Saturday, 18 August 2012

Hattie - Visible Learning

This is not mine but I have been reading this very useful PPT again. Going to keep it here for ease of access...
To be found here.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Pan's Labyrinth - Year 9 - part b) Thinking about the lesson obs

I felt it was too personal to be published at the time but now... Well I am investigating ways in which lesson observations are conducted in schools and looking at a range of lesson observation templates, most of which are just as complicated as our one - but I sure hope it won't be for much longer.]

Just a few observations on my inability to think straight when I am planning for an observation and leaving my instincts in the cupboard during the actual obs.

Now I have the good luck to have achieved several "Os" in recent lesson observations, but it always feels like luck rather than anything else. I do get that warm feeling when a lesson goes well and you feel on top of the world, but I don't think it's happened whilst I've been observed. I just get too nervous. There is too much to prove; there are so many expectations... I even start taking pills a few days before a planned obs to remain calm.

Anyway, thinking back about that year 9 lesson, it was actually going very well; despite my initial struggle to calm my nerves (one of the colleagues I admire the most, a fantastic teacher and friend - and also now SLT- was observing me for the first time), the kids were great and coming up with many super ideas and comments to the point that I actually forgot I was being observed for a bit.

So why oh why did I suddenly panic again at the end? I can still hear myself say to the students that we now had to move on!!! They were still engrossed in their task. Anyway, it wasn't a disaster but somehow I had it in my head that reaching the last activity would be the best way to demonstrate outstanding learning...
And why do I think so stupidly when observation time comes?

The weight of expectations - yes. But also the lesson observation template itself and all that talk of demonstrating outstanding progress within one lesson. The dreadful checklist, the plethora of criteria, the 'recommended' teaching style, the awful vocabulary....

I think it has genuinely confused me more than anything over the last 2 years and made me second guess myself on too many occasions. The more I read the Ofsted criteria, the more I loathe the whole process, the more nervous I get, the more useless I feel.

I also hate the fact that it is used as a checklist, a genuine Ofsted checklist. I wish we were free from so much jargon and went back to a much more straightforward format which would feel much more formative and supportive.

Anyway... lesson learnt - Avoid the extra "squeezed-in" activity that you would never dream of doing in a "real" lesson and just hide the lesson plan at the bottom of the drawer as the lesson starts... That and the pills...

Pan's Labyrinth - Year 9 - Genre and Narrative - Part a)

In the summer term (summer 1), the department decided to cut short the old Gothic scheme and include Pan's Labyrinth instead to conclude the unit. Most teachers chose to use it as a stimulus for a Writing piece but having done two writing pieces already in this unit, I decided to venture into exploring Genre and Narrative.

[I can't find all the latest versions of various presentations - Problems with ICT meant saving different versions all over the place.]

First lesson was spent exploring a classic narrative structure with key vocabulary (Departmental lesson plan); I won't go into any detail but questioning was key at all levels.

Straight forward matching exercise after "brainstorming" common stages of narrative and their different labels.

Students handed envelope with vocabulary and bits of the narrative to match and plot against the graph below (whole thing on A3 paper).

Feedback and discussion/clarification - annotate/justify/explain all around. Stick down. 

Some students had already moved on to addressing the questions on the board, 5 in total, with the last ones meant to stretch the more able students (Can't quite remember what I came up with but it was pretty challenging in terms of narrative expectations/tension and character types) - Answers as notes around the graph again.

(A pity I still can't find the pics but I know I've saved them somewhere!)

For the next few lessons, the objective was the same: TO LEARN ABOUT GENRE AND NARRATIVE

Next lesson: What genre? What generic conventions? What type of narrative?
First 6 slides of PPT below. Quite straight forward. Students were deconstructing, questioning, annotating a still from the film then the film poster. This created a rich discussion with many of their questions already fully or partially answered by the end of the activity. We spent time exploring symbolism, narrative expectations and other possible generic features.
We watched a trailer for the film and a short extract to confirm our predictions and observations and to add to our notes.
We used a straight forward progression sheet to track the learning.
The last row was a bit patchy as we were rushing a bit at the end, particularly the last 2 boxes. So... I asked them to think carefully about what they'd learnt and to complete it for the following lesson. I asked them to focus on the character of Ofelia in particular and her possible role in the narrative.

Next lesson: Focus on Ofelia - What type of character is she?
Lovely lesson in which we deconstructed stills from the film (some of the slides / stills used are randomly placed in the embedded PPT below)
We also watched the opening of the film. Students wrote down questions and comments (shared via paired sharing before feeding back at first) and we had a lovely discussion about how atypical a character she is.

Home-learning was to create a character study with evidence from the film so far - Spider-diagram welcome with lots of points and much evidence (We thought of a few points to include together, including initial impressions and how these change, and the types of relationships Ofelia has and how these might propel the narrative etc)

Next lesson: Genre and Character Types (simplified Propp's theory)
I will discuss this further in part b)...
I over-prepared this one because it was Review Week and Friday by then, and I still hadn't been seen (could have been any lesson from Wednesday to Friday).

The lesson went well...
... But as ever, I lost my common sense... Anyway, more on that in part b). It worked well until the last activity which was one too many and students still wanted to write about character roles etc. The irony is that THEY WERE DEMONSTRATING LEARNING RIGHT THERE, using the terminology and everything... AND I MOVED THEM ON! WHY? I just do stupid things when I'm being observed, particularly by staff I admire.

The lesson was a Good overall with a lot of "Outstanding" features but it was felt that a few of my students did not make outstanding progress. (I had 9 on SEN list, 7 for Behavioural issues, one a very recent managed move... So really, I'm fairly happy with the result)

Here's the outline of the lesson - and on the PPT below, it's from slide 10 to 24 (with a few extra slides about Ofelia which belong to the previous lesson).

Progression Sheet Pans Genrenarrative
(I had added the SOLO symbols)
I couldn't find post-its for the Exit Ticket plenary before the lesson but a colleague had some heart-shaped ones (how very Gothic!):

Next: More on Genre - Hybrid features 

Preparing to write an essay-type response about the genre of the film.

I won't go into detail as it is fairly obvious. We brainstormed generic features of Fantasy and Gothic, then students added to their lists using the Wordle below.
The Venn diagram was used to decide which features applied to the film. I'm not sure it was needed actually. It seems a bit superfluous.

Students worked well however and started gathering plenty of evidence from the film. We managed to watch another short extract as well.
Venn diag
Genre Conventions End of Unit Progression Sheet(It's gone a bit funny-looking in the process)

The students started their essay at home and completed it in the next lesson. But we decided that we could do much better so spent one more lesson self-assessing after listening to some examples of work at different levels of success. The students thought they needed the whole of the rest of the lesson to redraft and improve.

Finally, the last lesson before half-term arrived (last lesson on the Thursday). We watched the end of the film, stopping here and there to discuss narrative developments.  All students asked to stay behind to watch and discuss the ending! I relented, knowing I would need to apologise to their tutor for their 15min' lateness. But they simply needed to talk!!!

So altogether a not unsuccessful string of lessons. The essays were good and the students begged to watch an extraordinary film which is in Spanish with English subtitles!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Year 13 - Hexagons for exam prep

Preparing for the Theory exam. Topic: We-Media and Democracy 

We've worked hard, we've struggled along the way...
I've made (too many) resources available, including on the Critical Perspectives  blog there and the We Media and Democracy page here.

Drawing everything together is no easy task. So many theorists and so many case studies, so many key points and other things to remember for the exam...
We have done essay plans as a class for several questions but it is difficult to jump from a plan to a competent essay, so I thought I might try the hexagons again.

Starter: Just a minute in teams (pairs) - Topics included: convergence, citizen journalism, democracy, Henry Jenkins, digital determinism, public sphere (quite random)

Then time for exam practice - I settled on "To what extent do new media enrich democracy?"
I distributed blank hexagons. Given that students have to explore 2 'areas' in 60 min in the exam, I split the topics between teams - they would focus on either Social Media/Citizen Journalism or Creativity/Prosumers

On hexagons, they started by writing down key ideas, media, theorists and case studies.
Then they started linking them together.
After a few false starts, they got into it and were increasingly happy with their "branches", though on reflection all had 'weaker' areas or were unhappy with the way they had positioned certain things in terms of the structure. We agreed that it's better to struggle with the flow of the piece now than in the exam room.

Once hexagons were stuck down, pairs filmed themselves talking through their plan and connections.
One of them is below:

Short extract from M. and J.'s "talk-through"

The pair filmed on the iPad (so easy) whilst others used the other cameras... Cue problem with the Media drive on the Macs and the editing got nowhere but we could watch the footage on the camera.

The good thing is that gaps in knowledge and understanding are EXPOSED - nowhere to hide them. I actually had to prompt another group quite a bit through theirs as they were a bit stuck after 3 minutes.
What needed to be revised / consolidated / researched further was obvious.

Ideally, the task set was to watch through the vids at home (from the blog there) and critique through comments before the next lesson. That did not happen. I had already lost a third of students to other exams and re-sits, and most of them had some more exams that week.
We could however watch through them again and simply talk through strengths as well as issues and shortcomings, and address the latter.

I need to do this a little earlier next year...

Students found the exercise really useful and great prep for essay writing. Practice questions (the few that were handed in) were good. Let's wait for the 16th August...