Outstanding Tips and Techniques

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I have put this to the top of the page. I really don't know why we have missed it out, because it is the most important thing of all!!

Here are a couple of things that have been criticised by HMI and LA I in our school:
1) There was no new learning in the lesson. It might have been a lovely lesson with children busy and engaged, producing super work, but did they actually learn anything new?
Consider: do ALL children learn each lesson? They SHOULD! Think a real problem people have with this is that of course children can't do new learning all the time they need to consolidate too, its how you address this in way that shows they needed the consolidating and show this to the pupils and the person observing. Any good ideas for that? Bluerose1
Ask the students "what can you do now that you couldn't do when you came in?". Make explicit to both students and observers the progress that's been made. Crg
2) The teaching and learning did not address the stated learning objective(s).
Again, it might have been a super lesson for all sorts of reasons but did the children learn what you said they would learn?.And did their independent work closely address the objective(s)?

Tip: Sometimes LOs are too big and it is not possible to address them properly. Don't just quote an objective from the framework or NC; break it down into a tiny chunk, into what exactly they will know or be able to do by the end of the lesson.
eg Express one quantity as a percentage of another (e.g. express £400 as a percentage of £1000); find equivalent percentages, decimals and fractions is far too broad. How do you know exactly what to teach and how can you assess if they have achieved this LO?
Try - use a calculator to convert fractions to decimals
or use a calculator to convert fractions to decimals and order on a number line.
and make sure they can do it by the end of the lesson! And make sure they KNOW they can do it!
(Gertie) Think using the Shirley Clarke Process criteria is really good way of showing children the steps to reach the objective ~ Bluerose1


This is about the kind of buzz where children have a fast mix of listening, thinking and doing activities with lots of changes.

Just found this and thought id add it here and then use it on discussion too

Interactive Teaching is:

  • Inclusive: everyone is expected to contribute and to learn

  • Rooted in speaking and listening: talking to explain, understand and learn

  • Collaborative: working and progressing together

  • Motivating: maximum opportunities for participation

  • Thought provoking: emphasising enquiry, problem solving and depth of knowledge

  • Varied: appealing to and teaching a range of different learning style

~ Bluerose

Sitting on the carpet

Children should not spend too long on the carpet. One formula used is a minute for each year of age. Even if you think they are really learning, don;t go on and on. Get them up and away with an open question to talk through with partner then gather back and share ideas before proceeding.

Think this is crucial teachers regularly hang on to class for far too long talking at them this is counterproductive as they cant retain all you tell them as they switch off (as we do as adults) plus if you've a lively class they will also misbehave. Practice jotting down times during teaching as you move on to see how long you REALLY spent on each part as often its longer than you intended/planned for or thought! Try moving them eg start on carpet move to desk. Have interactive things to do eg fans, getting up and using IWB etc make it snappy
~Bluerose Make sure that if you want them on carpet for oral and mental and then for main teaching session that they do several activities eg white boards fans etc that they are ALL having an active part and that they actually all get up and move at some point. Its a real shame when you observe a lesson all kids are engaged and then as time goes on you watch them start to switch off, disengage and slowly if you are really unlucky misbehave and all because you spent too long sitting still.~ Bluerose
No hands up
Lots of people now advocate the no hands up policy - all pupils have a lolly stick with name on and all have to work out answers and be ready. This does work as sometimes some kids have learnt to not bother trying as inadvertantly teachers dont ask some pupils some sorts of questions. Also good practice to get answer of more than one pupil.~ Bluerose1

Talk partners

Part of questioning. Shirley Clark is really good on this. Instead of just one fast child answering the question, and all the others not really thinking, each child has a talk partner to exchange their answer with. Talk partners can be friends, the person they sit with, can be matched for ability or mixed. Shirley thinks best is random pairs, changed every couple of weeks. I use names on a stick and draw them out without looking!! really!

Not sure how you use the sticks Gertie, but a friend of mine has a pot with lolly sticks with names on. The chn get themselves into pairs depending on who they're sitting next to. Once they have discussed a certain topic/question, teacher draws a name from the pot and then asks them what their partner's opinion was. That way they can't really make it up as they go along if they have been off task. Has worked really well and they all talk productively now (well...most of the time!).

Mine are lollipop type sticks with a laminated butterfly glued on - each with a child's name on. I use them to draw who their work/talk partner is for the week. They also sit next to that person for everything except Maths and English. I always match a boy with a girl. This ensures that some sad individuals who are left out always get included.
I also use them, totally random draw, to select small groups to work together, and to draw whose work they are going to peer review that day. (Gertie)

Hot seating

This is fantastic for some literacy work, particularly issues and dilemmas, the children come forward and take roles from a story and we question them further to see why the character makes certain decisions. It really helps the children get into the mind of the character, and is particularly good for children who struggle to make the story visual, their comprehension rockets using this technique. But don't use it all the time or the effect is lessened! Obviously would be great for History too, anyone got ideas of how to use it in other subjects, I think using hot-seating in Maths if appropriate, would make for a really interesting lesson!

My colleague and I recently put our two classes together to do hotseating with a difference. We did it in the style of Blind Date - there was a character from the book who was torn between two sisters (could work for Cinderella etc). The man had been given the questions, but the two sisters had to choose their answers based on how they behaved throughout the book. It worked really well!

Open questions

It is essential that teachers use open questions to encourage children to think and not simply respond to more closed questions. A closed question would be one with one answer whereas open questions have several responses and could involve a pupil in explaining thinking/methods etc. The recommended Shirley Clarkes Formative Assessment in action has good section on this. This link is also good http://teachertools.londongt.org/?page=questioningTechniques

Using success criteria

For me its Shirley Clarkes process success criteria that work.
For this you need to look at a simple learning objective shared with pupils which should not be mixed up with the context ie if writing instructions to get to Red Riding Hood Grannys house LO should be writing instructions or something like that and not the bit about Red RH this is because pupils need to see that the skill they learn in one lesson is being carried forward to next and so on and if its linked to context they tend not to be able to see this.
Then the success criteria are the little steps the pupils make to get to the learning objective eg in this case start each instruction with a verb, number points, etc id also include something about how much i expect groups to do as a minimum.
Encourage children to tick these off as they go along, in mini plenaries refer to them and at end of lesson let children try to use these to see if theyve met learning objective. If anyone can write this better please do.

I agree with the Shirley Clarke ideas. Also, she thinks it is far more effective if children create their own success criteria after looking at good examples.

For example: ask children for the features of a playscript, after reading several. Collate them, put them into a little table with tick boxes (older able children could do this for the whole class?) and then when they come to writing their own, they have the success criteria on display to refer to. They can then either self- or peer-mark their work, ticking off the criteria they have met. It works really well. (Though I have been criticised for having too many items on the success criteria list - the idea was that the whole class could use the same list, irrespective of ability, and I felt it worked - the person observing just saw a long list. I still think it worked as I got good writing from all of them. But then I'm biased!)

Peer review

OFSTED like this!
Before doing their work, they look at several good examples and create their success criteria (remember to ... statements)
After doing the work, they check someone else's against these, and evaluate. Good formats are
- 2 stars and a wish
- praise sandwich (something good, something to improve, then another thing done well).
- what you have done well, followed by what you could improve.
These must only be against the success criteria.
I use stickers for the captions for each of these and children write in the space. They sign their name as marker too. I also get them to highlight the two or three best bits.

Self review

OFSTED like children to evaluate and progress their own learning and this is something that really notches up the points. Before doing their work, they look at several good examples and create their success criteria (remember to ... statements) After doing the work, they check against these and write their own evaluation of their work.

Chn should be given a title starting with "Can I...?". Then, at the end of the lesson, chn can put a red, amber or green circle next to the title which indicates how they felt about that particular piece of work.

JT recently suggested putting objective on IWB and getting chn to sign their name next to how they feel about that objective. Can then print it off at the end of the lesson and keep in a folder. Would work really well, as you would have the first page of your flipchart with obj on anyway and can just go back to it for chn to add names to.

Just wanted to add that I have started doing this and it is remarkably easy, but has fab results that you can see at a glance where your chn think they are with a particular objective. I have saved a flipchart with a massive green rectangle, smaller amber rectangle and small red rectangle and names at the top, as well as the date and objective, which are changed daily. During the plenary, or during guided work, chn decide where they are according to the objective. I then print off the flipchart page and keep it on my working wall. I have also ticked next to those I agree with and edited those I disagree with by circling and drawing an arrow. Surprisingly easy and a fantastic idea from Juliateacher - thank you :)
Lit flipchart self assessment blank.flp

~Jog_on - Spreading the word of JT!!!!


I got praised specifically for telling children how long they had to do each item in the lesson, warning them when in the last minute. (There were lots of very short activities) I also like to use the fiery ideas timer every now and again - not too often though, as it loses effectiveness, and only for short timings - a minute or two.

Five part Lessons

This is a new thing - introduced to us by our ISP consultant. The old three part lesson is no longer considered sufficient to ensure a lesson with good pace. Unfortunately, I can't find the info sheet of paper, in amongst the stack on my desk.

Quality Marking

This needs to be specific against success criteria and learning objective and is good if follow the wish and star type idea whereby you say two or three good points about the work again linked to objective if possible and possibly highlighted pink in some schools then look for the wish the thing they could improve some highlight this green for growth i think. Set this as a short improvement task eg re write this sentence using punctuation, write three good powerful verbs that you could have used in this piece or rewrite this sentence adding in adjectives and verbs . Then at the start of next session pupils need some reponse time to read comment and complete the activity. This ensures youre marking for a purpose not just for inspection which sometimes happen as kids ignore it. For younger pupils this might actually be done alongside child in lesson but same effect.

And you can't just tick and write well done!!

Links to previous learning

During any observed discussion/teaching, make sure you demonstrate that you continually assess understanding and refresh learning of related issues - as you are going along. If you can deal with them there and then, don't be afraid to side track and pick up points where they may have misconceptions, even if they are not in your lesson plan, as long as you do not let them take over, or say that you realise they need to know a little more about that, and that you will plan to look at it next lesson. Link as much as you can to previous learning or wider issues, but remain focused.

Quality Speaking and Listening Opportunities (across the curriculum!)

It's really important that chn get to have their own say and that you encourage them to use appropriate language and vocabulary, whatever area of the curriculum.

Following document gives lots of info about S+L in maths (should be ok to put it on here, as it is freely available on the net).