Lateness to lessons

We’ve all been there. The class is finally quiet, you’ve started your lesson, and in walks Connor – late as always. How do you address arrogant lateness to minimise its impact and remove it from your classroom?


Starting a lesson

The first challenge in every class comes at the very beginning – getting the students settled so that learning can begin. Don’t ask questions. Use descriptive and directional cues, calmly.

Developing high order thinking skills

In order to try and develop high order thinking skills, I am planning to use a starter which develops over time in each lesson to work through Blooms taxonomy as the unit progresses.

The stimulus will be a photograph, with questions or instructions based on the previous lesson, working through from ‘remembering’ to ‘creating’.

This is the template I have developed as the first starter slide for each lesson – click on the image to download

Blooms starter template

Blooms starter template terms

I have also developed an example for a unit I teach on Plate tectonics with Year 7. Click on the image below to download the ppt to see how it works.

blooms starter earthquake

One box is added per lesson so that students can develop their higher order thinking skills as they acquire greater knowledge and develop their understanding through the unit.

Revision lessons

It’s that time of year again!

Trying to think of some different ways to tackle revision in lessons?

Link to presentation

Links used in presentation


Recommendation – In addition, you can access lots of other revision ideas, via this excellent document produced @RobGeog

The need for more complex sentence starters



Some initial thoughts…

Changes at GCSE and especially A Level mean that assessments will more often require students to demonstrate a higher level of knowledge, understanding and application through:

  • Analysis
  • Exploration
  • Evaluation
  • Synthesis

This therefore has implications for the way teachers prepare students to access the higher level marks.

As Lemov says, we first have to “identify particular habits of thinking [we] seek to foster, then draft phrases [we] could ask students to use to in starting sentences that would foster that type of thinking.”

Many teachers (including me) have used sentence starters and connectives like:

 Firstly…. This means that….

Also….. As a result….

or PEE (Point Example Explain)


These methods often work well, especially for weaker students, but directs them to basic explanation with one example.

In order to create more detailed and skilful answers, we need to help students to develop more complex sentences by providing them with more than single word sentence starters and connectives

Just because a student starts an A Level course, does not mean that they are suddenly able to write more complex answers than they could 3 months before when they were in Year 11. I know that the suggestion of using writing frames with Sixth formers sends shudders down the spine of some colleagues but now more than ever, I think they are essential.

Teaching the skills of developing complex sentences is now even more important considering the changes in assessment – especially at A Level.

So what might more complex sentence starters look like?

  • At first glance…….. However on closer  (ANALYSIS)
  • Although on the surface it may seem that… (EXPLORATION)
  • Throughout the text/source/article…… (identifying a common thread) (SYNTHESIS)
  • Perhaps, (writer’s name) was hinting that… (propose a tentative idea) (EXPLORATION)
  • Initially, ………..  Ultimately …………. (OVERVIEWS)
  • Overriding all other arguments…. (EVALUATION)
  • Several latent factors combine to create. .. (SYNTHESIS)
  • The balance of evidence suggests… (EVALUATION)




This post is based on Doug Lemov’s ideas that you can research in greater detail online, for example here and a presentation made by J. McMahon, Head of English and GCSE Examiner


Taking video notes

Whilst supporting in a GCSE RE lesson on Monday I saw a great little strategy to help students take notes whilst watching a video clip.

Often when viewing a video clip in a lesson, many students struggle to write all the useful information down. In addition, many will miss important visual points whilst they have their head down writing. The strategy below enables all the relevant information to be recorded and then shared within small groups.


Working in a group of four, decide who will be student A, B, C and D

Student A – Write down what you see

Student B – Write down what you hear

Student C – Write down relevant facts 

Student D – Write down something you didn’t know before

Once the video has finished, share your ideas with each other.

I liked the way that this strategy focused the students note taking and ensured that they also had time to watch the video without spending the whole time scribbling notes.