Thank you to SSY for a great Learning Thursday! Please click on an image to enlarge it.
I have just acquired a new class and there are only seven students in it – lucky me! They are an intervention group of C/D borderline year 11s, and guess what? They don’t really like writing. As an English teacher this has created somewhat of a barrier towards the majority of the skills I am trying to get them to improve!
Racking my brain, old memory sticks and trawling the internet for ideas left me lost – how was I going to get these reluctant writers writing? And at a C grade?
Twitter, as always, had the answer.
An MFL teacher (@javier1974) posted a picture of his classroom window with writing all over it! This was my answer. This is what I had been looking for.
I rushed to my shed window to have a practice - I quickly discovered that whiteboard markers, highlighters and felt tips were not suitable tools for the job (I now have a slightly grumpy husband).
Liquid chalk pens however work a treat and now my classroom windows are covered! I got myself down to Makro pronto (they can also be found on eBay at a good price).
So, year 11 arrived through my classroom door last week aghast. “Where are our books Miss?” followed quickly by “What? We’re actually writing on the windows – won’t you get in trouble Miss?” (I wasn’t sure but risked it anyway!).
We started with some collaborative writing. They were each fighting for a pen – this was a good sign. The result? 15 minutes later I had a page – well a window – full of writing. Enough to mark. Enough to improve. I did a little dance.
The cynic in me says this is just a gimmick, a silly idea to be different for different sake. How is it really different to writing on sugar paper or in their book or on a mini white board? Well – it isn’t when you look at it like that.
So why did this work? It is simple – it is because it is different.
I wanted to write on the windows, it was fun, it felt rebellious, it is strangely calming, it looked cool (I even felt a bit cooler!). And for this simple reason students who hated writing suddenly produced this…
Today each student had a table (or two) each to expand and improve their writing skills – they knew this and were looking forward to it. And there is the sentence that makes writing on the windows and tables more than a gimmick…
My year 11s looked forward to writing.
Today, they produced this happily and without fuss… (and it was period 5!). “We do this in Science – it’s sound!” was the only reaction I got. Tonight I am a happy teacher.
I know lots of other teachers in school have been trying this out too… in Science, Geography and English to name but a few.
Email us your images/explanations of how you used this in your lessons and they can go on here too.
UPDATE: Sally, who has been getting students to write on the desks for a while now, has used writing on the windows to encourage students to respond to student questions. Students write questions on post its – if other students have an answer they can write it on the window (amazingly students suddenly found they had a lot more answers to share with each other). In the pictures you can see great learning dialogue and feedback between teacher and students.
How do you inspire students?
Well, first we needed some inspiration and it came in the bucket load this week at our first ‘Risk Takers’ session.
The lunch? Good. The cake? Some may say it was inspiring. The meeting? Brilliant. It was a real opportunity to share ideas in an informal, friendly setting.
As ASTs we may have been a little over excited with the prospect of cake and a whole lunch break talking about our favourite subject – teaching and learning. We were not disappointed. V9 was buzzing with enthusiasm!
After a brief introduction, everyone was up and out of their seats (and cushions) to write their ideas on the tables and windows – literally. Here are just a few of the ideas we all shared.
Another suggestion to group students was to have ‘home’ (friendship) and ‘away’ (teacher differentiated) groups; write a number, a colour and a shape on the front of each exercise book to represent different groupings or even order them randomly based on height, date of birth, etc.
The Tactile Table – using objects to promote discussions and abstract thinking. This supports kinaesthetic learners and creates a tactile environment. For example:
What theme is symbolised best by the potato masher?
How would you go about splitting the whisk into quarters?
Use the stickle bricks to represent the differences between elements and compounds.
We each left with a handful of new ideas to engage, motivate and inspire our students.
Taking risks in the classroom isn’t about walking on a tightrope, juggling, whilst fireworks go off (we exaggerate but you know what we mean). Taking risks is trying something new. Trying something different. Trying something that may go wrong BUT could equally (and more likely) be the lesson that day where your students are surprised to hear the bell so soon and don’t want your lesson to end.
How do you inspire students? We start by inspiring each other.
The next ‘Risk Takers’ session will be held in S8 on Tuesday 12th March – lunch (and cake) will be provided. We look forward to seeing you all there!
In the meantime, why not get yourselves on Twitter? There is a world of great ideas out there… you could even use the Mountbatten hashtag. #MBrisktakers
@siancarter1 @wheeler_sally @NEdge9