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.

2011 From Trainee to Tutor.

As I  finish work for the holidays, having handed in my notice ready to start my first college position in January, I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back at the year and reflect on the highs and lows and everything that I’ve achieved.

Decemeber 2010

This time last year I was looking forward to starting a PGCE placement at the Leeds College of Building where I was expecting to teach Functional Skills in Maths, English and ICT. At this point in the year I thought I might end up working an ICT Tutor as I’ve always had a keen interest in e-learning and computers however it turned out that apart from two classes I never really taught ICT. This probally turned out to be a good thing as I had forgotten nearly everything that I had learnt about databases and spreadsheets from when I was at college. Apart from the odd math’s class I spent most of the year teaching Functional Skills English which was a struggle to start with as I’d just been diagnosed with dyslexia so my confidence in my English language skills and my own expectations of my ability to teach the subject was at an all time low. However with a bit of practice and an inspirational mentor these feelings soon vanished and I began to love being infront of a class .

Febrauary 2011

I originally registered Gemma Teaches in 2010 with the intentions of using it as a reflective blog for my PGCE placements. However blogging in that capacity didn’t really take off as I wasn’t truely comfortable with sharing my teaching highs and lows at such an early stage in my career. February 2011 saw ‘Gemma Teaches’ reborn as a lesson ideas/resource sharing blog. My first post Cranberry Flashcards descirbed a free electronic flashcards generator and contained ideas for using the software with your students.

Later in the month I attended an interview for a CELTA course as I knew the job market was going to be tough and I wanted to increase my qualifications in order to give myself the best possible chance of gaining full time employment at the end of my PGCE. As part of the interview I was asked to produce a five minute lesson and teach this to the rest of the interview group. This provided the inspiration for my second blog post Celta Interview Teaching Task – Descriptive Writing.  I was sucessful in gaining a place on the course for July but was unabled to attended as I started a full time teaching position before the course began.

April 2011

In April I completed my PGCE placement and was coming to the end of the course. I began attending interviews for my first full time teaching post and two interviews later I secured my first position.

During my PGCE I developed one of my favourite lessons ideas,  ‘Teaching writing skills using popular films‘. I have used regulary throughout the year with great sucess.. Other popular lesson ideas are listed below:

An Ipod based math’s lesson

Band Night – an ICT and English based lesson

June 2011

In June I started my first full time teaching position, teaching Functional Skills Maths and English to disaffected 16-19 year olds at a training provider in Doncaster. However, as the centre was brand new and there was a lot of competition in the area, by August I had been moved to their Rotherham branch and began teaching literacy and numeracy to unemployed adults. Teaching this age group was at first out of my comfort zone as I had never developed an interest in teaching adults however as I began to settle into the role I began to appreciate the differences between teaching young people and adults. The adults actually wanted to be there and would get on diligantly with their work without any fuss or aggrevation. On the other hand the young people at the centre had already been kicked out of school and college and behaviour management was a constant battle. I’m glad I only occasionally had to cover the odd foundation class.

A few of my favourite blog posts to come out of my role at Rotherham were:

Focusing on the positives – a lesson designed to increase the self-esteem and confidence of your learners

My favourite piece of kit – ideas for using post-it notes

On your mark, get set, go – a reading comprehension game

September 2011

After the summer break I returned to university to study a part time MSc in Multimedia and E-learning. During the first semester I have been introducted to a wide variety of e-learning software including the assessment web sites Lino It and Answer Garden. A comprehensive list of the software and technologies that have been shared through the year can be accessed on my ‘Teach Meet’ post.

November 2011

In November I graduated from the PGCE.


December 2011

After six months in my current role I felt ready for a new challange. Two applications later (two seems to be my lucky number with jobs)  I was invited to my first interview and I was lucky enough to secure the post. After completing my notice period January will see me start a position as a Tutorial Learning Mentor at Barnsley College. Alongside teaching studies skills I will be supportng students to overcome barriers to learning and supporting them inorder to succeed with their  A Levels. In preperation for this post I  have already started a new Diigo site where I have bookmarked useful study skills websites including sites containing tips for writing reports and essays. As well as sharing this site with my students I might analyse the effectivness of bookmarking as a study tool for the research project that I need to complete next year as part of the MSc.

2011 has seen a lot of changes and I’m sure 2012 will be just as interesting. As the new year approaches I am looking forward to continuing on my journey as an eduactor and wonder what the year will have install for me? Hopefully I will be able to keep you all updated through this blog as I have really enjoyed communicating and sharing my ideas with you all. I hope you have had as much enjoyment reading my posts as I have had writing them for you.

Multimedia and E-learning Teach Meets

As part of my MSc  I attended two Teach Meet* style sessions that were based on using technology in the classroom. During these sessions fellow educators shared ideas and resources, most of which were free. Pasted below is a list of the technologies that were demonstrated. The list has been adapted  from the MSc blog.

*Teach Meets are held regularly across the country and are events where teachers share ides with fellow teachers.


Make animations to a script that you write.  Similar to Xtranormal Can be used as an assessment tool. For example after a numeracy session on mean students could be asked to create an animation explaining how to work out the mean average of a set of data


Web based presentation software which zooms around as you run the presentation. Can be used as an alternative to PPT.

Line o it:

A web tool which enables you to use sticky notes. Can be used as an assessment/evaluation tool as the teacher can post questions and the students then write their answers on sticky notes and stick them to that  sessions electronic noticeboard. Similar to wallwisher


A free screen capture tool. Could be used to create help videos or instructional guides. Similar to Jing


Similar to but easier to use. Plant a question, grow the answer. The teacher writes a question, the students access the url address and post a one-word  answer. Could be used as a way of collecting feedback.


Handheld classroom response/quiz system allowing for a variety of answers. (True/false, sort in order, free text, free numerical, multiple choice, likert scale) Can also use self-paced learning.

Hot potatoes:

Create a variety of worksheets/resources using an on-line wizard. Includes options for creating crosswords, gap fill exercises and multiple choice quizzes.

Text Wall:

The teacher sets a question, then the pupils  send in messages which can be displayed in various ways. Again, can be used as an assessment/evaluation tool.


Contains 23 whiteboard resources that can be edited, adapted, saved and shared. Includes quizzes, games, timers and student generators.


Online repository for book-marking websites. Favourites only stored in one place – this allows you to access it from a cloud. Add digolet to your toolbar and it will save sites, annotations.

Jing: Screencapture software

Can be used for creating 0n-line tutorials explaining how to use a certain software or resources.

Mind Maps

Tony Buzzan

Mind Mapping is a simple and highly effective way to develop ideas and improve knowledge retention.Tony Buzzan first developed this thinking tool in the 1974 although it has only recently become a popular aid for dyslexics .

In the first video below Tony Buzzan explains the origins for this technique whilst the following video explains how  you can use the technique.

Knowledge retention

Mind mapping helps dyslexics to retain infomation as the maps makes use of images, colour, shape, size and symbols, mapping out information in a way that is easier for the learner to comprehend.

A dyslexia tutor recommended the following system:

  1. The ss  creates a simple mind map at the end of the lesson
  2. The following day the ss returns to the mind map, re-reads it and colour codes the infomation
  3. A week later the ss returns to the mind map and re-reads it

Returning to the mind map in this way helps encourages the infomation to be stored in the role term memory.

There is an interesting article about this by BBC News.