Welcome to the Hamford Primary Academy’s Teaching and Learning blog.  This is designed to be a forum for the sharing of good practice at Hamford and beyond.  From inspirational TED Talks and blogs to research and recommended reading, this site is here to help the staff of Hamford continually challenge themselves as learners and guide the children we teach to exceed their potential. Ryan Kendall, Lead Practitioner for Teaching and Learning.

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Class Dojo: Big Ideas growth mindset videos

Class Dojo have added a series of five ‘Big Ideas’ videos to their website highlighting the importance of adopting a growth mindset and some strategies for developing one.  The videos bring the Dojo characters to life as they struggle when faced with challenges or discover that they cannot do something that they thought they were really good at. The videos are being released every Monday, with the first 3 already available with downloadable discussion guides. Check out ‘Chapter 1: A Secret about the Brain‘ below before clicking here to see the complete the series, including: Chapter 2: The Magic of Mistakes; Chapter 3: The Power of ‘Yet’; Chapter 4: The World of Neurons and Chapter 5: Little by Little.  Thank you to the team at Class Dojo.

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ClassDojo: how can it be used to promote growth mindsets and learning power?

ClassDojo was originally designed in the US as a digital based behaviour management system where teachers gave children points for choosing to do the ‘correct’ behaviours.  The video below explains a little more (as well as many others on YouTube).

There is no right or wrong way to use ClassDojo as it will depend on your own (and school’s) ethos and values as a teacher.  However, not being a big fan of using extrinsic rewards systems, but recognising the motivation that ClassDojo could create, I have been exploring using it to reward behaviours that the school and I are trying to promote, namely, building learning power/growth mindsets.  New behaviours are added every half-term and the recent adaptation of changing the weighting of the points means that we can value some behaviours more than others.  The points are collated over a two week period, at the end of which the highest point scorer receives a leaning power certificate.  There are still many features that need exploring, so if you have not signed up for free yet, why not give it a go and experiment in your own classroom?

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Showbie: the app with so many possibilities

Our school first discovered the Showbie app just over a year ago when working alongside a senior computing colleague who was actually introducing us to Book Creator (another great app).  Since then, we have been exploring how to use it across a range of age phases from Year 2 to Year 6.  The video below, from the Showbie website, gives a quick overview of what it does and how it can be used.

There are many great benefits of Showbie, including: the app and sign up are free (you can pay for a pro version); it is cloud based so children can share learning they do at school with home and vice-versa; you can provide different kinds of feedback, including voice messages; it is compatible with many other apps and ultimately is easy to use!  Furthermore, it has a brilliant blog with plenty of examples of how Showbie is being used in classrooms around the world.

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IRIS Connect’s community

Having undertaken the investment of IRIS connect, ‘The video-based teacher professional development tool that empowers teachers to reflect on, analyse and share practice’, I wanted to draw attention to their excellent community page on their website and especially the blog. It is still early days for us as a school using the IRIS hardware and software, but we are convinced that the power of reflection through video will be core to teachers developing their practice.  At present, we have been trying a lesson study model working in groups of two or three to share lessons and critique them with a specific focus. With the new update of the website platform, including even greater features such as clipping specific sections of a filmed session, we are looking forward to embracing this excellent self improvement tool even further.  Whether you have access to the IRIS technology or not in your school, it is definitely worth clicking on the links above which focus on improving teaching and learning.

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Using a shared mathematics curriculum across a teaching school alliance

Here is a post written by our mathematics subject leader, Mrs Katy Paternoster explaining how a curriculum is being used to help raise achievement across the primary schools in the Tendring Teaching School Alliance (TTSA).

‘January 2015 has been very exciting for me as a mathematics leader; we have taken our first few steps towards the majority of the local primary schools using the same maths curriculum which will run from year 1 to year 11.  This will potentially enable us as local teachers to collaborate, support and encourage each other and work together using the same curriculum framework.  Possibly the most exciting aspect for me is that the vast majority of our year 6s in the Tendring area will move up to a secondary school that uses the same framework, allowing for a much smoother and seamless transition from KS2 to KS3 maths.

During January, 8 of the 11 primary schools within the Tendring Teaching School Alliance met together to discuss the feasibility of using a common maths curriculum.  The Academies Enterprise Trust mathematics team has put together a curriculum that uses the new National Curriculum objectives and gives more detail and support.  This curriculum runs from year 1 to year 11 and is currently used at Hamford, Langar and TTC.  It is the intention that Rolph, Weeley, Wix & Wrabness, Frinton, Walton, Kirby and Engaines will soon be using this curriculum framework by Easter 2015.’

Please post your experiences and ideas below, as well as ask any questions for the rest of this community to help with.

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Relighting the fire of learning: transformation of a school

Take a look at the article entitled ‘Relighting the fire of learning: transformation of a school’ on page 14 in the latest edition of the UKEdChat magazine written by our very own principal, Mr Benedick Ashmore-Short.

‘…as leaders in school, we have a flame to reignite, protect and fan; that is the flame of learning.’

‘Staff need to be self-reflective and own their learning. Too often staff development is something that happens to teachers. It is not based on need and is generic with staff waiting for the next buzz word to appear. We created a learning blog for all staff that is a one-stop shop for all development around teaching and learning. A blog at hamfordteachingandlearningblog.wordpress.com that staff can dip into, where they will be challenged but with ideas that fuel the learning fire.’

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BETT 2015: finding the inspiration!

Upon trawling through the hundreds of gadgets, gizmos and so called ‘educationalists’ promoting the holy grail to ‘life after levels’ (also known as a ‘missed opportunity’), there were a few ideas at BETT 2015 worth a mention.  Most notable of all was the brilliant Elsium’s iPad band who opened the Saturday with some Guns N’ Roses and Killers all played through iPads – surely a great way to adapt already existing musical skills or inspire those to learn to play an instrument for real!

Firstly, DK’s ‘Find out’ online encyclopaedia. Designed for teachers, children and parents, it has a very user friendly interface, which includes a search engine, quizzes, galleries, videos, fun facts and, soon, a my stuff area for storing favourite sections of the website. Content is currently organised into traditional subjects or themes. Although, still quite limited in its content, it is sure to expand and is free to sign up!  Definitely worth a look if designing web based research lessons.

Google’s vision for education presentation was worth attending. The short video below gives an overview of what it means for a classroom or school to ‘go Google’.  Although maybe not for everyone, it’s worth knowing what and how companies such as Google are supporting education.  The second video outlines some of the specific apps that schools may benefit from.

The Lego Education presentation also made for welcome viewing, however, currently the pricing of the hardware is unfortunately a discouraging factor.

Finally, the most inspiring moment of the day…encountering the Steve Jobs Schools stand! According to their website their goal is ‘to prepare children for tomorrow’s world with today’s tools while focusing on developing their own talents. We encourage children, by means of an innovative new teaching approach and the most up-to-date learning tools, to develop their individual talents and teach them the skills that are crucial for success in the world of tomorrow.’  These are a series of schools based in the Netherlands, but are currently branching out further afield. The gentleman at BETT highlighted how the children have truly personalised timetables created for them based on their previous learning. Needless to say this is all produced on an individualised iPad. When the children need to learn a new skill they can attend a session with a teacher and no more than seven other students.  They then practise the skill in the comfort of the school and at their own pace.  It certainly looks impressive – check out the videos below explaining the rationale, ethos and values of the schools and take a look at the ‘How to build a Steve Jobs School’ manual…you never know!

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Visible Learning…at last!

It is hard to believe that it has taken this long to both post and create a page on our blog dedicated to the work of Professor John Hattie and his Visible Learning team, but it is here…at last!  ‘Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. Visible Teaching and Learning occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers.’  As John Hattie’s mantra reads ‘Know thy impact!’

As quoted from the Visible Learning website, ‘John Hattie claims that “the major argument in his book [Visible Learning for Teachers] underlying powerful impacts in our schools relates to how we think! It is a set of mind frames that underpin our every action and decision in a school; it is a belief that we are evaluators, change agents, adaptive learning experts, seekers of feedback about our impact, engaged in dialogue and challenge, and developers of trust with all, and that we see opportunity in error, and are keen to spread the message about the power, fun, and impact that we have on learning.”
John Hattie believes “that teachers and school leaders who develop these ways of thinking are more likely to have major impacts on student learning.”  Take a look at the excellent video below made by Cheryl Reynolds, a senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, where she has put together John Hattie’s eight mind frames in an effective animation.

Hattie’s 8 Mind Frames

  1. visible-learning-for-teachers-by-john-hattieMy fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement.
  2. The success and failure of my students’ learning is about what I do or don’t do. I am a change agent.
  3. I want to talk more about learning than teaching.
  4. Assessment is about my impact.
  5. I teach through dialogue not monologue.
  6. I enjoy the challenge and never retreat to “doing my best”.
  7. It’s my role to develop positive relationships in class and staffrooms.
  8. I inform all about the language of learning.

To find out more about the influential work of John Hattie visit our Visible Learning page.

Categories: Teaching and Learning, Visible Learning | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Recommended reading

The most effective professional development is often initiated and determined by the teacher themselves. For many, this is achieved through engaging with the ever growing online community such as Twitter, blogs, TeachMeets etc.  However, for others the book (whether digital or old fashioned paper) is still their primary source of furthering their learning and practice.

Click here to see our updated recommended reading page.

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Essex Provision Guidance

With the advent of the new SEND code of practice, many professionals are feeling uncertain about how to support children in their class with additional needs. However, help is well and truly here in the guise of Essex’s Provision Guidance Toolkit. This interactive working document is easy to use and should be the first port of call for all teachers who want to provide the best support for the children in their care.  See below for more details from the Essex Schools Infolink.
The Essex Provision Guidance provides an evidence-based reference for schools and other practitioners to include advice on all that could be done to meet the needs of children with special and additional needs.

The Provision Guidance draws on good practice in schools, and evidence-based, applied psychological theory and research. It has been created by Educational Psychologists in close collaboration with the Specialist Teacher teams within Essex.

What is its purpose?

The purpose of the guidance is to support school staff in the process of building on current good practice and to help schools to develop systems, skills and structures for responding to pupils’ needs.  It provides clarity and consistency when deciding the level and type of support a child needs.

Ideas for use:

  • Supporting the One Planning environment through identifying provision to help meet outcomes
  • As a self-help guide for practitioners when considering provision in their classrooms
  • Providing a point of reference for school staff when deciding which level of the graduated response pupils are working on
  • As an audit tool for individual pupils or for school practice identifying gaps in provision
  • New ideas for working with individual pupils

For working in partnership with parents and carers providing clarity and transparency when explaining provision the school is making for their child

What does it include?

It covers the main Categories of Need identified within Essex.  Each area comes under one of the umbrella categories in the new SEND Code of Practice.

  • Learning Difficulties and Disability
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health
  • Social Communication: including Autistic Spectrum
  • Speech, Language and Communication
  • Physical and Neurological
  • Sensory (Hearing and Visual Impairments)
  • Early Years Provision
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