Stretch and challenge

I have recently accepted an action research project to look at Stretch and Challenge within teaching and learning at DHSB. Starting projects such as these are always the most difficult part, so here goes.

I am the stage where I have no significant prior knowledge, or expectations just a lot of questions to be answered. I anticipate hard work, dead ends and many problems to solve, however at the end I hope that I have clarity about stretch and challenge at DHSB which I am able to share.

The following questions are my starting point:

  • What is stretch and challenge?
  • Why stretch and challenge at DHSB?
  • Do staff use stretch and challenge and is it effective?

I will be canvassing staff for information and perhaps participation, I am also interested to hear what people are doing outside of here so look out for the opportunity to get involved in a project which can stretch and challenge you too.

Rachael Green

@dhsbgeography

Mastering the dragon

The SWAT conference is now live and the line up looks incredible. Key note speakers include Professor Sir Steve Smith and Tom Sherrington, who have such a wide range of experience and ideas between them – two lectures certainly of note.  The workshops could not be more varied from ‘art in the curriculum’ to ‘sticking your head in the dragons mouth’; there are opportunities for every teacher to get new ideas and to inspire.

I admit the notion of a dragon may conjure up images we may wish to avoid, but I am confident that the 3rd July will not be as scary as the image suggests.  The “Mastering the Dragon” conference is a fantastic opportunity to get together with colleagues in similar backgrounds, facing similar challenges. It will provide interesting, though provoking professional development as well as an opportunity to meet new people.

Please browse the conference booklet for further information and to whet your appetite for a great teaching and learning conference.

http://issuu.com/teachinglearning/docs/mdissuu

I look forward to seeing many faces there – a DHSB Road Trip!

Rachael Green

@dhsbgeography

Would you like to try Quizlet? No it isn’t a savoury snack

Quizlet is a free web 2.0 tool where you can create and generate your own quizzes. It is absolutely brilliant because: 1) It is free; 2) It is really easy to use and 3) It is an extremely effective learning tool.

Have a look at the site by clicking on this link it shows you a very brief and useful video on how to use it: http://quizlet.com/demo/

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It has great potential for students to use as a revision tool. The part that my students really enjoyed about it was that it did a lot of the hard work for you. For example it generates all of the games that you can use for revision itself, if you make flash cards for revision then this site will do it for you instantly. In addition to this you can then share your flash cards with other people all over the world. This means that your revision can also be collaborative.

I know that students are using this at the moment in Maths and Latin but there may be other subjects. Here is an example of one created by Ben one of our Year 7 students for revising ‘imperfect tense’.

http://quizlet.com/38685948/imperfect-tense-flash-cards/

What do the students think about it?

‘It is a great way to revise, it makes it more interesting. Making the quizzes also actually helps with your revision too!’ Year 7 student.

What do you think? Have you tried it?

Average, Mean And Fronted: Embedded Literacy And Numeracy In The NC

I had a bit of a shock this week. Trying to help my son prepare for his KS2 SAT Level 6 Maths test, I realised that as a parent, I was functionally innumerate and not fit for purpose. My son was as unimpressed as I was embarrassed. How could this be? After all I have O level Maths from 1979 when exams were ‘proper’, I passed my QTS Maths test first time, I can work out the area of tiles needed to redo my bathroom; how can I not do a test designed for a 10-11 year old?

Participation in a cross-school literacy project also led me last week to look at the new glossary of KS2 grammar terms, available at http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/g/2013%20ks2_egps_glossaryofterms.pdf, with which our new pupils will soon be armed. Glancing down the contents list, I stopped dead at ‘Fronted Adverbial’ – what is that?* Now, I know I get confused between average, mean, median and mode but I’m a language teacher and really, they are all the kind of same aren’t they? Anyway if I need to know the difference I can ask a colleague as they don’t pop up when I’m teaching Latin so no pupil ever corrects me or challenges me on my lack of knowledge. I don’t need numeracy to teach Latin.

But language and literacy is needed to teach every subject within the curriculum. Indeed Point 6.3 of The National Curriculum Framework Document https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/210969/NC_framework_document_-_FINAL.pdf states that pupils ‘should be taught the correct use of grammar’ by every subject teacher and appends a 13 page glossary of commonly accepted grammar terms. Compare that with the following: ‘You will not be tested on your knowledge of grammatical terms, but on your knowledge of how to use grammar correctly.’ That’s the advice given to trainee teachers approaching the QTS literacy test at http://www.education.gov.uk/sta/professional/b00211208/literacy/content.

My point is this: to argue that literacy and numeracy are to be embedded in a similar fashion across the curriculum is disingenuous. I have to think actively about how to include numeracy in my language lessons, but every teacher is displaying his or her levels of functional literacy the moment they speak or write a word on the board. Teacher training specifications and support are clearly out of kilter with the depth of knowledge required by pupils even at KS2! At a time when ITT is in flux and the status of QTS is being challenged in some educational arenas, there is a clear disconnect between the resources and education of pupils and that of teachers with regard to the meta-language of literacy and indeed functional literacy itself. This needs to be addressed if teachers are not to be left feeling potentially vulnerable and embarrassed in class situations in which the results of variation in styles of grammar and literacy teaching become more evident. Some connected thinking is required in the DfE.

*‘Since an adverbial’s usual position is at the end of a sentence, it is

described as ‘fronted’ when at the front and ‘embedded’ when it is in the middle.’ Finally, you know!

Dr Karen Stears @DHSBClassics

Head of Classics