Creative approaches in the classroom

Science NQT Iqra Razzaq gave up her Saturday for some excellent CPD at one of our partner institutions. The tweet below wasn’t enough so I asked her to blog about it too!

https://twitter.com/iirazzaq/status/449970021604032512

On three Saturdays out of each academic year, MMU hold events for NQTs which consist of key note speakers followed by a selection of talks carefully selected for primary and secondary school teachers. This was the last of the three and by far the best – I’ll explain why later!

A nutshell

The session I attended was led by Debra Kidd who focused on creative approaches in the classroom. Debra started by giving a brief introduction to her school, showing us a video to allow us to see the work being done there. The school in which she works has, in a nutshell, planned a scheme of work for KS3 which allows them to submit the learning that they want us to assess. You might think initially that’s crazy but after understanding it this made complete sense to me.

Students all have strengths in different areas. We might assess them and monitor to find out why the student can’t grasp one skill but can easily grasp another, why their grade in one assessment was a 6C but then they’ve dropped to a 5C, but where have we given them opportunity to show us what they are best at?

David Beckham

Ask David Beckham to swim across the Atlantic Ocean and he would be a “failure”; ask him to show us a football trick and he’ll achieve. So why do we expect our students to achieve greatness in absolutely everything?

In Debra’s model, students have to submit something for every piece that was set but not every piece was assessed for every detail. Collectively, the students’ portfolios showed a great spectrum of skills and knowledge they had gathered, all which could be assessed to give a true reflective grade of the students’ progress over time. This was the first thing I loved about the session.

The second point was how Debra explained the impact the language we use with students can have. She gave us a simple task which consisted of the following steps:

1. Choose a word that summed up how we felt about the video we had watched.

2. Share it with your team.

3. Create a statue that showed this.

4. Come up with a motto or statement to go with this statue.

Straight away the four on our table started to talk and share ideas; before we knew it we were up all holding hands and acting like statues! Debra drew on the fact that we had each walked in on our own and sat with strangers because of the layout of the room.

Key points:

  • We knew we were going to be assessed straight away. There was no way she would have just told us to sit back down and given us a grade later!
  • We felt safe. Did we ever doubt ourselves and think we’d got it wrong? No. We had been given a task to do and the four of us had agreed on the end result. There wasn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. It was interpretation she was looking for: the thought process behind it.

All of these conversations and actions grouped with the thought processes that go on behind it all create not just a collective knowledge of the subject, but a deeper understanding.

Ideas I’ll be taking back to my classroom:

  • Ensuring students are thinking more and developing their understanding better, by providing a safer environment for students to openly discuss in.
  • Allowing students to redraft and submit the work that they want to be assessed.
  • Introducing actions into learning to allow for more kinaesthetic learning to take place.

In my introduction I said this day was the last of the series and the best. During my PGCE I had been to many sessions which covered different areas from co-operative learning to growth mindsets. But how was I going to implement this into my everyday practice? The only thing I was focused on back then was getting through a day, a week and maybe a month! Now as I have established my roots I can embed the wonderful strategies and ideas we were continuously told about when training.

This leads nicely onto the last and final point I got from this session. For the students to be instantly engaged and enthusiastic they need the curriculum to be relevant to them, just as today’s session was relevant to me.

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About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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