Posts Tagged With: teaching and learning

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.

Categories: Brain, Learning Power, Mindset, Teaching and Learning | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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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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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You Can Learn Anything

Check out this video from the Khan Academy highlighting why it is crucial for educators to develop growth mindsets in the children they teach.  We used it to inspire and develop growth mindsets in our staff on training days and the children during assembly.  Enjoy.

Categories: Brain, Curriculum, Mindset, Teaching and Learning | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Assessment: from government led to student led

The aim of this post is to challenge and provoke thinking about what quality assessment really looks like.  Currently, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding assessment in education and it has always been a highly charged and debated topic among academics and teachers.  This post should help identify the limitations of levels and, hence, why they have been removed from the new curriculum.  Furthermore, the power of student led assessment and critiquing will be highlighted and why this needs to be developed across far more schools in England.

One of the biggest changes in the new National Curriculum is the removal of levels and what this means for future assessment.  Watch Tim Oates, chair of the expert panel which informed the review of the national curriculum 2010 to 2013, talk about the purpose of changes to assessment in the new curriculum and rationale behind moving away from levels.

Although having been teaching and researching passionately for many years, Ron Berger’s outstanding findings on student led assessment has only recently become more widespread as a result of his video entitled ‘Austin’s butterfly’.  It does not matter if you have seen this video before, as it inspires every time. Watch and wonder.

The video illustrates the power of Assessment for Learning (AfL), specifically feedback and the use of success criteria (although Ron uses the term ‘critique’ to include all the elements of effective AfL).  Furthermore, Ron’s most recent book entitled ‘Leaders of their own learning: Transforming schools through student-engaged assessment’ is an excellent read and another investment worth making. describes the book as follows: ‘From Expeditionary Learning Schools comes a proven approach to student assessment Leaders of Their Own Learning offers a new way of thinking about assessment based on the celebrated work of Expeditionary Learning Schools across the country. Student–Engaged Assessment is not a single practice but an approach to teaching and learning that equips and compels students to understand goals for their learning and growth, track their progress toward those goals, and take responsibility for reaching them. This requires a set of interrelated strategies and structures and a whole–school culture in which students are given the respect and responsibility to be meaningfully engaged in their own learning. It includes everything teachers and school leaders need to implement a successful Student–Engaged Assessment system in their schools.  It outlines the practices that will engage students in making academic progress, improve achievement, and involve families and communities in the life of the school.

Assessment continues to be an ongoing struggle for many teachers, often causing much anxiety.  With the theory and rationale behind the abolition of levels explained by Tim Oates and the inspiring work of Ron Berger and his colleagues, it is an exciting time to be a teacher and be able to develop a child-engaged assessment system that is grounded in the principles of AfL and tailored to the school, children and teacher’s setting.

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The Educators

Just in case you’re not a regular BBC radio 4 listener, The Educators is an excellent series currently running at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.  Sarah Montague interviews leading figures from education in half hour episodes.  We are currently up to episode 6 of 8 and links to them can be found below:

Episode 1: Ken Robinson

Sarah Montague asks Sir Ken Robinson why he thinks schools are a barrier to creativity.

Episode 2: John Hattie

Sarah Montague asks what really makes a difference to a child’s ability.

Episode 3: Tony Little

The headmaster of Eton College talks to Sarah Montague about his formula for success.

Episode 4: Daisy Christodoulou

Teacher and writer Daisy Christodoulou thinks children are being taught the wrong things.

Episode 5: Paul Howard-Jones

Do we become more effective learners when there’s a chance of winning something?

Episode 6: Sugata Mitra

Prof Sugata Mitra explains why children need more freedom to teach one another.

Please post any thoughts in response to listening to any of the episodes.

Categories: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Genius Hour update!

Further to my post ‘What would be your Genius Hour?’ on June 3, 2014, here is a website link to the UKEdChat discussion on Genius Hour.  The session set out to explore the following:

  1. How do you currently integrate students interests in the classroom through learning experiences?
  2. What is the benefit of pursuing student passions, interests and talents in the classroom?
  3. How did you hear about the concept of Genius Hour?
  4. What problems do you think you might encounter while implementing Genius Hour?
  5. Share one thing that you have learnt about Genius Hour this evening.

Further to the excellent ideas raised during the discussion, UKEdChat also provided some very useful website links to help support the implementation of Genius Hour:

Please post any of your own ideas and experiences below.

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Jumpstart! Grammar: Games and activities for ages 6 – 14

Here is the excellent partnership of Pie Corbett and Julia Strong’s latest offering in their crusade to develop the quality of children’s writing: Jumpstart! Grammar: Games and activities for ages 6 – 14.  Like Pie Corbett’s other Jumpstart game books: Literacy and Storymaking, this is another practical and easy to use text packed full of fun and engaging ideas to develop children’s grammar across the primary school and beyond.

Front Cover

Here is an overview of the book courtesy of

‘This collection of simple to use, multi-sensory games and activities will jumpstart pupils’ understanding of grammar in action. If you are one of the thousands of teachers who feels insecure about how to teach grammar engagingly, and perhaps also lack confidence in your own grammatical knowledge, then this is also the perfect book for you.

Fun games will focus first on helping children hear the difference various types of grammar can make followed by activities to help them understand what different effects you can create with grammar, rather than dwelling on arid naming of parts. Technical terms will only be introduced once the children have established what the various features can do, with a particular focus on those terms that really help children discuss what makes language coherent and effective. By the time the children are asked to use the terminology, they will have a real grasp of what it’s good for.

It will prepare children for any grammar tests on the horizon in an engaging way so that they love playing with words and spinning sentences to make ideas dance. And, of course, they will be able to name the parts if that is what is required.

Jumpstart Grammar will celebrate the joys of language, and coherent expression; of finding just the right words or phrases to express what you want to say.’

An investment definitely worth making!

Categories: Curriculum, English, Teaching and Learning | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Build your Learning Power

As we begin the journey of  designing our new curriculum at Hamford, we continue to consider ways of developing the child holistically so they are prepared for life beyond school and a lifetime of learning.  Have a look at our new Learning Power page.

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Kagan updated!

Our Kagan page has been updated with some videos and the latest Kagan Structure of the Month: Pairs Compare!  Next step: videos of Hamford teachers and children carrying out Kagan Learning structures in our school!

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