GA Swansea branch- upcoming events

  1. A Christmas lecture on Wednesday 9th December Dr Geraint Owen of Swansea University will be giving a talk called Restless Earth: understanding and living with natural hazards and disasters. His talk will start at 5:30pm and finish at 6:20 for questions from the audience.


  1. The annual GA Quiz on Wednesday 3rd February 2016 the GA is organising its annual quiz again. This will start with registration at 6:30, the quizzing will start at 7pm and finishing at 9pm at Swansea University Geography Department.


  1. A GCSE and A level bring and share workshop for the new specifications. The workshop will start at 4pm and finish at 6pm on Wednesday 8th June in the Geography Department at Swansea University. There will be resources for you to take away to use in your lessons.


For more details and how to attend – Contact GA Swansea branch here

CPD at United Learning Conference – August 2014

In September, I begin a new role at a school in Poole, Dorset. The school is a member of United Learning, a large academy chain with schools across the length and breadth of the country. Like many, I did not know much about the organisation and since being appointed, I have been keen to learn more about them.

As someone who has never worked in a school that is part of an academy chain, I have been keen to see what impact this will have on CPD provision for the teachers in it’s schools. As a former county AST for Wiltshire LA, I know the huge benefits that can be gained from providing teachers with the opportunity to come together and share ideas. I myself, gained a huge amount from being able to work with and support colleagues in 12 different schools during my time in the role. However, due to recent changes, many LA subject networks have been disbanded and I know, from experience, that such provision is now pretty non-existent for many schools still under local authority control.

As a result, when I was invited to attend a conference, as a new teacher in the organisation, run by United Learning in Manchester on the 27th and 28th August, I was keen to see what this would involve. Having been to many training events during my career, not all of which have been beneficial or credible, I arrived unsure about how useful it would be. However, I am pleased to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. As someone who has been used to running and providing INSET and support for colleagues as an AST in my previous school and in other local schools, I found it a wonderful opportunity to be on the other side. The vast majority of the presenters at the various sessions I attended, are currently teaching in United Learning schools. Having sessions delivered by staff who are on the front line on a daily basis, always adds weight to such an event in my opinion.

The sessions themselves were stimulating, thought provoking and very well planned and executed. I attended a variety of sessions, all of which I left with some new practical ideas and approaches that I feel I could develop and use myself in the classroom, which is exactly what I want from such an event.

In the summary below, I have included what I think are some of the best ideas from the sessions I attended. In addition, in red are my own thoughts regarding the ideas presented or examples I have used on the topic.

Outstanding teaching session
Terry Kelly. Assistant Principal. Midhurst Rother College

Recommended book to read: Written by Doug Lemov. Teach like a champion

A suggested approach to judging the quality of teaching in lessons:
Middle manager or SLT observe teachers in a department or faculty. No grade judgements given for those lessons. However written and verbal feedback is given to the teacher. WWW and EBI
A graded judgement then given for the department or faculty overall.
Each faculty judgement then used to come up with the overall school judgement.

This is similar to a post I have shared before from Chris Moyse entitled ‘No lesson grades EVER’ 

Formative assessment.
Keep it short and sharp.
Only mark when there is a point to it.
Allow time at the start of the next lesson for students to respond. Therefore, it makes sense for marking to include a question.

Effective feedback and marking
Carmel Greene. Paddington Academy

Outstanding teaching must include regular feedback to students and evidence of where students have responded to the marking.

Tick and flick. Although it is evidence that the work has been checked, it still has little impact so is probably a waste of time even though it didn’t take too long to do.

Marking should close the gap. Identify an issue and enable students to close the gap.

Key elements to effective marking: Focused. Modelled. Targeted. Actioned

At the beginning of a lesson, for the starter, can use the following models:
Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) A simple explanation can be viewed here
Make A Difference (MAD) time to enable students to respond to the marking.


Coded marking. Using target codes. Each one means something. Write the code in a students exercise book where an error has been made. At start of the next lesson, students then write down in their book what this means and then rectify this. This is something I have used before and has worked really well. I have used a set of generic statements which are linked to NC levels for example, as well as some specifically related to a piece of work where analysis has shown some common errors following marking of the work.

T1 – When giving examples of impacts, try to explain as well as describe the consequences
T2 – Try to include examples of the impacts on both people and the environment

Coded literacy marking. Don’t correct spellings. Students rectify in the starter and correct spellings where identified by ‘sp’

Effective homework is often where students have the chance to consolidate their learning. Redrafting or building onto precious work.

FAR model of giving feedback in books.

Source – TES Resources

Could use a template feedback sheet for marking in books. See example. Two ‘stars’ and a ‘wish’ from The Paddington Academy:

This can also include the coded marking idea, where students will write in what they did well next to a code written by the teacher. In the student response space, this can be for peer marking – after the original student has acted on the ‘wish’ element. Could change to WWW and EBI.

Feedback codes can be used within the marking of a piece of work eg. LA – label the axis on the graph correctly. They then have to respond to this at the beginning of the next lesson (starter).

When using peer assessment. Use the same piece of work from another class or previous year and get them to mark it. Discuss with class what is good, what improvements could be made and how it relates to the assessment criteria. Do this before the peer assessment so that they know what they are looking for.

Before the assessment, I would use assessment from previously marked work. One from each level so that students are clear about what they have to do and know what is needed to achieve each level. They could identify which is which level before commencing with the task set.

Use of stamps. If using good work or well done – get students to write the comment next to it in the lesson. otherwise they are a waste of time.

Literacy and Learning.
Kate Castro Martin. Lambeth Academy

Taboo activity using key words – 3 stage approach.
Students working in groups of three. One student describes the word so that the pair is able to guess the word. The student who guesses the word correctly from the description keeps the word. This adds an element of competition. Once complete, swap the roles. This time, redo but only using one word to try and describe the word. Finally, swap roles again and redo but using mime!

Tag reading
Students read a section of text and then tag someone else to carry on so that all included.

When reading text. Ask students to highlight any words they do not understand and then discuss after the reading has been complete.

DARTS. Directed Activities Related to Texts.
Reconstruction eg gap fill, sequencing, table completion
Analysis eg Text marking, construction of table or diagram, paragraph headings, summary, paraphrase

Addressing spelling issues

When marking, note down any words that are commonly misspelled. Then address in the starter for the next lesson. Use a pneumonic to address any words that keep being spelled incorrectly, eg Rhythm. Rhythms Help Your Two Hips Move. Great idea for subject specific vocabulary.

Possible starter. Students have to find words spelt incorrectly and make corrections in their book. Could possibly have the correct spellings on the wall around the room for students to look for, along with a definition and an associated image that students can attach in their mind.

Use of certain words
If an unwanted word is used too much eg ‘because’ then the word could be placed on the board and ‘banned’ during that lesson. Could add some similar words around it as alternatives that could be chosen instead.

1-1 with iPads for year 7-9
Nathan Ashman. Accrington Academy

Student led innovation. 
Important to have I-genius students who act as ambassadors
Can use students to train teachers up on the use of certain apps.
In lessons I-genius students can be used to help in lessons.
Also, use I-genius students to go into feeder primary schools to train and help.
At break time, I-genius help desk in the school for staff and students to ask questions and have guidance.

Model for developing iPad use in lessons. The stages.

Substitution – Using screen rather than book. What’s the point?


Flipped classroom approach
Make a video and students to watch for homework or read info for homework. Explore links if a geography case study or answer a set of questions to prepare for the next lesson. This gives time for students to digest the information. In the following lesson students use this to create or develop further. See an example I created last year for a Year 12 Geography lesson on urban problems

This could be the instructions for a fieldwork task, or background info for an investigation or group work task. This method gives more time to do the practical work. Can also have instructions on a video, so that students can ensure they fully grasp the task coming up in the nest lesson.

Pupil response apps
Good way of monitoring progress and understanding in a lesson

Nearpod app
Questions set by teacher, students then respond. Responses appear on the screen in real time.
Can also get students to annotate a piece of work and send to teacher. This can then be viewed on the screen and individual pieces shared with the class.

Socrative also does same thing.

Video instructions in lessons
Could ask students to video elements of the lesson such as classroom instructions, this could then be referred back to during the lesson by individual students who get stuck. This would then reduce the number of times that a teacher has to repeat the same instruction.

If students do work on an iPad, do not have to print off the work. This can be submitted to the teacher via apps like edmodo or showbie.

Imotion app – recording the learning
Takes a photo every second. The ipad  records what is drawn or written. This is ideal for the recording of the creation of a mind map or timeline. This is a good idea for using as a revision technique as students have to think about what they are writing and create in one shot. In addition, it can then be used by the students to teach others in the class (Blooms)

Similar idea to the famous Ken Robinson RSA animate video.

Outstanding questioning.

Dr Mike O’Neill


I am the question.
Give students the answer and ask them to come up with what the question might be.
 Eg. If the answer is ‘tsunami’ what is the question?

I am the answer
Students write the answer to a question or instruction eg Name a country
All students stand up. The teacher then asks questions relating to the answer eg remain standing if the country is in the northern hemisphere. The teacher can then ask another student if a particular student is correct for remaining standing. Then ask students questions about some of the countries.

Choose two items, ask students to come up with any similarities and differences that they can think of. Eg Brazil and Japan or goldfish and food processor. This encourages students to be imaginative.

Tech team
In groups of four. Mixed ability groups.

Pick one student from each group and get into a team huddle. Give them an instruction and then they explain to their group.

Each team has a name and remain with it. Once the problem has been solved, the teacher picks a random reporter. This can be done by each team putting a team name on paper and screwing up. Each student then has a number 1-4. Team chosen and number randomly picked. That student goes to the front of the class to explain the answer.

What should they do?
Give students a set of cards with pros, cons and background descriptions regarding a scenario. Ask students to then decide as a group what the person in the mystery should do. Do not give them the problem or issue, the group try and work out what the issue might be and discuss what the person involved should do.

They then come up with their decision. This is based on their own way of sorting. In Geography, could do something relating to a person living in Thailand after the tsunami for example. The issue could relate to whether they leave or stay and start their life over again. Need between 18 and 30 cards.

Could then part way through, add in another set of cards eg spanner in the works.

Could get students to list other questions the details provided pose.

When creating, a mystery needs a push factor, pull factor, padding (irrelevant) and a trigger or two which are more influential. This will then help students to work out what the issue might be.

Task takes between 12-18 minutes.

Can find some good mysteries on TES Resources. Example here regarding the Commonwealth Games and urban redevelopment in Geography

List of key words on the board. Teacher asks questions relating to this. Students have to splat the correct answer with a fly swat. This can be done in a timed manner. Competition scenario?

Plus. Minus. Interesting facet

State something – often works best with a contentious issue eg. Population should be controlled by enforced sterilisation. Students to come up with answers in 3 column table headed P. M and I

Watch a video clip. Come up with questions you have about the clip
Pool all questions together in the group.
Choose the best question. Then students try to answer the chosen question, as a group.