Monthly Archives: December 2013

Magic Monday 1

Our first Magic Monday on the 9th December was undoubtedly an overwhelming success.

MM1 invitation

Over 90% of our classroom based staff attended the Pedagogy Picnic at lunchtime (more if you don’t include those staff on lunch duty) plus we had virtually a full house at our Workshops Of Wonder after school.  When you consider that both sessions were entirely voluntary, the turnout was incredible! It was fantastic to see so many staff wanting to focus on developing their pedagogy further as well as showing their support to colleagues who presented.  A massive thank you to everyone who attended or presented, as well as to all of those who worked so hard “behind the scenes” to help organise the invitations, their delivery, the resources, the “goodie-bags”, both of the venues, the delicious catering, the I.T……….it really was a team effort.

MM1 Summary pics

Blog posts on all of the presentations and workshops from Magic Monday 1 can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Pedagogy Picnic presentations

MM1 Ped Picnic summary pics

Workshops Of Wonder

MM1 WOW summary pics

The feedback from our first Magic Monday was overwhelmingly positive too.

MM1 feedback sheets

Staff told us they really liked:

  • the variety of presentations
  • the range of ideas / innovative ideas shared
  • the practical ideas / their relevance / the fact that ideas could be implemented straight away
  • the short / sharp nature / pace of presentations and workshops
  • the sharing of ideas that our staff have used
  • the sharing by our teachers for our teachers
  • involvement of different departments
  • the range of experience of teachers sharing ideas
  • the opportunity to work with other teachers / different departments
  • the chance to try out new ideas
  • being together / eating together / talking together
  • the provision of ready-made, adaptable resources to take away (the goodie bags!)
  • the refreshments
  • the choice of venues (our staffroom and Learning Resource Centre)
  • the atmosphere, enthusiasm, passion of presenters and having a common goal
  • the chance to think/reflect

MM1 Ped Picnic 1

For our next Magic Monday staff would love:

  • More of the same!
  • Even more ideas!
  • Even more departments involved!
  • More teachers sharing ideas
  • Another goodie-bag of resources (including chocolate!)
  • More time to discuss / share ideas / Q+A
  • More examples of impact on students / feedback from students / evidence of progress

MM1 Ped Picnic 2

As well as giving specific suggestions for topics staff would like to hear more about:

  • Feedback – especially peer assessment
  • Differentiation
  • More Kagan cooperative learning strategies
  • Using Twitter as a CPD tool
  • More about SOLO
  • More about using QR codes
  • Easy to adapt plenaries

Here’s a sneaky peak at what we’ve got planned for Magic Monday 2 on January 6th……..

MM 2 invite

  • all new ideas
  • all new presenters from Science, Maths, Humanities, Performing Arts, MFL and English – including co-presenters from different departments
  • a few minutes after each session for Q+A

We’ve had such a good response from our teachers that we’ve already got Magic Monday 3 planned to include:

  • differentiation
  • flipped learning
  • foldables – revision resources in the run up to exams
  • D.I.R.T.y feedback
  • cooperative learning with impact
  • takeaway homework
  • animoto
  • independent learning

…and that’s just for starters!

Plus after Christmas we will be running a voluntary “using twitter for CPD for beginners” session as well as giving staff the opportunity to see some of the things they’ve heard about already in action in classrooms.

It’s going to be an exciting year!

Introduction to SOLO

A fitting finale to our first Workshops Of Wonder during Magic Monday was courtesy of our Head of Science Julie Ryder.  Julie treated our staff to an introduction to the SOLO taxonomy, which she has been experimenting with this year and is particularly relevant for us at the minute, considering our current focus on sharing challenging learning intentions.

This guest blog post was written by Julie, who outlines her own learning journey as well as providing us with an introduction to SOLO.  Over to Julie…

Introduction to SOLO title slide

What is SOLO?

SOLO is a model of learning developed in the 1970s and 80s by two Australian academics: John Biggs and Kevin Collis. It is based on their research of samples of many different student learning outcomes and was first developed 10 years ago for classroom based use in New Zealand schools.

Using SOLO as a framework for teaching

My own learning journey with SOLO began with this book about maximising achievement in science. Written by Steve Martin who, amongst other awards, is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Science Teaching (2010). He received this award based on the  work he does with students, inspiring them to higher levels of achievement using SOLO to set challenging learning goals.

From this book I began to look into the work of Pam Hook (author of a range of excellent books on SOLO Taxonomy).  I have communicated with Pam since beginning with SOLO especially when I needed help getting started. Pam has always found the time to reply during which time she has offered much support and many ideas for which I am very grateful.

In her own words Pam describes one of the benefits of using SOLO as follows:

“One of the things I love about the classroom based use of SOLO Taxonomy is the way in which using the model helps students understand great questions. SOLO helps students understand how to construct great questions and how to answer them.”

I have seen evidence of this myself, especially in the quality of extended answers from all of my students – no matter what their target grades or ability are. My students very much enjoy being set challenging outcomes at extended abstract level and then ascertaining the learning journey they must take in order to achieve this.

SOLO makes the learning outcome visible as it focuses on the structure of a learning outcome. Thus we can ask ourselves when setting our outcomes:  is the structure of the learning outcome a single idea, a number of ideas, ideas that are in some way connected or are we applying our knowledge and understanding of these ideas in a new way?

These next  two slides are from a presentation by  David Didau on SOLO. David’s video clip from this link shows him explaining SOLO at a Teachmeet at Clevedon. It is a great introduction to SOLO levels for the beginner.

David writes excellent blogs that are always thought-provoking and I enjoy that he challenges my thinking regularly. His blogs always makes me reflect on and question my own practice and for that I am very grateful.

In one of his blogs on why the knowledge skills debate is worth having (linked here) David reminds us that the usefulness of SOLO is entirely dependent on the knowledge students possess and that it isn’t that skills are more important than knowledge: rather that both are necessary if students are to master a subject.

SOLO taxonomy

What is SOLO?

In my classroom I find currently that SOLO provides a great framework for students to progress, where students learning becomes deeper as they move through the levels.

SOLO hexagons are a great way to introduce students to SOLO as a model of learning outcomes. They demonstrate that single ideas are good and then that by connecting them in different ways this makes them more interesting and shows more complex understanding. Taking things further and considering a range of connections in clusters can lead to greater conceptual understanding.

Using SOLO hexagons is also an excellent way to determine a student’s prior knowledge and depth of understanding before starting a new topic or activity. Using ideas “stolen/borrowed/inspired” from those who blog about SOLO has allowed me to experiment using hexagons. I have used them to begin a new learning experience, to prompt students who are “stuck”, to challenge and deepen understanding and to create new understanding by introducing hexagons with additional content.

SOLO and deep learning

(Deep Learning image from a presentation by Tait Coles)

SOLO hexagons

When using hexagons the outcome will differ according to the SOLO level, put very simply: students who are able to describe the ideas/words on individual hexagons are said to be working at a multi structural level. Students who are able to make connections between hexagons and explain why they have linked the ideas together are working at a relational level.  Students who can explore a range of ideas where three hexagons share a corner or look at a cluster of hexagons and make a generalisation about the nature of the relationship between the ideas are working at extended abstract level. (Pam Hook)

SOLO hexagons 2

Why do I think you should use it?

It is excellent for both formative and summative assessment. It makes learning challenging but visible and provides a framework for progression. It great for finding out what students know before you start and then at any point there after progress can be checked. It is easy to use when planning lessons or a scheme of work as you can scaffold the learning experiences for the outcomes (constructive alignment) at unistructural, multistructural, relational and extended abstract levels.

It supports metacognition: what am I doing? – how well is it going? – what should I do next?

Challenge can then be provided through feedback and feed forward, which could be: teacher to student, student to teacher and student to student.

The slide below shows how I developed learning outcomes for photosynthesis which moved students from shallow to deep learning.

SOLO deep learning in science

There are a growing number of people out there who are or have tried SOLO. Many are writing or have written about SOLO and are using SOLO in their everyday teaching. I highly recommend the following who have helped and inspired me on my SOLO journey:

Pam Hook

Lisa Ashes (excellent blogs on a range of topics including SOLO) “SOLO teaches pupils to make relationships between ideas and then use these to question ideas further.”

David Didau (excellent blogs that are always thought provoking)

Tait Coles (great blogs and some nice videos of a year 8 class new to SOLO) (great article from “Creative teaching and learning” p57)

Finally in the words of Biggs and Collis

SOLO Biggs & Collis quote

If you are interested in learning more about how you might use the SOLO taxonomy or would like any more information or support please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Poundland Pedagogy

Our second Magic Monday “Workshop of Wonder” was delivered by Sam Bulmer from our English department.  Sam shared with us how she is using “Poundland Pedagogy” in her lessons as well as providing us with the opportunity to think about how we might use it in our own lessons.

Poundland pedagogy title slide

Sam’s interest in this began with a book by Isabella Wallace entitled “Pimp Your Lesson

Poundland pedagogy background

Sam began by sharing some of the strategies she had been using in her own lessons, for example “Keyword Keepie Uppies“…Poundland pedagogy keyword keepie-uppies English example

…and Talk to me I’m an expert

Poundland pedagogy talk to me I'm an expert English example

Sam then went on to share some ideas for how we could use a range of everyday household objects that cost £1 or less in our lessons

Poundland pedagogy using plastic tablecloths Poundland pedagogy using string Poundland pedagogy using plastic bin liners

Finally we got the chance to have a play ourselves with some resources provided by Sam in our goodie-bags! Poundland pedagogy task

Sam has set herself a challenge to create one new teaching and learning method each week… Poundland pedagogy next steps

…maybe you would like to join her or send her your own ideas?!

Quiz Quiz Trade

Our first Magic Monday “Workshop Of Wonder” (…or “WOWs” as we’ve decided to name them) was kicked off in style by our Head of MFL, Lee Ferris.  Lee led us all through his workshop based on a Kagan cooperative learning strategy: Quiz-Quiz-Trade, which was highly interactive, very hands on and ultimately great fun for all of us involved!

Quiz quiz trade title slide

Quiz-Quiz-Trade is a strategy that encourages mutual reliance at every stage and the embedding of knowledge through the sharing of ideas verbally.  Although Lee used an MFL specific example, the strategy works in any context.

Stage 1: introduce the necessary knowledge

We needed to know the correct terminology for liking and disliking, which Lee reinforced by asking us to repeat aloud, whilst using the appropriate thumb signals.

Quiz quiz trade j'adore

Quiz quiz trade j'aime Quiz quiz trade je n'aime pas Quiz quiz trade je deteste

The same process was repeated for our “likes” and “dislikes” prior to Lee questioning us to check our learning.

Quiz quiz trade images likes & dislikes

Stage 2: provide any additional support required prior to the Quiz-Quiz-Trade stage

A vocabulary list was provided.

Quiz quiz trade mes preferences

This was to ensure we could record our information correctly on our Quiz Quiz Trade share cards.

Quiz Quiz Trade share cards

The Quiz-Quiz-Trade share card template can be downloaded by clicking on the link above

Stage 3: explain the Quiz-Quiz-Trade rules (generic for any subject)

Quiz quiz trade rules

Stage 4: Quiz-Quiz-Trade

We read our sentence out loud in French, which our partner translated into English.

If we made a mistake we were allowed one generic clue e.g. “I said…….(repeat)”

Once we had carried this out correctly individually, we swapped roles and repeated.

Once both ourselves and our partners had carried this out correctly, we swapped cards, moved away with our hands in the air to identify we were looking for a new partner.

The Quiz-Quiz-Trade process was then repeated a number of times, allowing us to listen to and practise speaking a much wider range of vocabulary than we would have done without using it.

Not only this but the process was quick, highly engaging and great fun!

If you would like to know more about Quiz-Quiz-Trade or require any support implementing this strategy Lee would be more than happy to help.

Quick Coursework

The final presentation at our first Magic Monday “Pedagogy Picnic” was by Science teacher Suzanne Falconer.

Quick Coursework title slide

Spurred on by our “(In)decent Proposal”, her copy of “100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding lessons” by Ross Morrison-McGill (a.k.a. @TeacherToolkit) and the Science Department’s recent “5 Minute Webinar” Suzanne shared a number of 5 Minute Plans she had created and how they might be used.

But first, let’s remind ourselves of the original 5 minute lesson plan from @TeacherToolkit

The 5 minute Lesson Plan Teacher Toolkit original

Here are Suzanne’s first versions adapted for Science:

Data Analysis…

The 5 minute Data Analysis Plan

Case Studies… The 5 minute Case Study Plan

Full investigations…

The 5 minute full investigation plan

…with exemplification

The 5 minute coursework plan - science (annotated)

Suzanne then went on to share 5 minute plans she had produced in collaboration with Sam Bulmer from our English department that were suitable for writing and reading tasks.


The 5 minute writing plan

with exemplification…

The 5 minute writing plan (annotated)


The 5 minute reading plan

with exemplification…

The 5 minute reading plan (annotated)

Finally Suzanne shared her 5 minute plans for History based on their Controlled Assessment and preparation lessons following discussions with Louise Goodyear from our Humanities department.

Source Plan…

The 5 minute Source Plan

B(ii) plan…

The 5 minute B(ii) Plan

Representation breakdown plan…

The 5 minute Representation breakdown

If you want to know more or would like support to develop your own 5 minute plans Suzanne would be very happy to help you with this.

Suzanne’s 5 minute plans (including @TeacherToolkit’s original 5 minute lesson plan) can be downloaded by clicking on the following link

5 min plan templates

You can also check out the vast array of other 5 minute plans in the series here.

Mobile Magic

The second presentation at our first Magic Monday “Pedagogy Picnic” was by Michael Caygill following his experimentation with the use of QR codes in Science.

Mobile Magic title slide

Michael began by outlining exactly what a QR code is…

Mobile Magic what is a QR code?

before explaining how to install a QR code reader on your mobile phone or tablet.

Mobile Magic how do you use QR codes?

He recommended the website for creating QR codes

Mobile Magic QR code website

…before sharing some specific examples he has been trialling in his Science lessons, for example this student worksheet on corrosion, which contained QR codes that linked to wikis and particular pages on the  BBC bitesize science website…

Mobile Magic QR code corrosion worksheet

…this worksheet, which linked to ideas about chemical reactions…

Mobile Magic QR code chemical reactions

…and finally this example, which linked to information on chemical bonding.

Mobile Magic QR codes bonding

As well as using QR codes as a source of information during lessons, Michael shared how he has also been experimenting with their use when providing written feedback to his students.  Shown below are two examples of how he used them to provide further support for students to complete their improvements following his feedback.

Mobile Magic QR codes response to feedback

Notice that in both cases, references to further reading in text books and web references are provided, making the use of a QR reader non-essential.

Mobile Magic QR codes response to feedback 2

So, if you fancy giving QR codes a go or would like a bit more info Michael would be more than happy to support you with this.

Magic Mondays

Magic Monday #1

Magic Mondays are a core part of our “10 in 10” vision and our sharpening of focus to ensure that pedagogy is at the heart of our work in school.

We have already recognised that the capacity for meaningful professional development exists within our school, amongst our staff and the need to find better ways to reflect on and share the great practice that is already happening.  Magic Mondays are a direct response to this need.

Magic Mondays are scheduled to happen once every Half Term during lunchtime and after school.  Participation and attendance is entirely voluntary, with teaching staff offering 7 minute presentations during lunchtime at our “Pedagogy Picnics” or 12 minute workshops after school at our “Workshops Of Wonder“.  Initially there will be 3 x 7 minute presentations at lunchtime, with 3 x 12 minute workshops after school.

The choice of venue has been very deliberate as part of an effort to reinforce them as places at the heart of our school.  Pedagogy Picnics will be held in the staff room and offer the chance for staff to meet, eat, sit down and have a drink together as well as hear some great ideas they might like to try from colleagues.  Our Workshops Of Wonder will be held in our Learning Resource Centre – a room that sits geographically at the heart of our school and one that is already an established “hub of learning” as well as being home to our staff work room.

The initial response for a smaller than average school like ours has been overwhelming.  We have seen no shortage of volunteers wanting to showcase their ideas.  In addition to the 30 staff who have already confirmed their attendance at the Pedagogy Picnic, even more are expected to attend the Workshops Of Wonder after school.  With 19 staff already offering to give presentations or run workshops for our second Magic Monday in January it looks like we are set for a great Christmas and an exciting start to the New Year!