Archive for July, 2012


So the time had come for the cross department faculty meeting between two of our three specialisms, science and design and technology. I have been developing good links with this department outside of the directed time, working with the wonderful @lisamort1 on the whole school CPD session. While also doing peer observations with the deputy of the faculty and reciprocated with her observing me!

So there we all were being polite as we droned (opps sorry discussed) on about the heads drive for consistency across the school and the implementation of the amazing PAR ( Praise, Action, Response) marking.

How were we to get our very passive learners to respond to the Action part of the marking, when they aren’t even really interested in responding during lessons.

Much discussions followed about how often we should do this and how much time we are giving to the activity and how do we see if they are learning, improving, acting on the actions, Blah, blah, blah….

On and on went this conversation and I’m sitting there thinking SOLO, SOLO, SOLO! Shows everything we want and we can get the kids to mark (under the guise of peer assessment) their own learning.

Till no longer could I contain myself and turn casually (read into that what you want) to one of my books with the rubric in, well you’d have thought I’d just stripped naked, covered myself in chocolate and run around the room.

Much oohing and ahhing went on with one college saying ‘oh tried it, didn’t work! Rewrote the learning tasks and kids don’t get it!’ Mmm can’t think why, but that’s for a private conversation.

So reluctantly I started to talk about SOLO with more and more wide eyes looking at me like I’d lost my mind. However in this darkness came the light, with the HoD @fredwoodward and @lisamort1 wanting to know more.

So SOLO sharing and twitter love started. Explained in more detail what was going on took a grilling for Head of specialism to prove the neigh sayers wrong and had booked another peer observation to see SOLO in all, well limited glory in my lab!

I didn’t think I was ready for this step but agreed with a smile thinking that I had better make it a good one.

Extolled the virtues of Twitter talked about the amazing #soloposse out there who are ready and willing to help, support, blog, laugh with you on the journey.

That night @fredwoodward joined the ranks of tweechers with @lisamort1 not far behind.

So now we start on our SOLO journey next year embedding it into my science classroom on its own and the D ‘n’ T guys bringing up the rear, with the HoD wanting to look to spread the word across his department.

So forward with SOLO where to next?

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Good with Outstanding Bits!

So the big day arrived last Friday for my observation with my NQT mentor and for me to go public with SOLO. I had planned a good week in advance to teach the SOLO bit to the eager minds of year 7. Only to find half of the class missing as they were on a MFL trip to France!

Oh well! Undeterred I ploughed ahead and informed the remaining 12 that they would be my SOLO experts and they were going to teach their classmates all about SOLO when they came back.

So SOLO was introduced and I quickly followed up with the new lesson in the scheme Ecology and I used the rubric for their learning tasks on looking at environments and habitats.

So now I had my experts and with the wonderful input for my tweechers especially @LGolton, wall display was done with help from @JohnSayers and @sciteachcremin. I prepared my room ready for the big reveal. So to the lesson, I will give an outline of the lesson and then the feedback.

Topic of the lesson:

To reflect on the impact that the environment has on a habitat and adaptations of the organisms. (Big Ask!)

The room was set up so each table had colour coded resources on them, blank paper, hexagons with key words and some blanks and a laminated copy of the habitat that they were going to be looking at. Around the room on the benches were the books on the four habitats and adaptations that they were investigating and some other books of interests about general animal stuff.

They came into the room to see where they were seated using the colour coding on the whiteboard and this went off fairly smoothly.

I then got the SOLO experts to explain and recap on the terms of SOLO and how they were going to use it in the lesson, referring to the display when they needed prompting.

The kids were then asked to look at their rubrics and mark on them with an S where they thought they were in their learning and understanding of habitats and adaptations.

We then discussed their thinking and I probed deeper with the WHY questions only to discover that some of them had put themselves down to low and were much further along with their learning and understanding.

I then set out the task, making sure that each table knew that they had to have a spokesperson, resource finder,  note taker and timer. @LGolton told me this was called Market Place. Each habitat had to list first the types of organisms they would find in those habitats and then write, draw, annotate their paper with their adaptations to that particular habitat and they had 15 mins to complete this first part of the task.

Off they all went, full of enthusiasm and even my more reluctant learners were set off at a rate of knots grabbing books with gusto and even pinching and spying on others to see what they were doing. The class was a buzz with activity and I moved around discussing their work and reasons for their choices. It was great to see them really striving to see how they could move their thinking on.

At the appropriate time we stopped, regrouped and discussed the habitats fielding questions from the tables and extending answers were needed. All done by the kids. I asked them to review their learning and see where they were on the rubric now and had they improved or moved forward, with many actually moving into Relational without too much difficulty.

The next part was the fun part for me, they then leaving their spokesperson left their own habitat in search of others and get as much information from the others to bring back to their table and share with their own spokesperson. This was great to see in action as children were pointing out similarities between habitats and adding to others info-grams so that they were complete.

Once they had collated all their information they had to complete a compare and contrast HOT map on two different habitats. They loved it. We reviewed the rubrics and this time using hexagons I asked them to make the links between habitat and impact we humans might have on it.

This is where it fell down as I didn’t have enough time to really show them what I wanted with the hexagons hence some of the less able kids weren’t really sure what I expected but with a bit of fancy footwork we got them to work.

One final assessment of their learning and wow a couple had even made the links between human impact on the Arctic.

Lesson over! Exhaustion sets in. Now the long wait for feedback, after a very quick . Good with outstanding bits.

I spent the weekend wondering what else I could have done, checking my dreaded OFSTED criteria had I ticked all the boxes.. thought I had.

So feedback.

See pictures. The main reason for not outstanding one pupil off task for a small amount of time between moving tables!!!! Enough said.

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Pic 1 – wall display
Pic- 2 & 3 mentors feedback

So next time I will remember to photograph kids work for more evidence. However they were all able to show where they were on rubric and where they got too at the end of lesson.

Now just have to do this every lesson.