, you need colleagues, sounding boards. I struggled just to keep going, often running the dept on my own; like you, I had no motivation, let alone time to keep up with the wider zeitgeist. I did care, it just passed me by, especially with no team to share it with. Think about nurses; they must suffer from the same kinds of issues in terms of being too busy to keep up with the latest research in the Lancelet; but what they do have are colleagues, big teams of like minded, supportive staff. I definitely benefit from being part of a small close-knit team in the music charity I work for. We need wider teams of musicians from different backgrounds working together in schools throughout the week; not just one-off summer projects, e.g. the ubiquitous African drumming for two days in July. That’s why musical hubs – as recommended by Henley – are potentially a great idea. It links people in and increases the offer for all students in music. And it also goes a long way to helping classroom teachers care about keeping in the loop. Good luck with Hairspray!

Jonathan Westrup – A long time ago”

Thank you Jonathan!

I also got feedback to make me think.

“Hi Toby,

I enjoyed reading your piece and found it entertaining and puzzling in equal measure. You make many, many excellent points throughout but seem to suffer from the very infliction you rail against.

I was wondering what a more heavily edited version of your editorial would read like? What, in a nutshell (or a tweet), do you think the problem is?

Is it about simplicity? Do teachers really just want a simple idea that they can work with and ‘deliver’? Are music teachers really not concerned about models of curriculum development or teacher development that they can draw on to improve their work?

Is it about equity and access? Do teachers feel their voice is ignored or, even worse, they just feel patronised as you have done on occasions?

Is it about priorities? Are music teachers really so busy that they can’t find time to think about the questions you raise? (After all, you found time to write your excellent piece?)

Is it about policy? Are you, and other music teachers, concerned about the impact of policy decisions are, or have been, taken already?

Is it about a perceived gap between theory and practice? Do music teachers really not want to think about what they do, celebrate successes and make things better when required?

Is it about a lack of confidence in our subject? I’m not sure there is any other curriculum subject that would put up with being treated like Music has been in the last year or so. Are music teachers feeling marginalised and under-represented?

So, finally, is it about a lack of credibility or care from those who purportedly represent music education at a national level? Are music teachers struggling to find appropriate ways to make their voices heard?

Or is it all of the above? Or is it something different?

Best wishes,


Until now I’ve never replied to any of the comments I received back as at the time it wasn’t important. In my youth I probably had a touch of “well those who like it are like me and those who don’t are who I’m saying it about”. Upon reflection, a little unfair.

So two years on do I still feel the same? What do I think has changed? What are my responses to the feedback?… and how did Hairspray go?!

…To Be Continued…

Categories: Columns

What Musical Skills…?

May 30, 2013 Leave a comment

So I was googling musical skills for a bit of light reading and I came across this:

“Twyla Tharp, the choreograph, has a brilliant book called The Creative Habit. Can’t recommend it enough. The book includes a number of exercises, one of which was to list the fundamental skills in your art form.  Here is my list:

Skills List 

Accompanying Affects   Analysis   Arranging   Articulation  Arpeggios   Chord recognition   Chord voicing  Clefs   Composing  Conducting   Copying scores   Concentration Counterpoint  Dancing   Dichords   Dictation   Ensemble playing  Ethnomusicology  Figured bass  Form recognition   Formal analysis   Harmonizing   Heptachord shift in real time Imitation  Improvising   Interpretation   Listening   Memorizing   Notating   Pitch vowels   Polyrhythms   Orchestration   Octaves   Repertoire  Satztechnik   Scales Score reading   Separating all parts Sight-reading  Sight singing   Singing   Solfège  Style recognition  Rhythm skills   Touch   Thinking multiple parts   Transcribing  Transposing   Tuning   Variations   Vocal coaching”

Got me thinking about what Musical Skills I would list? Which on here would I change? Which on here would I like to spend some time developing in myself? Which ones of these would I like to spend some time developing with pupils?

For your subject can you list key skills that are part of your subjects dossier of must haves? Do you teach to them?

Skills before content? Or content before skills?

Categories: Music Curriculum

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!