I recently read an interesting article on the TES online by Alex Quigley, English teacher and Director of Learning and Research, entitled ‘How to plan for and teach tricky vocabulary’. Introducing pupils to new vocabulary takes place in all subjects and as Alex explained it is essential to the success of pupil progression. Grasping subject specific terminology naturally increases vocabulary and provides pupils with a deeper level of subject knowledge and understanding. In the Humanities subjects I teach pupils are regularly introduced to new vocabulary, it is a key feature and skill within the subject. Subject specific vocabulary can often be very challenging for pupils. Difficulties can occur with reading and pronouncing the keywords, which is why modelling is an excellent starting point such as repeating the words for pupils. Also, understanding the terminology in a contextual setting can be a struggle. Alex offers a lot of great advice and strategies. I wanted to share some resources that I have created and used with pupils, across the curriculum and with different key stages, to help expand their vocabulary whilst linking to their subject knowledge and further developing their Literacy skills. All of the resources in this post can be used and adapted for different subjects, as shown with my examples. Keywords within our subject area can also be particularly challenging for both SEN and EAL pupils. A useful strategy with EAL pupils is to encourage them to translate the word, using a dictionary to check if they are already familiar with the term in their first language. I am also working with the EAL department at my College, they offer so much support and have a wealth of experience working with pupils understanding of keywords. I have differentiated the resources to suit the needs of my pupils or seen differentiation by outcome in regards to level of depth, detail and understanding.
In addition to my teaching role I am also a House tutor. I thoroughly enjoy this pastoral role as it provides a great opportunity to build positive relationships with my pupils, not just focusing on the academic elements. Being a tutor allows me to take part in tutor and whole school activities that differ to my teaching role. The start of year is a very important time for teachers to get to know their pupils and as mentioned build those crucial positive relationships. It is also very important for pupils to get to know each other, as well as feeling comfortable and confident in school.
There are lots of different versions of Bingo that can be played. Walkabout Bingo is a favourite with my classes and this game encourages students to interact with each other and use/consolidate their subject knowledge.
Walkabout Bingo is a simple yet effective idea for the classroom. To play this game there needs to be a series of boxes, the amount of boxes can vary depending on class size or time dedicated to the activity. In each box there will be a question, focusing on the topic or lesson. In the same box a space to write the answer and underneath, still in the same box, it will say ‘name’. The aim of the game is to have all the boxes filled with correct answers but students must get their answers from other members of the class. They cannot answer the question on their sheet themselves; they can only answer for other people. Also, they can only ask someone a question once – hence the name in the box. So a student will go up to someone in their class, ask them the question, write down their answer and write down the name of the person who told them the answer then find someone else to answer their next question.
On a Friday afternoon I often share teaching resources on Twitter, like many other teachers do, using the hashtag #PedagooFriday. The Zone of Relevance resource generated a lot of interest. I was contacted by teachers asking for further explanation and asking questions, which is understandable as 140 characters can be very limited!
The Zone of Relevance works best with GCSE and A-Level students because it is very useful to complete when preparing and planning an exam answer. However, it can be used with other year groups and across the curriculum. The idea behind this is that students recognise what information is relevant for a specific exam answer and essential to achieve exam marks. It also helps students prioritise information. This task supports students to understand what they should and should not include in their answer. This will highlight what information is irrelevant to that specific question to prevent common mistakes being made.
Learning grids, also known as questioning grids, are brilliant! After experimenting with the resource I felt inspired to create learning grids that I could use with my classes. Learning grids appeal to students because they’re an enjoyable learning activity. The learning grids can be adapted for any subject and different key stages. Learning grids require a class set of dice. Students will roll the dice twice – to give them a number they can use for the horizontal and vertical line (for example 2 across and 4 down).
Keyword grids are so simple and easy to create, brilliant for teachers! There are lots of different ways the keyword grids can be used, again brilliant for teachers and students!
I created my keyword grids using the Moldiv app, with the photo collage feature and the text was created using the Typorama app. However, the grid can easily be created on Word, PowerPoint or Keynote.
Your mission should you choose to accept it…
Who isn’t excited at the thought of a secret mission – even if it is in the classroom!
The secret mission cards are a resource that I created with specific students in mind, I think students are often the inspiration behind creative resources! All students have their own unique strengths, areas for improvements and targets. These targets could be related to behaviour, effort, literacy and so on. A way to help individual students focus on their targets and make progress in the lesson is through the fun secret mission cards.
I created a class set of secret mission cards for the different individuals in that class. Examples include the following;
Timelines are often used by History teachers because they are an excellent and effective method to help pupils develop their chronological awareness and understanding. Timelines can support pupils gaining a historical overview of a period, assist in recalling key dates, events and individuals and also visualise how progress, developments and change have occurred over time. A positive/negative timeline goes beyond putting events in chronological order and requires discussion, analysis and reaching a judgement.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar are an essential part of learning and communication. Teachers and students understand the importance of SPaG and if they don’t, have a word!
I have shared this idea before on Twitter and at various Teach Meet events where I have presented. The concept itself may come across as a gimmick but students have responded really well to this activity! Reflecting upon that point, metacognition is a massively important element of successful learning. By stressing the importance of certain elements of learning, such as spelling, grammar and punctuation, children are able to ensure that it is at the front of their mind when learning in class. This is why, whilst on the face of it seemingly ‘gimmicky’ the SPaG watch activity really is an integral part of learning in my classroom.
Nobody wants to recieve a speeding ticket! However, if someone has recieved a speeding ticket it is likely the fine and/or points will act as a future deterrent to help the driver learn from their motoring mistake!
I have introduced speeding tickets into my classroom…