This guest post was written by Martyn Beaumont. You can find him on Twitter @doverno10.
This year I have taken on a new year 10 GCSE group, I also have a year 11 group, all using the AQA syllabus. Here are some of the things I have been doing to get my groups off to the right start.
Just before we start here is a little bit of background. I am lucky, I am 28, I teach in a relatively good Grammar school, although economically not a typical grammar school, I work in a small, very tight knit department (3 of us for 850 pupils). I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from in my opinion two of the best PE teachers around. We have rubbish facilities, we teach in a terrible room that fits 15 pupils but we cram in 20. Although I own an Ipad I am not a big fan of technology in the classroom or on the field, I am a big fan of good solid teaching, using simple but effective measures, enjoyment is key, just teaching consistently good is key! I am a big supporter of @PE_TOD and all he and his alter ego stand for, pupils write on paper, do not have a spell checker or apps and have folders to put work in. Ultimately pupils will have to write with a pen and paper in an exam, so why not in the classroom.
Here are a few tips and ideas (I do not claim to be all my own, many are learnt from my colleagues or others) that we use this term in our classroom to help in the teaching of AQA GCSE P.E.
Expectations underpin absolutely everything I do; I set them very high, keep them very high and wait for the pupils get the message. I am very consistent and make sure I follow all expectations through, I am honest, at times brutally honest but sometimes I feel pupils need this. I ignore school data and targets early on regarding pupils and ask my class what they want to achieve in two years. When collectively they ‘choose’ an A as a minimum target we can then move on. I met with my new year 10 group before the summer holidays to set them a summer project, to set the expectations and let them know what is coming. Completion date was made for just before the start of term to see who understood the expectations and brief. Out of 20 I had four fail to hand it in, not bad but would have liked a full house, but it set the tone straight from the off. Does this always work, probably not, but I always say set the bar high and see how close they can get, you just might be surprised.
Premier League Fixture List
This works like a premier league season and is a very simple but effective technique to increase motivation for higher grades. A fixture list for the whole year (season) is made with all pupils playing against each other twice (blue bones fixture generator works well). A fixture can be a mock exam, marked homework, mini-test or anything with a grade value. If a pupil wins the fixture they get three points, two for a draw and obviously none for losing. Points are added up throughout the year and the league table shown on a regular basis. This creates competition for higher grades and competition between pupils which is always healthy. Termly prizes for top of the league, most points gained and other awards are also given.
I use whiteboards almost every lesson, they are great for group work, great as scrap paper, but more importantly great for assessment and assessment games:
Back to front – all pupils stand at the back of the room with a whiteboard and pen. Each row of tables is a level. Fire out questions, for every question they get right pupils move forward a level until they reach the front row (in our tiny classroom that is 3 levels). At the front row they start scoring points for every correct answer. If they get one wrong, they go back a row. Great little competition, pupils enjoy it, great for assessment, revision, better understanding.
Keyword Follow – One pupil starts off writing a keyword on his board, shows out the group, person next to him must explain it, then write their own, moves around the whole class. This can be done in small groups as well as whole class, just as effective.
Pointless (colleagues invention based on the TV show) – based on exam questions and mark schemes, fire a question out there, pupils have to write as many points as they think are in the mark scheme, but are trying to get the hardest marks available (usually those lower in the mark scheme). Each point on the mark scheme is given a points total, most obvious are worth very little, hardest worth a lot. Points then added up over the rounds as the game moves on.
Team Knowledge Off– Two teams in single file lines facing in ready to answer questions. Works well with topics that have a lot of information such as the participant as an individual. Ask them the question, then a player from each team, in order must name and explain points (very similar to verbal tennis). If correct pupils go to the back of the line and the game continues until one of the teams get it wrong, points awarded each time. Works well as a starter or plenary task.
The weakest link – based on the game show, my own invention, I have blogged about this before so will not explain again, but it is one of my favourite games.
Snowball – Use a small soft toy, soft ball, screwed up paper, anything really as a leader to initiate question time. Throw it to pupil, ask the question, they can then throw it to another pupil and ask a question. If a dodgy group get them to throw it back to you then you throw out to a pupil of their choice or another pupil.
Other practical ideas that you can use in the classroom that have worked effectively for certain topics are:
The participant as an individual
Contact list roulette – (bit of tech but only minor and again a colleagues idea): pupils work in pairs using a mobile phone and the contact list (bbm messenger list, wats app list, phone contacts list, all work). One pupil closes eyes and scrolls up and down the contact list until you say stop. They then write the names down of the person they have landed on and repeat this 5 times or more. Once complete it leads in nicely to conversations about the differences between the people on the list, who, what, why etc.., great introduction to the chapter.
Mental + Physical Demands
Injury set up classroom – after teaching all the content based around injury and prevention I use this task as part of an assessment. Send a group out of the room and set other pupils up into a disaster area with numerous injuries and scenarios (clues written on paper laying on the victims/scenarios). Group enters the room and must diagnose, treat, make recommendations and more. This is then repeated a couple of times with different scenarios and victims for each group. They also have a de-brief after the disaster regarding how to prevent the injuries happening next time.
Lastly for now, exam question drilling (this may make the whole post unpopular).
I introduce exam questions and mark schemes to all my groups as early as possible. Firstly because they are not used to it, but secondly and honestly, it is the be all and end all of all we do. If pupils cannot recognise exam questions, answer them, analyse them, mark them and scrutinise them, they will ultimately fail an exam.
For my new year 10 group I set a group of questions for them to attempt at least once a week for private study lessons. We go over answers as a starter in another lesson. We will attempt two full ‘mocks’ including short and long answer questions a term involving all the content already taught (currently two chapters). This gives me a huge bank of data as the mocks are micro analysed. This allows me to spot weaknesses in content and technique of a class, my teaching and more importantly individuals.
My year 11 group have a very similar scenario and are very used to it, and love the amount of feedback they receive as a class and individuals. All mocks are micro analysed to get all the marginal gains possible. The difference with year 11’s (and this happens later on for the year 10’s) is we start to create individual pupil mock papers to attempt based on pupils weaknesses, whether it is content, technique or both. This is a fair bit of work but works fantastically well. I learnt this from one of my colleagues who took it even further this year by creating green, amber and red papers for all pupils in his class based on the data collected, it was brilliant stuff.
This is just a few simple and practical ideas that we have been using this term. You may have heard of them already, you may already do them. They are enjoyable, easy to implement and almost tech free (I am not saying tech is bad thing just not a big fan). I will be writing another blog post near Christmas with a few other ideas that we will be using, probably based on the practical elements, hope this helps!!