Sunday, 9 June 2013

#TMEnglish 8th June 2013 Part 1

Saturday 8th June was the date of the inaugural #TMEnglish organised by Mark Miller, or @Goldfishbowlmm as he is more commonly known on Twitter. 

I'd arranged to travel up via my blogging buddy Chris Curtis @Xris32. We spokeon Thursay post Chris's Deatheaters visit (he was surprisingly lucid) and more or less figured out I'd need a 6am get up to get to Chris's for 8am. I weeped a little and then got quite excited for the day ahead.  After a little detour to Leeds University, the WRONG location, we arrived at the correct one, which was Leeds West Academy. Thanks to Alex Quigley for tweeting me the correct post code.

The weather was sunny, yes SUNNY even though we were Oop North, and we arrived at around 9.30 am in glorious sunshine at a very lovely, sparkly new school building that is Leeds West Academy.  Both of us come from quite dilapidated schools so Chris and I wondered through this building in awe. We had SERIOUS school building envy. 

We eventually arrived at the dining hall, which looked more like a continental bistro than any school dining hall I'd been in and met with Mark, Alex Quigley (was much nicer to meet him in a non-interview situation!) and a chap whose name has escaped me. #facepalm. Later on a gaggle of chic twitter ladies strolled up and the gathering was almost complete. 

What follows is that rather peculiar meeting of people you have tweeted with for weeks, if not months, and putting the real life entity to the tweacher. Kerry Pulleyn, Ann Williams and Jennifer Webb found me, hugged me and the ice was well and truly broken. 

Now the scene is set, on with the important bit. The Teach Meet!

Key Note: Alex Quigley

Alex's opening to his keynote was quite surprising. It began with a picture of Bach's Rescue Remedy, a murmur of muffled recognition trickled around the room whilst we could all picture Tom Bennett choking on his coffee. The image was in reference to the 'crutches' we employ to deal with deep felt anxieties about public speaking, as well as the day to day stresses of our job. Stresses that have increased in the past 18 months.  
  The nub of Alex's speech was about why English teaching in particular is of great importance; about how it enables growth in confidence of our pupils AND its teachers; how deliberate practice, blogging and the Trojan Mouse approach to CPD that is Teach Meets, are the key to being even better at what we do, because we're worth it!  

1. Jennifer Webb @funkypedagogy

Spoken Word and Poetry Slam in school.  

Jennifer provided an inspiring insight into how she had introduced Poetry Slam to a wide range of pupils at her Academy; most noticeably engaging young disaffected boys in the writing of truly meaningful, moving and marvellous poetry.  Rather than re-narrate, here is her blog post:

What did I take away from this?
Well, admiration for Jennifer's ray of sunshine delivery, confidence, and down-right bubbling enthusiasm for her pupils, as well as observing how this extra-curricular club enables real, honest, earthy, intrinsic engagement with English; how collaboration fosters confidence in Slam Club members ,and that poetry is a living and breathing entity, kept alive, big time, by these pupils.

2. Charlotte Wright @commahound

Contolled Assessment kits for NQTs

Talk about well prepared! Charlotte introduced her talk by reminding us of the importance of the kind of support NQTs need, and most value, in that demanding first year in the classroom. Then, without further ado, like Mary Poppins Charlotte delved deep into her big hand-bag and handed out her Controlled Assesment Kits for NQTs based on the Creative Writing task (for AQA) using Miss. Havisham and Great Expectations as a stimulus. The resources consisted of:

  1. a sheet of related images
  2. extracts of Dicken's description of Miss. Havisham from Great Expectations
  3. A mark scheme grid
  4. Sheets of useful vocabulary (literacy base covered there!)
  5. Examplars of task to peer assess

We were asked to look through the material, and on a post card, suggest how we would add to it, our twitter handles and then we were sent off to pass our ideas onto someone we had not yet spoken to.  I happened to find @TrueEnglish365 who was scoring the Word Challenge game (who can get a random word into their presentation the best?)

What did I take from this?
The idea of a 'Kit' is universally useful all faculty members, regardless of experience, and 'crowd sourcing' ideas for improvement and differentiation is the most efficient way to assemble what would become a very comprehensive and innovative Scheme of Work or Scheme of Learning (whatever you prefer to call it). 

3. Chris Read @c_j_read

KS3 Shakespeare

Chris had also arrived early and joined in the chatting with Chris C, Alex the chap whose name I forget *scratches head in frustration* before the presentations. So youthful looking was he, I thought he'd easily pass for one of my 6th formers. 

Now, young Chris's audience was rammed full of mostly experienced teachers with a decade or so under their belts, sprinkled with a few NQTS and PGCE students. His talk was delivered with real confidence wit and aplomb.  

Useful reminders from Chris were:
1. DON'T start with context - but instead get them intrigued by the story, discuss it as appropriate when appropriate, more of a drip feed approach
2. Acknowledge, capture and confront anxieties openly with your students, get the sugar paper and big pens out!
3. Why teach it at all? Other than that it's on the National Curriculum, Old Bill's themes are universal and still applicable today. 
4. Language and narrative, which is the most important? Well, both but you can get to the language via the narrative.
5. The play's the thing (That's me paraphrasing via Hamlet) - employ drama techniques, it's NOT a book! 

Useful recommendation from Chris was to use resources from Active English (same company who got Gove's goat with Active History and Mr. Men-gate, all the more reason to give it a go!).

What did I take from it?
The reminders above were just as useful for a long in the tooth teacher, as we can get mired in the evils of Government and school politics at times. I liked being reminded of the fun, yes FUN we can have teaching Shakespeare's texts to younger pupils. Plus, viewing things from the point of view of a bright eyed and bushy tailed young teacher was timely.  I thought this was especially useful to the NQTs and PGCE students present. Teaching Shakespeare as a new teacher and be terribly intimidating. 

4. Kate Walstenholme 

3 Short Movie Clips that always work.

Kate, another newbie TM presenter (who also delivered her presentation with confident aplomb) provided us with a useful mini-guide to short film clips an animations that can stimulate debate, writing, analysis (as you see fit). Another well prepared lady with a useful handout, which I think Chris Curtis snaffled, there ore I shall embed this short film, The Black Hole, that Kate introduced us to:

A well told narrative told without dialogue. Narrative is structured via visual and aural codes. 

What did I take from this?
Well, my brain is whirring about how to use this clip in Media Studies classes e.g. to teach the 'value' of diagetic and non-diagetic sound to narrative; a means of revising camera shot, angle and movement; use of mise-en-scene to create a coherent tone and atmosphere; use it to find pupil's moral compass (linking to texts like An Inspector Calls and Of Mice and Men) and so on.  Thank you Kate! 

5. Charlotte Unsworth  @Miss_tiggr

Blogging for Feedback

A wonderfully well prepared newbie TM presenter, taking us through her journey of using Blogs with her students, much like Chris Waugh @Edu_Tronic she is essentially replacing exercise books with using blogs frequently with her pupils.  Particular benefits were the use of peer critique via the comments section upon each other's blogs.  This initially began with the typical 'That's great, LOL' comments, however with Charlotte's guidance the students have provided each other with hugely detailed comments that were very Berger-esque - kind, fair and specific, which had enabled each students to improve their work often and brilliantly. 

What did I take from this?
Blogging with pupils is clearly the way forward and that, as Charlotte advocated, Wordpress is the platform. It is foolish NOT to be engaging with this writing platform, however, I do wonder how are IT support would view it. (I'll not embellish!).
   Teaching students how to most effectively peer mark is also the key here.

6. Me! Eek

Using Wordles with A2 Language and literature students:

Oh I really was fighting nervous adrenaline here! Evil stuff, that adrenaline. What I'll do is do a really concise summary and follow it up later with a more detailed blog post. 

1. Source texts were 2 soliloquies: 'Is this a dagger..' from Macbeth and 'To be or not to be..' from Hamlet
2. Both were placed into Wordle and beautiful word clouds were generated
3. Give the Wordled soliloquies to students, different soliloquies to different students
4. Tell them nothing about play, context etc
5. Ask them to go a hunting and see what patterns of language they can find (semantic fields or whatever else occurs to them)
6. Then provide them with Qs to stimulate discussion using, 'What might....' 'How could...' Who might...' as question stems to encourage hypothetical thinking (Extended Abstract)
7. Ask students what is the thematic link, if any, between both Wordles, then maybe drop in some clues about the play and the character speaking.
8. Hand out soliloquies and get students to 'sweep' focusing on exam steers of: linguistic, literary, rhetorical and spoken language features. (Covering Part A and Part B skills for AQA Lang Lit B exam).

Note to self:
Before you present, DO the breathing exercises as taught to you by CBT man so you CAN get the words out and, to coin Alex Quigley, NOT self-sabotage. 

7.  Kerry Pulleyn @Kerrypulleyn
Using images to support the reading of complex poetry

Kerry has clearly caught the whole Teach Meet bug after attending @lisajaneashes most recent pedagoo event, and who can blame her?
The image above shows Kerry's example of how she introduced 'The Laboratory' to her pupils, minus the text and using the combination of images and a KWL grid to unleash some inqusitiveness and curiosity in her pupils. 

Next, Kerry showed as a series of images on a slide based on 'The Lady of Shallott':

Here the images are placed in non-linear order so that students can see if they can assemble a narrative from them. This would make a great creative writing stimulus, prior to reading the poem, wouldn't it?

Another great idea Kerry showed us was to 'create a mystery' based on the text you are teaching, pupils have to solve the mystery. I loved this ideas and I'm glad I've just reminded myself of this!

What did I take from this?
I recognised what Kerry was doing immediately, because I have often done exactly the same myself; for example showing a picture of The Garden of Eden prior to reading 'Of Mice and Men' or an illustration of 'Hansel and Gretel' prior to reading 'The Landlady' by Roald Dahl' so was comforted by the fact the Kerry had done similar. *wipes brow*
   I really loved Kerry's solve the mystery idea, mainly because it was so easily applicable across all kinds of text, not just poetry. It encourages the all important use of deductive thinking which then enable pupils to use inference and deduction when reading complex texts.

8.. Andy Sammons  @amsammons

Effective feedback: A taxonomy of errors via @Kevbartle and @CanonsOPP

The link to Andy's blog post is above so I won't regurgitate what he has produced. However, this presentation was a very useful walk-through of how Andy has 'magpied' an idea via Twitter and blogs, and more importantly, how he has adapted it to his way and his class. 

What did I take from this?
A taxonomy of errors is something that I have done in the past, but not in such a well ordered, well structured and pupil friendly manner. A big long list of common errors (my original attempt) is about as useful as a chocolate tea-pot.
  The organisation of common errors, into Easy Fixes, Moderate Fixes, Hard Fixes, Hardest Fixes focused on a specific exam question (or an Assessment Focus at KS3) is an efficient and purposeful way of providing very focused feedback. 
  Anything that saves time with marking and feedback has got to be good.

9. Chris Curtis @Xris32
Novel things to do with sentences

Chris, my travelling companion and blogging buddy, was the last to speak in this section. This was his first ever Teach Meet and lo and behold, he presented too! Mind you, he visibly gulped when he was introduced as the 'headline' speaker for this section, no pressure eh?

Chris's talk was a great walk-through of how he has taught pupils sentence structures explicitly whilst avoiding the tedium of the 'This is simple sentence, this is a compound sentence, this is a complext sentence' of the approaches began as as teachers. 

What did I take from this?
  • Provide pupils with exemplar structures that they can experiment with
  • Teaching varied and efficient use of sentence structures improves their analytical writing
  • Swipe interesting sentence structures from a wide range of texts - let the students have a go
  • Teaching sentence is not as tricky as you think, but so necessary. This link to his blog post for this presentation, is below: 

Here endeth Part 1 of #TMEnglish 8th June 2013 - Part 1
Photo's have been swiped from Sam Bainbridge @beetlebug1's twitter page...hope you don't mind Sam!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

#Nurture1213 review

1. Find, what is 'The Holy Grail' for me, which is a better work/life balance.  I have been teaching 10 years and never really got the balance right, as a consequence, my mental and physical health has suffered. 
Hmmm, well Ofsted inspection in December resulting in a Category 4 grading has scuppered this a tad. Must try harder. I have 7 weeks left!
2. Read more pedagogical literature and, more importantly, act upon the advice that speaks to me.  
I have purchased and partially read Zoe Elder's 'Full on Learning' - sorry it's not finished Zoe, it deserves full concentration. Lots to take in. 
Plus Jim Smith's 'The Lazy Teacher's Handbook' - love it, many ideas easy to implement. Am a big fan of the meta: starters, main-courses and desserts. 
3. Establish a Teaching and Learning blog for my department which will have a positive effect on the department's teaching and learning as well as my own. Eventually, I'd like to do the same for the whole school. (Suggestions for names for our Dept' blog very welcome, I am currently stumped.  Advice about how to run it, also welcome).
Update 31/12/12 - @HuntingEnglish and @Eductronic_Net have proffered good advice and offered more for help for this aim.
Right, I set this up a while ago, then Ofsted and depression have left it dangling. I'll motor on this this half term. 
4. To be able to recognise when I am responsible and accountable for my own success, rather than attribute it to luck or other people. Here I need to practice what I preach to my pupils and accept that to 'Fail again. Fail better.' (Beckett) is what leads to success and break the 'mind-forged manacles' (Blake) of my fear of failure. This is one of the many things that will help me see off The Black Dog. 
Some improvement here thanks to my CBT sessions, which have basically trained me not to mentally self-flagellate like some ridiculous martyr. I am being a little kinder to myself. 
5. To learn something entirely new and for utterly selfish and not work related reasons. This will feed my soul much better than I am doing at the moment. I am currently into my 'overdraft' as far as my inner health goes.  This can and must change. I've always like the idea of learning to dance, thank you Strictly Come Dancing.
Update 31/12/12 - Via Joel Hicks' (male model and fundraiser extraordinaire) Facebook page I have got in contact with people who run dance classes. They start the second week of the new year and I don't need a partner to go with me (a big thing that has stopped me before). 
Started Ceroc dancing a term ago. Love it! Great dance to learn and lovely people. It died a death this half term due to, well, exhaustion, but I WILL get back on the dancing wagon ASAP. 
6. To always make time for my friends. I don't always get this right.  I have chosen my friends well and they are wonderful people. Time with them is time very well spent. 
Update 31/12/12 - off to a better start here too. I had a meal with my local friends on Saturday 29th December. Good food, great company and lots of laughter. More of the same needed!

7. To phone my mum more often and be able to tell her how I feel, and to be able to talk about how she feels too.  I contain my feelings and bury them to the extent I can't retrieve them or discuss them with other people, which is to avoid what I think may burden them.  Mum always offers, I'm rubbish at taking her up on it.  
Thankfully an improvement here, we are talking much more openly and I can articulate feelings a little better. Still room for improvement - isn't there always?
8.  Have the courage to make some small, and then big changes in my life.  This may involve getting a shower installed or throwing in the towel of house ownership; meeting new people; buying some more dresses, or even a change of job - by that I mean some form of promotion. This may even involve, with some courage, good luck and a following wind, include my de-singlification (made-up word). 
Update 31/12/12 - Here I have made several marginal gains!

  • Bought and worn dresses to work, for first time in a decade (mentioned above), so come pay day, another dress was ordered!
  • Bought and worn a pair of skinny jeans for the first time. As long as the top is long enough, and heels are worn, they look quite good!
  • I tried scallops, anchovies and fillet steak for the first time when out with my friends (mentioned above).
  • I have had the same hair cut for a good few years. Today I was brave and had a new one. The picture was posted on Facebook on Twitter and I had so many lovely comments!
  • Post #neighbourgate scandal, I blew some insurance money on more new clothes, with colour. More pretty dresses! If only the weather would perk up! 
9. Play my part in helping our new and fabulous Head Teacher in helping to turn our tanker (school) around and onto a better course.  I think she is exceptional and easily the best Head I have ever worked for.  I want to stick around to see how and where she takes us. 
I have stuck around, she's seen us through a very turbulent patch. I have emailed all teachers a 'Teacher's toolkit' of ideas swiped from Twitter and the above mentioned books, 'She said it was brilliant'.  I also delivered my first ever assembly to Yr 11, vibrating with nerves, and she put a lovely thank you card in my pigeon hole the next day. 
10. To be able to use my dolphin like swimming capabilities to good use, in some sort of sponsored, long distance, open water swim or do the swimming leg in a some kind of team triathlon.
Update 31/12/12 @Edutronic-Net and @_MrsThatcher_ have suggested I found out about open water swims on - brilliant, thank you! Now, to get a wetsuit!
Nope, not yet but I HAVE found someone to do an The Great North swim with next year - a lovely AHT who I used to work with. 
11.  Make sure I go back to Pembrokeshire, to visit my friends and bask in what is clearly a jewel of the British Isles.  It was much like going back to Middle Earth's Hobbiton; brim full of the same quirks and charms.
Nope, not managed this yet, but there is still time! 
12. Keep up my girlie days out in Birmingham with my friend Lisa and hopefully come with her down to Cornwall again. It was a heavenly patch in our last Summer holiday. Cornwall was magical and her family were just awesome. 
Update 31/12/12 - Our first one of the year is set for 5th January 2013 before we lurch back to school. Long may they continue!
A definite WIN. Next one is due in mid June. We also went to Dublin together for a long weekend. We didn't bicker once, our friendship was tested and passed! Down to Cornwall with Lisa again in the last week of the summer hols this year too. 
13. To maintain all these many Twitter tweacher relationships I've established so far; continue to share and collaborate with these wonderful people; meet many more and perhaps, just perhaps, find the chutzpah to actually present at a Teach Meet. 
Update 31/12/12 The subsequent blog post documents all the lovely, warm and welcoming invitations I've had from many Tweachers to visit their schools. As Jean-Luc Picard would say - make it so!
Another definite win! I have presented at #TMCoventry and #TMBrum, the latter was the most TERRIFYING as @kevbartle is witness too. Like a lovely big brother I never had, he sat next to me before I presented. I'm convinced he could feel and hear my pulse quicken as the time drew near. I presented without too much Muppetry and then he held my hand as I sat back down, aiding my pulse rate to lower down from 'full blown hysteria' to 'mild panic' then something approaching normality. Next one is #TMEnglish in Leeds next weekend. Gulp. (Note to self, must prepare presentation!)
Again, thanks to Kev, I got HORRIFICALLY drunk at a tweet up we had in the Easter hols in 'sunny' Watford. Beware, I like an arm wrestle when I've had a few.  @ieshasmall @MrPalomar1 and @HeyMisssmith are witnesses. 
Next up and end of term tweet up with @beetlebug1 and a 'we're nearly there' tweet up with @chocotzar. Go me! Thanks Twitter!