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Observing, and cross-curricular ideas

July 13, 2013 Leave a comment

This week has been a good one. It’s been the last real teaching week before summer, as next week is ICE week (Immersion Curriculum Enrichment week) which means we are off timetable doing a week of activities around a theme. The theme this time us the environment, and the activities look to be fun. One of my favourite bits about ICE week is the chance to do something different and hone my teaching skills in an unfamiliar situation, but more on that later.

Back to this week. We have had most of our new staff in this week, including one of the new NQTs who I am mentoring. I am looking forward to the role of mentor, and have now informally observed him twice. Already there has been a marked improvement and a response to advice, which is pleasing. I was a bit worried about observing in this capacity but the mock observations project I completed with my PE colleague earlier this year and the ITT student observations I have done definitely helped. I also gained a good insight into my own teaching by observing and there are always bits to pick up.

Also this week I completed a joint observation with my HoD on a colleague who was kind enough to volunteer. Again this was unofficial and the purpose was so she could check my ability to grade and give feedback. This was great, my confidence as an observer was boosted as she picked up on exactly the same positive points and areas for development that I did and we agreed on the grade. I also learned a lot about giving feedback and she gave me some great pointers in that respect.

There were also tons of things from the lesson that I picked up, my favourite being this: During a traffic light show me activity he put three wrong answers up. The majority of the kids chose the nearest one and some assumed they must be wrong. This was a superb discussion point and there was some real good contributions from the class. I was unsure if he had done this on purpose, so asked him afterwards. He said that he had in this instance and often does this because he did it once by accident and the results were great. I think this is a superb idea that I will use myself.

Also in Thursday I observed a new y9 science lesson. A couple of my form were in the class and have been in trouble a bit in science so I went to see how they were and offer assistance if required. The lesson was on penguins (always a winner) and cooling rates and included an experiment where the pupils were simulating the huddles emperor penguins stand in to keep warm. It was good fun and the difficulties some members of the class had with graphing made me think that as a maths department we need to embed this skill better in KS3. It also got my brain flying about cross curricular lessons with science on graphing and I hope to implement those next year.

This is one of three cross curricular projects I have in the pipeline, all of which excited me. The second is with an English colleague (@goldfishbowlMM) and involves looking at “The maths of Shakespeare”, and is very exciting. The third is once that a music colleague has suggested to me and involves trying to help improve the times tables of our pupils using the medium if hip-hop!

With these projects and mentoring an NQT, next year is looking incredibly exciting already!

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New timetable, PE, Rugby and a Teachmeet!

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Last week was a brilliant week. There were parts of it that were knackering, and tough, but all in all it was a great week.

At our school may half term signals a timetable/year change. The old y11 and y13 stand down on study leave and everyone else moves up a year. We all get a new timetable and we get a half term to work with our new classes before the summer, leaving only new y7s names to learn in september. This year it’s an even bigger change as we’re moving from 6 periods a day to 5!

On the face of it, I’m pretty happy with my new timetable, it’s got an excellent mix of key stages and abilities, although I really loved my old one and my new classes have a lot to live up to! I’ve kept my GCSE group, who I am really enjoying teaching.

Obviously, with no Y7s or y12s, we have lighter timetables and all important “gained time”. I intend to use mine to write a KS5 SoW (part of my new role), and to observe as many teachers as possible to improve my own practice. Last week though, and this week, there is little time for that because we have Old Y11s and 13s in at every opportunity to cram in as much revision as possible!

Teaching wise, I’ve loved the revision and I’ve got off on a good foot with the majority of my classes, which has been good. I’ve also learned most of the new names!

On weds, a colleague from PE asked if I would go and check out his starter, and I stayed to see a very enjoyable lesson on Ultimate Frisbee! He has been trying to add literacy and other cross curricular links into his starters/lessons, and as such had asked me to head down and watch. The starter involved the pupils coming up with things they expected to learn about UF using the letters of the name to be the first letter if each idea, in a similar fashion to an acrostic poem. This worked really well and we got some great answers. He asked if I had any other ideas for him, and I’m working on some but haven’t finished them yet. (Do comment if you have any other ideas!) I loved the starter and the rest of the lesson was superb, showing great examples of chunking, group work, competition and higher order questioning. There were a few ideas I have taken away to integrate into my own lessons!

On Friday I was lucky enough to be able to watch three of our pupils turn out in an U13s match which pitted the best of North Leeds Schools against the best of South Leeds Schools. The match was superb, thoroughly enjoyable. And I watched with immense pride as our three superstars hit tackle after tackle and took drive after drive. It was a close game, and unfortunately we were pipped on the final hooter. But it didn’t matter, the lads did us proud. I was especially pleased to see one lad playing as he hadn’t even considered playing rugby 9 months ago, but after some persuasion from me he joined the school team and now he plays for school, a club and the schools representative team!

If all that excitement wasn’t enough, I attended my very first “Teachmeet” on Saturday, and saw some superb presenters speak on an array of topics. The Teachmeet was English themed, but I managed to keep my mathysness under wraps and got out without taking a beating! There were some great ideas to take away that I could apply to maths, and the ones that were purely English focused were still very enjoyable as I love the subject (but shhhhh, don’t tell the English department! [nb that said, maths is still much better!])

The week was topped off with a Bon Jovi concert(which was awesome). Throw in some cricket, a trip to a Leeds Rhinos match and the lions tour, it’s no wonder I’ve not found time to listen to the exciting new episode of “Wrong,but useful” yet!

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