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Pedagogy Plus

This page is a collection of ideas that I have found useful over the years

Starter and Plenaries Thinking Skills Visual Stimuli Misconceptions Marking
Assessment Behaviour Management Mental Maths Questioning Skills and the Estimation Learning Styles

Growth Mindset for Teachers


When teaching we should:

Make mistakes on purpose or otherwise, and model a positive response to those

Do not praise correct answers. They are their own reward, and over time such praise only serves to intimidate students from speaking up if they’re not 100% confident

If you must praise something: praise student participation when they speak up even when they are unsure — whether their answer is correct or not.


We all know that teaching is an emotional roller coaster - we are thrilled if a class goes well, depressed if it doesn't. But the reality, I'm afraid, is that every lesson we teach is a failure in one respect or another: some students found it too difficult or too easy; some students were engaged, but didn't learn what we had hoped; some students picked up some skills, but not the underlying concepts; and so on. I'm not saying this to bring you down. Quite the opposite: we learn a lot by paying attention to these daily challenges -- in fact, they are the main avenue to professional growth, especially if we discuss them with our colleagues - Click here for full article

The Power of Teacher Expectations

Mr Laing was my year 8 Maths teacher. He was a rare breed indeed. He helped me, and my fellow pimple-clad teens, find mathematics interesting. Intermittently, he would betray a deep excitement about a mathematics problem or reveal that he had woken up in the middle of the night with an answer to some mathematics concept. We were incredulous – being excited by mathematics was anathema. Soon enough, incredulity became intrigue. Over time, he made us think that such interest might be possible for us too.

Mr Laing had once been like us, he had told us. He didn’t like Maths either at school – he had found it too difficult. He spoke about how he had persevered and something had inexplicably clicked. Though still difficult, it had become gradually easier. He found pleasure in what W. B. Yeats termed, “the fascination of what’s difficult“. Maths became his passion.

Over the course of a year or two, with the implicit language of high expectation and an unremitting belief in our capacity to be better at mathematics we became believers.

What magic was this? What trickery? - Click here for the full article

Head Guru Teacher [Tom Sherrington - Headteacher KEGS Chelmsford]

In all the talk of improving teaching and learning, sometimes – no often – there is too much talk about the model OfSTED lesson.  Too often this leads teachers into thinking of idealised lessons than can only be turned out in special circumstances or that Outstanding lessons require us to devise an elaborate box of tricks to show off with. However, as I have said elsewhere,it is the 99% of lessons that are never observed that really matter.  So, we need to focus on things that we do every day.

Two related ideas:

1) It is the spirit of an idea that is important, not the letter.  It isn’t about sticking to the rules. When good practice is embedded it is organic and doesn’t feel like a stuck-on activity plucked from a toolkit. (Mary James)

2) In improving as teachers, we are not collecting tools, we seeking to change our habits… the things we do automatically every day. (Dylan William)

I am creating a series of short posts called Great Lessons that focus on aspects of routine practice – because lessons can be routinely outstanding - For the 2013 Posts as a single pdf - Click here



Behaviour Management


To the right is a really nice simple set of 5 rules which covers all bases


Sam Webb put this spreadsheet together in order to reward positive behaviour in the classroom as well as monitor negative and to make success a competitive group activity.  This spreadsheet tracks behaviour over a maximum of two sets of 10 lessons - Click here

Improving Student Motivation - 21 Pointers

Behaviour Management Strategies from Bill Rogers - Top 10 Tips - Click here

The following pointers are taken from some INSET I deliver to NQTs

Classroom Guidelines

1.             Be realistic in your expectations

2.             Orderly lined up on entry

3.             Check shoes, shirts on entry – ways of doing this nicely

4.             Starter activity on board

5.             Clear instructions and an aim – its place in the overall scheme (progression)

6.             Have at least one point where you pull the class together to share ideas – importance of all listening  

7.             A change of task, break the lesson up into small chunks

8.             End of lesson – timing, setting homework ... be in control


Avoiding Problems

1.        What is it like to be in one of your lessons?

2.        Planning – can you justify your lesson plan

3.        Variety – pupils have differing needs

4.        Write your expectations in their exercise book

5.        Enthusiasm for your subject

6.        Enjoyment of teaching

7.        Humour

8.        Praise

9.        Links with Parents

10.    Be realistic in your expectations

11.    Ignore some minor irritations – calling out answers

12.    Avoid OTT threats; do not escalate too quickly, leave room for progression

13.    Take care about being confrontational and putting yourself or the pupil in a corner

14.    Be humane and acknowledge a humorous comment

15.    Credit the good rather than focusing on the bad – (black dot analogy)




Top Tips for Dealing with Conflict


1.       If many are off task then stop the whole class, ask someone to explain and set them off again.

2.       A disapproving look, click of the fingers and pointing whilst continuing to teach

3.       Getting quiet by waiting silently, a clap, tapping the table, pin drop

4.       Acknowledge the answer but not its manner of delivery

5.       As you walk around the class have a word with individuals – let them know you are aware

6.       A quiet word at the start or end of a lesson

7.       Names on board

8.       Seating Plan

9.       Monitor noise levels, clear expectations, maybe visually

10.    Use of a question to refocus a pupil

11.    Care regarding secondary misbehaviour

12.    Reward system

13.    Keep calm - Try not to shout except in rare occasions – element of surprise

14.    Vary tone of voice, be interesting to listen to

15.    For time wasters – jot down the time in the margin regularly

16.    Know your audience when making comments etc…

17.    Use professional judgement – personal behaviour with regards to boys/girls

18.    Be prepared to apologise if you make a mistake

19.    If there is a small scale conflict that you can’t assign blame to, put the onus back on them for a solution

20.    Admit defeat and live to fight another day

21.    Don’t punish whole class & be consistent

22.    Follow through with punishments

23.    Talk with pupils out of lesson one-one

24.    When possible explain your decisions


This TedEd YouTube site has some superb 5min Video Clips beautifully presented and thought provoking - Click here

Websites and Blogs

A superb site with bogs and articles covering a wide range of teaching topics - Click here

This site has thousands of ready made flashcards that can be used as starters or plenaries - or make your own [No need to register just use the search facility at the top of the page] - Click here


This simple idea which enables the students to easily let the teacher know whether: 
(a) They do not require help       (b) Require help but they can wait                  (c) They urgently require help           from Sarah @mathequalslove - Click here

Top 6 Evidence Based Strategies

           Click here for full Article


Don't spoil the surprise - Click here
4 Reasons not to use write Lesson Objectives on the board - Click here


One example is this excellent Blog exploring the issue of differentiation with some really nice practical ideas to implement in the classroom - Click here

Challenging the Most Able - Click here

Feedback Marking and Assessment

Eight Ways to Reduce Your Marking @GuardianTeach    Click here   

1 Stop writing too much
There is little evidence to suggest that extensive written comments, often in different coloured pens, have a big impact on pupil progress. In fact, over-marking can take the responsibility away from students, reduce their motivation and make them less resilient. So it’s reasonable to save your wrist.

2 Careless mistakes don’t need to be corrected
Teachers shouldn’t correct a student’s work where they have merely made a careless mistake, according to research – mark the error don’t worry about correcting it. Instead, research advises teachers to focus on areas where students show an underlying misunderstanding. The latter is likely to be a chronic or habitual issue, while the former would be an occasional lapse, so a good old fashioned cross beside silly mistakes is as good as anything.

3 Don’t grade every piece of work
Students tend to focus disproportionately on the grade and are less likely to take note of the formative advice. The research in this area is complex, but most studies agree that having a grade and a comment can lessen the impact of the comments.

4 Stop doing the tick and flick
There’s pretty much no evidence to suggest that acknowledgement marking (the tick-and-flick approach) has any impact. The Oxford report concludes that this form of marking “could be reduced without any negative effect on student progress”. Generic praise can also fall into this category. A quick “well done” or “good effort” might feel like it’s not time consuming, but multiplied over several sets of books this endeavour can really clock up the minutes without adding much impact because students often aren’t clear exactly which bit they have done well. The report suggests pupils can detect insincerity too, so better to save your red ink for something specific and genuine.

5 Be led by pupils’ needs
The DfE report is clear that marking should be led by pupils’ needs rather than a mechanistic timetable. (Easier said than done if your school imposes such a timetable, of course.) 
Schools can also obsess over consistency between teams and departments, but the guidance is equally clear that this can be as simple as having “consistently high standards”. Variation in practice, where led by student need, is perfectly acceptable.
'I wish they would write more clearly': students speak out about marking

6 Don’t believe misconceptions about Ofsted
Ofsted, like any perceived villain of the piece, tends to generate a lot of rumours and misunderstanding. The guidance, though, is clear: they have no specific expectations in terms of frequency, quantity, type or volume of marking. They do, however, expect to see teachers adhering to their school’s assessment policy, so this is another one which relies on the leadership.

7 Change the culture
It’s easy for a martyr mentality to creep into staffrooms. This holds that the more time you spend marking, the better a teacher you are. It’s a truth worth stating – publically, if you’re in leadership – that neither time, nor word count nor leaving work late equal effectiveness.

8 Realise that marking is not the be all and end all
In a hyper-accountable system, written marking has become the big beast of feedback, in part because it can be easily checked. But the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. The workload review group report states that its aim is to “shrink the importance that marking has gained over other forms of feedback”. It even says: “If the hours spent do not have the commensurate impact on student progress, stop [doing] it”. You have been told.

Consider using a Feedback Sheet to reduce written feedback and adding value to your marking - Click here

My Favourite NO - Using wrong answers to extend learning - Click here

Marking Essays - Some thoughts

Encouraging Independence - Mark with a dot - Click here

RAG123 Assessment Criteria - Click here

Getting Feedback right (2 Part article from The Learning Spy) - Click here

Improving Written Feedback - Click here

Thought on what makes effective, efficient Marking - Click here

If you want to check pupils understanding of the work they have covered and want more than a Red, Amber Green response then try this easy self assessment approach - Click here

Elizabeth Alexander has developed this self assessment model which could be adapted for other subjects - Click here

Use the Meta Menu which requires pupils to reflect upon their learning during the 3 main phases of a lesson - Click here

Get pupils to request any work they are proud of to be emailed home by drawing a Selfie - Click here

Starters and Plenaries

Plenaries on a Plate - 168 Plenary Ideas - Click here
Plenary Review Grid - Click here
Plenary Ideas Page - Click here


Give the pupils the flexibility to select how they will present their homework                          Make a Pizza - Click here
                                                                                                     (Nando's Take Away Homework) - Click here          
                                                                                                                 Angles Maths Examples - Click here
Algebra Maths Examples - Click here









Teaching Activities

Passing Mindmaps - Click here

Jane Broxton used Passing Mindmaps when Revising - Systems Life Cycle:  She recounts that the lesson went well, passing the mindmap was fun for the students their feedback and comments were as follows:
Something different, fun and engaging
Good interaction gets everyone talking the topic
It made me think about the content and what to write
Allowed me to read other students inputs
She finished with students researching to fill in any gaps and said she will be using this again as it is a good way to get students to revise a topic and share their knowledge.


Provide students with or allow the students to create a list of advantages and disadvantages on a particular concept or topic.  The students then work together and discuss which will have the largest positive and negative impact - Click here to download a blank go to this page


Developing Questioning

Questioning Prompts while withholding the answer - Click here

An idea to encourage pupils to develop their own questions or it can be used as an assessment model - Click here      Alternative Example - Click here

A comprehensive list of Action Words to support Questioning for both teachers and pupils - Click here

Using Blooms to improve Planning - Click here

Blooms Action Words - Click here

An activity to challenge students to write a range sentences with different structures, roll two dice and see whether you can meet the challenge - Click here

Review Wheel - Click here     Stickers

This 'Snakes and Ladders' board can be used by the teacher, as a class or in groups for pupils to construct questions on a topic - Click here  
[Taken from Pete's Lesson Toolbox - Click here]

Teacher Resources

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more - Click here

Lovely set of video clips from 40's and 50's - A great resource for discussion - Click here

24 Quick Teaching and Learning Ideas most taken from The Teaching Toolkit compiled by me - Click here

Superb range of Teaching and Learning Resources from Amjad Ali on Agility - The Teaching Toolkit - Click here                          Follow Amjad on Twitter - @astsupportaali 

Form Time Ideas - General, Literacy and Numeracy randomly generated questions - Click here
Newspaper Clipping Generator - Click here

Timer - Counts up or down - Click here
Quality Copyright Free Photographic Images - Click here
365 Prompts for discussion - Click here
Extensive collection of cross curricular resources compiled by Martin Burrett and stored on Pinterest, truly something for everyone - Click here

Literacy Posters - Click here

How about using QR Codes to produce a Revision Wall Chart - for PE Example Click here

DIRT - Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time - Click here

Lesson Planning

Planning Lessons or Planning Tasks?

Some thoughts from Dylan @math_teacher on how to plan and what makes for a successful lesson - Click here

5 Minute Lesson Plan - Teacher's Toolkit

Outstanding Lesson using the New Ofsted Framework - A blog on the use of the 5 minute Lesson Plan - Click here
Additional thoughts and examples - Click here           Check these out                 A video Clip explaining the process - Click here                   
Blank Proforma Word Document       PowerPoint Document
Year 11 Science Example                Year 7 Food Example

5 Minute Marking Plan - Teacher's Toolkit

An overview of the marking process - Click here                         A PowerPoint with an explanation and examples                      pdf with the KS4 examples
The Ultimate Teacher's Toolkit - Click here

5 Minute Question Plan - Click here



Give points for different uses of literacy skills in lessons - Click here

Use this template and place over a picture or article and use it to provide the pupils with a prompt to get them to start analysing - Click here

Learning Support MAT - Click here

Students answer as many questions as the can in 7mins - Click here

Emotion Wheel - Great resource for exapnding vocabulary when writing - Click here

Trajan's Column - Structuring Essays and Projects

In the most recent INSET I delivered a session on Trajan's Column to a group of teachers. Their task was to recreate, in 20minutes, the play of Romeo & Juliet going up the column using a summary of the play (parts cut up like a card sort), key quotations and images. They also had to create an object to go on top - Read More

Graffiti Board / Learning Wall - Click here

Colourful Vocabulary - Using Colour Charts - Click here

Literacy Wheel: How It Works/Variations:

  • Students spin the wheel- complete the 'task' that is given...
  • How about students use more than one command word- so spin the wheel more than once? 
  • Or they can cover the triangle and see if they can match the definition with the correct command word; perfect for exam preparation.
  • Or they can peer assess a piece of work checking whether the student has accurately fulfilled the command words requirement in the writing by checking the literacy wheel.

Can you create a numeracy wheel? A MFL wheel?  - Editable Publisher Wheel                 Pdf Wheel

Said is Dead - A wall display to provide alternatives to the word SAID - Click here

Literacy in Maths - Boxing Up - Great article on tackling the QWC (Quality of Written Communication) questions - Click here                 PowerPoint

Preparing for Examinations - Great article providing techniques to prepare students for their exams - Click here

Inquiry Learning

Helping students learn how to learn: That’s what most educators strive for, and that’s the goal of inquiry learning. That skill transfers to other academic subject areas and even to the workplace where employers have consistently said that they want creative, innovative and adaptive thinkers - Read More

Andrew Blair has a superb site exploring Inquiry Learning in Mathematics - Read More

Helen Hindle has an excellent website dedicated to realising the importance of mindset in achieving success in Mathematics - Click here

Independent Learners Poster - Click here

Thinking Stems - Click here


Advice for Teachers

Seating Challenges for Start of Term - Click here

The Holy Trinity of Teaching: Top Ten Tips: Explanations - Click here   Questioning - Click here   Oral Formative Feedback - Click here

10 Tips for being a lazy but still excellent teacher - Click here

100 Top Tips for NQT's - Click here

Supporting Colleagues through the use of a Staff Board - Click here

Behaviour Reflection Sheet - Click here

Behaviour Management advice from the 40's, really good advice for discussion - Click here

APPs for Learning

A really nice summary of some key APPs for Learning - Click here

5 Ways to Show Your iPad on A Big Screen in Class - Click here



Hard to Read Fonts boost Children's Performance - Click here