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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s