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Groups > From Good to Outstanding

Watch teachers on a journey of improvement and share your thoughts on their progress.

Go to the content bank to watch From Good to Outstanding videos, as well as uncut versions of some teachers’ before and after lessons, then join in the discussion.

Do you think they have improved their lessons, and if so, how? How else could they refine their skills? Do you have similar teaching experiences to share?

Group leader: Esther Arnott, secondary History teacher at Lampton School, Hounslow. Esther participated in From Good to Outstanding earlier this year.

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  • Add a message to the From Good to Outstanding group
    • pace
      23 May 2010 - 01:08
      Hi all, I am new to the UK but taught abraod for a few years.The teaching styles are completely different and I really struggle with pace of my lessons and a lot to take in with teaching in the uk. When the pace is slow ,the students get incredibly bored and the lesson end in shambles. This is so frustrating eventhough i am so passionate about teaching. Need somehelp on ways of trying to engage students more and get the pace of the lesson going.
    • ESBD conference
      7 January 2010 - 11:40
      Dear all,

      I just wanted to remind you very quickly about our conference next month: Putting The 'E' in ESBD: A conference on improving the emotional well-being of children with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties which takes place on Friday 5 February 2010.

      The aim of the conference is for professionals to gain a better understanding of the child and adolescent mental health issues in schools, explore in greater depth the importance of emotions in children with challenging behaviours and to work more effectively with parents.

      It's aimed at professionals in educational settings: managers, teachers, support staff, Educational Psychologists, Educational Welfare Officers, Behaviour Support Teams, Inclusion teams, Home-School Liaison Workers, Connexions Workers, Learning Mentors and others.

      For more information please see here: http://www.tavi-port.org/node/1455

      Best wishes,


      CPD and Conference Administrator
      The Tavistock and Portman
      NHS Foundation Trust
    • Rachel Atkins Second lesson
      23 July 2009 - 18:14
      Wow, what a lot of preparation and some lovely ideas. I'm sorry I didnt have time to watch it all carefully. I wonder if the writing work would be best done with one small group while the rest of the class are engaged with the adult initiated activities ? It seemed that you had done a lot of preparation for engaging activities that could carry on all day- releasing you to work on focused objectives with specific children. so it seemed a pity to stop all that engagement when the children could have covered the writing in staggered groups... more focus from the children, no one getting muddled about which group they were supposed to be in. Between writing groups you could visit the other groups and keep the 'plates spinning' with extension ideas or whatever was needed. Presumably all the children got to try all the activities over time.
    • Hana's next lesson
      26 June 2009 - 14:47
      Dear Hana

      I've been thinking about your Crime Scene investigation idea - I think this sounds utterly brilliant!

      Firstly, I'd think about setting up the room. Your PE dept or site staff should have red/white tape to cordon off a certain area. I think it would look amazing if you could cordon off the door too, so that as they arrive they think there is something exciting about to happen. You could then ask your First Aiders if you could borrow a dummy (the one people train on for CPR etc), or perhaps use a Science skeleton - and have it set up in a corner of the room, surrounded by certain clues.

      The students could then have to investigate the crime scene - but instead of them actually touching the display, you could have set up 4-5 stations around the room where you tell them that you've selected key evidence from the crime scene which they have to investigate. So, for example, on station 1 there could be something to do with the pH of some dirt under the fingernails. At another station, they could have to do something with a hair or piece of fibre. You'll know far better than me what methods / chemistry processes you wish to focus on, so I'll leave this bit to you!

      The other important thing to consider is that you will have to provide them with 3/4 suspects. Each suspect should have a set of traits / features that can be identified using chemistry. So, Suspect 1 "Joe Bloggs" could have been found wearing shoes that had mud pH 9 on them, and wearing a pair of jeans of the same fabric composition as the fabric sample. Each suspect should have a number of chemical identifiers (as many stations as you're going to set up), but they should share some with another suspect too so that the students have to be really thorough in their testing and not just jump to conclusions. The students therefore have X minutes at each station, experimenting, drawing their conclusions and then moving on to the next station to find out the next piece of the puzzle.

      Ultimately, this means a lot of prep work for you - but it is one of those lessons that once you've run once, you will have forever, which I think is money in the bank! You could be ultra cool and show a clip from CSI or something where you've got a team of investigators doing the cool science stuff... and then say 'Now it's your turn'. Alterantively, you could use this as part of your plenary - asking them why Science could be such a fantastic career to go into in their future.

      Is this of any help? Let me know if you want some really specific science advice and I'll see if one of the team here can help!

      Good luck


      Video: Uncut Lesson 1 - Hana Abbasi

    • Re: Andy Roberts
      26 January 2009 - 13:53
      James: well done for this first lesson! Knowing how nerve wracking it was, the fact you did this with a class of very small children is impressive (I certainly couldn't achieve what you did, so I stick to the security of secondary teaching!!!). I particularly liked the use of everyday objects with the fruit and veg, as it was a way of using something 'familiar' to help them access the 'unfamiliar' mathematical concept. It's always fascinating to see how primary teaching differs from secondary - and what we can learn in terms of how you engage and interest the students; I think I can forget sometimes that my students are still young people who need to be carefully coached and led through the learning - as you do here. Good luck for the future lessons!

      In reply to:
      Andy Roberts

    • Re: Join the Discussion!
      26 January 2009 - 21:03
      Hi James, I really enjoyed watching the mental starter - I have done something similar with Y5s but seeing it work so well with Y3/4 was great, and looked like a good way to get place value across. It also got all children involved. I thought that the main lesson / plenary was fine - the hands-on aspect of figuring out a Venn Diagram worked well, and it was interesting to see how the groupwork was reinforcing different aspects of number / shape. I have sometimes taught Venns with small pics of the children, and they place them inside the hoops, eg: blue eyes / brown hair / both, which they really enjoy, and then choose the new categories. I could imagine adapting the plenary idea by showing them a completed Venn and asking them to figure out what criteria were used. Great stuff! Isabel.

      In reply to:
      Join the Discussion!

    • James's lesson
      28 January 2009 - 14:54
      Your relationship with the learner produces a tangible air of enthusiasm and enjoyment they take pleasure learning in your lesson. This, for me, is what underpins all outstanding L&T. The big O cant be far away!

      Very obvious planning for VAK learning and cross-curricular linkage secondary teachers: watch and learn!

      Your questioning is well developed and things like: how do you know? is a simple but critical request you make of the learner; they then model how they know wonderfully and with ease.

      The no hands-up approach to the starter worked very well and retained excellent focus. I did notice you tend to repeat or paraphrase the learners responses, although they speak loud and clear. This results in all the dialogue coming through the teacher, are there strategies that could make this phase of the lesson more interactive? Also, the incorrect responses often appeared to get moved on to someone who knows the answer. Are there alternatives and do we need to equally praise learners getting something wrong as well as right? Furthermore, when do the learners get to ask their questions and who should answer these?

      I struggled to gauge the pace of learning from the video, would it be fair to say not all students were challenged beyond their comfort zone? Certain learners seemed to handle everything with such ease it seemed like they may have worked on Venn diagrams before? I agree with nteasdales point regarding the more able and the need to extend them; however, they need to develop the autonomy to do this for themselves, how do we achieve learning skills like that?

      Finally, the plenary was very entertaining and worked well. Is the who needs to do more on this? question one you find gives you accurate feedback of the understanding? Anyway, even if not, a good way to get learners to reflect on the learning that had clearly happened.

      In reply to:
      Re: James's lesson

    • Re: Join the Discussion!
      28 January 2009 - 20:57

      Hi James

      Big-time respect and gratitude for letting us into your lesson like that. I'd put it in the overlap section of a 'good' and 'fun' venn diagram.

      Your style is really pacey and direct - keeps 'em on their toes.

      Top class organization in terms of differentiated tasks being ready at the tables - all groups seemed to get stuck in straight away.

      It occurred to me you could have extended some of the children who 'got it' by providing some data sets and challenging them to decide if a carroll diagram or venn would be best to use for sorting the data. A bit more discussion about liking fish AND not liking fish might have been interesting.

      Rock on, James!


      In reply to:
      Join the Discussion!

    • Re: Re: James's lesson
      3 February 2009 - 11:04
      James well done on sharing. One or two small comments; I think you could have used your TA more when on carpet. Could she have copied down names of those you had questioned and those who didn't contribute etc. Also were "her" children involved during questions and answers? Also when you asked the children to close their books and come to the carpet you could have questioned them from their work completed and given them a two minute warning etc. Commets such as pair/share are already suggested. Just small comments, it was hard to tell from camera angles etc. Overall a successful lesson, well done.

      In reply to:
      Re: James's lesson

    • Re: Help!
      5 February 2009 - 17:45
      Is this a real computer game? Which one are you using?

      A lot of games are so well researched these days there might not be much to improve upon. Could they look at a game from a different time period and design their own game for mediaeval warfare?

      I always find (admittedly with younger children - Y4) that if you allow children to choose their own task, you will get some of the most able and enthusiastic who will produce amazing work but a lot of the others' work will be lacklustre and not fulfilling their potential, they need the teacher to help them structure work and imagine what is possible.

      In reply to:

    • Re: Re: Help!
      7 February 2009 - 14:26
      Thank you for this excellent advice. It's really given me the confidence to take the plunge and allow them to lead their own assessment style. I particularly like the suggestion that they must present (in a way that suits them) to try and win the pitch for the new design.

      My only subsequent thought is... does there need to be a 'real world' element to spur them on to produce very high quality work - e.g. the idea that there will actually be a response from the computer company to their presentations? Or, do you think that if I set up some formal school-based panel to assess the presentations (e.g. other teachers, other students, parents) that this would entice them? The latter could be achieved through the use of our school VLE as parents, teachers and students have log ons, so it wouldn't require a massive event management element!

      Thanks again for all of this advice - I feel really boosted!

      In reply to:
      Re: Help!

    • Re: Esther goes global
      11 February 2009 - 21:29
      Oh my goodness - I'm so amazed that a school in NZ has taken the time to watch the lesson; thank you everyone at Carmel for your supportive feedback! It feels really special to think that we're all connected talking about learning - which can certainly make up for those difficult days we all have (every week if you're me!!).

      It's also fascinating to have another perspective on what makes for outstanding practice. I think the thing that this process is teaching me is that DIALOGUE is the key to success. In talking together, we're learning and that, surely, is the key to outstanding... especially since talking never stops, just like the children are always different, so our recipe for success will always need to be tweaked to make it just right.

      And by the way, when I asked the students how they'd like to be assessed they were visibly excited by the idea (gasps, and 'wows' could be heard - a first in my classroom!)...so now its just for some clear but supportive criteria, and away we'll go... I'll keep you posted!

      In reply to:
      Esther goes global

    • Re: Esther's second lesson uncut
      15 March 2009 - 15:09
      Dear Phyllis

      Thank you for your feedback.

      I agree - it was hard to tell from the lesson exactly what the students were doing to be assessed against the criteria. To give you an idea of how it worked though, here's what took place:

      1. To assess their understanding of change over time, students were drawing different designs of castles on mini-whiteboards. As they held these up and as I went around I was able to check their understanding that designs changed over time.
      2. To reinforce the concept of change over time I then did the mini-plenary (the thumbs up / down task) where I asked a series of questions designed to probe their comprehension of castle design changing, and why it changed.
      3. To check their ability to apply this knowledge to critique the usefulness of computer games, we then explored screen shots from computer games and asked what they'd got right and what they'd got wrong about castle design.
      4. Finally, to assess their ability to critique computer games in depth, using detailed knowledge of castles changing over time, the students completed a written task (this was the last 10 minutes of the lesson) where they were explaining what computer games do teach them and what they don't teach them about medieval warfare, with a focus on castles.

      To address some of your other points:
      - The tables were in rows because, for this lesson, I wanted to students to work only in pairs and then individually. Thus I changed the layout to support this; had I left the tables in groups it would've promoted group work when I wanted to assess their individual understanding
      - The aims of the lesson were the success criteria that you mentioned. I think it's a little more tricky when watching this lesson because my whole focus for the last 3 weeks has been to set my lessons within big enquiries. As a result, this lesson flowed really well for the students as it was part of the enquiry that they are in the middle of. However, for viewers, it certainly seems that you can't quite isolate the aim - just as you found. Hopefully, if you get a chance to see the 'final cut' of the programme, it will hang together a lot better, as you'll be able to see my journey and where this lesson was within it!

      Many thank again for your comments - it's been brilliant being kept on my toes and given plenty of food for thought!


      In reply to:
      Esther's second lesson uncut

    • Feedback please
      30 May 2009 - 17:02
      Thank you Rachel, I wish you all the best and I hope it goes well.

      My first lesson will be observed this week. It'll be a biology lesson aimed towards a mixed ability year 8 group. The lesson will be based on digestion and students will learn about the different organs and their functions which make up the system. I have incorporated a range of different activities for this lesson that will hopefully cater for the SEN/EAL and G&T students. I must admit 'Differentiation' is probably one of my main areas of weakness, so it'll be interesting to see what feedback I'll get from others.

      I am slightly nervous especially with this class! There are a few characters and I need to make sure that every student stays on task. I will not be carrying out a practical and the year 8s will be disappointed with this because they really enjoy their science practical lessons; therefore I need to ensure that the tasks taken place will motivate and keep the students focus.

      I am anxious to see what feedback I'll get, but I'm pretty sure it'll be very useful.

      Looking forward to hearing from everyone.


      In reply to:
      The beginning

    • Re: From Good To Outstanding - Rachel Atkins
      22 June 2009 - 17:56
      Many thanks for your comments. I will try to answer some of your questions below:

      Yes, the children are in their own groups which are mixed ability. All but one group at a time are left to independently access the other activities in the classroom and then other groups are called to the focus when one has finished. Our ethos in Early Years is for the children to initiate their learning independently and this is why there is so much free choice.

      With regards to the activities, not all link to eachother but all of the activities are planned from the medium term plans and weekly objectives. Sometimes the activities that may not show a connection are inspired by resources that the children choose themselves the previous day. Repeating an activity they worked well on or created themselves is a powerful way to consolidate their learning.

      Good idea with the puppets! I will take this into consideration for next time! Thanks!

      Thanks again for your tips!

      In reply to:
      From Good To Outstanding - Rachel Atkins

    • Re: Help!
      5 February 2009 - 18:46
      Wow, negotiated learning youre heroic (thats elevated from the many braves). What could be more engaging student voice at its most powerful? This is where youll find outstanding and I believe you have the skills to lead and drive this idea forward.

      As long as there is an effectively shared and understandable success criteria, what does it matter how they achieve it? The computer game already sounds like a real grab but they need more eh?

      You say: what product would they like to 'create'. But if I leave it this open, do I risk low quality products that don't really drive the pupils on lesson to lesson. Ive experienced this same worry every time I do something like this and Im not usually about to be filmed I empathise. This is the big leap; the moving out of your comfort zone and taking risks is what FGTO is really all about, for me. I believe this experience will be so much more rewarding for you and your learners than any rigorous management of the learning to ensure you tick the outstanding boxes.

      There does, of course, have to be some scaffolding to structure their learning to achieve the assessment success criteria. You cant just say do what you like, can you? So my suggestion has a little more flexibility than writing a letter (they can do this at home). What about something like, a presentation - linked to a point score assessed by their peers? In role: imagining theyre delivering their feedback to the computer game companys board of directors? There are IT presentations e.g. PowerPoint; role play presentations; songs; poems; posters; object led presentations; performance; and filming or recording their presentations prior to the lessons showing. Every group or learner can select the most creative way to feedback, which suits their preferred learning styles, to win the contract to produce the next further improved game? They also link the skills of a historian with the corporate world.

      You definitely have the skills to facilitate student led learning and the outcome will hopefully inspire you to do so again and again. I believe you may have found key to full engagement.

      In reply to:

      Re: Re: Help!

    • Hana's First Lesson
      21 June 2009 - 12:45
      Dear Hana

      This was a really interesting lesson to watch - thank you for letting us watch, and well done for taking your first leap!!!

      Firstly, you have established a fantastic work ethic in your class. I know that the cameras always have an effect on the students, but you have clearly set up an environment where your expectations are clear - and the students have responded to these. Behaviour was very good - they were ready, and willing to learn. They remained on task through out.

      Secondly, you praise your students all the time, which I think is crucial. Every student you spoke with received a word of praise - you model inclusion at its best here. Further evidence of your inclusion is the fact you offer students their own level of challenge, which promotes a good can do feeling.

      Thirdly, as other people have commented, your use of questioning is very good. You use it to clarify, to exemplify, to develop, and to extend. Partnered with your no hands idea (i.e. instead choosing anyone at random to answer) means that all students can expect to be challenged in some way through your questioning.

      Finally, your manner and confidence are great. If I was a student in your class I would have total faith in you and your ability to move me on. I would feel secure that you knew what you were talking about. This may sound like a silly thing to say, but I do believe that for some students the idea of teacher as expert is important. You circulate all the time, visiting students and checking their work, which is great.

      In terms of advice, I would make these suggestions - although of course do take or disregard these if you feel I've not fully understood the class, the context and your particular aims:

      In terms of your learning objectives, I wondered if the challenge was the right away around. To know which organ is which, and what it does is cognitively less demanding than being able to combine all of those into a 'process' and thus understand and explain what happens to food. It's the difference between knowing and synthesising in Bloom's Taxonomy. It might be worth revisiting Bloom's Taxonomy to see how you can structure your lesson objectives around increasing challenge.

      In terms of your tasks, I wondered if you could have had the students doing something more active (I think others have mentioned this idea too). I totally appreciate that having cameras etc can have unpredictable effects, so maybe you decided to back off from too much movement etc! But, by making your lesson paper-task orientated it seemed more administrative (a set of tasks we have to do), rather than engaging their minds. As a result, the lesson showed off your amazing organisational skills, and your structured approach, but not so much of their potential. I would have loved to have heard more of the students talking and discussing things, and to be given opportunities to develop their learning in a more investigative way, together. Having watched you in action I would say you should be much more confident in your ability to manage the class and take a risk - it may be a little messy at first, but in the long term when they become more used to imaginative learning, the results will speak for themselves! I hope this doesn't sound horrid and, if it's any consolation, it's exactly what I had to work on myself! I was convinced that, so long as they were working and that the worksheets did what I was aiming to do, then it would be ok. But what the process of FGTO made me realise was that worksheets don't prove they are engaged in the topic; worksheets only prove that they have the knowledge to complete closed tasks. Does this make sense?

      If you'd like to question anything I've said or have any thing you need me to clarify, please do reply. From your most recent post I can see you've begun to do more active things - like the digestive model - which is amazing. How about a drama production where the students have to act out digestion?! I absolutely love the idea of Crime Scene investigating too - maybe as a work related learning link you could get them to check out CSI or Criminal Minds and ask them why studying science can lead to an amazing career?!

      Best of luck with your continuing journey - I know you're going to do incredibly well.


    • Digestion demo
      18 June 2009 - 09:25
      I decided to carry out the demonstration on digestion using tights with my year 8s yesterday and it worked brilliantly! I use a rolling pin as teeth, carrier bag as a stomach, a long tube for oesophagus and tights for intestines.

      The lesson started with the students entering the classroom and straight away being introduced to the demo. This changed the dynamics of the lesson straight away, students were engaged and managed to respond to the different stages of digestion by giving some fantastic responses. Straight away I was able to assess their prior learning in a creative way. Thank you Caroline for your suggestion!

      I found that I did less talking during the lesson, giving the students the responsibility to identify what they needed to achieve by the end of the lesson. I changed my seating plan, which helped me to differentiate their learning by providing different levelled worksheets.

      For my next lesson, we'll be doing a Chemistry lesson. Students will enter a 'Crime Scene'. They need to collect evidence and run a series of test (Flame test and fingerprinting) to identify the burglar. This lesson will mainly focus on 'Active Learning'.

      Any suggestions?

    • Hana's Lesson
      17 June 2009 - 03:09
      Hi Hana

      As a maths and science teacher in Australia I was impressed at how much you got from your year 8's in one lesson! They were busy and engaged and the focus on the learning goals is something we don't do enough of here, but which I have been doing more of since I started using this resource.

      The students writing down the learning goals and key words was good, as was the introduction, asking if you could live without a stomach. This was an excellent assessment for learning - did you predict they would answer in such a way? Or were you surprised at their responses? I sort of expected that they would use the key words more in their responses - I could hear you pushing for these but I feel they did not come out.

      I wonder if this lesson was perhaps too busy; I understood the idea of the badger task as an assessment of learning at the end of four or five lessons, but feel you spent too much time on the introduction of this task during this lesson. I wonder if it would have been just as effective as a motivation or reason for learning had it been mentioned at the beginning of the lesson, as part of a "big picture planner" of where this is all going to. But you tied the cartoon of the pizza into it very well. I thought this was an excellent self assessment piece for the students, raising their awareness of where they currently are on this journey of understanding. However at the end of the lesson one student asked when they would be working on the task - were they confused as to where it fit in the picture of the lesson, vs the big picture of the unit?

      There seemed to be a lot of individual work planned for in this lesson, yet I could see that when you were going around to the groups, you pushed them to help each other answer each other's questions. It may help you to be more explicit with the kids about using each other as a resource - over here we say "ask 3 before me"...

      There was also a lot of sheet work - kids seemed a little confused about which sheets they were expected to keep and where to keep them, and what to do with them at the end of the lesson. I have developed a practice of photocopying all sheets to A5 size, so they are easy to stick into note books; that way they do not get lost... Also, I loved your learning log, but being on the back of the pizza sheet, when they stick the pizza sheet in, they will lose the learning log.

      so, to improve, think about how you could maximise the power of the group, and increase the collaboration of your students. You had strategies for extension and resources to support struggling students, so keep those in place, but also think how your groups could be used to support and to extend students.

      Cheers - Jacqui
    • From Good To Outstanding - Rachel Atkins
      15 June 2009 - 14:39
      Wow! I'm exhausted watching your session it was so busy!
      You have a very calm manner and you are oozing patience - well done!

      The biggest thing that struck me was the classroom organisation. Are the children in groups? The monkeys were making telescopes, but what about the other groupings? Do the groups work in a cycle around the activities? I wondered if it might be more practical (for you, the children and the other adults)if the children all knew what they should be doing and where they should be moving to, and limiting the 'free choice' time to a specfic time of day. That way, everyone would have time to make the masks, etc and it would cut down on the time between tasks and moving from the carpet.

      Also, I struggled to see a connection with your activities: Batman and Robin masks, counting strawberries, Shark in the Park..? Again, organisation might be tighter if the activities were linked and this may put the learning into a broader, more relevant context. For example, as the triangular/fin shape is so prominent in the story, maybe that could have been used as the basis for the craft table for making (shark?)masks etc, which would also have allowed for more creativity. Or could the children have been counting and sorting seeds (instead of strawberries) if they were to be used for planting later? Maybe the links were there, but I didn't see them.

      About the story, was it really necessary to have all the re-telling before you re-read it and all the re-telling after you read it, especially if they had already read the story the day before? I'm not sure if it's a story that lends itself to acting out if you don't have a 'pond' and props that could look like a shark's fin. Maybe it could have been done with puppets? Could you have used the interactive white board to have a different re-telling/talk-partner activity?

      I really liked the freedom that the children seemed to have in session, but I wondered if your carpet/class-teaching time was maximised.

      I really admire your decision to be scrutinised, as everyone else has said, so I hope some of my observations are helpful.

      Good luck for the next few weeks ahead and well done for your achievements so far!

      Re: From Good To Outstanding - Rachel Atkins

    • Fantastic Lesson
      13 June 2009 - 22:23
      I thought this was a fantastic lesson. This is my first year working in schools, athough i do not teach science or work in ks3 i have learnt a few things. I teach in Foundation - KS2 teaching sport and PE.

      I thought that how the objectives were coloured coded was very good i am going to do this from now on. Also the pace was good although timing at the end was short. I liked the fact that you let the pupils read the levels and choose what they felt they could achieve. I felt the lesson overall was good but i do have a few improvements to suggest;
      1) making sure all pupils have coats, abgs of etc.
      2) developing the plenary, although asked questions did not realy ask the pupils to reply except once or twice.

      I realy enjoyed the lesson and it took me back to when i was in y8 doing digestion we did the same activity.

      Well done!
    • Hana Abassi
      13 June 2009 - 19:06
      I am 16 years old and work with children quite a lot, I watch primary programmes but accidentally stubbled upon From Good to Outstanding and some of the tips are very useful.


      - I liked the way you displayed the learning objectives (colour coded) and the way you should "minority, majority and all of you".

      - There was excellent pace

      - There was a satisfactory level of student participation

      Improvements: (these might be biased as I am only 16 years old, lol)

      I have noticed that one of the children where still writing when you wanted there attention and was wondering if there was soem way of waiting until all eyes are on you.

      Another t hing, in my school we do not have bags on in the lesson and have them on at the end of the lesson. I had noticed that one child had their bag on and was wondering if you could've asked him to taken it off.

      I also was wondering whether you could use positive reinforcement throughout the phases of your lesson?

      Hope this advice is useful.

      Remember - I am 16 years old though and am new to this sort of thing. (The teachers at my school said it is good to get use to the vocab which I have done)

      I thoroughly enjoyed watching that lesson!

    • Levels of child involvement
      13 June 2009 - 10:58
      Dear Rachel

      I watched your whole lesson with interest. The story session had a good pace. However I felt that the rest of the lesson the adults spent too much time completing tasks for the children that they should be comptleting themselves.

      1.You cut and measured the masking tape for the children. Your focus appeared to be on completing the end product, rather than the learning that you can achieve from allowing the children to use their own creativity and construct a telescope. Why not consider setting out a range of materials and allow the children to discover which would be approprate for the task. You missed the opportunity to really develop the children's learning. This was also showed very strongly in the video footage of the teacher making masks. The children were only colouring the masks which is a very low level skill. The teacher then had no opportunity to observe the children cutting,joining, and designing their own individual masks as she was used as a machine to produce identical masks.So the result was the children all had identical pre cut templates. We need to remember that we are in our role to develop the children's thinking and skills, not our own.

      2.I was shocked to see that you drew images for a child. This child should have been encouraged to attempt to draw independently. From this task the girl learnt that adults will complete task for her that she finds difficult rather than she can achieve her own images if she perseveres. Also I couldn't believe that after this activity she was give too stickers for her work!!( your work)ALSO WHY DO YOU GIVE STICKERS? I believe that learning itself should be the 'feel good factor', maybe this is something to consider.

      3. The video showed very little adult involvement in the child initiated tasks that were available in the room. The classroom appeared to be very table top based. Do you allow the children to initiated their own ideas into the spaces? Do you allow the children to use the materials in a fluid cross media manner?
      The Maths activity with the strawberries could have been ok if you had encouraged the children to use cross media,i.e. making lables for a shop and using other bags and boxes. WHAT CAN YOU REALLY DO FOR AN EXTENDED LENGHT OF TIME WITH FOUR BOXES AND A HANDFUL OF STRAWBERRIES?

      4. I would recomend that you considered reading and looking at schools who have used elements from 'Reggio Emilia' in their setting. This will help you evaluate the way that you engage the children's creative ideas into your sessions and also the breath of media that you should be encouraging the children to explore. There is a good video on Teacher's tv called Engaging environments and on the NNA web site under the EYFSP video exemplification. Looking at the Effective Early Learning programme (EEL)will also be benefical, particularly the child invovlement levels.

      Look forward to watching the second video
      Lead Teacher in SWest
    • Hana's Session
      12 June 2009 - 17:22

      I thought Hana had a really nice manner in the classroom and she was positive and assertive.

      As an expressive arts teacher, I feel that some cooperative learning would highlight a broader range of students learning.

      For example group work with different roles for numbered students. Tasks that involved the students sharing learning and feeding back to eachother. Check out Kagan cooperative learning.

      There was alot of teacher talk (not necessarily boring) and alot of information was delivered at a time. The lesson could have benefitted from more 'chunking' and perhaps more atmosphere, music, visuals etc to give it the wow factor.

      I thought it was a really brave and helpful thing to do, good luck with the next one Hana.

      Re: Hana's Session

    • adow adow user profile


      Rachel's session
      12 June 2009 - 15:41
      What a busy session! I was wondering how much awareness you had of the learning that was going on away from the small group that you worked with. Were there other adults other that the people that we saw? You seemed to be spending alot of your time with the "telescope" group and the "planting" group.
      You have alot of individual needs within your setting. How did you cater for these needs? You certainly had offered wonderful opportunities for learning in the outside environment, but I wasn't sure if you had clear objectives in mind when you worked with the individuals and small groups. I take my hat off to you for putting yourself forward for such scrutiny. It is lovely to see a session warts and all. Hope you get helpful feedback from Claire.
    • Glynnglynn
      11 June 2009 - 20:41
      Well done - a good lesson with good pace, varied tasks and a clear lesson objective and outcome. Excellent settled start to the lesson, with clear expectations of students.
      Just a few sugestions:
      Refer explicitly to the Lesson Objective at the beginning of the lesson - ask a student to read it out and then explain what they think they should achieve.
      You could vary your questionning style - hands down, random name generator, girl and then boy to get all students thinking.
      Include extension tasks for G&T students.
      You give some clear time indicators but more visual evidence is a good motivator to get tasks completed - try class tools.net for a great timer.
      A countdown to draw student's attention back to the task is also a good way of ensuring silence - I use "target time". This is the time I expect that it will take the class to settle down, we agree this at the beginning of the year. I say "target time" and count down from 3 to 1 and I expect absolute silence by the time I get to 1. It takes a bit of perseverence but does work.
      Overall a good lesson. You are well-prepared and have good resources.
      Good luck - I hope you get your outstanding lesson grade.
    • Hana Abbassi
      11 June 2009 - 07:20
      Well done for being so brave! I thought this was a great lesson on the whole!
      a) I thought it might have been useful to know what level the students were already
      at (perhaps a table on the IWB?
      b) What about a 3rd task for the G&T pupils (few may be able to...) at the start?
      c) Nice to ask the students what they would LIKE to achieve but what about an 'at
      least' target they are realistically capable of?
      d) Clip/staple all their bits of paper together for ease of table space
      e) Could some of the pupils not give a live presentation in a group from the front
      of the class and add powerpoints or music etc to enhance them?
      f) What does 'grounded' mean do you mean 'ground down' with the teeth?
      g) You are probably aware that your timings towards the end of the lesson were a
      little rushed cutting 3 tasks to 2 for your homework etc and your responses to who
      could confidently explain organs and things covered didn't seem to show that enough
      pupils had made progress ABOVE the year groups average ability

      Hope not too pedantic but your lesson was still very good!

      Stuart King AST (MUSIC)
    • Well done
      11 June 2009 - 00:13
      I just wanted to reiterate what 1 person has touched upon - the tone of your voice. The young people are very submissive, yet you still raised your voice. Try a normal talking voice, it will be warmer than this "stage" voice you seem to adopt. On occasion it sounded like you were barking at them and later on you suddenly shouted "does everyone understand" in a much louder and unnecessary tone.
      Loved the countdown, getting them to help each other out with answers, waiting sometimes to answer a question, so you can give the answer to the whole class, much use of gentle praise.

      It was a very safe lesson. No risk taking on the pupil's behalf nor your own. Everyone was in their comfort zone. Obviously some practical - Giant Jigsaw? - the cutting was as kinaesthetic as it got.
      Well done for your time keeping though and romping through the lesson.
    • Rachel's first lesson
      10 June 2009 - 23:29
      Dear Rachel

      Wow! What a fantastic lesson to watch. It may be late at night but I watched every minute of your lesson.

      Firstly, I was incredibly impressed by the way you manage the students. It cannot be easy managing a Reception class - but you are calm, kind and so personable that the children clearly feel safe with you. You model very good behaviour traits - for example, saying please and thank you and asking them to help one another. What is more, you are clearly 'training' students on how to behave in the classroom - asking for hands up, sitting nicely, no calling out etc. I thought the way your students already say 1, 2, 3 Eyes on Me - and actually do put their eyes on you - was lovely. You are also good at rewarding all positive behaviour, and there's a lovely moment where a little girl looks at the star chart to see how well she's doing, so the students are clearly thinking about how to be better. It is you who has set this up, so that's great!

      Secondly, I like the way you encourage your students to have a go at things first. Even when faced with so many students asking for help, you stay relaxed and encouraging, prompting them to try. Whether it's drawing a love heart, rolling their own paper for a telescope or digging their own hole for a plant, learning by doing is evident here. Once again, you reward with stickers to reinforce positive attributes in the classroom.

      Through out the phase, there is also some good evidence of you modeling language. You prompt students to find the right word for things, or to express things correctly. There is a brilliant scene where a Reception student spells telescope - wow! The easier thing would've been for you to tell her the spelling, but you instead supported her with phonics.

      Another thing I picked up on is your fantastic classroom. It was bright, colourful, cheery and inspiring. You clearly understand the importance of environment to student's learning, and this is really something that secondary colleagues could work on!!! I wanted to be in your classroom - there simply isn't a chance to be bored with so much to see, do, touch and learn.

      In terms of advice, I have to admit I find it difficult to advise when our worlds seem so far apart - me with grown up secondary students, and you with children at the very beginning of their education. So, if what I suggest is out of touch, please yell at me and point me in the right direction!!! Here goes:

      I wondered if when they were doing the various activities (telescopes, mask making, bug hunting, hammer and pins etc) if there could've been words on the tables / at the stations that they would look at and choose to describe their activity. For example, on the hammer and pins table you could have had bang, hit, hammer (and others!). On the telescope table they could have had eyes, look, see, stars, moon etc. I am probably suggesting words that are way out of their league (apologies), but my main aim is to support your brilliant attempts to get them to develop their language.

      I also wondered if when you were doing the recall of the story Shark in the Park you could've provided words up on the board as a way to support their recall. Students could have been asked in pairs to decide which words are true (they have something to do with the story) and which ones are false (nothing to do with the story).

      Finally, well done for letting us all into your classroom. If there's anything you'd like to ask me feel free. And best of luck for the coming weeks!


      Re: Rachel's first lesson

    • Hana's lesson
      10 June 2009 - 23:12
      Hi Hana, Im well impressed with your lesson and amazed how you get the time to put together all those worksheets! I would agree with Andy regarding a demonstration/ experiment to get the 'hands on' experience which is the most enjoable aspect of studying science - espially for kids! A friend of mine used digestive biscuits - knife and fork as teeth, water as saliva, big straw as oesophagus, plastic bag as stomach and tights as intestines! worked a treat and the students remembered it all! I realise you may have had some form of experiment before this lesson anyway. I really liked your presence around the room and the pace of the lesson was good-no time for slacking! Your encouragment and praise of the students was constant and made for a very easy learning environment. Your assessment technique was brilliant! So simple yet effective - will be stealing that one! Well done and I look forward to your next 'day out'. Best wishes Caroline Glynn (Ireland)

      Re: Hana's lesson

    • Hana's first lesson
      10 June 2009 - 22:37
      Well done Hana. You seem to have a good rapport with these pupils and are very good at patiently insisting they do what you want them to. Your verbal interaction is good too, always steering them toward a correct response clue by clue. Sometimes your vocal delivery seems a bit as though you are talking 'at' them rather than 'with' them. Could you afford to raise your voice less and be a litle warmer maybe - make them smile occasionally? The non-verbal tasks were pen-and-paper based. Why did you decide not to do something 'practical'? It needn't have been a full 'experiment'. Maybe have an actual cheese sandwich and physically mangle it, dilute it etc. as it passes through the organs in the right order? The spectacle might be more memorable than words and diagrams.
    • rachel's lesson
      10 June 2009 - 19:44
      Hello Rachel,
      Firstly let me say 'Good Luck' with the whole process- how brave of you.
      I'm sure you will spot many of the pointers for yourself when looking back- it is not always easy to reflect on your own practice when you can't actually see yourself as it were.
      I think you have a lovely manner with the children and lots of patience.

      If I may be so bold I would like to pick up on a few organisational tips which may help:
      1. have everything you need with you- you made quite a long trip from your group to get the sellotape
      2. tell the children that they will all be making telescopes, but this group is first so that others don't worry; have a 'you can do this, this or this' policy for ditherers so that they don't waste time.
      3. have the group to be working with you stay on the carpet with an activity so that they are safe and occupied while waiting for you. Could they have been looking through the binoculars/ looking at pictures of telescopes?

      Later, on the carpet, you got them all sitting beautifully and put names up, then the peace was shattered when children went off to fetch telescopes. Organise first, then reward for sitting beautifully is a part in the story.
      Lastly, the children stood in the middle of the carpet totally blocked the view of the children at the back (and Clare). Could they have stood at the side?

      I hope these help you a little. Well done.

      Re: rachel's lesson

    • The beginning
      30 May 2009 - 15:17
      Firstly, Esther and James, thank you so much for your kind words. They have helped me with preparing myself for my first filmed observation this week.

      Secondly, I would like to say good luck to Hana as I'm sure we are feeling the same way at this point in our Journey to 'Outstanding'. I hope you get as much out of it as I hope I will.

      I am looking forward to my first observation and training this coming week. I am excited to find out how my teaching style is perceived and how best this can be challenged. I am feeling positive about how the lesson will be viewed and can't wait to hear the feedback from everyone who joins this group.

      I am so keen to improve my practice along with the quality of teaching the children will receive and feel that this is going to be an amazing experience which will help me achieve this.

      Feedback please

    • Go for it and enjoy it!
      21 May 2009 - 07:04
      Having also been through the process - but not made the 'oustanding' grade! - I would agree with much of what Esther says.

      For me, the whole experience has been hugely beneficial to my teaching practice. In the short term its just a case of biting the bullet and accepting that your practice is going to be scrutinized very closely by teachers from all over the country (and beyond) but in my experience, almost all of the feedback was encouraging and advice was offered in a very positive manner. A credit to the profession. Once you can get over that hurdle, its a great opportunity to let the children show what they can do and ultimately improve your practice.

      As someone who came up short in the end, i took comfort in the fact that being an outstanding teacher is not something you can turn on in a one-off discreet lesson but, as Ether says, is more of a journey. I am only in my third year as teacher after all having not set foot in a classroom for 12 years before that. I think at this stage i can live with the 'good' label!

      Good luck to you both - especially Rachel up the road at Tyssen.


      Re: Go for it and enjoy it!

    • The first step!
      17 May 2009 - 20:04
      Dear Both!

      I can imagine how you are feeling at this very moment - it's only been a couple of months since TTV left, and so I can still feel the mixture of nerves, excitement, fear and hope that was with me at the start of the journey, and is no doubt now with you!

      I'm particularly impressed that you're both taking on this challenge in your second year. I really do think 'Outstanding' is a journey, not a destination (sorry to be cliche), so the fact that you are beginning your journey now can only be good for you and the students you teach. I can reassure you that the CPD the process offers is second to none; not only getting to work with the experts, but actually being encouraged to reflect very deeply (often on camera!) about your teaching practice is phenomenally useful. We're often so busy in the madness of a daily teaching schedule that we don't spend enough time reflecting, so the fact that the filming almost forces you to do this is invaluable. What is more, the crew themselves provide a really useful angle on your lessons and ideas that I'd not even anticipated; you can imagine how many lessons they've now watched and so don't be afraid to ask their advice and views (I actually think they should train as teachers!!!).

      The only piece of advice I'll offer (for now!) is be prepared for a slight 'shock' when you see people actually watching your lesson online and posting their feedback. I hadn't really got my head around the fact that there would be people kind enough to spend their precious time watching me teach, and then take the time to write their responses. Sometimes the feedback was positive, sometimes not so - but if you can try to keep in mind that ANY discussion about learning has got to be a positive, then it might help you beat the insecurity I first felt when my lesson was 'out there' for dissection by all! Everyone has their own opinions about the best way to do things - but that's what makes teaching such a cool job; every teacher is different, there is no one size fits all, and so there is no one single route to outstanding. And that, in my head, was quite reassuring as I struggled through wondering whether what I was doing was right when others might have been advising something totally different!

      Best of luck for the coming weeks - I really look forwards to seeing how you get on.

      Esther Arnott

      Re: The first step!

    • Teachers TV interviews early years teacher Rachel Atkins
      15 May 2009 - 15:24

      Tell us a bit about yourself and your teaching

      I am a 28-year-old reception teacher in Hackney. This is my second year as a teacher and I have been at the same school for two years. Tyssen Community School was the first placement I was offered and I gained lots of experience here. After graduating, I was lucky enough to be taken on by their Early Years team.

      Before this I worked in media for a film production company and a record company for four years. I felt that I needed to move out of office work and into something more active; sitting around all day was very demotivating and unchallenging for me. My mother has worked in teaching for years so I have always been surrounded by education and would often visit her school on my days off. This was an inspiration for me and I learnt a lot from her about life within schools. The idea of having a diverse career was also a big part of my motivation to enter teaching.

      Why did you decide to get involved in the next From Good to Outstanding series?

      I decided to get involved in the project because I thought that an opportunity to scrutinise how you teach is something that is rarely offered to teachers. Having only been teaching for a year and a half I thought that this would be an invaluable experience to improve my skills in the future. The experience and guidance I gain from this will hopefully make my job easier and open up opportunities for progression within the school.

      What are you most excited and/or nervous about?

      I feel nervous when I am being observed and I worry that having several cameras in the room will add to this pressure and therefore may affect the delivery of my lessons.

      I am excited about seeing how this experience will improve my practice. I am also keen to see how my communication and body language affects the way in which the children will learn.

      What do you hope to get out of it?

      I hope to improve my practice by getting some useful feedback and training to support my career as an early years teacher.

      What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are as a teacher?

      Strengths - I feel I am an active teacher and this quality suits the energetic nature of early years.

      Weaknesses - At times I feel I am unable to abandon the plans and take lessons into another direction to suit the needs of the children.

      Is there anything youd like to ask the group members?

      What strategies do you suggest for improving my behaviour management?

      Any ideas for ensuring EMA children are more engaged in literacy carpet sessions?

      Thanks, Rachel

    • Teacher Talk Feedback, Carmel College, New Zealand
      26 March 2009 - 02:38
      Hi Ester,

      The Carmel College Teacher Talk group used your second video as our focus for discussion. Once again thank you for sharing your lessons with us.

      Our focus was the quality of your teaching, and we identified positive and negative aspects of the lesson. I would like to say from the onset that we appreciate how difficult it must have been being filmed and observed in the confines of your classroom. Giving an objective critique of a lesson / teacher is also difficult when we dont know the class, the ability levels, the social back grounds and the subject background to the observed lesson. If some of our comments appear a bit picky thats because we were watching very carefully. We are very aware that a perfect lesson isnt necessarily realistic.

      We liked the learning intention of your lesson. We thought the concept was very novel, and was one which would obviously appeal to young children. The instructions at the beginning were very clear. The students clearly understood what they were doing, why they were doing it, and what the expected outcome would be based upon level indicators.

      The castle designing activity engaged your students. They clearly enjoyed the activity and learning was evident. We felt that this activity was rushed, and could have been stretched over a couple of lessons allowing opportunities for discussion. You probably dont have the luxury of more time!

      After the second activity you spent time asking the students how their castle had changed. The students got an opportunity to discuss their designs in front of the class. After the third design the opportunity for discussion was closed to them. The question posed was Hands up who designed a wall or moat? With more time at your disposal we felt that this would lend well to a discussion of the designs. A simple think, pair share activity would have allowed the students to explore different ideas. Questioning the students about their design ideas would have been helpful.

      After the forth design you ask the class did you have .....? and the students raised their hands. Again, we felt that this would have been an opportune moment to ask the students why they had made these design decisions. We felt that the students ideas werent explored.

      We felt that there was a lot of positive reinforcement used in the classroom. We liked the fact that you showcased a pairs work as an exemplar for the class. You have a lovely manner with your students and use encouraging language with them. We like the way you crouch down, and talk to your students at their level.

      At the end of the lesson you told the students how games dont necessarily reflect historical facts. We felt that with more time at your disposal this could have been an opportunity for the students to formulate their own ideas rather than being told the differences. It would have been a good moment for the students to work co-operatively. The paper activity got them to think independently about the differences, but only after you had told them the main differences.

      We particularly like the thumbs up quiz. We felt that this method of answering questions would suit those students who arent confident, and fear getting the answer wrong in front of the class.

      Overall we were impressed with your lesson and teaching skills. We felt that opportunities for exploring student ideas were missed. We learnt a lot from discussing your lesson and look forward to the edited version of the show.

      Carmel College, New Zealand.

      Re: Teacher Talk Feedback, Carmel College, New Zealand

    • Esther's Last and Brilliant Lesson
      15 March 2009 - 18:10

      I could sense your relief - its over! Youve clearly reflected lots on your practice as a teacher and it shows. The style you adopt is still similar to before, thats good because there were so many strengths you wouldnt want to risk losing.

      What did I particularly like? Firstly, you give them a role: master castle builders, this visibly lifts them, I can hear them thinking: ah, now I know what Im doing. Engagement is very good, the significant majority are thinking, discussing and designing. First class paired work; learners are well trained and very skilled at doing this; to be here takes training and practise over long periods. In my opinion, right to do this in pairs too, all learners engaged discussing, little opportunity to opt out and everyone wants the pen so the design is quickly completed.

      The computer game phase was to re-connect with the enquiry question. This provided a successful burst of independent concentration to consolidate the learning and significantly altered the learning pace. Prior to this the thumbs up was a good strategy to assess understanding and ensure everyone thinks about the questions you pose at this stage.

      Linking the objectives to NC levels was good practice, although I do prefer learners to produce their own success criteria, with some guidance, if possible. Maybe using previous students work to model and peer assess the level they are aiming for. Were they aware at the end of the lesson if they had shown evidence of a certain level? Or will you assess their written responses based upon the outlined criteria?

      This was exemplar of the sort of high quality learning you could deliver lesson after lesson without dying of fatigue. You still work very hard, however, I believe the balance of exertion between learner and teacher is now more sustainable.

      I really believe youre an outstanding teacher. So much of what you do goes unnoticed because it comes so naturally, such as managing certain learners engagement in a positively marvellous way. Moreover, the thinking behind your pedagogy is excellent. Together these two qualities are impressively utilised for all of us to enjoy and learn from you.
    • James Evelyn
      3 March 2009 - 15:09
      I thought this was a great lesson and that James had a good rapport with the children and good management skills. He differentiated the activities well (ie some children worked together with paper cut outs, some worked more independently). However:

      The same few children - Medina, Sumia, Lauren - were selected for 'rewards' ie demonstrations and answering.

      James speaks very quickly - I missed the last answer re venn diagrams and how the child sorted the animals/fish, and I'm sure some children must have too!

      27 minutes sitting quietly is TOO LONG! I was exhausted, goodness knows how the children felt.

      James often invited a child to speak but said 'No' and 'we've got to stop now' when their answer was 'wrong'. I know time is of the essence but some children looked disappointed and rebuffed.

      The lesson was very teacher-led. There could be more value put on children interacting; the assistant 'led' one (lower attaining) table, but could invite the children to work together, or assign a 'leader'.

      Although the teaching was differentiated, I felt some children were not really challenged. Prime numbers could have been mentioned; the whole 37 thing was an opportunity missed.

      Lastly, (and I'm sorry, James, this doesn't mean to be so critical!) I just wonder if James can ever SMILE?!

      But thank, this was a great lesson and I really enjoyed thinking about how it could be made better, in my (meagre!) view!
    • Sharing ideas with Esther -from good to outstanding
      19 February 2009 - 22:06
      Dear Esther,

      Thank you for taking the lead and offered your lesson for comments. I admire your bravery and professionalism.

      A lovely start, I like the idea of using a crown and putting on an accent to play the role its engaging and it helped to tap into students imaginations. Your expectations were clearly spelt out without mentioning the words success criteria and I think it might be a good thing students knowing what to expect without feeling the pressure that they would be judged (by themselves/teacher).

      You moved a lot when you spoke and you rubbed your hands a lot as well. These made me feel dizzy and unsettled; perhaps you should try to stand still which will help students to focus on YOU when you speak.

      Before students were asked to start the first discussion, I would favour a few minutes reading and thinking time. Silence sometimes can be very positive and powerful and it will give you time to check if everyone is on task reading.

      Once the students got into discussion the first time, its a pity that I couldnt see what materials were used at each table. Were the groups mixed abilities? If no, how were the materials differentiated? Clearly, there was a table of EAL new arrivals who sat with an EAL specialist teacher. It wasnt clear if the success criteria applied to this group of students and there didnt seem to be a close collaboration between you and the EAL teacher in the lesson. I believe the background and experience of EAL students could be used positively, particularly in the area of being ruled by a foreign ruler like William.

      After the first discussion, you stopped the whole class and asked for feedback which was good. However, some students might find it useful if you could sum up the key points on the board. Also, from the points you gathered, you could then move on to a higher level of questioning from more able students.

      I understood that some writing tasks were required during the second discussion, however, I think a writing frame/clearer instructions would be useful at each table. Many students asked you for help as they didnt know how to begin. You were very patient and you were very good at handling repetitive questions from different groups. You were also aware of making yourself available for each group which was useful for everyone.

      When students were asked to vote, I would recommend a small investment of buying a remote control for PowerPoint presentations it will save you from leaning over to your laptop every time you want to change slide.

      Voting is good because everyone has a chance to express their choices; however, there wasnt a follow-up on your findings which was rather disappointing.

      The plenary was short and wasnt effective in terms of finding out how much each student has learnt. Most students didnt get any feedback from you and I wonder if they knew how much they have learnt in that lesson and how they could do better next time. More formative assessments could be used throughout the lesson to ensure effective teaching and learning.

      You are a born teacher with the natural attributes and nice manners. You have an excellent relationship with your students and they show a lot of respect to you. Well done and you will get an outstanding grade in the end!
    • Pacey maths
      17 February 2009 - 14:17
      Dear James

      There was a lot planned in your lesson, there was a real urgency to get through a lot of material. I particularly liked your reference to pupils' learning from their language lesson. I also really liked the use of food to explain Venn diagrams. Pupils were vwery engaged and it was a good way of assessing if they understood the principle.

      One consideration you might like to think about is clarifying placement values, the position of figures, hundreds, tens and units columns, to establish pupils really understand this.

      Pam Johnson
    • Esther's wacky history lesson
      17 February 2009 - 14:09
      Dear Esther

      I enjoyed your lesson. It had many stengths; enthusiasm was a key highlight, the start was pacey with your courageous French personification. It was well planned, including mini-plenaries to summarise and included thoughtful use of the EAL teacher who used pictures, smiley faces and underlining text to communicate meaning. The accent was on pupils developing their own thinking and collaboration skills through planned group and paired work. I liked the way you mentioned differentiated outcomes at the outset.

      However,I would suggest,to stretch the more able pupils,you elaborate the learning outcomes. When introducing the card sort tell them they must explain the placing of cards on the line of suffering maybe by underlining or highlighting text and explain how that caused suffering. Elaborate your expectations of simple reasons, grouping reasons and reaching cocnlusions. These three were your outcomes mentioned at the start. Perhaps clarify language at the same time egsuffering,reasons,benefits since some pupils struggled later with these. The EAL teacher encouraged his group to reach conclusions via mini plenaries we heard him extract from his group that is was English people who suffered. Finally where is the lesson going? What will happen next lesson? Will they build on the skills of this lesson maybe act a play write a newspaper article?

      Pam Johnson
    • NQT400 NQT400 user profile


      15 February 2009 - 15:14
      Good lesson, although think there were a couple of mistakes that should have been discussed e.g. '024' as the smallest number, this is incorrect unless a decimal point is put into place between the 0 and the 2 or the 0 is ignored, it could teach children a misconception to believe that smaller numbers have a '0' at the start. Same with '09' should have expanded more with 'It means 0 tens but we don't actually write the 0 as part of the number' Just a thought!
    • dedi dedi user profile


      maths lesson from james evelyn
      14 February 2009 - 23:03
      I thought it was a pretty good lesson. I have a query and a tip. Were the children coached at all for their answers to your questions at the start? They seem really secure in their number knowledge, better than my year 5s.

      The tip. When you wanted them back on the carpet, I would have held up my hand and counted down firmly and steadily from 5. They fly to the carpet to be seated quietly before I get to one.

      Also works beautifulkly for putting books away and tidying desks.

      Otherwise I think it was an excellent lesson. lets hope the inspector thought so too.
    • James Evelyns Lesson
      14 February 2009 - 19:11
      Well I am wondering if there are no comments listed yet because no-one can think of any improvements ! I certainly struggle to do so ! What a brilliant lesson.
      As a special school teacher myself, I always like to watch mainstream lessons for a couple of reasons - firstly it keeps me 'fresh' on current practice & ideas floating around
      ( special schools are very insular and isolated at times !) & gives me the 'goals' that I would potentially be working towards. Secondly I provide outreach to mainstream schools so I like to see how I could contribute to the child with special needs in a lesson such as this & I watch for points where a lesson IS inclusive & where it could be MORE inclusive.
      This lesson ticked all the buttons for a multissensory experience - great ICT usage interactive ( 2D) and then some hands on 3D experience. Then the great differentiated group activites which were a mixture of paper & pencil to practical & supportedwork. Great language work & also ability to combine another language !
      Improvements ?
      Maybe I would have chosen a greater range of multifaith foods - just from observation of the cultural make up of the class. I wonder if some of the answers gave a good indication that a lot of the children didnt know what you did with many of the fruit/veg.
      It was difficult to know why the two children sitting on the chairs at the back of the room with a TA between them were there. I was trying to figure it out by snatches seen on the video but it wasnt clear. From my own experience it is usually pupils with additional needs - however, I wasnt aware that these pupils contributed towards ( or were invited to ) the whole class input - maybe I didnt see it but maybe that is worth looking at ??

      Otherwise I really cant think of anything else !
    • some comments on some parts...
      12 February 2009 - 23:27
      Dear Esther,

      Congratulations from Argentina! I'm a nearly graduate historian who has been teaching in English for the last 7 years and History for one term alone. This year I am going to start teaching Year 7 History and Geography so I dare to say that you have taught me a lot with your lessons. First of all, congratulations on your performance, you seem confident even in front of a camera! I couldn't watch much of the video because for some mysterious reason of the universe, my laptop felt it was too much. If you allow me, these are my comments on your lesson (or part of it).

      1) It seemed to me walked too much while explaining the key question. I think we do this when we are a little nervous but I would pay attention. Probably rubbing your hands is also a pararell tic. I just wanted to mention it.

      2) In my opinion it was excellent how you explained the task. Wearing the crown, talking with a French accent, voice projection, amazing. Simple and accurate.

      3) I think the way you enganged students is great. I must ask, how did they get together? Are seats assigned? It sometimes happens to me that it is better to rearrange students according to the task. I would have never divided them into groups of six, as I saw some girls. How do you know that EVERYBODY is working, that EVERYBODY follows the instructions?

      4) I couldn't see if you did it at some point but sometimes I like to observe students, to see how they deal with the task and the partners. For some specific personalities, it is a good practice to let them figure things out themselves and cope with their groups. Of course, you weren't with all the groups but I could see many other people in the room: an inspector and a masculine teacher. After this guidance, which I think it was very good!!, how would you assess understanding and individual work?

      Thanks a lot for letting comment on (part of) your lesson!!!

      Angie Picone
      Buenos Aires
    • Good to outstanding / Primary (As above but with corrections)
      12 February 2009 - 19:48
      Congratulations on coping so well, whilst being videoed.
      I enjoyed watching your numeracy introduction but I felt there are a couple of issues, which may help you in the future.
      Firstly I felt that the children spent too long sat on the carpet.
      The TA sat at the back of the class looked bored stiff. Maybe her time could have been put to better use by supporting those children who find numeracy rather difficult.
      I also felt that the way in which you asked the children certain questions did not enable you to identify which children had or had not grasped the learning objective.
      You asked the children "Is everyone clear?" there is know way that a child would look up in front of their class peers and say "No" as they don't want to be recognised as being stupid.
      You also said to the class "Is everyone happy?" and when you said this you automatically nodded your head. This is a gesture which influences people and again I dought that a child would answer "No".
      I think that if you had used your class TA's for the introduction, you could have had mixed ability groups, thus enabling a much closer interaction, therefor allowing you and the TA to recognise who had grasped the concept of the lesson.
      Sorry to critisise, it is only my opinion.
      Good luck
    • Esther goes global
      10 February 2009 - 20:38
      Esther, good to see youve been deemed outstanding by our New Zealand colleagues. I particularly liked the comment giving much deserved recognition to the positive learning environment youve established. It is also good to know the effects of you sharing excellent L&T are potentially global!

      I think its brilliant youre going with your initial thoughts: allowing students to shape the learning and the assessment. As Carmel College implies, youve developed the perfect classroom ethos to enable this to be a real success.

      Youre already pushing many boundaries (rightly so) by using student voice in this way; therefore, practicalities and hours-in-the-day have to be taken into consideration. The work they produce would ideally be of high quality. Perhaps, most importantly, the learning will be some of the highest quality these students have engaged in. The opportunity to reflect on this learning should be utilised, if at all possible, so the skills are more readily transferable in the future. The outcome isnt probably, in all cases, going to be the same high quality it would be if youd shaped the learning and assessment, but the journey is where the real value lies. I think, thats a way of saying, a real world element would be amazing but maybe not necessary? Peer assessment using shared and negotiated success criteria generally spurs learners on effectively in my experience.

      Ive uploaded a peer-assessment sheet I use for a presentation. Its not perfect but maybe useful as an example.

      Keep us all updated on any developments during this very exciting period. We look forward to the next episode.

      Re: Esther goes global
      Re: Esther goes global

    • Thoughts From Carmel College, New Zealand
      9 February 2009 - 23:59
      History Lesson - uncut

      This uncut video was used as part of of a PD session called Teacher Talk. During these sessions a group of teachers discuss a topic of interest supported by a Teachers TV video.

      Our group was very impressed with the quality of your lesson and believe that the standard was outstanding based upon the inspectors review sheet. We were particularly impressed with the quality of the differentiated activities. You have a very mixed classroom and we commented upon the amount of quality learning that took place on each of the tables. Some may comment that "Child X wasn't as engaged as Child Y" and offer you a list of things that the model teacher should have done, but you are working with a large number of mixed ability students from differing backgrounds, and on the whole they were all WORKING and learning.

      We were also impressed that each group was engaged in cooperative learning, and that each task was attainable for each group. The members of each group clearly benefited from the support of other students.

      Another observation was that your choice of content appealed to both sexes - e.g. battles vs relationships.

      We thought your role play was very effective. So much so that students replied in the first person and actually dropped into role themselves. We were impressed that a girl with English as a second language felt comfortable and confident enough to answer your question and talk about 'being in love with a soldier'. We thought that this was a testament to the quality of the activity and the the accepting environment that you have created. We felt that the role play was a great "hook" at the beginning of the lesson and generated genuine interest from the kids.

      Congratulations. We all thought that you were incredibly brave posting this lesson on the Net. We benefited from watching and discussing this lesson, and some of us will no doubt try some of your ideas in our own classrooms.

      Carmel College Teacher Talk Group
    • Reflections so far...
      9 February 2009 - 10:17
      A bit thank you to everybody who has commented so far on my lesson. The whole experience has been a really rewarding one for me and I am very grateful to everyone who has commented so far. Whilst it wouldn't be fair to say that I agree with all the comments, it has been really nice to know that there are lots of teachers out there who are prepared to give their thoughts on my teaching in a really constructive way.

      Obviously, an unedited tape of my lesson is very unforgiving and as such it is very easy to see lots of things I can improve on. For me, the biggest things I am working on at the moment are:

      (i) My speech and body language. I have received some excellent training in this area and feel I am making good progress. I definitely have a tendency to speak too quickly and appear very casual when talking to the children so hopefully you will see an improvement here.

      (ii) Making the children's learning more kinesthetic. My teaching experience to date has been in Upper Key Stage 2 and whilst there is a definite need for this style of learning in that area of the primary school, the need for its use is obviously much greater the further down you go. In the past couple of weeks, we have been doing role play and cooking amongst other as part of our Maths learning.

      (iii) I have also been focusing on ensuring that all children are engaged and learning all the time. By this I mean making sure that carpet based activities are fully interactive so that all children are engaged rather than just those who have their hands up. I have also addressed Clare's fair point about resourcing so that progress is not compromised by children having to wait for resources. As Andy said, these are 'organisational factors' which are easily seen and (fortunately) easy to solve!

      Just to finish, one contributor questioned the use of the traffic lights as a mode of self assessment. I definitely can see the concerns expressed but for me, if the children trust the teacher and appreciate that there is no stigma attached to admitting when you don't understand something then I feel its fine. Obviously, if children are merely always saying they 'get it' because its the easy answer, then the system won't work. I guess it all comes down to the class and the teacher/child relationship.

      Once again, thanks to everybody for their contributions. I feel I am making good progress and hopefully, fingers crossed, there might be the Big 'O' at the end of the journey.

    • Help!
      5 February 2009 - 13:55
      Dear All

      Thank you for your fantastic feedback - it's been a really exciting journey so far, and your ideas and suggestions have helped me reflect on my practice immensely.

      But, I have one more thing to ask you (as if watching the lesson wasn't enough!)... I've now taught my first lesson of the 'new' sequence, trying to move towards outstanding. The enquiry question is 'Is this the best history game, ever?' with the idea that children assess the usefulness of a computer game by building up knowledge of medieval warfare, and then comparing it to the game, and other sources of information to reach a final judgement.

      My hope was that they'd write letters to the computer company critquing the game and offering improvements. However, when I explained this to the children, only a few seemed totally engaged by it.

      My worry is that if I don't engage them with the end product then the journey will not be as engaging for them as I hope.

      My initial idea is to ask them what they would like to do to show their learning - i.e. what product would they like to 'create'. But if I leave it this open, do I risk low quality products that don't really drive the pupils on lesson to lesson.

      So, have any of you got any experience in giving pupils voice in their assessment task? How did it go? Any pointers? Or, do you have an alternative suggestion for what I could do as an end product to engage the students?

      Thanks so much!

      Re: Help!
      Re: Help!

    • The talk is good and at times outstanding...
      4 February 2009 - 22:24
      As others have said, it takes such courage to put your teaching on trial, bravo! My view is a little different to some and so I add it here in case it helps. I would not worry too much about how you look and move but take this video as a wonderful opportunity to focus on the talk taking place, and specifically where you and the other adults in the room made it more exploratory and historical.
      There was such a range of discussion going, from whole class (good), between pairs (good) and in some groups (outstanding work from able students and some in the EAL group) that this made the lesson a pleasure to watch.
      So what made some talk outstanding?
      In my view there were some comments that helped such as your mid- lesson remarks: 'it's never that black and white.. look for the evidence... find the detail for me' that provided a good focus for further discussion. Another example occurred with the able girls at 27:03 where you listen supportively for a good 10 secs, respond and rephrase and praising a girl for 'argument'. When the next girl makes her point she is trying to develop the argument further. Running out of time? you interrupt her but she still responds as if her view has been affirmed and so gets ready to write her 'argument' confidently. Exploratory talk going on here at times. And at the end you praise the whole class for developing the skills needed to work with others. Great!
      Where the talk was slightly less effective I think you can see all the usual problems with phrasing the task in 'year 7 language' but expecting them to use it to make points about adult behaviour. Listen again maybe to the boys around 34:45 when discussing task 4. Is it the 'same reason' that leads to suffering or benefit? Or the same ACTION of William's? Their discussion may have been held back by the lack of a distinction.
      I thought the plenary had some cumulative talk but very little exploratory talk with the whole class, but it was great to get them to discuss in pairs as this involved many more students than most whole class discussions can aspire to...
      One final point is that in History we have a very specific task, focussing on the PAST, and indeed at one point you responded to a comment with the remark 'yes now but maybe not 1,000 years ago'. On the other hand, much as I admired Clare's ability to be everywhere and obviously note so much, she did make a remark that was not historical and perhaps its our job as History teachers to make it easy for our colleagues in the classroom who are helping us to remember this? Whilst aiding two students very skilfully around 13:03 Clare said 'nobody likes paying taxes do they?' as if the task was to judge William on present day terms. There is plenty of evidence of reluctance to pay William, at the time, (Domesday Book anyone?) and the whole lesson turned into a debate for some about whether he brought benefits in return for/or after suffering. I would have enjoyed seeing a plenary discussion that included a reference to what, a 1,000 years ago, it might have been worth paying taxes for...
      Ali P.S. I am happy to pay my taxes for your school whilst you are teaching like this!
    • Focus on the learning objective to emphasise tranferability of s
      4 February 2009 - 17:12
      Dear Esther,

      Thank you for sharing your practice with us. I very much enjoyed the lesson and will use it as a focus for discussion with coilleagues in my work as a learning and teaching consultant.

      I'd like to offer a reflection that may help you to make the journey from Good to Outstanding. Would it perhaps be more helpful to express the learning objective for your lesson in the following way:

      We are learning to evaluate the consequences of the Norman conquest for the English people

      I say this because in the lesson you are helping pupils to develop a very important learning skill, namely the ability to evaluate consequences. This skill is one that I imagine you and your pupils will return to many times over the course of Key Stage 3, e.g. evaluation of the consequences of industrialisation or powered flight or the welfare state. I hope that each time they visit this skill pupils will build on the learning that has gone before. In my experience this is more likely to happen where the teacher has made the skill explicit in the learning objective and emphasised its transferability, e.g. Pupils know what the word "evaluate" means and understand what is involved in the process of evaluating something. Your key question is still absolutely valid. As an enquiry focus it provides the context for this particular exercise in evaluative thinking. My slight worry is that the pupils might think that this type of thinking only applies to this specific context, e.g. the Norman conquest.
      Last year I spoke to some Year 10 pupils who were examining the causes of the Second World War as part of their GCSE course. They told me that they found it very helpful when their teacher reminded them of occasions when they had done similar kinds of thinking in the past. They could clearly see the relevance of work they had done on the causes of the Civil War (back in Year 8) and some were even able to recall having organised causes into "trends" and "triggers" (long and short term). The teacher's questioning drew out what they already knew and could do, e.g. Where have you come across something like this before? What other ways of sorting causes have you experienced?

      I hope the above is helpful and constructive and I wish you luck with the second lesson.

      Thank you

      A. Brumby
    • Some questions for James
      4 February 2009 - 10:42
      The inspector judged your initial lesson as good (see content bank for inspectors feedback). I thought your style was nicely summarised by Breanainn, who states:
      Your style is really pacey and direct - keeps 'em on their toes. This creates a focused learning atmosphere, led by you. A pacey teacher, as Im sure youre aware, doesnt always result in a good pace of learning. Could a less pacey teacher achieve more learning? Donna Hutson suggests:
      increase child talk to teacher talk by encouraging the children to talk in pairs. Consequently, increasing the pace of learning.

      Many contributors appear to enjoy reflecting on the excellent range of learning and teaching strategies you use to achieve the lesson's objectives. Your planning had taken into account different learners needs and the differentiated activities were tailored to meet these. Do you feel this was successful following your own reflection on the learning that took place and the feedback youve received? How will you address the inspectors observation comments, for example: A number of children made too little progress.?

      Questioning to enable learning is a teachers craft, practised and developed over many years. Your questioning style is a recurring topic of the feedback. It seems to highlight a need for more pupil speak (less teacher speak) and paired or group discussion; therefore, achieving higher levels of quality interaction; longer waiting times for responses and more inclusive approaches to questioning. Mrs Arrowsmith rightly made the call for questioning to be a negotiated collaborative process:
      children demonstrated their interest and wanted to carry on and explain their ideas they were cut a little short and maybe giving a little more time to their ideas may have helped them understand.

      In addition, Clare Gillies, the inspector recorded in her feedback:
      teacher did not develop or respond enthusiastically to pupils unexpected, interesting answers or questions.

      What are your strategies going to be to tackle these criticisms? How fundamental do you believe this is, in order to achieve outstanding?

      Other practical comments identify organisational factors, which although useful, are the sorts of things you notice yourself immediately when learners begin to work on something, such as the drawing of the Venn diagrams for them to fill in.

      Clare Gillies comment, regarding the need to draw attention to the purpose of the learning by illustrating a real life context, I felt was very valid. This again, I feel sure, is something youll easily achieve in future lessons.

      Finally, James, what key aspects of your teaching will we notice have changed/progressed and can the discussion group help you achieve these in anyway? Do you have any questions for the contributors, whose comments have been incredibly supportive and equally as useful to you on your journey.
    • James' handling data lesson
      3 February 2009 - 22:17
      I have to agree with Clare's comments. They reflected my own observations. In order to become outstanding I would actually make more overt the links to previous learning, the reasons for the use of various data presentations and how they are actually used in real life. I would try and get children to explain more about what they felt about Venn Diagrams... when might they use them (would they) are they useful? I thought the start was too long and the finish was a bit too short (therefore there are timing issues).

      Overall I feel you have real potential and I really enjoyed the cross-curricular links with Spanish. You use ICT really well and so do the children (might there have been an opportunity for a group to use laptops or the whiteboard themselves as their group activity? Could the children have shown their findings to the others using the whiteboard.)

      A final word on assessment. I agree with others who have commented on the traffic lights as being of dubious use as an assessment device (particularly with cameras present). What might work better is a paired or group discussion with things that went well and something to improve on. This could then have been a chance for children to contribute their assessments of their progress at the end if time had been found for this very valuable process.
    • Some questions for Esther
      3 February 2009 - 15:15
      So, your lesson was described as good with some outstanding features by the inspector(see content bank for inspector's feedback). Do you feel the schools observation criteria would have placed this lesson's learning in the outstanding category? It is often hard to aspire to the unknown. Outstanding is simply all good and some better than good, well, isnt that what you achieved? What do you believe is going to make the difference next time?

      What all the contributors infer is your passion for history, your subject. I find this very inspiring. For me personally, you demonstrate that subjects are educational resources of remarkable power (Kirk and Broadbent 2007).

      Your preparation is immense: the plethora of resources; meticulously planning for EAL and all abilities. Is this realistically achievable on a day-to-day basis without burnout? Not to sound too hackneyed but is there a need to work cleverer rather than harder and is this achievable? Outstanding surely needs to be a sustainable reaching and not just an accolade?

      The inspector noted: not all of them [the learners] made exceptional progress. How do you intend to increase engagement for these groups/individuals, what will we see and can we help? We do get a feel for this drifting on the recording of the lesson but not adequate enough to comment on with certainty. Why did they drift?

      Everyone notices your hands. I too had some body language issues, lets say. I quite like your hand rubbing but I guess its not for everybody. I bet youd never noticed it before. Anyway, whats the plan?

      Was the plenary a little rushed or under planned? Do you particularly agree or disagree with the comments made, if so which were most useful? Slick ICT skills, for example, are an asset but not a absolute necessary for outstanding learning.
      What are the big sustainable changes you intend to make as a teacher?
    • Jackie53 Jackie53 user profile


      Well done Esther!
      3 February 2009 - 13:47
      Firstly, may I commend you on a fantastic lesson which everyone seemed to enjoy. You are very brave to allow yourself to be so scrutinised but I thank you, as a whole lesson observation is great for my own CPD and I have taken one or two ideas from it!
      There was evidence of a great deal of preparation of learning materials and excellent differentiation facilitated by a very good TA/teacher. I should be delighted if all my lessons approached the level of success that this one did.
      You have very expressive hands that convey much: attention stimulus to a pupil or pleasure at a response. However, may I respectfully suggest you put your hands in pockets as I do because I wear a lab coat, or hold onto a pen or board rubber when you are not using them to express something. I am sure you will have realised when you watched the video that you rub your hands together a lot!
      All pupils understood the aim of the lesson because you went into character with the crown inspired - and were able to challenge themselves to do more than just the All task; many were striving to move onto the most challenge. Dubbing the able girls as Historians was a master stroke: they were so pleased, Yes, you are all historians.
      The headlines were a good idea at the end but maybe each one could have been attached to some text as if they were from a real newspaper. If you have everything that you need minimised on the computer you can quickly jump from one to the other which looks a little more polished.
      Thank you again, Esther. If not already, you soon will be judged an excellent teacher I am sure.
    • Numeracy lesson - sorting - James
      2 February 2009 - 20:11
      Ivd just spent ages commenting on this lesson and now lost it all.
      Anyway perhaps it would have been useful to have displayed the objectives and vocab clearly at the beginning of the lesson and then discussed this briefly to ensure the children knew what they were about.
      I thought the idea of bringing in spanish into the lesson good and kept it real, but this may have been a little too much for the less able? Im not sure. However, I did enjoy the idea and so did those children who could cope with it. Your TA was very able with her small group, but I wonder if it might have been more to the advantage of the class if she had sat close to the children who needed focussing during the carpet time. Some of the children seemed rather spread out in the carpet session when dealing with the venn sorting.
      Some children seemed more focussed on drawing circles very carefully rather than the sorting activity. So perhaps circles already in place would then have kept all the children more on the task sorting the numbers rather than worrying about getting circles to stand out. The pace was good.
      I felt that when some of the children demonstrated their interest and wanted to carry on and explain their ideas they were cut a little short and maybe giving a little more time to their ideas may have helped them understand or others in the class as well as giving those children more confidence to speak up next time and make them feel a little more worthy.
      We tend to have our own little habits or phrases that we become a little unaware of Im sure I have some, but yours is repeating ok rather a lot, eventually this might appear a little dismissive to the children????
    • James's Lesson
      2 February 2009 - 12:59
      Thank you for allowing us to observe your lesson. It is very brave of you. Your classroom looks very stimulating and well resourced.Lucky you!I like all your learning cues around the room.
      Could your input session be reduced in time? I thought your children were very well behaved but many children would struggle to sit for this long. I have been told that carpet input sessions should be no longer than 15 minutes. You could increase child talk to teacher talk by encouraging the children to talk in pairs about what they notice. Some children participated a great deal and others not so much. To recap on previous lesson, try putting up a Carroll diagram with sorted objects and ask the children what they notice/can describe, ask them to explain what they learned last lesson etc.Do this through paired or group talk and report back.When grouping fruit, again get children talking about how they would do it, use white boards for them to record ideas ( can then check participation). Give activities to each table, see if children can work out what to do and then go and explain if necessary (use T.A. to help here) to cut down teacher talk time further.
      Try to praise input from children even if not 'correct' and clarify misconceptions if possible.You have a tendency to ask the same children questions.
      During your plenary the Venn activity was good but again only a couple participated. Open up to more by allowing pair/group discussion. Your T.A. and yourself can target certain groups or children in this for assessment. Use a thumbs up /down approach with closed eyes option as not many children like to admit in front of others that they are really stuck! Alternatively, use a traffic light system in their books or invite them to write comments. Could all groups been given hoops and numbers/shapes to sort practically first before recording?
      Hope this is helpful.
    • Re Esther's Lesson
      30 January 2009 - 13:30
      I thought this lesson was really good, and was fun. Another comment said that you had mocked a child who had giggled at your hat. I would have put your reaction under friendly banter and not mocking. I don't really think that a child would have seen this as mocking, but obviously if they did you wouldn't do it again.

      I thought your role play was fun and quite brave.

      I can't really comment on content as I don't understand history very well.

      With your newspaper headings at the end I think these would have worked better on a power point slide show, with one per page and then all of them on the last slide, ideally controlled by a remote, or in a way that meant you didn't need to keep crossing the screen as you were showing them.

      As for the girl who didn't know the answer correctly at the end, did I catch this correctly in that you asked people who didn't put their hands up. I think that she did know an answer but was just shy in answering in front of the class and perhaps the film crew. I think it's good that you took a risk and got her to answer, which she did manage in the end.

      Oh also I thought the EAL was excellent in terms of the way it was set out and also the EAL teacher who worked so nicely with his group.

      Phillipa Baulch
    • Esther's lesson
      27 January 2009 - 23:07
      I enjoyed watching your lesson and I really admire your courage is putting yourself forward for us all to comment - very brave indeed!

      A couple of suggestions I have are for the start of the lesson. Right at the beginning, it would have been lovely to really bring the topic alive by having real fanfare music playing and pictures from William's reign on the whiteboard - maybe via a photostory - alongside wearing your crown and talking as him.

      Also, it would have been nice to see you model the task on the board and maybe do the first couple of statements with the pupils so that the task was completely clear.

      Finally, I would've told the differentiated groups what their specific learning outcome was so that there was clarity in their learning objective - would avoid the bright but lazy pupil who will do the bare minimum to get by.

      It's always easy to comment on other people's lessons - I wish all our lessons could be so engaging - if only we had the time/energy for every single one of our lessons to be like this.

      Well done!
    • Esther's lesson
      27 January 2009 - 22:46
      Esther -I thought it was great and all the pupils seemed really interested in the topic.
      My comments: Did the children know which group they were in? I mean the groups to say "some of you will be able to...some of you might go further"? If not I think that would help.
      I liked telling a partner about their headline -maybe you could have asked the pupils to tell the class what someone else had said. It's a good way of peer assessment and also affirms the pupils whose work is quoted.
      I would have liked you to put the crown on again at the end and maybe had a vote!
      These are very picky points though -I thought it was excellent!
    • Re: James's lesson
      27 January 2009 - 11:17
      I thought the lesson was really good - they all seemed involved and learnt well. In the starter I possibly would have addressed some of the misconceptions, eg the girl who thought that 1,3,7,9 counted as the 2x table beginning at a different number, I would have explained that that was a number sequence rather than a times table.

      I liked the way you linked back to the previous week's work on Carroll diagrams first, and the sorting of the foods in Spanish was great - good links across the curriculum and they really enjoyed it!

      When they were doing independent work I think it would have been good to either give them a copied Venn diagram to label and complete or to give them more circular items to draw round, it seemed quite a few were waiting for several minutes before they could draw the circles or else had to draw them freehand. I couldn't see also whether you had a modelled, labelled Venn diagram for them to look at to make sure they set it out correctly.

      Perhaps in the plenary you could have got your top group to explain some of their work to extend their thinking - eg, which numbers did they find that were in both the 5 and 4 times tables, is there a pattern, could they use this to predict any other numbers that would appear in the middle of that diagram.

      These are minor nitpicks though, I thought it was a very good lesson.

      Re: Re: James's lesson
      James's lesson

    • Esther's Lesson
      26 January 2009 - 20:34
      So much great learning in the lesson to get me thinking. The L&T was well thought out with four very clear phases, each showing progression. Esther also planned to individualise the learning very successfully for such a diverse range of learners. The hook worked really well and the plenary was a clever idea to manoeuvre the thinking to where she wanted it all hinged on creative enquiry. Was the starter maybe a little long? I wonder if that excellent hook at the beginning of the lesson did its intended job very quickly but then continued for a few minutes too long; I felt the learners wanted to play an active role in the learning sooner than they were able to. Could sharing the objectives/learning outcomes be more interactive?

      The learning (classification activity) phase of the lesson allowed certain learners a great opportunity show their excellent learning skills as they handled and organised the materials with ease to achieve the desired outcomes learning skills that, I felt, need sharing. Wouldnt it be advantageous to ask these learners to model their learning and those skills that make it happen?

      Try to eliminate those task (how do you want me to do it?) based questions, during the consolidation phase, by getting certain learners to demonstrate the task to the class before they all begin, this is also useful for identifying generic misconceptions.

      Im interested in Esther's choice of grouping. Why pairs for the plenary? Why those tables for the group activity does a low level reader produce a low lever thinker or does a low level reader need to be placed with higher level readers? Why seperate EAL students? Wouldnt an independent writing task, used to consolidate the learning, allow for higher level thinking following the learning activity?

      The mini plenary, as its described, didnt allow enough time to debrief the learning and thinking that had taken place. Was the open questioning deep enough during this phase to create challenge? It could be argued this phase should have displayed the greatest progression in learning, therefore, shown the greatest pace of the lesson.

      Esther works incredibly hard for the learners and I believe they could often learn more independently; it is them, who should be doing the hard work: any questions are nearly always answered by Esther, she could try insisting they find the answer to their own questions by returning a probing, yet steering, question and moving on. Also, didnt the writing frame restrict their writing rather than support it? Could teacher/student modelling be used to demonstrate the writers purpose and language instead? Or get students to assess differentiated examples of the writing to a set criteria, prior to writing themselves.

      Im guessing the plenary was cut short as time ran out? The plenary was a great way to refocus the thinking. Id loved to have seen and heard much more of the thinking behind their decisions, as well as an opportunity for them to change their opinions.
    • James' lesson
      26 January 2009 - 16:53
      Hi I too am impressed with your confidence, knowing that this film would be shown to the world!!! Thank you I enjoyed watching it.
      I have had a lot of experience of people observing my lessons, during the year our school was in special measures. My one tip to you would be carry on with the excellent questioning, however your aim should be to get more children involved with verbalising their ideas. I always found that getting them to share their idea with their partner next ensures that everyone is involved in the lesson.
      Good luck!
    • Andy Roberts
      26 January 2009 - 13:16
      FGTO reminiscence: having that first lesson observed is terrifying, although really exhilarating. This is where the journey of improvement really begins!

      Esther and James: youre both very brave to open your classroom doors and allow all and sundry to hurl their reactions at you. Following this debut, Im sure youll be really desperate to get your much deserved user feedback; its fascinating to compare this with the experts opinions, all approaching from many different perspectives. They certainly dont always agree and youre left to ponder this plethora of feedback with one over-arching question: what is outstanding learning and teaching and how do I make it happen? Let the journey begin!

      Re: Andy Roberts