Kemp’s Musings- Part 3

For the inspiring Teach Meet he organised, Stu Kemp talked about solutions to a range of issues we face daily. Here are some of his ruminations:

Bottom set year 9:

Entrance policy – They cross the ‘learning threshold’ of my lab.

They have 60 seconds to get their folders out. 

Sit down.

Open their book.

Get on with connect/create a summary of last lesson.

All in silence, they must be silent!

Exit policy – They must be sitting down, they must be silent.

I will not talk until all rulers, pens, etc. are away.

Movement in class – Do it like bacteria – quietly. Chairs cannot be scraped. Must be lifted.

Work hard on the relationships

Be assertive, authoritative and inspire confidence in your expertise. However, if students don’t connect with your human qualities- let them know.

‘I work for you. You work for yourself.’


Marking and feedback:

Photocopy brilliant work with your feedback on it.

screenshot-2016-12-14-at-20-42-17Hand it out; show the kids what great work looks like.

Ask the kids to make improvements based on what they know is great work.

When they improve their work, make sure they add the word ‘improvements’.

Get the pens out and live mark their work. 
When you are live marking they must be silent. 

DIRT time is important:


screenshot-2016-12-14-at-20-53-01Concept check:

When you introduce a new concept, check at least 3 times with three different students. Saves constant micro-
teaching and repetition.

Be relentless:


Infinite extension:

Every subject has concepts that take many steps to grasp, or skills that take hours to hone. Instead of always providing a different extension activity, why not offer an extension project- something for the students to work away at over the term or the year?

Finished? No. Never.


And finally, remind your students (and yourself, at times):



Kemp’s Musings – Part 2

Due to the popularity of last issue, here is a second collection of Dr. Kemp’s musings to peruse:

Image 1- We all need a reminder from Rita. If you haven’t already, watch this!


Image 2- Key messages for the students and maybe even the adults?

Image 3- Next time you are planning a lesson, remember this: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.

Change it up, take a risk.


Image 4- Do teachers who make mistakes make better teachers?

I guess they do, but only if they put effort into correcting the mistake.


Image 5- Which one can you have a big say in? More than one hexagon? Have a think on it.  Follow @headguruteacher


Image 6- A big bag of balls.

Put answers on them, lob them at the students and then ask the students to generate appropriate questions.


Image 7- How many ways could you use  whiteboard dice? 4000?


Image 8- Students shrink their learning, another student then expands it.


Reading for Understanding

– A little structure goes a long way in Science

How often do you ask students to read some information – maybe from a textbook or article – only to find that they look at the pictures, read the title and then wait for you to tell them what they should know? Perhaps it’s a consequence of the internet age, where information is written to be skimread, and pictures and pop-up ads vie for attention. Or maybe students have always struggled with this.

In order to try and find some strategies to help students become a little more independent in their reading I turned to the PEEL website. There I found an activity called “What do I know?” which encourages students to read and reread text.

To start the activity I give the students 3 questions that I want them to answer using the passage. In their books they make a grid with the questions at the top. I try and make one of the questions a little trickier so that they have to apply what they have read.

Quite often the answer to Q1 is “I don’t know” and that is fine.

The students then read through the passage, with the questions in mind. I give them a short time to do this using the countdown timer in ActivStudio. I then ask them to close the book or cover it up and have another go at answering the questions. Again, they have only a short time to do so. The students can now judge how much information they have actually picked up, and what they should be looking for.

They then read through the passage with that in mind. Again, I limit the time to a few minutes. After the second reading they fill in another row.

Depending on the complexity of the text, and how well the students are doing you can then either give them another read of the text or get them to pair-share their answers.

Quite often students are surprised at the extra information that they can find out by re-reading the text.

Some students find this activity very helpful and make a really good attempt. Others are less happy and ask if they can just make notes. However, as I point out to them, this activity means that they don’t just copy large chunks of text, and they have to be selective.

This picture shows the first two stages of the process.

And this picture shows after the second reading.

Carol Davenport

Developing Independent Artists

After a whopper of a post last week on the Cramlington Teaching and Learning Model we’re now into the June 2009 issue proper.  After this article we’ll be taking a break for Easter, but posts will start again on the 15th of April with ‘Kagan Structures’. In the meantime enjoy this insight into how to inspire young artists! -Ed.

–  Independent students create their own resources for inspiration

When was the last time you had a great idea that you found the time to actually implement? One thing that I know bothers many art teachers is frustration at this ever expanding bank of ideas that seem destined never to be anything more than just that, an idea.

Often our ideas for resources, schemes and activities demand significant time and effort before they can make that progression from idea to reality, and this demand is one not met easily. I am about to tell you a tale about one idea that made it, and it made it because it required only a minimal input from me.

In GCSE Art lessons we spend a lot of time supporting individual students in their creative process; encouraging, feeding back and steering them towards the kind of creative output that we know will meet the coursework assessment objectives. We often face a small queue of students who “can’t think of anything”, “don’t like it” or don’t know how to start a task.

At the start of Year 10 GCSE Art students have to very quickly get into the habit of not only producing quality work, but presenting that work in a creative, visually effective way in their sketchbooks. It is these sketchbooks that form a large part of their GCSE coursework. They tend to begin the year enthusiastic and keen to impress but one long term later, the honeymoon is over and their motivation drops.

They feel that they have exhausted all their ideas and often begin to dislike their own developing style. Concerned that this was happening to one of my groups, I wanted to create a resource that would stimulate their enthusiasm and encourage them to try new methods of presentation. The idea was there, now if I could just find the time… One day, as I reached the end of a lesson and realised that the timing wasn’t right for the homework planned, in a “what the hell can I give them for homework” moment of panic, I released my little idea into their hands.

As their homework task I asked each student to create one A4 page, front and back, showing in a visual way some of their own tips for sketchbook presentation. I explained that I would bind all of the pages they created into a book of tips that they could consult when in need of ideas, and that they would be helping each other out and getting a really useful resource out of it. I think the task appealed to their sense of pride in their own ideas as they all contributed at least a page filled with examples of their unique style of presentation along with tips for success such as “use bold colours and fonts”.

As far as the demands on my time and energy went, I took in the homework, made a quick front cover for the book, punched some holes in the side and bound it together. The students were thrilled to see the finished product and were keen to point out their individual input. Ever since, the book of tips has hung on the wall as a supportive resource made by the students, for the students. I often see the kids pulling up a chair to have a browse through when they are having trouble getting started or are looking for some new ideas.

Following the success of this book, I realised the basic idea could be tweaked for different purposes so I later used a similar process for another resource. This time, I wanted the students to be very familiar with the necessary ingredients of a successful

Applied Art GCSE project, from start to finish. It is crucial that they know the specific requirements for a project in order to reach each of the assessment objectives of the GCSE course, and they should be able to check that they have done this with some degree of independence. I decided to dedicate a double lesson to involving them in a collaborative task that would give them this knowledge.

Firstly they were asked to list the different tasks that they knew were usually part of a project, such as “researching a relevant artist” and “experimenting with different techniques”. Then, in pairs, they were allocated responsibility for 2 or 3 particular tasks. First they had to turn the required task into a specific question, for example “Have you researched other artists who use the same techniques that you do?” and “Have you proved that you know how to use the equipment safely?” which they had to present in a lively way on a page.

Armed with a digital camera, they had to go in search of successful examples of this being done, and these examples were to be found in one another’s sketchbooks, which were placed on desks around the classroom.

They photographed the relevant pages; these were printed off and bound, with the question pages acting like dividers between chapters. This book hangs on the wall beside the other one, and also is used a great deal by the students to check up whether they have done all the required tasks, or to get ideas how to tackle or present a particular task.

The success of these books as useful learning resources lies in the fact that I wasn’t providing a resource that too prescriptively modelled success, but that the students were all contributing towards a collection of examples of success. Both books have allowed the students to be more independent even during moments of frustration and insecurity with their work, and have been a welcome addition to my lessons, especially when that queue starts to build up.

Naomi Hart

Year 9 get a grip on a monk’s peas (Issue 7, Conference June 2010)

– Genuine problem-solving using the enquiry cycle lead students to discover the birth of genetics

Having had an interest in enquiry stimulated by Darren Mead and a book he lent me (How Students Learn – Science in the Classroom, National Academies Press (January 5, 2005) I thought I would attempt a mini enquiry to nurture myown understanding and ideas.

My inspiration was a 19th century Austrian monk called Gregor Mendel who had developed our understanding of genetics by breeding peas and recording the appearance of offspring in subsequent generations (which were either wrinkled or round).

What I envisaged was that the students would go through the process of scientific discovery in a similar, if much accelerated, manner to Mendel and create a model of genetics.

In doing so I hoped that they would gain an appreciation of the creative flair required by scientists and the processes by which science works. I also planned to link the process of scientific enquiry to the more general Cramlington Enquiry Cycle to show the trans-disciplinary aspects of the former.

I then gave the students a fictionalised set of Mendel’s results and asked them to find out the model of genetics using these. The results were designed to guide the students through the task as the genetics of successive generations grew more complex. I also placed an ordered set of help sheets around the room that the students could use which gave them progressively more guidance.

During the task I used a time review wheel to help the students reflect on how they were feeling, what they were up to and where they thought they were in the enquiry cycle. They had filled the first part in at the start of the first period to connect their work to their prior knowledge of genes using a rather dashing photo of Princes Philip, Charles, William and Harry as a prompt.

Initially students were wondering if peas had sex (it may have been an idea to show some pictures of Mendel at it with his paint brush!) and floundered with the rather large task before them that had taken Mendel forty years to conquer. But bit by bit the students began to start to piece together ideas – the “wrinkled gene is hidden”, “the round gene is stronger”.

They went down blind alleys, got stuck and (sometimes with coercion) reassessed their model. The time review wheel was useful to assess the student’s confidence with the task which was often proportional to progress.

The review wheel also allowed students to link what they were doing to the enquiry cycle which lead to brief class discussion of how the progress through the different stages of the cycle was not necessarily linear – “I was at gather but I think I have got it wrong so I am back to think”. Sometimes they were going through enquiry cycles rapidly; presenting ideas to each other, reviewing what they had done, and then identifying another problem which started the cycle over again.

To draw the enquiry to a close we had a thorough debrief to ensure everyone understood the principles and to introduce some standard nomenclature. Having been actively engaged with the problem those students whose progress through the enquiry had been thwarted by dead ends were eager to hear of the solution from their classmates, just as a crossword addict craves solutions.


In conclusion using the general enquiry cycle to help students reflect on the process they went through in the Mendel enquiry gave the students a familiar frame of reference to help them describe, communicate and understand the learning process much better.

On reflection I could have encouraged students to think more about why they thought they were on a particular stage of the enquiry cycle. Simply adding “Why?” after the question “Where are you in the enquiry cycle?” in the stimulus for the time review wheel would have ensured this. Although these ideas could be drawn out with questioning I think making this a focus in the mini time reviews would have further deepened their understanding of the scientific enquiry process that was generated by mimicking Mendel’s journey of discovery.

Joe Spoor

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

Proper Scrabble (Issue 8, January 2011)

[This article seemed appropriate for the festive season! – Ed.]

– Victorian parlour game revamped for the new word savvy generation

Every now and then the smells of Christmas unearth a warm memory from days gone by and recently, overcome by the aromas from Jackie’s festive lunch, I was transported back to an incommodious London pub and a row with my brother over whether or not ‘firkin mirkin’ was a traditional Norfolk curse or a small barrel of amusing hair pieces.

I digress. Proper scrabble is at once simpler than the game we all know as Scrabble, but also allows for subtle complexities to be added in as to render it useful to almost any teacher or group of students.


Here I will outline the basic rules and offer some extension ideas that have proved excellent in the past.

• Each person takes turns to remove and slap down a letter from the bag of scrabble tiles. (The game is more authentic if the tiles are slapped down in the style of a professional Jamaican dominos player)

• On spotting a word (a least three letters), any player yells the word to claim it, then arranges it front of them.

• More letters are removed from the bag and exposed until either another three letter word is spotted, or an existing word can be added to with a letter from the pool. To make a new word (the etymological root must always change, so no adding an ‘s’ on the end!! e.g. port to sport but not to ports).

Simple eh? But the Victorians missed a trick, too focussed on developing steampunk no doubt! Bearing in mind we will largely be using this in an educational context, in order  to keep the word the creator must incorporate the word in to a sentence related to a particular topic. ‘Impossible!’ I hear you cry. Well just try it, lateral thinking abounds in our young charges, if only they are given the opportunity.

“Never before have so many people used so many words in so many ways.”  – Anon


The winner, should you decide to have one, will be the person or team with the highest score. Alternatively credit could be given for the best incorporation of words in to the topic in hand. Proper scrabble is also an excellent postprandial diversion.

Again, scoring can be very flexible, but a good starting point is: when the game conclude (when no more words can be formed) each player removes 2 tiles from each word and counts up the remainder (this gives more credit to longer words).

Extension ideas

• Even the playing field by using teams.

• Add a rule – allow proper names, acronyms, places or technical terms.

• Scoring – at the end of the game, when all tiles are exposed and creative juices have expired, remove two tiles from each word and count up the remainder. This system rewards longer words.

Fergus Hegarty