I’ve been meaning to write this post for a fortnight now. The problem now is that the longer I’ve procrastinated, the more great examples of practice there are to write about! For those unfamiliar with the term, we borrowed the ‘Bright Spots’ idea from Shaun Allison at Durrington High School (their excellent blog is here), who in turn borrowed it from the inspirational authors Chip & Dan Heath. Put very simply, to continue developing we need to start with what we’re already good at! Here goes:
Within the first week of term I was really pleased to see so many of our faculties trying out Takeaway Homework – some great examples in Computing, Science and the Creative Arts. Here’s an example from @WellacreICT and Steve Casey:
Elsewhere in our Computing faculty it was lovely to see new Y7 classes being given a thorough grounding in the basic skills that they’ll need throughout their time with us – how to log on to our network, check their school email and access their homework on Show My Homework. I know I’m occasionally guilty of assuming that students will automatically know these things, but someone has to teach them. By giving our newest students a thorough introduction, the Computing faculty are supporting every other subject – thank you!
Another whole-Academy strategy that’s already having real impact is our T&L placemats which give all our teachers ready access to a toolkit of all the no-frills, high-quality day to day routines and strategies that we’ve developed over the last 12 months. I think I’ve only seen two classrooms without one so far – you know who you are!
Excited to see the launch of a new course in @MissBrunning ‘s DT workshop. The DEC programme from @classofyourown was one of our most popular option choices for KS4 students and on my brief walk-through it was easy to see why. Half an hour into their first lesson, Y10 students were already building their own website portfolios to showcase their work throughout the course. This is a really good example of the bar of expectation being set high from the outset and students producing a ‘benchmark of brilliance’ for themselves. The engagement and the clarity of Julia’s instructions was second to none.
Further down the main corridor, in @MrCHallam ‘s English class, students were hard at work choosing and annotating their own sources for their impending controlled assessment. It was lovely to see such a wide variety of topical articles being chosen, from the Scottish referendum to footballers’ salaries – by letting the students drive the learning, Craig made sure that there was a real ‘buzz’ to the task.
Next door, our new Head of English Tom was introducing a rapt Y11 class to poetry analysis. One of our growth mindset strategies for the term is using high-level academic language and there was plenty of this here. With skilful questioning and the highest expectations, Tom took his students on a journey from “pick your favourite three words and tell me something interesting about them” to really well-crafted, developed verbal answers. Everyone in this class was stretched and there were no ‘opt-outs’.
A couple of really simple but highly effective additions to the desks in English NQT Kelly’s classroom: coloured overlays and WOW words. Many of our boys demonstrated strong dyslexic tendencies and some benefit from an overlay of either green, blue or yellow when reading, but there can be problems with stigma. Kelly’s solution – overlays on every table! In a similar way the WOW words and literacy mats also provide regular reinforcement of common SPaG errors and encourage students to independently refer to them. There was another great example of a similar strategy in MFL, but no photo I’m afraid! I’ll get you next time…
Finally (for now), some excellent – and quite unprompted – growth mindset dialogue between two students in Mr Jamil’s maths class:
“It’s really hard, but I think you do it like this…”
“No, I think it’s like this…”
Both boys had found different solutions to the same problem.