Creating an Oftsted outstanding lesson

Yesterday I went home with a feeling of dread as I had been informed at lunch time that a number Ofsted inspectors will be coming in during the first week of March. Although this isn’t a full Ofsted inspection I can’t help but feel anxious as this is the first time that I will have experienced such a formal inspection. To provide our team with the best possible chance of achieving an overall grade of outstanding we were booked in for a meeting with the advanced teacher. Below are a few areas that I was told the inspectors would be looking for:

Lesson Plans.  You should have a lesson plan for the lesson you are teaching, one from the previous week and one for the following week.

Active Learning. All students need to be involved in the lesson – students shouldn’t be allowed to mess around on mobile phones, stare out of the window etc.

Keep the pace. Activities should change at least every 15minutes to prevent the lesson from becoming stale and repetitive.

Evaluate the learning. Learning should be checked throughout the lessons. This could include Q & A sessions, writing on a postcard write three things that you have learnt today or an informal discussion.

Knowing the needs of your students. For example having a table for each one of your classes that documents their particular learning needs and issues that they are having. This could include ‘Large tasks faze Jonny, he needs his work breaking down into small chunks’, ‘Claire has caring issues’.

Equality and Diversity. Make sure that your examples aren’t stereotypical and that you use a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds  in your worksheets, discussions and board work.

Creative use of ICT. One way of ticking this box would be to use some of the software mentioned in my multimedia and e-learning teach meet post which explores a range of free software, including animation production and video capture, that you can use with your students.

I have a 40 page booklet on how to become an outstanding teacher so there will be more hints and tips to follow.

Zotero – an academic bookmarking tool

I went to visit an Academic Skills Tutor today who introduced me to Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh].

In it’s simplest form Zotero is a bookmarking tool that has been specifically designed for academic use, therefore the free web based software can be used as an aid to help students collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. As their website explains ‘Zotero collects all your research in a single, searchable interface. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages, and really anything else. Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of your library, enabling you to find exactly what you’re looking for with just a few keystrokes.’

I have only just started to use the software but it certainly seems like it will be a useful addition to the assistance technology that I am using for the #mscmmel.

A lesson on student finance 2012/2013

Now that the deadline for university applications has passed the time has come to begin delivering sessions on the ins and outs of applying for student finance. I have sourced most of my resources from the Direct Gov website which has a wealth of pre-prepared lesson materials including YouTube videos, a ppt and a quiz.

I’m going to use one of the video at the start of the lesson to introduce the facts about student finance and to promote discussion within the group.

I am then going to talk through the PPT to re-enforce what has already been introduced in the video whilst adding additional details.

At the end of the lesson I am going to use the quiz  to test students knowledge and to create one final chance to dispel any misconceptions the applicants may have about how much money they are entitled to and how they will have to pay it back.

*Social bookmarking???

*Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web resources.

Action Research

For this semesters MSc assignment I have been asked to undertake a small-scale action research project.The project will involve designing and introducing into my practice an instructional strategy, activity or technique and analysing its effect on improving student learning.

My initial idea is to analyse the effectiveness of social bookmarking as a way of sharing infomation with sixth form students. During my PGCE and MSc I have often been directed to the social bookmarking sites of university academics and have often wondered how effective these sites really are with regards to sharing information with students. This is mainly because it has taken two years of the Academic Skills Tutor plugging her site before I was motivated to visit it, despite it containing lots of useful links. I am also aware that my tutor groups only see me once a week and as sixth formers there’s a wealth of information and useful links that I have that I can share with these students therefore if I can get it to work a social bookmarking site could become an invaluable tool.

I was originally thinking of setting up a Diigo site for my students however the site has no facility to track web traffic so instead I am going to create a WordPress site and organise the links by creating different pages such as UCAS, volunteering and study skills. I am unsure of whether to create a small-scale version of the site for this assignment and focus on sharing university related links with the A2 students whilst waiting until the dissertation module to develop the site fully or whether to completely go for it this time and work on another idea for my dissertation?

Any comments about the merits or limitations of this action research project are greatly welcomed.


New job

From the photo below (which also happens to be the view from my new desk) you can see that the sun has now set on the first week in my new job.

I no longer teach basic numeracy and literacy so the focus of this blog will change over the coming weeks and months. I now work in a sixth form environment in a pastoral focused role. Instead of teaching numeracy and literacy my teaching topics are designed around the areas that my students need to work on for example time management skills, study skills, target setting and how to choose and apply for university. I will continue to update this blog regularly with lesson ideas and resources so I’m positive that there will still be lots of ideas and resources that you will find useful. I will also continue to post about my MSc and am about to start a research project into the effectiveness of social bookmarking.

2011 as a Wordle

Following on from last week’s retrospective post ‘From trainee to tutor’ I thought it would be fun to create a word cloud of this year’s blog posts. As I used Wordle to generate the word cloud the words that appear larger appear more frequently throughout the blog.

The largest three words are first, year and teaching. This highlights the fact that this is my first year working as a qualified tutor. PGCE is also a prominent word although I expect this to be significantly smaller next year. I completed the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education in June and qualified as a teacher. A lot of my posts between February and June referenced ideas that I’d learnt or tried out as part of my teaching placement. Other words that stand out are: ideas, lesson,  students. used, using, used and tool. This has revealed a lot about the way that the blog has been used. ‘Gemma Teaches’ was created with the primary intention to be used as a lesson idea/resource sharing site. The fact that these words appear regularly indicates that the essence of the blog has been maintained throughout the year. Other word that stands out in the word cloud are ICT and software. I have always had a keen interest in ICT and started an MSc in Multimedia and E-learning this September. Through Teach Meet sessions on the MSc and by collaborating on-line with other educators I have discovered a wide variety of education based software. As there is another year and a half before I finish the MSc I will hopefully continue to discover many more electronic delights that I can share with you all.  

From looking back at my blog posts for the last year I’ve learnt a lot about myself; my life moves at lightning pace, I’m always thinking about where to go and what to do next, whether this is an educational course like the CELTA or an MSc or a new career path such as I.T. Teacher, Employability Skills Tutor or Learning Mentor.  As I’m constantly looking for the next thing I’ve never really taken the time to sit back and reflect on my life and everything that I’ve achieved and the relationships that I have built therefore I am really enjoying the chance to reflect on my year.