Category Archives: 100 ideas

100 Ideas: Tutor Time

Molly Potter, author of 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Tutor Time, gives tips on how to make tutor time engaging and constructive:

Enduring Tutor Time

My own school memories of my tutors at secondary school left me with the impression that tutor time was just something the teachers had to endure. We shuffled in, the register was taken, messages were issued and then off we trundled to ‘real’ lessons.  Very, very occasionally something interesting happened like the time our tutor helped us understand and discuss a particularly tragic news story or the time we were asked to make a welcome poster for exchange students. Anything slightly out of the ordinary stuck with me – which shows there wasn’t a lot going on. Still, that was certainly a while ago now.

Ideas for activities and tackling issues 

The role and responsibilities of a form tutor varies considerably from school to school. However, the time slot for registration usually allows some space for an activity instigated by the tutor to make it that little bit more interesting and start the students’ day or week off well. That, in the main, is what my latest book provides form tutors with.

Aside from a few organisational tips on how to run the registration session (like ideas for giving out messages in an unusual but easy-for-you way) and some ideas to support you in a pastoral care role (like how to address persistent lateness), 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Tutor Time  provides form tutors with:

  • a variety of fun ‘community building’ activities, (an example is provided below)
  • suggests many issues you could discuss and how to cover them (e.g. teen issues, attitudes and values and media) and
  • has ideas for a variety of thinking, creative and general knowledge activities and challenges you could give students.

The book also usefully provides teachers with several engaging active learning techniques that could be used to open up discussion on a variety of topics. (An example of one of these techniques is also provided below).

The activities in the book generally require little or no preparation so efforts to spice up tutor time will be minimal on your part. So for negligible input, your students will hopefully start to look forward even more to your tutor time.

 

Tutor Time.jpg

 

Example of a community building activity

Negotiate

  • Ask every student in the class to think what their favourite flavour crisp is.
  • Ask students to find a partner and share this information with him or her.
  • Next, tell students that they need to decide which flavour they could both eat if they had to agree on just one flavour. For example – if one student chose cheese and onion and the other chose prawn cocktail, they need to agree which one of those flavours would be most palatable to both of them.
  • Having agreed the flavour, they need to join another pair of pupils to make a four, share their flavours and again agree on which flavour would be palatable to all of them.
  • Continue until the class is split into just two groups.

Finally see if the group can agree on one final flavour!

 

Example of an active learning technique

Four words

To use the four words technique:

  • Get students into groups of four and give each group two piece of scrap paper.
  • Give students the topic or question you wish them to discuss (see examples below) and ask them to write what they consider to be the four most important or significant things about this topic. This can rarely be done without a considerable amount of discussion.
  • Once the group has agreed upon the four things, ask pupils to duplicate their list.
  • Next, ask each group of four students to form two pairs and separate from the other pair they have just worked with and go and form a four with another pair. Each group will now have a list of potentially eight things that they believe are important about this issue.
  • Ask the newly formed groups to knock their current lists back down to four again. This creates further discussion- often with new ideas thrown into the pot.
  • Ask a spokesperson from each group to feedback their ‘answers’.

 

The kind of topics you could ask students to discuss include:

  • happiness
  • being attractive
  • friendship
  • Preventing bullying
  • Good parenting

 

What is a good career?

  • Preventing prejudice
  • Feeling good about yourself
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The ingredients of a brilliant revision programme

John Mitchell, author of 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Revision, explains the influences and ingredients of a revision programme at the heart of his book

Revision Word Cloud
Revision Word Cloud

‘How do I write the thing?’

The offer is made. The offer is accepted. Excitement! Then the excitement fades and the thought enters your head – ‘How am I going to write it!’ This is what happened to me when I was first asked to write 100 Ideas for Secondary School Teachers: Revision for Bloomsbury  in February 2014. I had to decide on a starting point for my research from which I could structure the book and the 100 ideas around. The inspiration would be what Andy Griffith and Mark Burns would later call their own book – Teaching Backwards – start from the outcome and consider what you want to see from your own students at the end of revision. The best way to find this out, I felt, was to ask my own students. I am lucky that I work with a strong student body who engage in discussing teaching methods and ideas and are articulate in expressing what they want to see in a revision programme. After a number of discussions with a variety of students from different Key Stages and of different abilities, it was clear that there were three common factors students wanted to see in a revision programme. These factors were:

  • Engaging and active revision tasks – how can we revise in class?
  • Equipping students with revision skills – such as stress management and time management.
  • Independence – how can I revise on my own?

I decided that these three factors would inform every section on my book and give teachers a toolkit of easy to implement ideas that would help them develop their students’ revision skills as well as, more importantly, in my view, develop their students as effective independent learners both in school and beyond it.

Revision targets
Revision Targets

 

Engaging and active revision tasks – How can we revise in class?

One common point that emerged from talking with students about revision was what they perceived as an overemphasis on the text book and making notes. Of course, making notes is an important part of the revision process but should be part of a wider diet of revision activities within the classroom. We are all guilty as teachers of sometimes relying on the text book in a sequence of lessons as this is the ‘safe option’ – especially when we are tired and have little energy to invest in constructing outstanding lessons with sparkling resources. Also, it is the safe bet if we are teaching a second subject or content we are unfamiliar with.

However, it does not have to be like this. There are so many activities out there on the internet or in the ever-growing variety of books on teaching activities which are ideal in a revision context. Active tasks must be at the heart of an all-inclusive revision programme which engage and reinforce knowledge giving students the confidence that ‘they know it!’ These activities must be varied and include games, larger main lesson tasks and a variety of note making tasks from which students can choose which style suits them the best. Writing a collection of such ideas was at the heart of my thinking as well as that the vast majority of these ideas must be easy to implement with readers being able to dip in and out of the book and select an idea that they could include in a lesson the very next day. Underneath this the ideas must have real substance too and that a real impact upon students’ progress rather than the ‘bells and whistles’ ideas which look great but may lack meaningful impact upon student development.

Visual Hex exercise book
Visual Hex Exercise Book

Equipping students with revision skills – such as stress management and time management

Revision at any level can cause stress. Whether students are preparing for an internal assessment with the only objective being to check and demonstrate progress or for a public examination which can decide what life-changing options are open to students depending on the results – revision can highlight the need to assist in the development of important life skills, such as time management and stress management. Because I wanted the book to touch on every area of an effective revision programme, it was important not to neglect this potentially decisive and critical area of preparing students for assessments and examinations.

Therefore, the book contains a number of easy to implement ideas that can guide teachers in preparing a holistic revision programme, which equips students with the skills to cope with the stresses and strains of the revision period. In doing this, I felt, that this would give the book a wider appeal and not just for subject teachers. More often than not, subject teachers do not have the time to deal with the wider revision skills that are required, instead this falls to the form tutor or PSHE department. When I was writing this book, I was fortunate to be a form tutor for a group of young people preparing for their GCSEs and as a tutor, I was frequently asked to lead sessions on revision skills. More often than not, I found the resources provided to lead such sessions perhaps lacked depth and were less than engaging. Part of my research was to improve these resources and use them with my students, who would then feedback and discuss. Therefore, my book would have something in it for any teacher involved in helping students to revision skills in a wider context.

Bingo revision
Bingo Revision

Independence – How can I revise on my own?

At the end of the day, students are going to be on their own in that examination room. Teachers will not be there holding their hand, guiding them and giving timely advice on what to do. The end product of any revision programme is to develop a young person with the confidence to be independent and less reliant on the teacher. This is difficult and scary for a young person, stepping back as a teacher can be an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially in times of high stress, like the exam season, when students can need you the most. Therefore, any revision programme must foster students’ independence and the ability for students to conduct revision on their own outside the classroom without direct intervention from the teacher.

A few of the ideas in the book tackle this issue head on. It is an important one for teachers and students to work together on. Indeed, the philosophy of one of my key influences in writing this book, Jim Smith, is for students to become so independent in lessons that you become a ‘Lazy Teacher’. Therefore, many of the ideas which relate to revision games and resources can be easily made by students who can make a whole series of revision aids – whether they are resources for revision card games, visual hexagons or revision totem poles – outside the classroom. This means that a crucial part of a revision programme must be to train your students in making these revision aids which they can bring into lessons and use and share as part of the revision process. You know you have cracked it when near the end of the revision programme and the exams are looming, you are not needed as a teacher and instead become a facilitator while your students are actively revising independently, making more resources, playing revision games and working collaboratively – there is nothing better than the sound of a revision buzz in your classroom!

9781472913753 Revision

While this article focuses upon the influences and the ingredients of a revision programme which make up the heart of my book – 100 Ideas for Secondary School Teachers: Revision – a second article which details how the book was written can be found on my blog.

An exciting digital Autumn! Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce author photoOn TV last night, I saw the BBC ‘Make it digital’ advert. Lots of exciting events and programmes about our digital world, relevant to ourselves and our children. Their tagline is ‘Getting the nation excited about digital creativity’. You can find out more at the Make it Digital site. I’m excited that the BBC, along with other partners, for example Apps for Good and Young Rewired State, are involved in teaching about our digital creativity. New TV programmes will be shown in the autumn, so it all looks very exciting. Already some resources have been released on the CBBC site, using a Dr. Who theme to program a dalek.

Currently, there is a ‘Make it digital’ tour, which is helping to start the new venture:

Cardiff – Harbour Festival – 30 & 31 August
Hull – The Freedom Festival – 5 & 6 September
Lewisham Shopping Centre – 12 & 13 September
Dundee – City Square – 19 & 20 September
Birmingham – Big Weekender – 26 & 27 September

The BBC will be giving a small computer called a ‘Micro:bit’ to every 11-12 year old. This is about the size of a credit card and contains sensors and places to attach other devices and control them. Every school with Year 7 children can register on the website to order the devices. It is an ambitious idea to give these computers away, though I wish that the primary schools were being given them too. The planned release will also include the ability to purchase Micro:bit computers, so primary schools and children in other year groups may benefit from them then. The Micro:bits are due for release in late Autumn.

The BBC ‘Make it digital’ campaign aims to ‘capture the spirit of the BBC Micro, which helped Britain get to grips with the first wave of personal computers in the 1980s, in the digital age’. It was the BBC Micro computer that inspired my learning at school. Suddenly, we had access to a computer and ‘could do stuff’. This was backed up by TV programmes to support the learning. You would spend ages typing in programs from magazines and learn by doing and making mistakes, then fixing them. The most important part was the collaboration with my friends. At school, we shared a computer and you would talk with your partner and solve problems together. This paired programming enabled a better solution to be found.

In addition to the BBC campaign, there are other organisations, such as, Computing at School, who have been a great area of support. Also, the excellent Barefoot Computing resources for primary schools. The Computer Science Unplugged materials, use many activities not using a computer, to teach Computing concepts.

When the new Computing curriculum was released in 2014, teachers needed help to get started. This prompted the writing of the 100 ideas for primary teachers: Computing book. It aims to show that many activities across the curriculum support the teaching of Computing. Trying out the ideas with teachers and children, we’ve been finger knitting, folding origami and even doing magic tricks.

This Autumn is an exciting time! Lots of activities to try with our children, to learn about our digital lives. I hope the new book will help us learn together and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures! You can share them using 100 Ideas.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Computing100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Computing covers everything a Primary teacher needs to know to start teaching the primary computing curriculum.

Steve Bunce is an experienced teacher who has taught in primary, middle and secondary schools and in many roles including ICT co-ordinator, head of year and senior leader. He has advised schools across the UK on their use of technology through Open University. He is also a part-time lecturer at Durham University where he shares his learning experiences with the undergraduate teachers.

Where do good ideas for the classroom come from? Stephen Lockyer

Author Stephen Lockyer

I’m incredibly lucky in that my head buzzes with ideas all the time, like a creative tinnitus! That’s not to say all of them are good ideas by any stretch, but I’ve recently been exploring where good ideas come from, and think that they come from one of five key areas. The important thing to remember about ideas is that experimenting is the only way you can really see whether an idea has legs or not.

Upcycling 

I love upcycling – that is, repurposing something for another use. This can be done in many small ways (such as using clothes pegs and card for a Classroom Jobs list for example), or in a large way (tractor tyres + blanket = reading corner seat). I especially love repurposing one idea totally unrelated to teaching into something which contributes to learning. I rebuilt the Periodic Table in my classroom, putting our class values as the elements and so on. We could have made a list, but by using a familiar format, the children were exposed to this, and the conversations which sprung from this. Anything different from the norm is often more interesting (and more captivating for you).

Learning Lents

This is a favourite for forcing creativity and new ideas – ban something which you rely on! It sounds a strange thing to do, but really does make you think outside of your box. Imagine you rely on your IWB for every lesson, and then the bulb goes – what do you do to recover? Now put this thinking against all the other ‘default’ tools and routines in class. Here are a few ideas: No chairs for one day No photocopying Computers off No writing No numbers in Maths Choose one of these and see how you get on; it really is quite liberating!

Don’t reinvent the wheel, search online for it

We are enormously spoilt for the range of places we can now search for ideas – and you don’t have to dive in headfirst to make the most of the resources stored in the cloud (but it’s always good to give something back). The classic teacher’s resource search is TES Resources, but for more personalised help with ideas, ask on Twitter (using the hashtag #asktwitter) – you’d be amazed what responses you get! Pinterest is another good vault of ideas for teaching, often in the most surprising of ways, and it also works as a springboard for your own ideas too! Another growing source of feelgood ideas is www.staffrm.io, the blogging platform for teachers, which is growing daily with a wealth of good ideas on marking, planning, questioning, even creativity itself!

Read around your subject

It’s always good to read books specific for your subject specialism and age range, but don’t let this limit you. I’ve collected good ideas and generated lots of my own by reading around my interests too. There is a lot that Secondary colleagues can learn from Primary, and vice versa. Likewise, reading books completely detached from Education can contribute interest and curiosity, and solve problems you may have in the most unusual ways – a book called Smart Swarm for example helped me work out a novel solution to congestion problems in my school, even though it was about insects!

Cross swords together

Imagine completing a crossword on your own, with someone next to you completing the same crossword. How many more words would you get if you collaborated together? Likewise, the best ideas sometimes need to be talked about in order to float to the surface. Often, we can go to someone with a problem, and they are far more capable of solving it than us because they aren’t carrying all the aspects of that problem which we are. Likewise, generating ideas with someone else can be incredibly liberating and productive. I love coming with ideas, but really like playing around with them too – it’s very rare for a discussed idea to become worse in the process! My #100ideas book came from generating ideas in this way and many other ways. The most important principle is to try something out, even in a very small sense, and see if it improves the teaching and learning or not. Once you’ve tried it in one lesson or on one table, roll it out further. Play with it, adjust it and get feedback on it from the children and other adults that might be in your classroom. If it does make a difference to you, tell others! Avoid being an idea silo – become an inspiration station instead!

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Outstanding Teaching

Stephen Lockyer is Deputy Head of The Mead School, Tunbridge Wells. He has been teaching for 14 years in a variety of schools and has a very low boredom threshold which drives him to make lessons exciting, stimulating and filled with learning opportunities! He set up SLT Camp – a CPD training weekend for teachers and has spoken at many Teachmeets. Follow him on Twitter @mrlockyer

Stephen’s latest title 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Outstanding Teaching is available now. Click here to find out more.