Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Is assessment in ks4 Core PE relevant anymore?

A recent meeting ahead of a data storage and tracking program change has made me think; is assessment in core ks4 PE still relevant? There is no questioning it's relevance in GCSE PE and how important a role it plays there, but what about in Core PE?

Historically in the department I work in, KS4 is assessed based on performance levels in sport against the GCSE criteria set by the exam board being studied. These grades are then never shared formally with parents, they're at most shared with students informally and aren't put forward for external examination. I personally feel that this has limited the approach to physical activity as a whole and thus the development of students physical activity levels post secondary education. 

The questions that keep circulating my head are:
- does assessment in Core PE overly formalise an activity that needs to be viewed as fun?
- is assessment and thus viewing quantifiable progress fundamental to students enjoyment and involvement?
- does taking out formal assessment in Core PE devalue the subject in the eyes of others?
- how can data tracking and enjoyment go hand in hand? Can we track engagement levels rather than performance levels?
- do we need to assess formally in a subject that isn't externally examined?

I am a strong believer in setting up students for a life after school, but if we're building a curriculum around assessments that aren't relevant, is this the right approach to create a generation of healthy active adults?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Proactive and Reactive Behaviour for Learning

Every school has a behaviour policy that is used consistently by all members of staff, right? The questions I get asked and I'd like to answer are; how do you employ it? How can you work proactively in your classroom so that you don't have to get to that stage? If the situation does arise, how to use it?

In order to answer these questions, I have split Behaviour for Learning into two phases; proactive and reactive. These will allow you, the reader and teacher, to see the differences in the two approaches, and how you can go about using them in your own classrooms. Both of them involved the key idea that you have to take control, behaviour for learning in your classroom is your responsibility and only you can change it. 

For the purposes of this blog;
proactive is:
the processes you go through in order to plan and engage your pupils so that low level disruption and off task behaviour doesn't occur. (I.e. Preventing bad behaviour from happening)
reactive is:
the processes you go through when dealing with a student or situation that arises in your classroom. (I.e. Fixing or dealing with the behaviour)

I've split the two works into bullet points to help explain what can be done in each section. I've had conversations with many other members of staff about what words to fit where, but this is the final draft. 

P - Praise - Positivity is a big way of engaging any pupil, in my experience most pupils that misbehave do so because they want attention. So give it to them, positively, look for excuses to give them praise, even for bringing a pen or the correct equipment to their lesson. 
R - Responsibilities - If pupils have something to concentrate on as well as their class work then in my experience this tends to take up their spare capacity that they use to misbehave. So allow them to handout books, wipe the whiteboard for you, open the windows if it's too hot, be a team captain of be a team spokesman. 
O - Organisation - Seating plans written effectively can manage behaviour before it arises. Don't always allow students to sit next to their friends, but if you have a good rapport with them then it can work in your favour. Also, organise your lesson so that there are no gaps in time for them to fill. 

R - Reasonable - be reasonable with your students, a calm approach will work well and shouldn't inflate the situation. 
E - Empathy - a little understanding will go a long way, for some pupils that we teach school is the safest place they have. Arrange a meeting with them after the incident to talk through what happened so that both you and the pupil can understand what happened and why to create a plan moving forwards. 

A - Always use the behaviour policy - it was written by people with a lot of experience and your pupils will be used to it. Don't be scared to use it, your pupils are your pupils and it's your classroom, so take ownership of it. 
C - Consistency - be consistent in your lessons and your behaviour. Being predictable is a positive thing as pupils will know your boundaries and how to behave in your lessons (e.g. What the entrance and exit routines are). If not and one action is acceptable one day and not the next, how will they know how to behave?
T - Talk to others -  speak to other members of staff about the pupils you're dealing with, people in your school will be able to get them to work for them. Find out how and why, but don't use this time to focus on the bad, pick out the good things that they do. 
I - Intervention - early intervention work with specific pupils will work wonders. Have their behaviours and needs at the forefront of your mind when planning your lessons, therefore you won't give them the opportunities to misbehaviour as they have previously. 
V - Variety - vary the tasks that you use, every approach is effective and has it's time and place, but if you use it too much pupils will become bored and restless. 
E - Engaging pace - if you give pupils achievable time targets to meet, then they will be engaged to achieve the work required. 

I hope that this has helped, by no means am I a behaviour for learning expert, but in hope that this has shed a little light, given a few ideas or even made you think slightly differently about your classrooms. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Goldilocks and the three levels of challenge

Challenge is one of the most important 'buzz words' across the education system and is certainly evident in the Academy I'm working in. Challenge is important for pupils to progress and achieve, but it must be at the right level. If the porridge is too hot (the challenge is too high); pupils will be turned off in your lessons and begin to perform off task, if the porridge is too cold (the challenge is too low); pupils will complete work too easily and will be left with spare capacity to behave off task, but if the porridge is just right (the level of challenge is accurate); pupils will engage fully with the task and progress through the task, or more simply eat it all up!

I've used Goldilocks as an example to portray pupils approach in lessons through a story that everyone is familiar with. Over the course of the story, Goldilocks has to try different temperatures of porridge and different mattresses before she feels comfortable to eat/sleep. In the context of a lesson, pupils should be supported to try different levels of task, different methods of sharing information, different levels of questioning and different levels of scaffolding to allow them to succeed effectively. These tasks will obviously have to be planned effectively to support the correct array of levels of pupils in your lessons, whilst still allowing the pupils the feeling of choice and control (however guided and structured this may be). 

My use of this story does highlight a clear aspect that we need in our lessons for challenges to be accepted; our pupils need to feel comfortable and safe enough in our classrooms to try new things. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

My first term in Leadership

This term was the biggest whirlwind that I have been involved with, exciting in every aspect and draining with every step. Common misconceptions of leadership having the time to do everything required went out the window before the first day, and the juggling act began. I feel that I have managed to keep all the relevant balls in the air, make the relevant impact on each responsibility and still manage my extra curricular commitments (school and personal). This hasn't come easy however, with weekends and evenings going out of the window and endless flack from my better half about work/life balance. 

What's been the biggest challenge this term?

There have been too many challenges to list individually, however one of the biggest has been evidencing successes and areas for development. This has led to some of the hardest conversations I've ever had, but the ways in which I have approached managed, structured and supported these conversations, has enabled them to be productive rather that destructive. Positivity is always helpful with this. 

What have I learnt about myself this term?

I feel that I have confirmed, to myself, the confidence I had in myself and that I can actually do this at a young age. Being 25 and holding a leadership post is something that I feel very honoured to have achieved, but something that I have worked exceptionally hard to achieve. I've learnt that positive resilience goes a long way and 

What am I planning on doing differently next term?

I need to spend more time out and about during the school day and be clearer in communications to support the development of members of staff. This is going to be hard with a heavy fixture schedule with hockey and football for all years, as well as managing my own involvement in football training and games outside of teaching. Further to this, I would also like to be more proactive with my Grindstone support, with both the blog and website. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Chunking the steps to success in more ways than one

Pupil engagement and progress are key issues in any lesson and aspects that require input from teachers to specifically structure interventions in their lessons. This blog is the result of many conversations that I have held with multiple teachers last half term based on maintaining pupil engagement during lessons. 

The technique that was always the agreement was chunking tasks into 5-10 minute tasks. This is especially relevant for boys who find it hard to concentrate on extended tasks. The chunking of tasks in lessons can take two different forms which I identified with another teacher; completely separate tasks that fit together like a jigsaw, or one task that is periodically developed to aid challenge. What we did identify however, is that each of these 'chunks' needs to be differentiated to the relevant level of pupil attainment in the lesson. 

1. Separate task chunking

This involves different tasks being introduced every 5-10 minutes. This allows for the development of engagement with pupils as there is a new task for them to concentrate on.  This will work especially well with pupils that are easily distracted, as the instant progress and feedback will allow for their feelings of engagement to be increased. Also, this lends itself to the introduction of new information. 

2. Development of task chunking 

This involves the same task being delivered, but with periodic developments in the task to increase the levels challenge. This is more useful with the higher ability pupils that are able to maintain concentration on one piece of work for extended times. Also, for the confirmation and cementing of learning, rather than the learning of new information. 

Chunking allows for you as a teacher to consistently assess the progress of your pupils at short intervals. This means that you can then make the relevant interventions to progress your pupils leaning at a high pace. 

Please share your examples of this in action below. 

Thank you for reading,

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

SMART Targets for smart progress

Schools ask teachers to set SMART Targets for pupils in their classes periodically for their reports, but what should these actually look like? 

I have read many targets set by different teachers in multiple subjects as part of the Academic Review process at my school. This process has allowed me to see some great practice, with the best targets seeming to follow the same simple formula.

In GCSE PE, we study the use of SMART Targets to motivate athletes to improve and state that they should be set in accordance to the following criteria:

- Specific
- Measurable
- Achievable
- Realistic
- Time bound 

Using this criteria, it is easy to see how to set effective targets that will motivate pupils to improve in your subject. 

How do I write SMART Targets for my pupils?

Firstly, you need to know your pupils, where they are, where they need to go and what they need to do to get there. Basing your targets on a gut feeling won't help either of you, so look at their assessment data and work in their books to diagnostically find an area to improve on. Once you have identified this, you can follow the criteria below:

S - you must identify a specific skill/technique/method, that you have seen the pupil needs to improve from a piece of work/test/marking. Don't use generic specifictys like test percentages, as how they are going to get there is the important point; identifying that your pupil needs to accurately use the specific key words/correct terminology when answering short answer questions.

M - both you as the teacher and the student need to be able to see if the target has been achieved; in his next assessment, has Jimmy used higher order connectives, such as ...., in Spanish?

A - in order for the target to be motivational and in turn engaged with by the pupil, they need to be able to achieve it; setting a target for a pupil to achieve analytical answers when they can't current describe and identify the key points.

R - this parallels achievable, as if the pupil does not feel that the target is achievable in the time frame shared, then they will become demotivated and disengaged; decrease your 100m sprint time by 3 seconds in two weeks.

T - everyone needs a timescale to work to, and especially pupils. If they know when they're expected to achieve their target then they have a clear point to work to. Ensure that this is not too far in the future, e.g. more than a term, as this will see like a lifetime away for your pupils and they will not feel the need to address it. The key time frame is short; by the end of next half term...

Now that success criteria is outlined, how can we put this effectively into one or two sentences? 

I've once again used the experience of GCSE PE to help structure this, using a selection of skeletons that allow for easy individualisation is the best way to structure your SMART Targets. You can manipulate the structures to allow for specific skills/techniques, time frames and qualities, whilst ensuring that all criteria is being achieved.

Please use these skeletons as you wish, leave comments below to share your pupils successes when achieving their targets, or even give some examples of the targets you have set your pupils. I hope that this was a helpful and beneficial read. Good luck.

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Up your marks, SMET, learn! Learning Objectives that kick start your lessons.

In my opinion, learning objectives start the learning process in a lesson; they outline where you expect pupils to be by the end of the lesson, and if written in a specific way, can motivate pupils to engage with the ownership of their learning and progress. 

Over the past year I have worked as a 'learning objectives magpie', taking on board good ideas that I have seen on lessons observations, learning walks, discussions and school visits. There are many different ways to share them, write them and engage students with them. The template below has come from a mixture of different approaches that show progress in the lesson as well as aspiration as a whole. 

Writing the best Learning Objectives you can


Grade (Blooms word/graded word) + content to be learnt/developed in the lesson + level of support/context 

By the end of the lesson I will be able to:
A/A* - analyse the benefits of having a healthy active lifestyle and how I can achieve these
B - explain the benefits of having a healthy active lifestyle using flash cards to prompt me
D/C - state and describe the benefits of having a healthy active lifestyle with help from a partner

By the end of the lesson I will be able to:
A/A* - consistently maintain possession of the football in a defensive overload situation. 
B - maintain possession of the football for 5+ passes in a even numbers situation. 
C/D - maintain possession of the football for 5+ passes in an attacking overload situation. 

By the end of the lesson I will be able to:
A/A* - Consistently and correctly expand equations independently. 
B - effectively expand equations with support from your book. 
C/D- understand the process of expanding equations and complete them with book and partner support. 

These Learning Objectives allow students to engage with their learning by seeing the steps to achieve their grade, but also the level and depth of skill and understanding they must use to achieve their Learning Objective. This allows the Learning Objective to be accessible and relevant throughout the lesson. 

SMET Learning Objectives:

This is something that I have been using in my theory lessons with pupils so that they can see their progress over the course of the lesson. Each pupil has a printed copy of the learning objectives and stick them in at the top of a clean page. The pupils come in, tick their Target Grade for the end of the course (either inflated by them-self or in line with their minimum expected progress grade), they the read the learning objectives and place where they are against them without any prior knowledge. During the lessons they have opportunity to tick the Middle column and at the end of the lesson they tick the End column, showing the pupils progress during the lesson and lesson by lesson towards their target grade. 
This process not only allows for ownership of their learning, through setting their targets and tracking them throughout, but it also instills an environment of challenge and engagement for the pupils in your lesson. 

Start - pupils place where they would be with regards to the learning objectives as they walk through the door. 
Middle - pupils place where they are with regards to the learning objectives at the mid point of the lessons. 
End - pupils place where they are with regards to the learning objectives at the end of the lesson. 
Target - the pupil's target grade with tells them their Learning Objective for their GCSE

Thank you for reading, and please let me know what you think,

Dan Grindrod