The MLG Repertoire Card

The MLG Repertoire Card.

If I can get the development of my own teaching as focused as this, I’ll be a happy teacher. Some great ideas on how to identify a ‘Marginal Learning Gain’, and strategies to maintain focus over a prolonged period of time.

GCSE Science Revision

Great ideas and strategies for promoting effective revision with students, especially for those teaching AQA GCSE Science courses.

Teaching Science

The second half of this post will be mostly relevant to AQA Science A and Additional, because that’s mostly what I teach. The rest will be my own opinions on revision. I say opinions, but I try to make sure these are evidence-based, because that’s what we try to do, right? Let’s start off with active revision, what it is and isn’t, and how to convince kids to do it. You could argue this puts the responsibility back on the students rather than us doing it, which strikes me as both moral and effective. It’s incredibly depressing when kids turn up at a scheduled ‘revision class’ expecting to listen to a teacher read through the syllabus. Pointless, frustrating and demoralising for everyone concerned; surely there’s something more constructive they could be doing?

Most of the hyperlinks are to my own posts, because I could find them quickly. I’d love for…

View original post 413 more words

AQA Additional Science – learning/revision checklists

Note: as the title suggests this will only really be of use if you are teaching AQA GCSE Additional Science!

In the spirit of Ian of @teachingofsci this is an attempt to share some resources I’ve put together (based on similar checklists found on the TES website, such as the excellent ones produced by that link to his YouTube videos).

What I have made: The links are to DropBox folders containing separate checklists (some short ones combined 2 in 1) for all the topics examined in the AQA GCSE science courses (not including Science B and Additional Applied Science). They have been written using every statement from the specifications (excluding the seperate sections on How Science Works and Mathematical Requirements, but including the ‘outcomes’ at the beginning of each part of the spec), but written in a “You should be able to…” form.

How I’m using them: For my current Year 11s and Year 10s, I have given them the whole lot as a booklet to use for revision, but for my current Year 10s and all future GCSE classes I will give each student the relevant checklist for each topic at the start so they can be crystal clear about how their learning in class links to the exams they’ll have at the end. This means they are always aware when they are learning specifically what’s needed for their exams, and when they are going beyond the specifications.

Any comments / corrections most welcome, and if anyone knows who I should be crediting for the original checklist formats, please let me know. I can’t remember where I found the ones I used as a starting point.

The links are all in the same format:

Who are the real stars of the show?

"For life is quite absurd,And death's the final word.You must always face the curtain with a bow!"
“For life is quite absurd,
And death’s the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow!”

This post on “Those Flippin’ Pyramids of School Hierarchy on the meridianvale blog has been rolling around in my mind ever since I read it, and it has just formed itself into an analogy. So I thought I should write it down. If you read only one thing, read the meridianvale blog! But if you read two, then read on…
Continue reading “Who are the real stars of the show?”

Draft KS3 science curriculum for 2014

Having now clicked on ‘Submit’ (on Monday 15 April, as last minute as ever) I have updated this post with my final responses.

All of the draft programmes of study (all subects) can be found here on the DfE website

The consultation process is described at length (on 16 pages!) here, where you can register to respond online using this page by the deadline of Tuesday 16 April

Helen Rogerson (@hrogerson) has blogged a very thorough comparison of the draft programme of study for KS3 with the 1999 version (which was later ‘slimmed down’ in 2008). Her detailed analysis can be found on her blog, where she has written separate posts about Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Helen is far more qualified than I to comment on the Physics section! Thankfully she has also written a particularly detailed response to the very confusing-looking “Energy” part of the Physics section.

Dr Carol Davenport has also made a highly detailed response and posted onto her blog, some of which I copied and pasted into my response (sorry @DrDav!).

I have had a read of the draft Key Stage 3 programme of study for science, which as a whole reads like it was put together rather hastily, as there are some glaring repetitions and omissions. Posted here are some of my first impressions and ideas of how I might respond to the consultation.

Continue reading “Draft KS3 science curriculum for 2014”

Marking without grades

This is the literature review on p5 of this research report called “Focus on Formative Feedback”, published in 2007.

I’ve posted this so I can refer to it if anyone asks me where the evidence comes from next time I assert that students should not regularly have graded feedback!

In a nutshell:

  1. Meta-analyses have shown negative effects of feedback on student achievement in many cases
  2. This is if the feedback is, for example
    1. Seen as ‘critical’
    2. Linked to grades (that allow students to compare performance with peers)
    3. Vague
    4. An interruption


Continue reading “Marking without grades”

Ideas to improve learning

[Note: This is the text of an email I sent to the science teaching staff at my school in November 2012, after reading one of the school’s weekly Staff Bulletins containing no references to learning. I am pleased to say that these Bulletins now regularly contain references to learning, and to a new teacher-led Teaching and Learning Forum]

What we want: students who are resilient; who carry a ‘growth mindset’; who feel challenged and motivated; who are happy; and who know how to learn.

What this will look like: students are happy

Continue reading “Ideas to improve learning”

Travels in India 1

Ooty vs. Kodaikanal

First, Ooty:

Established by the British, around 100 years ago. Set in the Nilgiri hills (draped with tea plantations and eucalyptus forests). Extremely popular with Indians at Independence Day weekend. Small but absolutely jam packed with people, vehicles and buildings, creating a dusty, polluted, crowded, noisy, litter-filled anti-oasis where it can be very hard to relax, unless you walk directly out of town (e.g. all the way around the lake).

A short bus ride away is Continue reading “Travels in India 1”

All-student feedback

What a fantastic idea – make the whole school into a gallery of student work, and invite feedback on all work in and out of classrooms…


After reading Ron Berger’s ‘Ethic of Excellence’ and watching the mightily impressive High Tech High clip with their CEO, Larry Rosenstock, speaking about his philosophy of education, there seemed to be one common thread that linked both men’s view on education:

The power of publicly exhibiting and critiquing student work so their peers, teachers, local experts and parents can examine the work and offer specific and helpful feedback. Specifically, the positive affect this public exhibition can have on student commitment and motivation to produce high quality work consistently.

A worthwhile link here is to Jamie Portman’s blog posts that summarise his visit to High Tech High in San Diego, California. Essentially, every single part of the school is one giant exhibition of student work and peer feedback (the corkboard and sticky note idea is just one simple, yet exceptional feedback strategy) with the students responsible for designing and creating their…

View original post 821 more words