Teaching & Learning Blog

Friday 16th June 2017

Littlessons – Snapshots of learning at Calthorpe Park School

Challenging the definition of challenge….

Challenge is the hallmark of learning at Calthorpe Park School. We firmly believe that high expectations of learning are there to be lived up to. However challenge doesn’t simply  mean giving ‘harder’ or ‘more complicated’ concepts for students to grapple with. Just dragging A Level work into GCSE learning  is not really appropriate challenge!

Challenge is what we do to push students to deepen their learning. This was smoothly illustrated by Mr Robins in a recent Languages lesson.

He deftly used the wording of his questions, during a review of a translation task, to challenge students. Mr Robins set the class the challenge of translating, from French to English in just 5 minutes, a text about world cuisines.

On completion, Mr Robins challenged the class (in French) to find synonyms for a variety of words and phrases in the text in order to deepen and enhance their knowledge and application of vocabulary. For “j’ai beaucoup aimé” (I very much liked), one student responded “j’ai adoré” – using the appropriate tense.  For “quant à moi” (in my opinion), students supported each other and came up with a range of synonyms such as “à mon avis”, “selon moi”, “pour moi” and went on to say that they could also form opinions using phrases such as “je pense que”, “je crois que”, “je dirais que” and “j’estime que”.

Mr Robins then asked the class to put what they had just learned into practice by choosing and translating into French one of two English paragraphs about world cuisines, using a wider range of vocabulary.  Students subsequently corrected their work independently, using a green pen to make corrections and note additional language, so showing their progress along the way. This really moved them on and improved their ability to be more spontaneous and creative with their language.

This kind of activity, where students have to explore an area of learning in a variety of ways, really challenges them to deepen their learning and show their fluency and mastery of a topic area. In any conversation about learning, here are a few useful ways all of us can push students to deepen their learning and improve their expression:

  • Can you say that/work that out in a different way?
  • Is there another word/phrase  you could use for……..?
  • Can you put those ideas together into a full sentence?
  • Would a different person have a different view or work that out in a different way?...Why?

Mr D. Wyatt
Assistant Headteacher


Friday 12th May 2017

Littlessons – Snapshots of learning at Calthorpe Park School

Value for money – Making the most of it…

Well, we are not really talking about money; this blog is about making the most of teacher time.  Mind you, most of us would say time equals money!

The exam season is upon us and the Year 11s are in the thick of it, making the most of the final opportunities to work with staff for success.  With this in mind, Mr Downes in the Maths Department has been very creative about making the most of the time he has left with Year 11 groups.

This has been achieved by taking a past paper, breaking it into the different questions and laminating each question.  Sounds simple, but what is creative, is how these have then been used.  The group are split into pairs and each pair works on the question with a whiteboard marker.  At the end of a time limit, one member of the group moves on to the next question and the other member stays behind and ‘teaches’ the next person how to tackle the question.

Mr Downes then works with each group and gives incisive questions and guidance that they then use as part of the teaching to the next person. This means that Mr Downes’ 1-to-1 input is multiplied to around 20 other students throughout the course of the lesson!  By being aware of the tricky questions and carefully adding input, misconceptions for all students are addressed.

At the end of the week, the students then tackle the same paper, reinforcing what they have learnt, rehearsing success and challenging themselves to get 100% (which some students did achieve!).

All in all, a really impactful and creative way in which we prepare for the exam season at Calthorpe Park.

Mr D. Wyatt
Assistant Headteacher


Friday 24th March 2017

Littlessons – Snapshots of learning at Calthorpe Park School

Bingo for thinking!

Here at CPS we firmly believe that the key to great learning is encouraging students to actively think about what they are learning as much as possible. However it can be tricky, in a revision lesson where the teacher is recapping or building on something that students have learnt before, to gauge if they are really thinking about their learning. Are they listening and thinking or are they just looking in the right direction, being quiet and zoning out?

This little conundrum was tackled superbly by Mrs Jones, one of our resident computing experts, through the clever use of bingo!

Year 11 students were given a summary of the topic they were revising and, to start the lesson, had to decide what key words were likely to be used in the teacher recap. They wrote these on a grid (which became their bingo card). As the teacher recapped, they had to mark off the key terms they had chosen and call house if they were all mentioned. The reward for winning? A house point.

This simple little activity achieved so much; active engagement of all with the summary of the topic, assessment of prior knowledge, promotion of active listening in the recap and, above all, a great atmosphere! Students were even independently trying to come up with questions to ask Mrs Jones so that she had to say their ‘word’! An astute but highly educational attempt to win!

Bingo

Mr D Wyatt


Friday 10th March 2017

Littlessons – Snapshots of learning at Calthorpe Park School

Questions, questions questions!

Here at CPS, it’s not only the students who keep learning, it’s the teachers as well. This week we have been running our twilight INSET sessions focussing on a variety of topics, one of them being : questioning.

Staff have been developing their skills in asking more challenging and deeper questions to really push students' learning and understanding forward.  Mrs Al-Dabagh was putting the staff through their paces by putting them in the place of the students and pushing forward their learning through the questions she asked them. She was rewarding all of their good answers with…guess what? More questions!

There are 6 really simple ways we can make any question more challenging and just a bit ‘deeper’. After asking someone about something they have learnt, deepen the question by following it in one of these 6 ways:

Questioning

This type of thinking is really important for the next stages in education where students need to think more deeply and always be able to back up what they know.

Mr D. Wyatt


Friday 17th February 2017

Littlessons - Snapshots of learning at Calthorpe Park

T&L 1

"That one looks really difficult...I'm going to do that one!"
As a teacher there is nothing better than hearing a student say that when they have a choice of problems to tackle. In a Year 7 Maths lesson, there was a great opportunity for students to not only engage with some tricky problems to solve, but choose their own level of challenge. What made this snapshot of learning so exciting was the overwhelming majority wanting to take on the "3 chilli pepper" challenges!

The students had a plan of attack, and were ably guided and encouraged by Miss Webb. 

First they "see" the question - what is it asking? What is the important information?

Then plan - what strategies can be used to solve the problem?

Then do it - attack the problem!

Finally, reflect - can the problem be answered in English, in a full sentence? Not just as a number...

It was delightful to see students sharing the different ways they had tackled the problem and bragging about the level of challenge they were going to choose. Of course there were 'right answers', however, the real celebration was the number of different ways students could find to tackle the problems, with students showing some real fluency​.

Here are a couple of examples to get the mind going (see it, plan it, do it, reflect!):

​Nick had a birthday party. His Mum made some sausage rolls. Ben took a third and then took 1 more. There were 7 left.  How many were on the plate to start with? 

Ty needs 3/4 of a cup of milk to make banana smoothie for 1 person. How much milk will he need to make smoothies for 8 people?

Mr D Wyatt
Assistant Headteacher


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