News from the Market Place- A Level Feedback

A level feedback- not to be ignored!

Due to timetabling, it is often easy to mark an AS/A2 essay and never to refer to it again. The pace at A Level is fast, modules need to be completed in good time and so there aren’t always opportunities for in depth discussion about a piece of home learning. Sophie Minchell introduces a way to feedback to her students, both on a class and a more personal level.

Firstly, the students complete the work e.g. an essay. When marking the home learning, Sophie has a document entitled ‘class feedback’, which is dated and titled subject to the home learning. Using the assessment objectives (AOs) as her guide, Sophie writes out the particular, general strengths of this selection of home learning and of course, the common mistakes made, complete with quotations from the students’ work. At a more personal level, Sophie marks each individual piece of work, annotates it and selects a paragraph that the student can improve.

When students then have time to look at the feedback, included at the beginning of the lesson, or perhaps as the review, they are asked to start a new page, entitled progress task, ensure that they date it and using the Class Feedback Sheet, improve the suggested paragraph mentioned in their personalised feedback.

The students are then provided with a ‘progress sheet’ which is, of course, yellow. They are expected to use the language of the AOs to explain what they have improved on in their paragraph.


  • students get in depth feedback
  • students make similar errors and so once a document is created, it is quite easy to make a copy and keep some of the mistakes from the last round of marking
  • students are able to say that they are aware of the AOs, in their own words
  • more feedback at AS/A2 level, which needs to improve
  • the filing, when chronological, works to show progress


  • to create one of the documents takes time
  • not all students write the date/title- folders can get messy (but this is nothing that a folder sorting session after school can’t fix!)


Another leap back in time to Muse Issue 6, the June 2009 Conference edition! The Editorial from this edition (below) gives a flavour of the articles to be uploaded in the coming weeks. Enjoy! – Ed.

Editorial (Issue 6, Conference June 2009)

Welcome to the new Cramlington Learning Village, and to our 2009 conference on next generation learning. After a rollercoaster of a year in which we admitted years 7 and 8 for the first time and over 1000 new students including the year 9 cohort, we are settling in well to the two tier system and enjoying developing an enquiry led curriculum for the whole school. The new cohorts came in to a superb new building informed by much research, with learning spaces designed by teachers in concert with the architects and many other agencies including the BSF Faraday project, and the Eden Project.

Welcome also to this special conference edition of The Muse, our in-house teaching and learning bulletin. Now in its third year, The Muse was started as a vehicle in which teachers could reflect on their classroom practice and share ideas. It started on a trial basis – would busy people in our profession really want to invest their precious time committing thoughts to paper? Well, with 24 contributors so far, many who are now established authors within these pages, I would say the staff have given the green light to continue. Spending time reflecting, whether in discussion or writing is an invaluable experience for moving forward our own professional learning.

We continue to share ideas with, and get much inspiration from PEEL, the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning and many staff continue to look far and wide to seek out best practise to inform our teaching. Much of our CPD centres on aspects of the Cramlington framework and it is with a focus on effective learner behaviours, and input from PEEL, that the article on page 32 [Coming soon on the blog! -Ed] explores ways in which to develop independence in the classroom.

The Muse has also proved to be an excellent way of cascading to staff information from training courses that have been attended. A superb example is provided here by Karen Blackburn (pg 29) who has distilled the thinking around gifted and talented provision and has opened the debate in school as to whether we should maintain the G&T register at all!

Throughout the course of the day you will no doubt have been introduced to the Cramlington model for teaching and learning. The final article in these pages focuses on one of the key elements that underpin this framework, assessment for learning. This has been produced in association with one of the Gatsby Foundation’s technical education projects TEEP, Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme, and provides many ideas and devices that can be employed right away as well as thoughts to promote discussion or perhaps professional learning conversations. Within these pages you will also find a pair of articles in Silent Teaching (pg 20) showing how teachers have piggybacked ideas to enhance lessons, as well as many other great ideas offered by various members of Cramlington’s staff.

As you peruse these pages, bear in mind that there are articles written by, and aimed at, teachers at all stages of their professional careers, from NQTs, to heads of faculty and senior management. So you will find, as do our own staff, that some articles will be more pertinent to your situation than others. And frequently what is read here, as with good ideas anywhere else might simply provide the seed for further inspiration, just as any good muse should do. The articles we have included represent a typical spread from the short life of The Muse which is published termly.

Have a safe trip home.

Fergus Hegarty

Cramlington Teaching and Learning Model

-This issue we focus on our thinking touchstone

Having a range of thinking tools available to us is very useful. They help ensure the engagement and stimulation of a wide variety of students. But, there has to be more…..

More, in this case is a challenge to achieve for teachers and students alike. The holy grail for teachers training young people must be to develop independent thinkers who can select the most appropriate tools and strategies so solve problems.

To get to this point two things must happen. Firstly, students must acquire a working knowledge of thinking tools and techniques. Secondly, they must be given autonomy to choose, try out, modify, fail and succeed. We must surrender intellectual control to our students if they are to progress.

In our results-driven educational world the final grade all too often determines success or failure. The skills, decisions and the thinking processes that we use in everyday lives determine success after formal education. Many job adverts demand qualities such as analysing, adaptable and interpersonal skills, team player. But after school young people are rarely given the opportunity to explicitly develop these. We can set up thinking skills lessons to develop skills in our students. The lesson focus must sometimes shift from solely content to include the process of learning.

Sharing example of process is a worthwhile exercise. ‘Is it likely Dickens sat down and wrote The Pickwick Papers in one sitting? No, he would have drafted, refined, took advice, and rewrote before arriving at the finished book.’ The process of development should be celebrated. Thinking tools can play an important role in developing the learning of our students.

The steps to the thinking skills Holy Grail

1. Plan lessons so that the students get to use a huge variety of tools and techniques over time

2. Allow students to evaluate the use of these tools

3. Allow students to reflect where else these tools could be useful

4. Illustrate to the students the process through which they are passing

5. Plan a whole school approach, especially a consistency of language

6. Plan lessons that give students a direct choice of tools and techniques.

7. Plan schemes of work in which these skills are specifically developed.

8. Plan open-ended activities so that students can plan a route and make choices.

The Fox Thinking Tool

The Fox thinking tool is a useful tool to develop thinking skills whilst students work collaboratively. It was developed by Pete Fox of the Critical Skills Program to improve the quality of students’ discussion by providing a structure. It is designed to help students think convergently, arriving at important learning points; and then divergently, to apply this new knowledge.

Steps of the Fox Thinking Tool

1. Students in groups read a variety of articles, one article per student.

2. Students write on a section of doughnut to summarise their article.

3. Students write on a new section of doughnut about another aspect of their article – perhaps pros and cons.

4. Students combine pieces together to form a doughnut. A list is compiled of “facts” that they agree upon from their completed doughnut.

5. Teacher compiles a list of agreed “facts” taking one from each group in turn.

6. Students then given stimulus questions to apply this knowledge more widely.

This tool can be very motivating and inclusive. Most students will not submit their part of the doughnut with little or no information on as they very visually let their team down. Students using this tool have retrieved half-hearted contributions to add to them when they have seen what other members of their group have produced.

De Bonos’ thinking hats

Like all brilliant ideas, De Bono’s thinking hats are simple. They help frame different ways of thinking about a topic. They can be used individually, in groups or be sequenced for particular tasks. They are summarised in the table.

Questions using Bloom’s taxonomy

Plan questions to progress through these in each lesson, or to target students of different abilities with appropriately challenging questions.

Some question stems are included to show what kinds of questions may be asked at each level.

Question dice

Use question dice to train students to generate questions.

Stick these words onto either a pair of dice or onto hexagonal spinners and your off generating new text. This is often good when used with a section of text you want the students to study.

Stick these words onto either a pair of dice or onto hexagonal spinners and your off generating new text. This is often good when used with a section of text you want the students to study.

A simple metacognitive exercise of classifying these questions against Bloom’s taxonomy will help highlight the thinking happening during lessons.

Debriefing Thinking

Without a debrief the thinking skill activity is simply an entertaining way of learning facts. With a debrief the students not only reflect on what they have learned, but how and why.

This is the time during lesson when most learning will take place. But this requires careful planning from the teacher. A good start point is the use of a common language between staff and the students. The following words are helpful. Share them and allow time for students to discuss how they thought about a task. Students find it motivating when they see how many ways they have been thinking.

Top tips for teachers when debriefing.

1. Allow sufficient time to be thorough in this process.

2. Plan a structure for debriefing, for example how long will you discuss the content and how long will you discuss the skills and process the students have been through.

3. Plan enough open questions and allow students chance to discuss in groups before answering, either as a group or individually.

4. Encourage students to answer at length – wait time after a response will illicit more from the student.

5. Be prepared to go with the flow. Do not set a rigid agenda, as there will be many successful ways of thinking about the same task.

6. Train the students to use the thinking language so that can explain their ideas in detail.

7. Value student input, summarise their ideas, make connections to the lesson’s outcomes and to wider learning. Analogies and real life examples can be useful here.

8. Give feedback that is evaluative on the process of learning. Students can be trained to do this too.

9. Stimulate students to ask questions during this time, the 5Ws are useful here.

10. Use the thinking spiders hierarchy to motivate students to higher levels of thinking.

Two ways to use Andersen’s taxonomy

The first way is fairly straightforward. Make cards from the thinking words on this leaflet. Once you have established what thinking has been happening in the class spend a moment attaching these cards to the appropriate level of thinking.

This will require some discussion to correctly assign them. It will be evident where your students have been thinking and what the next step should be.

Another way is a little more interactive and can be done in smaller groups. Students use Bloom’s taxonomy die or spinners to select a question. They then take turns to answer the question associated with that level. These devices can be made topic or subject specific. A whole class plenary at the end can be used to find out which of the levels were most difficult to tackle and how other groups managed it.

Activities to stimulate thinking

Odd one out

Simply provide a selection of numbered keywords upon the topic being studied.

1. Topic

2. Jaffa cake

3. Tunnocks teacake

4. Ginger snap

5. Garibaldi

6. Hob Nob

7. Rich Tea

8. Mars Bar

Then select these in groups of three and ask which is the odd one out. Asking why they think this will not only get your students to consider the content of the subject, but also the thinking behind making this decision.

For example: Using the above table which, out of 1, 4, 8, is the odd one out?

The answer is clearly 4 as 1 and 8 are tasty chocolate bars that have a certain amount of flex in them, whilst a ginger snap is a rigid tasty biscuit. The beauty of this activity is that there is often no right answer. The important thing is to analyse, decide on an answer and justify your choice. The thinking might require a description by recall, a visualisation or the product itself.

 Students may juxtapose, examine and test their criteria for groups. Differentiating between item by comparing and contrasting can lead to high quality judgements.

An alternative method of extending the discussion about the content knowledge is to ask the question “What would you have to do the odd one out to stop it being so?”. This stimulates a review of what they know about the subject.

To answer the question here you could coat it in chocolate, individually wrap the ginger snaps or reform it into a bar shape.

There is no reason to make them so clear cut as often the murky ones will lead to a more in depth discussion of what the students do and do not understand.

Example 2: Using the above table which, out of 4, 5, 6, is the odd one out?

• could be 5 as this is a oblong shape while the others are round

• or it could be 5 as this is the only one named after an Italian patriot. Showing that to answer an apparently simple question requires consideration of what is known.

• or 6 as this biscuit does not involve a plant as part of its general appeal, although the more astute learner might realise that a chocolate Hob Nob could be classified as such as chocolate is derived from cocoa beans. Not to mention the wheat. This exemplifies why it is important to set some boundaries to keep thinking focussed on the correct issues. A metacognitive debrief is sensible after this activity.


Is similar to Odd One Out as it uses the key words of the topic and requires the students to really consider their understanding of it. The game in itself is simple. Students have to describe the keyword without saying it or the other listed Taboo words while the other student has to guess what the word is.

The difficultly level can be adjusted by outlawing non-topic references so that the students must talk about the actual content of your subject For example you could describe a wagon wheel by saying it was used in the wild west on a stage coach, it turned around in circles enabling it to be pulled by a large horse, it has spokes on it” With not one reference to the iconic biscuit itself.

Picture from memory

This is a cracking way to start a lesson, it encourages students to discuss in detail, ask questions of each other and consider memory techniques. All you need to do is

1. Select a picture, diagram or graph that you want your students to study.

2. Group the students into teams, around 5 works well.

3. Students are given one sheet of plain paper to recreate whatever is on your sheet.

4. Students nominate their first candidate to come up and view the image.

5. Restrict this by time. About 30 seconds is usually challenging.

6. Send the students away to draw what they saw!

7. Encourage the students to describe what they saw to their team.

8. They then send a different student to view the image.

9. Keep going until each student has been.

While debriefing this bear in mind some of the strategies that the students may have employed, some may have divided the sheet into grids, you do “top left”, while others may be more specific “there is something next to the circle, what is it?” A relatively simple activity can lead to some complex discussions of how they did it.


These intriguing activities are used to generate discussion by making students hypothesis, suggest or deduce. They must “unpick” information by classifying it and then use it to reason an answer to a big question, such as “should the speed limit be reduced to 20mph in built up areas” Here’s how to set one up.

  1. Get the big question right! Make sure it is interesting and will lead to debate and that you can provide potentially conflicting information for the students to use. Remember this is the content of your lesson so combination of facts and opinion is useful.

2. Do not reveal the question at the start.

3. Provide around 20 pieces of information cut up in an envelope

4. Allow students 5 minutes to read through this information and classify tit in any way they see fit.

5. Review groups into which the information has been placed. How did they go about doing this? The debrief language is helpful here.

6. Now reveal the big question and ask them to rearrange the information to respond.

7. Review again using the debrief words.

8. Students can now complete an Apply to Demonstrate activity where they can use this information along with their own ideas to show their new learning. For example they might write a letter to persuade someone that your opinion about the bigquestion is correct.

Hyleres thinking maps

These are simply a series of generic tools that allow the students to interact and think about a topic in different ways. Don’t be taken in by their apparent simplicity. They will develop your students’ thinking about topics and, with consistent and regular use, they may well hold the key to the transfer of thinking skills between lessons and subjects.

Whole part map – To allow a topic to be broken down and show the links between ideas.

Circle map with a frame of reference – This encourages the students to think about other peoples’ point of view. The frame of reference is the box around the outside of the circle, which provides space to brainstorm.

If the example changed its reference to a 10 year old who walks to school rather than a taxi driver the responses would change dramatically.

Comparison alley – A tool for comparing and contrasting that makes the similarities and differences clear.

Adapted from TEEP

Facebook Friends

-Using social networking profiles to enthuse Year 9

During my long teaching placement of my PGCE year I was given a low ability year 9 class. I felt that the behavioural challenges presented by this group were affecting pupil progression and began to question whether personalisation of learning could promote engagement during lessons.

In order to make learning more relevant I came up with the idea of using an adapted facebook page to present information on a famous scientist (facebook template downloaded from http://www.

The students were each given a facebook template to fill in alongside in question. The students had to pick out the relevant information and put it into their own words to explain the scientist’s observations, explanations, and achievements and influences on other people.

At first the students were preoccupied with filling in the description of the scientist and thinking up names for the scientist’s friends! However, they did settle down quickly and seemed to really enjoy the activity. Upon reviewing their learning the students were clearly able to show that they had met the learning outcomes for the lesson.

Relating the learning to something personal thus seemed to make the information more accessible and memorable, as well as promoting the students’ engagement in their learning.

The facebook template could be adapted to include different subheadings, depending on what you want the students to get out of the activity, and could obviously be used in lots of different subjects.

The activity could be extended by getting the students to research the information needed to fill in the template for themselves. Alternatively, or as an extension, the students could create a facebook group promoting the work of the person in question.

Rebecca Price


Introduction to Teaching and Learning (Issue 7, Conference June 2010)

– An insight into the Cramlington Model 

Our teaching and learning model is our answer to the question — WHAT DOES GREAT LEARNING AT CRAMLINGTON LOOK LIKE?

We believe that great learning happens when clear learning outcomes are combined with engaging learning activities through an understood model of teaching and learning.

The Cramlington model puts fundamental stages of learning in the right order i.e. learning is CONNECTED to prior knowledge. Learning is introduced through the SHARING OF NEW INFORMATION. There is an opportunity for students to develop their understanding through student centred ACTIVITIES and to DEMONSTRATE their new knowledge. Learning is also REVIEWED throughout the lesson.

This learning model and the principles underpinning it are described in this article. Essentially our model is in four parts:

(i) A lesson planning template which puts the important parts of a learning experience in the right order.

(ii) 5 ‘touchstones’ of our pedagogy which are Accelerated Learning, Assessment For Learning, Enquiry, Thinking for learning and ICT to support/enhance learning.

(iii) Developing independent learners through progressively developing learner skills (communication, thinking, collaboration) and learner attributes – the 5R’s (Reasoning, Resourcefulness, Resilience, Responsibility and Reflection).

(iv) Effective teacher behaviours – which describe the type of things teachers do in the classroom to bring lessons to life and to ensure all their students make good progress.

Assessment for Learning

Clarify your learning intention at the planning stage: What’s the purpose of the lesson and how will the students demonstrate their learning to you?

Discuss our learning outcomes: clarify/state what you expect the students to have learnt by the end of the lesson (content), how they will go about learning it (process) and why they are learning it (benefit). Discuss/ share how the students will know how they have been successful and agree the success criteria. Help the students to know and recognize the standards they are aiming for.

Plan in advance the questions you are going to use. Use questions to create new knowledge/learning rather than rehearsing existing knowledge. Show how you expect everyone to be ready to answer questions by using the no hands rule and give students time to respond (think time).

Feedback written or oral should cause thinking:

• Say what he/she has done well

• What the student needs to improve

• How they can improve

• Give the student time to think about your feedback and respond to you thereby creating a dialogue about their learning.

Create shared responsibility for learning through students:

• Assessing each other’s work (e.g. using a rubric)

• Self assessing their work against the agreed success criteria, a rubric or exemplar work you have provided

Adjust your teaching appropriately in light of student responses.

Points to consider:

• Is it an expectation in your classroom that everyone is ready to answer questions? Do you use the no hands rule?

• What do the tasks you set tell you about your students learning?

• Do you amend your teaching plans in light of the feedback you gather in a lesson?



• Teachers plan activities which engage students in higher order thinking

• Students have a vocabulary to discuss and explore their thinking

• Students are explicitly taught how to be better/deeper thinkers

• Students are able to select appropriate thinking tools to help them organize and structure their thinking

The National Thinking skills are defined as the following:

Information-processing skills: These enable students to locate and collect relevant information; to sort, to classify, sequence, compare and contrast; and to analyse part/whole relationships.

Reasoning skills: These enable students to give reasons for opinions and actions, to draw inferences and make deductions, to use precise language to explain what they think, and to make judgements and decisions informed by reasons or evidence.

Enquiry skills: These enable pupils to ask questions, to pose and define problems, to plan what to do and how to research, to predict outcomes and anticipate consequences, and to test conclusions and improve ideas.

Creative thinking skills: These enable students to generate and extend ideas, to suggest hypotheses, to apply imagination, and to look for alternative innovative outcomes.

Evaluation skills: These enable students to evaluate information; to judge the value of what they read, hear and do; to develop criteria for judging the value of their own and others’ work or ideas; and to have confidence in their judgements

Points to consider:

• Do you model thinking out loud in front of your students?

• Do you plan for the use of thinking tools and graphic organizers?

• Do you encourage students to reflect on their thinking (metacognition)?

Accelerated Learning 


• Learning is social

• Learning is active

• Learning is connected to prior learning

• Students know where the learning fits into the wider context (big picture)

• Learning is activated through emotional hooks and engaging questions

• Learning allows for multiple ways of accessing and processing nformation (VAK and multiple intelligences)

• Learning takes place in a positive emotional environment

• Learning takes place in an appropriate physical environment

• Learning happens best when learners are stretched and challenged

• Learning takes place when it is rehearsed and reviewed on a regular basis

Points to consider

• Do you engage students through stories, props, humour and interesting questions

• Do you use a variety of teaching and learning strategies to accommodate students who learn in different ways.

• Do you organize your lessons to allow for students to learn in different ways?

• Do you build meaningful relationships with students and know them well – is your classroom a ‘no put down zone!’.

• Do you make full use of the physical learning environment e.g. questions walls, constextualising display, room layout, keywords etc

Enquiry Based Learning 

An Enquiry is based around a question to be answered or a problem to be solved.

Enquiries can be:

• Structured OR Unstructured

• Short OR Extended

• Individual OR Group

For example

‘How can we ensure that everyone on the planet has access to fresh water?’

– Could be the basis for an extended, unstructured, group enquiry with students coming up with their own ideas and solutions.


‘Does changing the temperature affect the rate of a chemical reaction?’

– Might be a shorter and more structured enquiry designed to run over a lesson with the teacher asking each student to demonstrate their understanding through a lab report completed as homework.

Characteristics of an Enquiry based classroom

• Learning is based around a question to be answered or a problem to be solved

• Students are encouraged to generate (sub)questions of their own

• Learning can be Messy – doesn’t always go in a “straight line”

• Students are involved in active exploration and research

• Students may have some choice over what, how, and with who they learn

• Students do the thinking-teacher doesn’t do it for them

• Questions can be complex with multiple possible solutions

• Students will get it wrong sometimes

• Teacher is facilitator/resource/ critical friend/architect of the learning experience

• Learning outcomes are focussed

on process as well as content

• Students present their learning to an audience

• Debriefing the “what” has been learned and the “how” did we learn it are absolutely vital

Enquiry based learning becomes Project based learning

• When enquiries are set in real world contexts i.e. real problems to be solved

• With meaningful outcomes i.e. the result of students learning culminates in an outcome that makes a difference in or to the community

• When adults or “experts” other than teachers are consulted or involved.

• And when students present what they have learnt to a real audience

• At Cramlington students are taught a process for “stepping” through an enquiry. This is the

• Enquiry Cycle and its purpose is to give students a way to “scaffold” their journey through an enquiry.

Mark Lovatt

Editorial (Issue 7, Conference June 2010)

Welcome to Cramlington Learning Village and to our 2010 Refresh your Thinking conference edition of The Muse, our teaching and learning bulletin. The Muse was started as a vehicle in which teachers could reflect on their classroom practice and share ideas. As well as excellent timetabled opportunities for staff development and training, every Wednesday afternoon and our own annual two day T&L conference for example, staff (teachers and support) can further share ideas, innovation and good practice in this forum. In a large school such as ours this provides everyone with the opportunity to contribute to professional development.

The articles in this special edition have been written by staff across the school; deputy head, one-to-one support staff, ASTs and heads of department, training teachers and NQTs, teachers with many years of experience and there are even a couple of crosscurricular pieces. These last examples highlight the importance of teachers reflecting on and sharing their work – many of the ideas found within these pages, though often subject specific, can provide inspiration for all teachers in school to try something new. And because a successful approach has at its heart good pedagogy, we have attempted to distil the essence of each article so that it can be adapted to many situations.

This year we continue to develop the Cramlington model of teaching and learning. Cramlington Learning Village has, in recent years, achieved consistently outstanding Ofsted reports through use of the teaching & learning model. This issue kicks off with a summary of the model by Mark Lovatt including our touchstones of pedagogy and a split view lesson planning framework. We also have a focus on the Thinking touchstone in this issue, produced in association with TEEP, the Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme.

As ever PEEL, the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning, provides more inspiration for great teaching ideas and Sarah Shepherd reveals her darker side by turning ‘dirty tricks’ with her year 10s! PEEL in Practice is an excellent resource that focuses on developing learner skills and gives teachers hundreds ideas, explanations of why they work and of peer-reviewed commentary (details on access can be found in the article).

Increasingly students need to become independent and, continuing in the PEEL tradition, I have been trying to remove the feeding spoon from my sixth formers by helping them to plan for a modules’ learning, providing them with everything they need to plan for an entire module. They had to decide what, where and when they would learn! This was an attempt to really personalise their experiences and included seminar type inputs.

Other articles in this issue explore many and varied issues including enthusing students in ICT with a Dragons Den challenge, using stop motion animation to visualise abstract concepts, using a scientific approach to teaching music, some powerful ideas for lesson starters (informed by recent research by Geoff Petty and John Hattie), intervention strategies, time reviews and the enquiry cycle, sequential questioning and selfcorrecting worksheets and the largest knitting needles you will ever have seen!

You will see, as you peruse these pages, that articles are written by, and aimed at, teachers and education professionals at all stages of their professional careers, from NQTs, to heads of faculty and senior management. So you will find, as do our own staff, that some articles will be more pertinent to your situation than others. And frequently what is read here, as with good ideas anywhere else, often simply provides the seed for further inspiration, just as any good muse should do!

Have a safe trip home.

Fergus Hegarty