JCA Teaching & Learning

Building a Culture of Learning Through Feedback

Teaching and Learning is the heartbeat of what we do as teachers. This blog is a tool that is aimed at supporting you, the staff, at further developing your already excellent teaching practice and pedagogy.

The Teaching and Learning team will aim to use this newsletter to keep you up to date with what is happening in and around our school, highlight practice which is having an impact and offer guidance and support. There is a vast amount of research and information that is available to us as teachers yet we simply do not have the time to filter through it. Fear not as this newsletter will remain current and on the pulse of what is happening within education and the teaching community.

If anybody feels they have something they wish to contribute to the newsletter then please let a member of the teaching and learning team know ASAP and we will be more than happy to include it in next term's edition. Enjoy the read...

Term 5 Newsletter

Good day, dear colleagues, and welcome to the latest edition of the Teaching and Learning Newsletter or, as I like to call it, PedaBLOGy. No-one else likes that, though.

As the mad hysteria of another exam period reaches fever pitch and a welcome half term looms, why not step back and take stock of what’s happening in the World of teaching and learning.

The idea is to give you a termly dose (which makes it sound medicinal and therefore good) of what is happening in the world of education or, as I like to call it, the PedaBLOGoshpere. Again, not that popular a name.

In this term’s scintillating edition, the topics on everyone’s lips, minds & twitter feeds:


The usefulness of research

What is the deal with research? Is it any use? Who should be doing it and can we trust the findings? More here


Behaviour management

THIS excellent advice from @TeacherToolkit about behaviour management and pep talks!


Lesson Observation: the great grading debate (ongoing!)

Should we grade lessons? If not, how do we measure quality of teaching? Are there other ways in which quality of teaching could be divined? More here


Workload (although that’s not really an issue for anyone, is it?!)

I don’t think I need say anything here! You may want to nod your head whilst reading this:

· Thoughts about thinking

Can you know things without thinking about them? Can things be thought about in the absence of knowledge? I don’t know, I don’t think… but then would I know if I was thinking about them without knowing what I was thinking about? You can read more here, but I’m going to lie down.

So, that’s what’s happening in the pedaBLOGosphere! I’m going to persist with that name until someone suggests a better one to me. If you enjoyed the newsletter, have suggestions on how to improve it or would like to share a gem of an idea, please get in touch!

Behaviour Management

Using the registration system to manage behaviour for learning:

This wonderful gem of an idea came directly from the excellent mind of the wonderful Amanda Morris! You can thank her later!

I’ve used the new numerical SIMs register system as an opportunity to raise expectations of behaviour within my classroom.

I regularly found myself feeling exasperated when teaching my Year 9 class. I seemed to spend far too much time addressing ‘low level’ behaviour issues, such as chatting. When you spend more time trying to get the class quiet than you spend explaining the idea you actually wanted them to be quiet and listen to, then drastic action is needed!

  • On the board, write four targets for the class such as:

1 - Focus on the lesson content (this covers listening and remaining on task)

2 - Comply with the school rules (covers gum chewing etc.)

3 - Complete the amount of work required (this should be differentiated)

4 - Make a thoughtful contribution to discussion and/or complete an extension task.

These can be tweaked, but provide a ‘catch all’ in that, if students do all four of these things, they can get a 1 in the register.

  • If a student fails to meet one of the targets, then their name goes next to it: this serves as a warning, and indicates that they can only achieve a maximum of 2 in the register.
  • When the register is completed at the end of the lesson, the student is given their mark, based on how many of the targets above have been achieved. For example, if a student has focused, complied with the school rules, completed the required amount of work, but not made a contribution to discussion, he or she is given a 2.

I completed a student voice activity with my Year 9 class recently. They like this system because they feel that they ‘know where they are’ in terms of being really clear about how to get a 1 in the register.

I like using it, as I felt I was getting into the bad habit of carelessly entering 2 for everyone, rather than using SIMs as a useful tool. I also feel that it makes me more vigilant about monitoring progress and dealing with low level incidents. I have noticed that ‘good’ students, who rarely contribute, make the effort to do so, as they want to get 1. Students who struggle with their behaviour will see that they are in danger of getting a 3, and make the effort to contribute or complete an extension task.

If you want to find out more, come and ask me. You can come and see it in action when I teach my Year 9, or I can talk to you about how you might make it work for a class you teach.


Thanks to Chris Baker for delivering a very successful CPD session on Differentiation. To further support some of the work Chris has done we have put together some handy tips you may wish to use within your lessons.

Training and Development Agency for Schools – ‘Differentiation is the process by which differences between pupils are accommodated so that all students have the best possible chance of learning’.

'So how can we do this at JCA?'

By Outcome

A common task and differentiation is sought on the quality of outcome

+VE: Direct comparison between pupils

-VE: Hard to pitch a task appropriate for less able which also challenges most able

Solution: Design tasks that have a variety of solutions

By Task

Pupils are set specific tasks matched to their ability, The tasks maty be 'differentiated' on inherent difficulty, the amount of structure or the amount of guidance

+VE: Tasks pitched at ability of student

-VE: Prevents pupils from working at highest ability

Solution: Ensure your tasks ‘overlap’

By Support

Pupils are given the necessary support and help based on their ability. E.g. LSA, resources to enable them to progress

+VE: Allows teachers to cater for various needs

-VE: Prevents pupils from working and may encourage over reliance on support

Solution: Ensure your tasks can be adjusted

Try to use more than one method of differentiation to empower your students to learn.


"Good learning starts with questions, not answers."

Questioning is a valuable tool for teachers as it enables us to check learners' understanding. It also benefits learners as it encourages engagement and focuses their thinking on key concepts and ideas.

There are a variety of questioning techniques that you may wish to try out:

Think, Pair, Square, Share

1. Students write down ideas individually

2. They pair up and combine ideas

3. They pair with another pair to identify, collectively, their best ideas

4. They feed those ideas back

Pose , Pause, Pounce, Bounce

Pose a question, pause and give your pupils thinking time, pounce on pupils by targeting your questions at specific pupils and then bounce your questions around different pupils

Give students thinking time!

3 seconds for LOTS, 10 seconds for HOTS

Collaboration time

Students discuss their answers before responding

Use Blooms Taxonomy to Scaffold

Questioning needs to inspire gifted and talented learners to embrace cognitive thought at a higher level and is easier to achieve when using open questions. These questions are often arranged according to their level of complexity; this is called taxonomy. Bloom's Taxonomy is one approach that can be used to help plan and formulate higher order questions. This type of questioning also actively encourages the development of thinking and dialogue skills.

Blooms Taxonomy Question Roots


Can you list three…?

Can you select…?

What is…?

When did…?

Where is…?

Can you recall…?


How would you summarise…?

Which statements support…?

What is the main idea of…?

Can you explain what is happening…?

Can you interpret in your own words…?

What can you say about…?


How would you use…?

What examples can you find to…?

How can you apply that idea to…?

How would you show understanding of…?

Can you think of another time when…?

How would knowing… be useful?


Isolate the features of…

Explain the effect of…

Establish relationship between…

What conclusions can you draw…?

Suggest some evidence to support / refute…

Discuss the other possible outcomes of…


How would you improve…?

Imagine what would happen if…

Predict the outcome if…

How could you change / modify…?

How would you test…?

Propose an original way for the…


Defend your opinion of…

Assess the importance of…

How would you justify…?

Compare the pros and cons of…

Consider the alternatives to…

How would you prove or disprove…?

Here are some general tips to help questioning in your classroom

Top Tips:

  • Plan a sequence of key questions
  • Use Blooms from LOs to scaffold and contextualise
  • Consider confidence: questions can build or break!
  • Let students ‘Phone a Friend’ if unsure
  • Pre-warn lower ability students
  • Get students to question each other
  • Start with a key, open question and build to an answer at the end of the lesson
  • Use mini-whiteboards for AFL and engagement
  • Match the question to the ability of the student
  • Increase difficulty as you bounce
  • Build confidence with ‘no wrong answers’ culture
  • Always push students to develop their answer further
  • Know your students and know your data!

Solution Tree: Dylan Wiliam, Content Then Process