Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Revision and Exam Stress

The science of revision: Nine ways pupils can revise for exams more effectively

How to help students manage their mental health during exams

Report writing support

Read more on report writing:

Useful report writing advice and resources:
Levelled report writing statement bank - Word document of report writing statements for early years
Comments for report writing - Another selection of statements for early years
Report writing - how do you stay sane? - Tips on how to handle the report writing process from the TES forums
Common report writing mistakes - Teachers on the primary forums share some of their report writing boo-boos

Pencil grip

Pencil Grip and Letter Formation

The correct pencil grasp is essential for good handwriting. Although most experts agree that a tripod pencil grasp is best (with 3 fingers on the pencil), there are subtle variations that may work just as well. The key to deciding whether a pencil grip is the correct one, is to ask whether it is efficient.

An efficient pencil grasp is one that allows the child to write neatly at a reasonable speed without tiring easily. Poor pencil grasps look awkward and do not use the hand muscles efficiently. This results in the child tiring easily and being unable to produce neat handwriting.

It is important for children to develop a mature, efficient, correct pencil grasp by going through the developmentally appropriate stages of various pencil grasps.

Remember, left-handed students need to be taught to hold their pencil further from the nib than their right-handed counterparts or they will not be able to see the writing that they are producing. 

How to Teach Students pencil grip: The pom pom method

Letter Formation resources:

Two notorious troublemakers

B-D confusion!

Resources to support b and d confusion:

Teachers TV: Daily Routines in Early Years

This video looks at daily routines, exploring how these tasks can be used to develop young children's independence and imagination.

In Early Years, advisors Sue Durant and Sheila Sage demonstrate developing strategies for 'fun-centred' learning. Here, they look at daily routines and explore how these tasks can be used to develop young children's independence and imagination.
Familiar routines, from hanging up coats, self-registration and visiting the toilet, are looked at as well as the value of children choosing and directing their own activities.
Sue and Sheila examine how to use and vary the physical space in the setting, providing thinking space for children and time to respond and learn.

More Early Years resources on TES Connect:

Teachers TV: enabling environments - investigating the rewards of a positive EYFS learning environment

Starter Activity Ideas

The start to a lesson is vital. Students' attention must be gained and their interest in the lesson must be developed in the first few minutes.  Starters refer to the activities carried out in this early and vital part of all lessons.

Starters fulfil a wide range of purposes; these include:
  • Using prior knowledge to introduce new ideas and topics 
  • Develop early levels of engagement and motivation 
  • Help to get all students on task
  • Are a good alternative to commencing with a whole class question and answer session 
  • Create an expectation that students will think and participate in a lesson by helping to create a climate of interaction and involvement

Oral and Mental Starters. A Must for any Teacher.

Starters for descriptive work and using the correct language. English and maths 

Shakespeare 400

On Friday 22nd April, Discovery Education celebrated the life and legacy of the greatest writer of English language and literature, with a broadcast for teachers and students across the globe.

  How to Teach... Shakespeare

Monday, 18 April 2016

Writers' Notebooks

Jackie Morris's blog is amazing and contains so many interesting items, including her own incredible books and illustrations, as well as her World Book Day choices. Here, she shares a range of writers' notebooks, some of which are really messy, and others that are unbelievably beautiful drafts. For all teachers of writing, this is a great resource to share with students. These images show how writers work. For teachers who use the Talk for Writing strategies, these notebooks will resonate with you and your students!

Praise or Feedback?

There has been a lot of debate recently concerning Dweck's theories about Mindset. Here, the notion that we are living in the midst of a "praise addicted culture" and its consequences, are explored, and alternative solutions are suggested:

The difference between praise and feedback

Word of the Day

Word of the Day - with Videos

This is a great resource for the Talk for Writing's Word of the Day, contextualising each word with a video to illustrate its use. The winners of this competition, runners-up and worthy mentions are all included, often with really engaging and funny results - see guffaw!


I am love with this site. For teachers of TOK, language, philosophy, art, science, music, sociology, history or psychology, this is an invaluable source of deep thinking for you and your students:


Using Fingers in Maths

Keep Using Your Fingers in Maths!

Image result for using fingers in math

Stanford University professor, Jo Boaler, describes the neurological benefits of using fingers and how it can contribute to advanced thinking in higher mathematics; that stopping students from using their fingers can, in fact, limit their capabilities.

Using Fingers in Maths

Peer Assessment

Image result for peer assessment

Making Peer Assessment Work

Strategies for Peer Assessment

How do you know if a student understands?

A New Spin on Bloom's Taxonomy

Image result for understanding

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Collaborative Learning

Dylan Wiliam says that effective group work requires two ingredients: collaborative goals and individual accountability. If we have one without the other, then the group work will not be effective. Teachers are generally good at creating group work where the first condition is met but less good at ensuring accountability. Wiliam points out that selecting a student to report back to the class before the work is finished is a bad error. It means that only one group member is accountable and that everyone else can disengage or go off task. If, however, you don’t say who will be reporting until after the task is completed, everybody is on their toes. Here he is in his own words:

These techniques provided different ways of organising group work and collaborative activities. They can be used during the main part of literacy and language lessons.

Group work


Storybird allows people to create books/stories using the amazing images of a variety of artists. The books look so professional. The images you work with are superb and it makes the whole process so motivating. Great for young learners writing in any language.


Teacher Training video: Storybird

Visible Learning - Making John Hattie's research visible

Osiris Educational John Hattie Infographic

John Hattie: Visible learning

Growth Mindsets

Famous Growth Mindsets

Osiris Educational has created a series of striking posters depicting the Growth Mindsets of famous and inspirational people.

Low-level disruptions

Osiris Staffroom article by Dr Bill Rogers

According to Ofsted, up to an hour of learning every day is being lost to ‘low-level disruption’. So how can you prevent it from affecting your classroom? International behaviour expert Dr Bill Rogers gets to the heart of how to get around such disruptions. 

10 ways to deal with low-level disruption in the classroom

10 ways to deal with low-level disruption in the classroom

Whether it's passing notes or tapping a pen, low-level disruption is a challenge in many schools. Tracey Lawrence offers some strategies to help

Low-level disruptions can have a higher impact on the learning atmosphere than more extreme behaviour. Photograph: Alamy www.alamy.com

Tracey Lawrence
Tuesday 21 May 201307.00 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 21 May 201422.11 BST

Lately, the most effective professional development I have undertaken has been free and extremely valuable. It has taken place on Twitter, every Monday night during term from 8 to 8.30pm on the #Behaviourchat hashtag. Often, advice given during these sessions looks at violent pupils or more extreme behaviour; however, it can be the low-level disruptions that can have a high impact on the learning atmosphere within your classroom. We have all experienced low-level disruption in class; chair rocking, humming, pen tapping, note passing. Just disruptive enough to slow the pace of your lesson but not dramatic enough to draw it to a halt.

Adjust the volume
With loud classes, avoid raising your voice. It only increases the noise. Lowering your voice can be much more effective. If the volume of your voice is always high, it loses its effect and doesn't help to control the situation.

Move around
Your presence is extremely powerful. Don't stay stagnant at the front of your class. Move around and don't allow the children to become distracted. Talk to them about their task. Give them deadlines. For example say: "I'd love to see two more ideas by the time I come back as your ideas are really interesting." Then walk and visit another child/pair but make sure you come back.

Shut out negativity
Don't allow negativity to enter your classroom. If a child isn't ready to come in, stop them and provide a distraction. Allow the child to calm down so that they can enter in a calmer frame of mind.

Be prepared
This one is a basic one but doesn't always happen. Prepare your resources before you start teaching. It allows you to challenge the children's energy as much as you can. Rustling papers and setting out resources while children wait only encourages low-level disruptions and sets the mood for the lesson.

It's your classroom
Control your space. You are the decisive element in your classroom. Stand at the door as they enter. Talk, change moods. Say hello to the children regardless of whether you have their eye contact or not. Always say goodbye.

Keep calm
Have a calm outlook. If you can't leave the room but are getting annoyed, flick through your assessing pupil progress (APP) sheets or walk away from the situation to calm yourself down before returning.

Don't deviate from teaching
There is no need for an excessive response to low-level disruption. Don't interrupt your teaching to deal with it. It can be corrected by including the child's name into your explanation, a look or a signal of some sort.

Be positive
Deal with low-level disruptions by using positive language. "We sit in our chairs so that our handwriting is beautiful." It doesn't give the child the opportunity to opt out but also sets the expectation.

Share your expectations 
Don't assume children understand what your version of acceptable is. Tapping, shouting, and throwing could be acceptable at home. A child needs to have reinforcement of your expectations.

Have a routine
Having a routine in your classroom can help. Children can be uneasy when they do not know what is going to happen in the day. Children need to feel secure in their classroom and with their activities. They like to know what is coming up in their day so if things are going to change give them warning that something different will be happening and explain what to expect.
All of these tips are not guaranteed to work. But having said that they are all tried and tested ideas from someone else's classroom. Try them, amend them, adapt them and make a comment to let us know of any other methods that have helped your with low level behaviours.

Tracey Lawrence is a primary school teacher and a specialist leader in education (SLE) with a focus on behaviour and attendance.