Monthly Archives: March 2014


Foldables title slideThe final presentation at our lunchtime pedagogy picnic on Magic Monday 3 was by Suzanne Falconer from our Science department, who introduced us to foldables.

Foldables are essentially a type of graphic organiser that allow students to categorise information in lots of different ways.

They can be used to take notes, record questions, observations or findings and organise information.  They can be used to chunk information into smaller pieces or to consolidate topics into one package, for example when reviewing work prior to an assessment.

Foldables can be used in any subject and give students the opportunity to create something themselves that they can then refer back to.  As the foldable is created by the student, they have to think about how they will organise and present information themselves, as well as how concepts link together.

Foldables come in all shapes and sizes, although the most common types of fold are:

  • Accordion
  • Burrito
  • Hamburger
  • Hotdog
  • Mountain
  • Shutter
  • Taco

…which can be used to create all manner of foldables including:

  • layered books
  • door books
  • matchbooks
  • trifold books
  • envelopes
  • flip books
  • etc.

By letting students select which type to use themselves they get to organise the information in a way which makes sense to them.

Suzanne has been using them with her Year 11 students to review a GCSE unit of work on “chemicals of the natural environment”

Foldable 4

Foldable 1

You can use the template below if you want to have a go at making this type of foldable.

Foldable 5

Suzanne will be running a voluntary, hands on workshop for staff after school on the 31st of March.

A Pinterest  page on “foldables for the classroom” can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Takeaway Homework

take away openThe second of our lunchtime presentations on Magic Monday 3 was by Sam Bulmer from our English department, who shared with us how she is using “Takeaway Homework” to help her students take more responsibility for their homework.

The original idea came from the “100 Ideas” book by Ross Morrison-McGill.

100 ideas, RMM

The concept is simple:

  • Provide your class with a takeaway menu full of homework tasks.
  • Each week students get to choose a different task to complete from the menu, to be handed in on a set day.

The takeaway menu can be further differentiated by dividing it into sections. Sam uses:

  • Appetisers (light bites)
  • Main meals (hearty appetites)
  • Desserts (creative and different)

Takeaway homework slide

Dividing your menu this way is also a useful way to increase the level of challenge, for example, you might insist that all students pick a more challenging ‘main meal’ but give them the choice of adding a starter or dessert.  The point is to encourage students to want to go the extra mile.

Sam also allocates nutritional points to each task, which students record in their points tracker before being signed off by their teacher.  The more difficult or time-consuming the task, the more points that are available for completion.

My Homework Tracking Sheet

A points leaderboard is then used to display the top points scorers, with prizes at the end of each term for the most points.

Homework leader board

Sam’s findings so far:

  • A reduction in the amount of homework handed in late or missed.
  • Increased enthusiasm from students about homework – especially the challenge and competitive element.
  • Time saved not having to explain homework every lesson.
  • Front loading the planning of homework tasks gives a return over subsequent weeks.

Twitter: powerful professional development


I’ve had a personal Twitter account for a while now and used it mainly as a means of getting my daily dose of information on sports, news, bike stuff, politics and updates from the various hostelries and coffee shops I frequent when in the Lake District.

In October last year I made an “(In)decent proposal” to our staff that used a book as a hook and composed my first ever tweet in a professional capacity to Ross Morrison-McGill aka @TeacherToolkit using the @BelmontTeach account I’d set up for work purposes.



I was pleasantly surprised to receive not just a response, but also encouragement for what we were trying to achieve in school, retweets and even an #FF later!  With almost 50000 followers (100x more than me!) I can’t even begin to imagine how many notifications he must get every day – so thanks Ross – it was all the incentive I needed!

Fast forward….

Less than 6 months later I’m sat here writing the 21st post for a blog that is fast approaching 10000 views.  Three of them have views in the thousands with lots more in the hundreds.  Reading through all the comments and replies we have had about them other people seem to quite like them too!  I’m still struggling to get my head round just how far and wide our blog has travelled, with views from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, Africa, Asia, the Far East and most of Europe.  Not only that, but we now have a growing army of “homegrown” bloggers whose blogs have been enjoyed by many too.

Much of this we owe to that little blue bird named Twitter.

From these first tentative dipping of toes into the waters of the Twittersphere we’ve gone from trying many of the great ideas that have been shared, to sharing a fair few of our own – some of which have graced T+L noticeboards or similar in other schools.

We’ve gone from reading books that have been recommended by fellow tweeters to interacting with their authors as well as setting up our own T+L library.

We’ve gone from tweeting with colleagues in other schools to visiting them in their schools to see great practice first hand and then using this to inform our own practice in school.

We’ve participated in online TeachTweets that have encouraged and inspired us to try new ideas and start our own TeachMeets as well present at other schools across the North East.

We’ve participated in webinars with a range of educationists, attended National conferences at their schools and forged closer links with our local university to engage with educational research.

Thanks to colleagues on Twitter, we have been encouraged, supported and hopefully, been able to give a little back to others too.

The ripple effect….

True to “The 10 Stages of Twitter” shared by @syded06 many of our staff have been demonstrating clear stage 8 behaviour lately by waxing lyrical and spreading the word about Twitter to other colleagues in school.

Following feedback from our staff recently it became clear that those not currently signed up to Twitter wanted to hear more about it, so we decided to kick off Magic Monday 3 with a session on “Twitter: powerful professional development”.  Not one to look gift horses in the mouth and with a chance to tick stage 10 off the list I decided to ask my PLN for help.  As you can see, I didn’t have to wait very long…


First up, I used @MrOCallaghanEdu’s blog “The network is more powerful than the node” to introduce the concept of Twitter.


I then compared traditional CPD with using Twitter for CPD using @TeamTait’s blog “To tweet or not to tweet”


To illustrate this further, I looked back through the last 7 days of my timeline and shared “my week on Twitter”, which was a fairly typical one during which I…

  • shared a wide range of resources, blogs, articles and links with a wide range of colleagues in our school, as well as from other schools.
  • had various conversations with a range of colleagues in our school, in other schools and from other organisations
  • obtained some bargain reading material (to add to the paper copy we already have in our T+L library)


…although the icing on the cake had to be this offer from Mr “Teach Like a Champion” Doug Lemov (I’ll hold you to that when you are in England this year Doug!)

Beer with Doug!

We then took a look “live” at my timeline to show how, by careful tailoring and following, you could be accessing a constant stream of useful material (without the beans!).  I also had this example ready to share below.


I then returned to @MrOCallaghanEdu’s blog to share his advice on getting started and how simple it is to create an account….


…before going on to show how to build and tailor your PLN by choosing who to follow using a Mashable resource shared by @blamehound in a fantastic storify she had put together.


A good starting point is to find out who else tweets for professional purposes in your own school if you’re not already aware, as it can be a quick and easy way of sharing resources, ideas and good practice in school.  We’ve got quite a few as you can see – all well worth a follow if you don’t already!


@TweetingAcademy have also created lists of tweeters by subject for those looking for ideas in specific subjects or categories which is really useful.


#FF Follow Friday’s are another good source of inspiration, where tweeters will recommend other tweeters to follow.  This usually happens on a Friday, as the name suggests, however, I’ve seen #FF recommendations being tweeted out on a Saturday (for the stragglers or forgetful) or late on Thursday evening (for the keen ones who like to get in first!)


To finish with, I offered a final bit of guidance for those considering signing up as to some of the key terms and actions they can perform and what they mean, as well as a link to an alphabetical list of hashtags created by @TeachingTricks



A huge thanks to John Tait, Nicola Fitzpatrick, Mr O’Callaghan, Mark Anderson and The Tweeting Academy for helping me to create this presentation for our staff by sharing resources and links with me.  A great example of what Twitter is all about.

It goes without saying that should you wish to use or adapt any of my slides for your own purposes, feel free to do so.  Please make sure you credit any of the other tweeters whose resources I’ve used appropriately though, observing any conditions of sharing where they exist.