My most enjoyable time as a teacher!

Below are a few highlights of the last STEAM expedition ‘Why am I me?’
This has been by far my most enjoyable time whilst teaching in secondary.
All thanks to the hard work put in by C24 students and learning coaches of XP East.

Fieldwork: Leeds University


Presentation of learning and Final product: Student led experiment demo


Expedition Wall Curation: Photo of students at various stages of their life

‘Shape of You’ – Thank you Louie B!

Thank you to Louie B in 7 Explorer who chose the song ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran for an activity that opened our lesson today.

Students had to link the lyrics to what we are studying: ‘What does the community of Doncaster owe to the railway?’ It is an activity where students need to think really carefully about what the lyrics could mean within the context of what they are learning about.

Both myself and Miss Duffield were amazed with the connections that they made. Links to the lyrics revolved around previous studies around source work, economic and social benefits, indirect and direct employment, specific jobs, attitudes at the time and many more.

See if you can link the lyrics to Doncaster’s past!



Encouraging the active learner in MFL lessons

7X and 7P students are beginning to use transactional Spanish in their MFL lessons to make requests and ask for permission.  This week they have started building core vocabulary towards the 2000 – 2500 words that they will need to know as they reach GCSE standards.

On Wednesday they learnt 14 items of stationary that might be found in their pencil case and/or school bag. After half term – on the rare occasion that someone fails to bring basic equipment – it will only be issued to them if they can ask for it in Spanish. We used the random Wheeldecide roulette wheel to generate the focus for our learning check, and the Tarsia puzzle generator to create a grapple so that students could consolidate their knowledge.

The free Tarsia puzzle generator software can be downloaded onto Windows OS devices from the Hermitech Laboratories website. It is user-definable and extremely versatile, offering geometric tesselating puzzles that can be quickly and easily differentiated within the parameters established by the user.

Becoming a ‘Youtuber’

Explain Everything is an app that allows people to create videos and upload them to Youtube using an iPad and an Apple Pencil. It is designed to fit with any teaching and learning environment, and I have recently started using it to create learning resources in support of our expedition. 

I am no Steven Spielberg and I have a long way to go in terms of practice, but my first revision resource has really helped with our understanding of physics calculations in 7X.  I can also officially say I have become a ‘Youtuber’.

So if you have not already, subscribe to my channel via the this link!

Using student models in class

Creating WAGOLLs (What A Good One Looks Like) can help to show students what success looks like in practice for any particular task, and whilst this can definitely bring benefits to the learning process, models created by students can be so much more powerful.

In the analogue traditional classroom a teacher may seize the opportunity to do this by reading aloud a successful piece of work by a student. Sometimes however, this may be an abstract thing for the rest of the class as they can only hear it, but not see it.

The environment at XP allows us to use technology to quickly and effortlessly share models of student work visually – and at any time during the lesson. For instance, the Apple TV that is connected to the main TV in each of our classrooms allows us to use an iOS device like an iPhone or one of our iPads to quickly take a photo of a piece of work and airplay it to the TV in seconds. By using the pinch feature, you can zoom into a particular sentence, keyword or use of punctuation to then emphasise and visualise the success in action, leaving the abstract nature of the analogue method behind.

We’re also beginning to use the Notability app for the iPad Pro as the use of the Apple Pencil for the iPad allows you to draw on the screen and annotate student work which shows up on the TV in the classroom – all live and again at any time during the lesson.

We’re only 5 weeks into the first ever term at XP East, but we’re already developing the Teaching and Learning practices needed to ensure outstanding progress for our students.

The art of (silent) conversation

Our 7P students are preparing to write their first piece of reflective writing next week, where they’ll consolidate all their ideas and evidence around what makes a community successful.

Mrs Poncia introduced a new protocol in class this week: the ‘silent conversation.’ We presented the class with five different images (one on each table), gave them some marker pens and the instruction to move around each table, consider the image for a few moments, and then write down what it represented to them… all in complete silence!

This protocol gives students time for some focused thinking, allows them to reflect on the views of their classmates, and helps to stimulate new ideas for them to include in their own work.  It also means that all students have the same opportunity to share their thoughts with the rest of the class.  It really is a silent conversation!

At the end of the exercise we discussed the common theme, which we agreed was around the sense of ‘belonging’ to a community.

Mrs Parker

Let Wheel Decide!

Nothing to do with cycling this time! Just thought I’d share a great user-definable resource that you might not have come across before. It’s called “Wheel decide” and I’ve used it for AFL and random name generators/cold-calling type activities. You can choose what goes in the segments then let your students spin the roulette-style wheel. I intend to use this with 7P in STEAM tomorrow to check their understanding of core scientific terminology.

To generate your own go to:

Place your bets!!!!!

Memorable Mnemonics…

Everyone knows that Rowntrees Of York Give Best In Value and that My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies, right? But how many mnemonic devices can we share out with each other?

A mnemonic device is a useful tool to enable students to retain and recall key information, formulae, subject-specific concepts etc., especially when parted from their favourite device like when they might sit an exam.

This week I asked my Y9s to correctly conjugate one of the three Spanish verb types in the present tense as a learning check. On the left is a photo of one pair’s work.

Can you think why I asked them: “If You’re Happy Wriggle Your Toes”? This group took just 30 seconds to give me an answer. The question arose from CPD I attended a few years ago led by an MFL Ofsted Inspector

For those of you who might wish to inject some mnemonic devices into your teaching, there is a plethora of them out there on t’internet but many appear to come from USA-based websites. Try:


Metacognition and Learning.

Metacognition is a term I have heard used many times during the induction process at XP. This term was, for me, initially unfamiliar, however I noticed it was regularly used in reference to student learning. I wondered about why this term was being used so often and how it related to student’s learning and related to XP.

What does metacognition mean ?

The (dictionary) definition of metacognition is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes.

Metacognition is essentially Thinking about Thinking !

Metacognition is extremely useful when learning, it allows the student to take charge of their own learning. The more aware a learner becomes of how they learn, the more able they become to assess their own learning needs, this in turn allows the learner to generate and implement strategies to meet these needs and progress.

At XP our students are encouraged and supported to take the lead with their own learning, to take ownership of their learning, they take the lead in SLC’s ( student led conference). Students present their learning to parents explaining what they have achieved and why they have or have not reached their expected grade.

Giving students learning targets and guiding questions ensures they understand what they are aiming to achieve, they become aware of their long and short term targets and understand the need to learn that particular piece of information. Evaluation is equally important in the process as it allows students to establish what has worked well for them and what has not. All of these strategies help to students to understand their own thought process and how they learn. They are thinking about thinking.

Metacognition allows students and teachers become more efficient learners, they become more aware of what they know and what they don’t know. Students can then plan their time more effectively so they can fill the gaps.

Metacognition plays an important role in learning at XP, the protocols used within sessions as well as learning targets and guiding question all link to metacognition and allow students to confidently become leaders in their own learning.

Mrs Duffield.

This video explains metacognition and how it links to learning.


iPads in the classroom

One of the latest approaches to using technology in the classroom is the use of iPads. Teachers and developers are constantly devising innovative ways of using apps in the classroom to create quality resources and experiences for students. After all, some of the most advanced technology for reading, learning, and communicating is literally at our fingertips.

However, simply providing an iPad and saying it will increase learning of course isn’t enough. Careful and thoughtful deployment of this new technology is required. When used strategically, the possibilities for teaching and learning are endless. iPads allow for immediate feedback  to students, all-class participation, simplifying collection of materials, annotating and many more. iPads could never replace quality teaching but when used in partnership, increase engagement and enhance learning.