Monthly Archives: September 2013

Blogsync Sept. 2013 The Purpose of Education

I saw a link to Chris Waugh’s entry and realised 30/9/13 and less than an hour to deadline. So here is a rushed entry post. No fancy quotes just straight from the Mish or Mash.

I teach in a school, I teach people skills elsewhere- in the home, on a bike ride, out for a walk finding our way. I am a learner, a lifelong learner I will never claim to have all of the answers and nor should I.

So what is this enterprise, industry, job I invest myself in that names itself “education”?

We all develop as individuals over time, many influences affect us and we take what we fancy, need, told we need from those experiences. We learn skills, knowledge, characteristics. We share those with others through friendship, relationships, work.

I see education as the scaffolding to our lives. It is personal. We take many things from it in many forms. Yes there are formalised aspects of it that may help us exist in a society where we mix with others. We live in a natural world full of awe and wonder that some want to understand more than others.

The word central to all this is LEARNING .

My purpose for education- to scaffold and support part of the ongoing lifelong learning that we pass through. Some we will open our eyes to, others we will ignore, but as we live learning is all around us, let education celebrate that experience.

My brief and rambling contribution – does it strike a chord for you?

Starting the year – so far…

Ok 8 days in (yes I said that in lego post to!) and have I started the year as I would like? On reflection it has been a very positive start, why?

Tutor time

I have an assistant tutor (LSA who expressed an interest in being attached to a form and allocated to me as I am an experienced Tutor). Grace has been fantastic and being less than half my age is much more in tune! as a team we are re-enthusing our vertical group. Already conversations are becoming more involved.


Solo taxonomy

All of the Key Stage 3 geography classes (8 of them) have now been introduced to SOLO. This has included an introduction to the 7es lesson plan format that I use and how my flipchart tracks the lesson’s activities. Then their second lesson involved the Lego video from YouTube and the use of Self Assessment (SA) and Peer Assessment(PA).  I then feedback on these when marking and sharing work examples in class and seeing what the wider classes opinions are using more open questioning. Displays on 3 pillars in the room include the SOLO stages based on the Quipio posters I made (see Multistructural above) so they have points of reference (yes, after a year I finally put up SOLO display material). Two of our SCITT trainees on observations have observed these lessons. One who worked with me as a Humanities LSA last year and knows my methods well and the other for whom it was something very different.

One Year 7 class used paper hexagons to identify geography key terms and link them using ideas from the traditional text based pictures we used previously – we  were so engrossed, most did not see a visit from one of the AHTs taking a photo of the UK wipeable display map. The laminated hexagons are on order and made larger than last years based on pupil feedback in July.

Berger Critique model

I introduced the proposed KS3 Geography homework model, I had been given the lead on, to the department this week. One enthusiastic Head of Department, one enthusiastic non specialist and one reluctant to change (let’s just say we have modified expectations) and we will evaluate after the Autumn cycle. I have proposed topics for this term for each year group.

Introduced to some of my classes this week as their second piece of homework. I used Austin’s butterfly clip from YouTube, although much younger children to show how a piece of work may be developed. Comments like, “I can not draw as well as that” by the 4th draft. We will not use a straight draft redraft structure but planning, then development stages to encourage involvement and familiarity with critique as a concept  – I look forward to the first sessions next week as lesson starters on being “Kind, specific and helpful”.

Here are the documents issued;

Project description

Autumn proposal

Teacher introduction lesson guidance

teacher intro

Autumn 1 example for Year 7

yr7 autumn 1 berger

(all feedback on these will be welcomed from Berger practitioners and non practitioners to)

Classroom design

OK my room has 10 tables around the edge of the room with the children sat facing outwards. Four remaining tables border a central whiteboard table – formerly a whiteboard at the side of the room in addition to my Promethean Activboard (Interactive).


Further intentions – to replace chairs with small stools (IKEA product proposed subject to school approval). Develop use of KAGAN groupings to have more movement between group work settings in lessons. Also develop the use of SOLO stations as trialled last term. Smartwhiteboard paint strips on tables as working area – currently using A4 mini whiteboards. I would like to develop the table so it could be used horizontally and then rotated to be used as a display vertically – all ideas investigated in July – see posts on classroom design I shared with my classes.

So, how is it working?

The space released into the room and extra light, when blinds up, is amazing, much more welcoming as a learning environment. The layout is a talking point and has drawn in several visitors just to look and pass initial comment. Classes when turned away from the centre are much more focused so far when completing individual, paired or fours tasks. The current chairs are too large to easily have sideways with legroom when mixing work between IWB and own desks – hence stools idea.

This week  – on Friday two year 8 classes were looking at the population terms of distribution, density, densely and sparsely on a global scale. So during am registration I drew a full board world map sketch on the board table. Our starting points were that it was not a complete map – and we added – title, key, scale comment and compass arrow. Then discussions and votes centred on some exemplar countries – UK and Australia then Russia and China. After input on the table they returned to their desks to record own work – the table presented a resource they could return to and the keywords with correct spellings were on the IWB.


I have now made my “cheap” wipeable map using two road atlases purchased from a petrol station for £3.98, an old roll of clear sticky back plastic I had and some sticky tack. Starting above desk height and stopping at the ceiling it includes Wales and England from the south coast to a line between Blackpool and Hull. It has been commented on and this week used to look at UK population distribution with labels written on and off. Health and Safety mean because of the height it is a teacher board but useful class tool.


The picture was taken on the first day in creative stage – rolling on sticky back plastic onto a wall is a learning curve!

The SOLO displays are easy to access but may need a bolder symbol as a little subtle – may develop mobiles for each stage as first envisaged.

Other materials link to literacy and new geographical pictures including my evolving Geography Alphabet series coming over the next few weeks in the run up to recruitment for 2014/15 and Open Morning.

 For example (again created on the ipad with own pictures and Quipio)



So, term has started well… there is more but I think you have enough here to get started with.

Always seeking schools and departments or individual teachers to work with collaboratively anywhere globally. If interested contact by commenting on this post or on Twitter @aknill.

Thanks for reading.

#legopedagogy starts

Ok so I have two boxes of lego in my classroom, we have been teaching for 8 days and…

So far, a few weird looks from some colleagues and some pupils. I have introduced / re-introduced my 8 KS3 geography classes to SOLO taxonomy using the YouTube video that includes Lego. This year though I get to play along with the video by introducing the appropriate single blue block, then a handful of bricks as we move from unistructural to multistructural ideas. Some anecdotal ideas like last year about small children and Lego use to hit, insert, eat. For extended abstract I make a simple model randomly as they watch the clip.

Next week I start to experiment with some of the graphing ideas others have passed on for the year 8 unit on population.

2013-14 A new year…

So, the first week is done. How did it go? We started officially with INSET on Tuesday. Information overload unfortunately is the only way to describe it and the acceleration from a good relaxed holiday even with some work in school to full bore presentations was almost overpowering.

Wednesday Year 7 start the day first, one of my new members of our vertical tutor group is in so 1:1 attention and visiting classrooms he will need pm. The rest of the form arrive and we get the admin side of timetables etc done, they go to assemblies at various points. We had covered all the required elements very quickly. So extra activities – we discussed the merits / demerits of the House system (our House Shakespeare came 4/4 last year). The only objection was either wearing ties for girls or the yellow house colour. This was encouraging. We allocated some new roles so our form takes a more active part in the life of our quarter of school.

lego shakespeare

pm – lesson time and a chance to use the new classroom layout, solo taxonomy and engage pupils in self assessment from the off. Over the three days; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I involved my classes in my revised template for my 7es based lesson plans and IWB flipcharts; an introduction (for some a revision) of why sir is keen to use SOLO taxonomy for classwork and homework tasks but reference to how the skills and depth of answer  can be linked to level based targets as well.

Pre stuctural poster quipio

Staff in the Humanities area liked my literacy and marking bookmark which needs to go into wider production next week so there is a literacy reminder in all books.

The proposed KS3 geography homework programme with links to Berger’s ideas on redrafting got a mixed reception but we will use it for a term and evaluate at Christmas to see how staff have used the idea. The first year I have proposed new ideas and referenced staff to reading materials.

I got very tired by the end of Friday as not sleeping well and full on pace. My mood dipped but I held onto the fact that I was overtired. Today (Saturday) came the chance to relax while exercising

My son had worn himself out through excessive running in PE lessons on consecutive days so I was to kayak alone with our double kayak. I can report a great sense of well being, a positive look at many successes this week and I got a two hour workout to.

So on reflection a good week, many positive aspects, new ideas introduced to many classes, pupils engaged and sharing their work with others. Personal time allowing me to unwind and be outside.

The solo taxonomy and Ron Berger linked work will be blogged about in more detail as the term proceeds and this follows up several discussions on Twitter this week.