Thursday, 27 November 2014

Talk for Writing

"There are only two things that I have come across in the last 35 years that have a dramatic effect on progress. The first is when teachers discover how to teach phonics effectively, as this liberates writing. The second is the process of “storymaking”, which involves moving from telling into writing, using shared writing. My experience is that most teachers do not use shared writing and therefore do not teach writing." Pie Corbett

Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett and supported by Julia Strong, is a powerful classroom tool because it is based on the guiding principles of how children learn. Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language orally they need for a particular topic before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the words and structures of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. Pie Corbett has an amazing Facebook page that is full of his latest ideas and work in schools.

Talk for Writing website

Julia Strong and Kaye Haywood, both experts in teaching Talk for Writing, will be key presenters at TBS's Education Conference next year. Julia Strong is a Senior School specialist, exploring Talk for Writing strategies across the curriculum. Kaye Haywood is a Primary School specialist. 

Springboard Maths

Springboard Materials

Springboard is a catch-up programme for students in Class 1, 2, 3 , 4  and 5. The materials focus on key areas of number. They provide additional tuition for small groups of students outside the daily mathematics lesson during the weeks when these areas are being taught in the daily mathematics lesson .

Springboard aims:
  • to support the identified students and to remedy particular weaknesses in number so that they are in a better position to access and benefit from the teaching programme in their Year and beyond;
  • to set the expectation that these students catch up with their peers;
  • to help teachers prepare a teaching programme, enabling students to benefit fully from the main teaching programme for their Year as soon as possible.
(Taken from the DfES Standards Site) 

Use the following link to access further information and links to materials for each of the programmes from Class 1 - 5

Resources for teaching music

Here is a list of useful resources for teachers.

Resources for teaching music

Internet Anagram Server

Teacher wellbeing

Daily tips to help teachers stay happy and healthy during the week

Read on...

Photo editing

Tuxpi Photo Editor or BeFunky

These sites allow you to take a simple photograph and then convert it into an artistic masterpiece. They provide tools to edit the photo and reduce blurring or red-eye but can also turn your photograph into a collage or provide additional effects such as speech bubbles or Clipart images. The final images can then be downloaded to the computer and printed out or used elsewhere. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

20 things every teacher should do

David Wees will be one of the presenters at our Education Conference, Inspiring Learning: Taking the Inititative.

He is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States.

20 things every teacher should do

What makes great teaching?

This report reviews over 200 pieces of research to identify the elements of teaching with the strongest evidence of improving attainment. It finds some common practices can be harmful to learning and have no grounding in research. Specific practices which are supported by good evidence of their effectiveness are also examined and six key factors that contribute to great teaching are identified. The report also analyses different methods of evaluating teaching including: using ‘value-added’ results from student test scores; observing classroom teaching; and getting students to rate the quality of their teaching.

Language Learning

Why do pinks oink in English, boo boo in Japanese, and noff-noff in Swedish?


Top tips for Writing Reports


A guide to end-of-year report writing


Talking Avatars

Official VOKI Tutorial (video)




Why is the teaching of handwriting important?

Research has found that the correct modelling of letter formation and, in particular, the early introduction of continuous cursive handwriting, is a significant aid to success in spelling; that students use and rely on their muscular memory in spelling words correctly.

Teach Handwriting appears to be one of the better sites for introducing cursive handwriting to students. There are numerous examples of how to begin forming each letter before joining letters together. There are also a number of games and resources that are child-friendly and easy for teachers and parents to use.
There is also advice on how to ensure the best pencil grip and reminders about the importance of handwriting for our students.
For more, please also note the website's Youtube channel as well. 

Developing Early Writing: Developing Handwriting pages, 156 - 164

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Visible Thinking

 Visible thinking refers to any observable representation that documents and supports the development of an individual’s or group’s ongoing thoughts, questions, reasons, and reflections. Making students’ thinking visible requires some sort of organising structure, and the Visible Thinking programs at Project Zero use  “thinking routines” to guide learners’ thought processes. They encourage students to engage actively with a topic by asking them to think with and beyond the facts they know: asking questions, taking stock of prior knowledge, probing the certainty of their ideas, and visibly connecting new knowledge to old. 


Cultures of Thinking: Ron Ritchart 

Visible Thinking home page

Thinking Routines

Deep Design Thinking: Thinking Routine Posters

Making Thinking Visible on Pinterest:

Visible Thinking Routines

Making Thinking Visible

Making Thinking Visible: the Drama department, Urca

The Drama Department at Urca has been studying the Harvard Wide World twelve-week online course, Making Thinking Visible, which aims to make classrooms thinking rich. Working with Class 6, one class was divided into groups to focus on different scenes from a play. The thinking routine explored by the students was, What makes you say that?, which focuses students on interpretation with justification. This routine was expanded to include two others: What do you see? and What do you see that makes you say that? 

With one Class 7, other routines were introduced: Colour, Symbol, Image, which aims to encourage students to identify and distill the essence of ideas from reading, watching or listening in non-verbal ways. Students choose a colour, symbol or image to represent their ideas. Students were asked to select images from magazines that they related to their own monologues, focusing on the What, Why, How? routine. Finally, students were asked to apply the Headline routine to capture the essence of their ideas. 

See the thinking routines at work in the images below. Many thanks to the Drama Department at Urca for sharing this work by Classes 6 and 7.

Next year, Staff Development will offer groups of teachers the opportunity to apply for the Harvard Wide World courses. As soon as the 2015 dates and courses are posted, we will let you know. In the meantime, here is the link for the courses that Harvard offers:

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Mark Making

‘Through their marks, children are communicating their ideas, expressing their feelings,developing their imagination and creativity, and testing their hypotheses about the world. These opportunities for making ‘thinking visible’ are fundamental to children’s learning and development and should be the entitlement of every child.’ 

P4 Mark Making Matters, DCSF, 2008 

Young children will start to understand that the writing they see around them at home or in the community has all kinds of different meanings and purposes. They will try to reproduce this, copying what they see and also making their own marks without copying. When they do this they are becoming writers, communicating their ideas on paper.

Mark Making Matters:Mark making, creativity and critical thinking

Language and Mark Making

Mark Making Ideas: Pinterest

Everything Early Years

Mark Making Made Magic

Fine Motor Skills

Continous Provision 

Bump it up walls

Bump it Up walls are similar to a rubric, but are a display. The class creates exemplars of the lesson focus based on what the expectations at each level of work. Students take their work over to the Bump It Up wall to see how they can improve and Bump up their work to the next level.


Making Shift Happen

Success in Learning

What a wonderful surprise

A soft start

Early morning work stimulates the mind for the first 10 - 15 minutes of each day.  The work may take the shape of 'finishing off' previous work, reading through comments left in exercise books by the teacher, acting on targets, or maths/literacy based activities. 



Here is an app that can be used by students or teachers to make lessons come to life:

Imagine the ability to bring any historical or fictional character to life. All you need is an image and the app Morfo. This creative app will take any front facing image of a person and using a student’s recorded audio, create a talking version of that person’s image.

Step 1: Open the app and tap on the top button “Create A New Face”.


Step 2: Tap on the button to choose photo and select an image of person from photo library.


Step 3: Pinch and drag two fingers to adjust the head overlay to fit onto the individual’s face.


Step 4: Follow prompt to adjust nose, mouth, and eyes over the image.


Step 5: Use bottom menu of buttons to adjust the face.


Step 6: Tap on the red square button to record audio. You will have 60 seconds to record.


Step 7: Preview the generated move and then tap the share button in the bottom right corner to export video. The Save a video button will export a movie to your photo library.


Example of Mofo being used in a Reception Classroom: Scroll down to find the post: Mr Hickman blog

Mathematics and Science

Here is an amazing website with resources for Maths and Science teachers:

ORBIT: The Open Resource Bank for Interactive Teaching

ORBIT shares existing expertise on teacher education and classroom teaching that supports active learning in mathematics and science

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sharing good practice

Dylan Wiliam: Every Teacher Can Improve

Here is a short video of Dylan Wiliam giving a talk to teachers – see here.
“I think the only way that we can improve teacher quality is to create a culture of continuous improvement. That is given lip service in many districts, but nobody is really facing up to what it really means in practice. You see, I think that every teacher needs to get better. In many districts they target help at the teachers who “need support”, who need help, who are having difficulties.Every teacher fails on a daily basis. If you are not failing, you are just not paying attention. Because we fail all the time. Many of you will walk out of this room absolutely convinced I said stuff I know I didn’t say. As teachers we fail all the time. We teach these brilliant lessons. We take in the notebooks and look at what the kids have written and we wonder what planet they were on when we were teaching the stuff. Our daily experience as a teacher is a failure. Which makes it the best job in the world. Because you never get any good at it. At one time, André Previn was the best paid film-score composer in Hollywood and one day he just walked out of his office and quit. People said, ‘why did you quit this amazing job?’ And he said – because I wasn’t scared any more. Every day he was going into his office knowing his job held no challenge for him.This is something you are never going to have to worry about. This job you’re doing is so hard that one lifetime isn’t enough to master it. So every single one of you needs to accept the commitment to carry on improving our practice until we retire or die. That is the deal.”

Planning Great Lessons 

With the Asssistant Teachers, we have been working together on lesson planning. Assistant Teachers regularly tell us that the hardest part of teaching practice is not the teaching itself but getting the planning right to meet different students' needs. Below, you can see two examples of lesson planning by members of the Learning Support team in Botafogo. Well done to Julia Figueiredo and Roberta Kedhi!

Julia Figueiredo,Learning Support Assistant Teacher, Upper Primary, Botafogo

Name: Julia Figueiredo
Date: 26/09/2014
Class: Class 2A
Learning Objective:  To explore the occurrence of the letters v and k within words by identifying and creating patterns.

Why? To spell words with and correctly.

Success Criteria:
Must identify that and are placed differently within words.
Should categorise the letters based on the location of them in a word.
Could recognise three or more patterns for the use of and in words.
And then justify the patterns created.

“Fill in the words”
Teacher displays “Adventurers and Explorers” in the white board and students should, as an acrostic, fill their mWBs with different words linked to the learning unit.

Teacher shares in the Notebook File a bunch of words with k and v.

KQ: What do these words have in common? Where the v and the k usually are in a sentence? Does the sound change depending on where the letters are placed? Which letters usually precede the k?

After the discussion, the SC should be shared (W.A.L.T only revealed by the end of the lesson).

Explore and investigate
“Detective Spellcheck game”

Modelling: There are already two misspelled words on the board and Ms. Julia figures out which are they and why it is wrong.

Pupils turn! Students (the detectives) should read the words attemptively. Then, detectives should lay their heads down and T changes the position of the letters v/k in some words. When the time comes, detectives should identify the words that are spelled wrongly and write them correctly on their mWBs.
Pairs of students should write in A3 paper some noticed patterns in k and v words.

LC – Receive an A3 paper with part of the patterns written and some blank spaces to be filled. Adult support from Ms. Kathy.
C – A3 paper with one of the patterns written and students should come up with another two ideas. Adult support from Ms. Julia.
MC – Blank A3 paper and should create at least three patterns. Independent work.
Extension: “Think, pair, square!” Children should get together with another pair to share the patterns created.

After, T discusses with children what the W.A.L.T for this lesson is.
T tells the class that all the students will need to create a 3x3 grid in their mWBs and write some words that were said today.
The Notebook File with the words will only be exposed for forty seconds and children are advised to be thorough with the spelling (the main criteria to see who really won. Teachers should always check if the words were written correctly). 

Roberta Kedhi, Learning Support Assistant Teacher, Upper Primary, Botafogo

08:30 09:30    
Year Group:
Class 2
Learning Objective: To read and plot coordinates.
Why? To support people on following directions and locating objects in the space.
Success Criteria
Must: Remember to read and plot coordinates.
Should: Remember to describe movement in a coordinate grid, using 4 compass directions.
Could: Remember to describe movement in a coordinate grid, using 8 compass directions.
Even more: Remember to design a coordinate game.
Coordinating Classroom Coordinates: Chairs are arranged in rows, a short distance apart, all facing the same way (there are some empty chairs). Children are told that one of the chairs is in the first row and the first column. From this information we could then work out which row and column our particular chair is in, so we could assign ourselves a set of numbers too. Teacher calls out instructions and students follow them, for example:
  • (4,1) and (2,3) stand up and swap places.
  • Stand up everyone in row 3.
  • If you are in (5,7), make a funny face. 
Main teaching (Modelling, Key Questions and Key Vocabulary)
Recap what was done during the week.Go through the slides.
Remind the children that with coordinates, you always move across first and then up or down.

How do we read a position of an object in a grid? (Add numbers or letters to allow us to say the position).

What words can we use to describe movements around the grid? (Move east/west, north/south, northeast/ northwest, southeast/ southwest).

Why are coordinates useful?

Play the following game, there are different levels so all the children can be challenged.
Model the game and ask questions while they are playing.
Differentiated Activities:

Children can choose the activity depending on their confidence.
Teacher models all the activities.

1. Random Art: Give each child a grid and she/he rolls a die twice, the first number is the X axis and the other is the Y axis. Then she/he repeats it and link to the last coordinate drawn. Keep on going until there are enough lines and colour in.

2. Plotting characters: Children create a route from parrot to treasure and write the directions. Then, plot some characters and write their coordinates down.

3. Coordinates and number facts game: In pairs, children take turns to ask each other questions, the answer must be one of the numbers on the grid given. The answer will be given by saying the correspondent coordinate.
More confident: Ms. Vanessa’s support.
1. They receive a blank grid, so they can design the way they find it more challenging (a four quadrant grid or using fractions, for example).
2. They create a route from parrot to treasure and write the directions. Then, plot some characters and write their coordinates down.
3. They can create equations using all four operations and say the answer using the correspondent coordinates.
Confident: (under teacher supervision).
1. They receive a numbered grid.
2. They plot the characters in a grid and write their coordinates. Then, create routes from one object to another using the 8 compass directions.
3. They create multiplication sums using 2-digit numbers and say the answer by using the correspondent coordinate.
Less confident: Ms. Roberta’s support.
1. They receive a grid with numbers and letters.
2. They plot the characters in a grid and write their coordinates. Then, create routes from one object to another using the 4 compass directions.
3. They create multiplication sums using 1-digit numbers and say the answer by using the correspondent coordinate.

Ask the children to design their own coordinates game to play with a partner. The game could be similar to battleships or a space treasure hunt - it can be anything they like as long as it would interest a classmate. Remind them to prepare an answer sheet.

On the mini white boards, children follow directions given to find out where the characters end. Teacher picks up a name to give the answer.

Resources: Notebook file, worksheets photocopies, dice, white papers.

Key vocabulary/New Words: Along the corridor, up the stairs, two axesaxis y and axis x; correct way to write the coordinates: we say the ‘along’ number first, the ‘up’ number second; coordinates of a point are the distance along the horizontal axis, and the distance up the vertical axis; (0,0) is the starting point of the grid, it is called the ‘origin