8 Pioneer have been busy working incredibly hard over the last couple of weeks towards their English Learning Target:

I can evaluate texts critically explaining and analysing how they use language and structure to achieve effects and influence the reader.  

We have been understanding how Lennie is presented by acting out extracts from Of Mice and Men, undertaking quotation explosions, zooming in on the meanings of words, making inferences and understanding how Steinbeck’s language choices affect the reader. This has been a step up from last year and at times has been a struggle for some in Pioneer – but they persevered and I’m so proud of the work they produced and their attitude towards their learning.

Mrs Poncia gave us a visit during our lesson and she was so pleased with what she saw she wrote this on the praise sheet:

“Superb focus in HUMAN when completing their first assessed piece of writing. Well done, Everyone!”

We’re moving onto our History learning target now looking at the question:

“The most significant cause of The Great Depression was the Dust Bowl.

How far do you agree with this statement?”

We began to identify and explain the numerous causes which lead up to the Great Depression, such as the First World War, overproduction of goods and the unequal distribution of wealth. We’ll continue analysing these causes to come to a conclusion about whether the Dust Bowl was the most significant cause of the Great Depression.

Keep up the hard work 8Pioneer!

8Pioneer Extended Study

8 Pioneer have now had the big reveal of their first Hums expedition in year 8 ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ which will focus around the theme of migration (past and present).

Our anchor text ‘Of Mice and Men’ will be explored and analysed so in preparation for this, the students have been set an ongoing extended study to learn 33 different literary terms and devices such as oxymoron, anaphora and protagonist, as well as an example (they have been given a list of these in today’s lesson). Image result for of mice and men book

They will be quizzed on these terms next week – how many can you remember Pioneer?

8 Pioneer have got off to a flying start in their Hums immersion week! I’ve been so impressed with how they have stepped up to being in year 8 and there’s a noticeable increase in maturity in the class that has developed since year 7. The new expedition will be revealed on Monday and I am super excited about this one – I think it’ll be the best yet! I’m already blown away by how hard the class is working and how focused and insightful they are in their discussions and work when trying to figure out the content and guiding question of this expedition. At times I felt like I was back at university – it’s easy to forget these students are only 12 due to their attitude towards learning.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to this week:

We began with a Quiz Quiz Trade protocol to learn new vocabulary which will be central to our anchor text and we found out some hints about where the text (and some of our expedition will be set)  –  a few miles south of Soledad.

We were lucky enough to have a visit from Geoff, our expert, who spoke to the students about what makes a good film and the various different roles that are involved in pre-production, production and post-production. It was then over to the students to create a film which followed their brief. Geoff then visited us again to watch the films and give feedback on what went well and how they can be improved. I’d like to mention Marcus and Ralph’s carefully crafted interview scene which was comedy gold and we all thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Maybe we have some future Oscar winners amongst us!


Next, we completed a gallery walk – this has definitely been the best one Pioneer have done so far. The focus and insight shown when thinking of questions, wonders, connections between the images, to their prior knowledge and society was another level of brilliant.

Building on from our Quiz Quiz Trade protocol we analysed the opening extract of our unknown anchor text to understand the setting. We really got to grips with the imagery of the text by following a ‘paint what you hear’ protocol – we will finish these next week but its wonderful to see how each student has began to interpret the words of the text.

I cannot praise Pioneer enough for their work this week and if they continue at the rate they are they will get so much out of this expedition – I’m super proud of them all!

E25 will be holding the Presentation of Learning for their current expedition ‘Three Cheers for Trees!’ on Thursday 18th July at 5.30pm.

Students have been working extremely hard throughout their expedition and this will be an opportunity for them to share their learning with parents, carers and visitors.

We will also have a surprise to share with you at the end of the evening – the grand revealing of our final product!

We look forward to seeing you!

Image result for the lorax
  • What is the difference between a meter and a metre?
  • How could we use two straws, an elastic band and two paper clips to find the mass of an object?
  • How is mass related to weight?

All this and more will be revealed at our STEAM Presentations of Learning on 10th and 11th July (click here for further information)

Family are invited to come along and find out from our student experts, but expect to be asked about your own learning!

7 Pioneer Fieldwork Reminder

On Tuesday 2nd July, Pioneer will be taking part in fieldwork linked to our current expedition, ‘Three Cheers for Trees!’

Students will be heading to a location not too far away.

Fieldwork will take part during the normal school day with students travelling on our school minibuses.

Students will require a packed lunch, appropriate footwear and clothing as we will be outside for the day – whatever the weather!

Fingers crossed, if the sun is shining, please ensure students bring plenty to drink (no fizzy drinks or glass bottles) and suncream.

‘Three Cheers for Trees!’ Fieldwork

Next week, E25 will be taking part in fieldwork linked to our current expedition, ‘Three Cheers for Trees!’

Students will be heading to a location not too far away on the following dates:

7Pioneer: Tuesday 2nd July

7Explorer: Friday 5th July

Fieldwork will take part during the normal school day with students travelling on our school minibuses.

Students will require a packed lunch, appropriate footwear and clothing as we will be outside for the day whatever the weather!

Fingers crossed, if the sun is shining, please ensure students bring plenty to drink (no fizzy drinks or glass bottles) and suncream.

Image result for trees quote where are we going

E25’s final HUMAN expedition is called ‘Three Cheers for Trees’.

For our final product we will be creating a piece of graffiti artwork which encompasses the messages and learning of this expedition. For example, deforestation, the rainforest and the importance of trees in our environment due to the services they provide.

The artwork will be on a wall in our school (cheers Gywn!) and every child in E25 will make their mark in the product.  The inspiration for the final product came from our anchor text – Dr Seuss’s The Lorax. We watched this film during Immersion Week and saw the mural dedicated to the trees which are loved so dearly. I’m sure ours will look even better! Related image

So that we could create beautiful work we are very pleased to be working alongside an expert, Craig, who has been running design and practical sessions with the students to create the image and build technique with the spray paints. The first group to experience the practical session was E2 and it’s safe to say they had a great time!

I think the students found that using spray paints is harder than it looks – Craig was able to explain to the group how the paint would react differently when sprayed close/far away from the surface and the difference in the outcome when spraying quickly and slowly. The students responded well to his advice and they were clearly writing their names in no time, he was very impressed!


E1 and E3 will have their practical sessions on Monday 24th June. It is advised they come to school in clothes they do not mind getting paint on as it is permanent – just in case!

In our STEAM lessons this week, Year 7 have been grappling with the concept of speed, distance and time.  We have been using constructivist principles of learning to develop understanding, by kicking the week off with a practical investigation outside, measuring the time and distance travelled when we walk fast or slow.

We then discussed the relationships we could see in our data and some data generated from the ‘Marbleympics’ 5m sprint.  We noticed that when the speed changes, the time and/or distance change and there is a direct relationship between this; ultimately we deduced the equation:

In today’s session Explorer were applying this by substituting our own data, with the challenge being to use the equation in unfamiliar contexts – check out Faith’s attempt at four of the challenge questions on the photos below!  The level of engagement in this task was excellent, and not only did I have a lot of verbal praise to give individuals, as well as the class as a whole, but we also had a spontaneous round of applause!  Zak was using purple pen to remind himself of how to improve his calculations next time, and Caiden and Sami got their heads together to see where they went wrong in their calculations and correct them.

We also tried out some new more flexible seating arrangements to support us in building our confidence; as we experiment we find we have different skills and qualities to offer one another in our problem solving and all students engaged really positively in the process.  I loved Marshall’s quote, particularly as he had rated his confidence at the beginning of the lesson as a 1 out of 3, but at the end of the lesson he said “this is a breeze now!”

Our learning focus this week has been to keep trying to get ‘unstuck’, even when we are grappling with something new or a concept we can’t quite get our head around; at XP East it’s all about getting to the top of the next ‘mountain’.  That’s why we have a new quote on the wall from Carl Sagan:

When you make the finding yourself, even if you’re the last person on Earth to see the light, you’ll never forget it“.

Yesterday during community meeting Mrs Poncia asked X25 about their highlight of the week, and I amongst other members of my crew struggled to pick! We have just six weeks left of this academic year, it is wild to think how quickly my crew’s first year at high school has passed and how much we’ve crammed into 2018-2019.

Both staff and students are winding up to the grand finale of the STEAM and Human expeditions, where they will be working on final products and preparing to share their learning in a presentation of learning. In STEAM, they are continuing on with ‘Escape Earth’ and yesterday their new Human expedition was announced.

On Tuesday X25 visited the Jodrell Bank Space Observatory, which is home to the UK’s largest radio telescope and the 3rd largest in Europe! Each student was immersed in workshops and classes that allowed them to discover elements of our universe, experience Newton’s Laws, and watch real accounts of the astronauts that visit the Space Station. I’ve uploaded the video file above, check out the incredible resources and facilities that we had access to!

We will be taking the lessons we learned from the specialists back into school to help answer the expeditions guiding question:

“Should humans leave Earth?”

With growing reports of the danger that climate change poses, and the scientific advancements in the technology that could allow us to potentially re-locate our species to another planet, X25 will be concluding what they think the future for our species and our home will be. I can’t wait to hear their responses.

I chose the backing track for the video from an album I really love by a band called Public Service Broadcasting, I was struck by this line that was originally part of a JFK speech from 1962:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things
Not because they are easy, but because they are hard”

I’m taking this particular message back to crew this week. We will be encountering difficulty over the next six weeks with deadlines. We will be setting up Student Led Conferences over the coming weeks, to reflect on and review this years work. We will be finalising products and developing our presentations of learning. It may be the last few weeks, but as per every other day we spend at XP East, I hope that each of my 12 crew members recognises that despite this work being hard, it is also extremely important, and that working hard, getting smart and being kind is fundamental if we are to achieve.