Modelling – making Teaching and Learning more visible

We know that modelling good answers helps students see what they should be aiming at. We know that SIR works. I’m using my visualiser to share exemplars and also get real time SIR going on in the classroom. But it can be used for so much more. This blog outlines how a visualiser can be used in art, science, humanities, technology, English and so much more. As the author says, this isn’t just a passing fad. It really can help improve modelling and feedback.

If you want to borrow one from me to have a play, please let me know.

Making teaching and learning more visible


Great Teaching

Just a couple of weeks into term and I’ve come across a great blog about teaching.  I think it summarises what we are doing here really well. There are loads of ideas. With paired observations well under way, why not take a risk and see if something new works, then share your findings here?

Planning to be great

Seating for Success

Phil Beadle in ‘How To Teach’ argues that it is the most ‘important philosophical decision you will make in your career’ and urges us to ‘turn away from the darkness into the light’ in respect of seating. Now, whilst I wouldn’t go that far, having a good seating plan is really important.

Three obvious reasons are:

  1. Behaviour management – a key strategy with chatty or difficult classes. It lets students know that the classroom is yours to manage, not theirs.
  2. Imperative for setting cover – our policy states that you must give a seating plan with your cover.
  3. An opportunity for students to work with a whole range of students, not just the ones they would choose.
  4. And (reluctantly, I would add) it’s a good way of showing planning to anyone who is observing you that you know your class well. You know their strengths and weaknesses and how to get the most out of them.*

However, there is a far more important reason: Differentiation. We need to seat for success. In a climate where we need to know our students well; their SEND needs, Pupil Premium Status, AG&T status and whether students are working below, on or above target, the seating plan is one of the best tools that we have to impact progress in the classroom. It is a working document that we should use and use well.

Polly has really informative seating plans – below, she explains her methodology:

polly plan

I tend to change seating plans at the beginning of the year and then every half term. I alter it depending on pupils needs, for example if they need extra support or if there are new pupils in the class. Every plan is changed/altered when new data has been inputted to show the most recent data.

I sit pupils according to:

  • ILPs
  • Required Academic Support (AGT and underachievers)
  • Behaviour

I will further annotate and colour code depending on Pupil Premium, SEN, Underachievers, AGT, Attendance issues etc.

Most often I sit my stretch and challenge at the back and those who need support at the front or on an end, buffered by well achieving students. I will occasionally give them a lesson of ‘sit next to who would be your choice of ‘maths buddy’ to get a feel for who might work well together and give them some ownership of the plan.



I use Idoceo ( This great little app is everything from my planner, markbook and seating plan. The beauty of this tool (for those with iPads) is that I can link my markbook to my seating plan. I can update it as I input new data. It stores all my ILPs. It is also really useful as I can move people around the screen as I choose, making changing seating plans really easy. I can also email parents at the press of a button! A great tool. Going through the process of planning your seating is a good one. It gives you the opportunity to think about where individuals and groups are sitting. There is training on Idoceo.

Tips for seating students

There is no definitive way to sit your students. Some people like to:

  • Boy/Girl
  • More Able Boy next to less able girl (one helps the other)
  • Less motivated students surrounded by motivated students.
  • Those who struggle to focus in the front row, away from a window.

But the most important thing is to think about how you place your students. Leaving it to chance will not get the most out of your class.

idoceo seating plan

Every kid needs a champion

Not a blog post this time. But something definitely worth watching.  We are really good at seeing our students as individuals and I think that the late Rita Pierson tells it just as it is.  Behind each of our students is a story, they all need a champion.

(I needed a tissue… but maybe that’s just me!)


Putting Family First

This is probably the best non pedagogy article I’ve read this year and it seems apt to finish the year with it.

Next year, I plan to share much more about what works in Teaching and Learning in our school and beyond. In the meantime, enjoy this great piece by John Tomsett (definitely worth following on Twitter and if anyone has a copy of his book ‘Love over Fear’, I’d love to read it).

Reflections on Teaching


Last week, 8 people stopped me in the corridor to say thank you for posting 10 Reasons to love teaching.  So, I wanted to link another inspirational one.  I also realised just how quickly this year has flown and wanted to reflect on the great year we have had.  So I found this, from Minds in Bloom…

End of Year Reflection (You might want to check out the kids one too!) 20 questions to ask yourself at the end of the year.

They’re good, but personally, there is one question missing.  We have a great staff at our school who do amazing things.  The question I would ask is: Who has inspired you this year? For me, there are loads, and I hope to be able to tell some of them over the next few days, but seeing Maria and Abi co-planning a great lesson this week was a real inspiration. I want to do more of that. Thank you.

Who would you thank for being an inspiration this year?


There has been a surge of new events around the country in the last couple of years – namely: TeachMeets. Normal class teachers, taking responsibility for their own CPD and getting together with other teachers to share good practice. There is one in October in Southampton. The lead speakers are all people who blog/write regularly about Teaching and Learning.  I plan to go. It should be a great day. Anybody fancy coming? I’ve nicked this poster from someone else, so speak to me, not Ashley or Katharine if you’re interested! The QR code does work and takes you to a biog of all the lead speakers. Looks to be a fab day.


Walking, Talking Mocks…

There has been a lot of talk on the twitter sphere about walking, talking mocks.  Talking your students through the exam paper and the process of sitting the exam as you go through the paper with them.  You walk them and talk them through the paper.  I have tried this with my GCSE group and to some degree my A level groups.  They really liked it.  This example from Unit 1 Sociology is a good guide 

I wonder if anyone else has tried this?

Self and Peer Assessment…


Self and Peer Assessment – By Dylan Wiliam

I watched this video by Dylan Wiliam and really thought what he was saying was excellent – in a bid to develop independence and resilience, I am trying to find ways to help my students self assess and peer assess better. But… it’s not going too well.  To be fair, in peer assessment we have moved on from ‘You could explain better’ to some more meaningful improvements.  I have done this by sharing the success criteria. We have been working on pEa paragraphs (Point, Evidence & Explanation, Analysis) so my success criteria has been:

Have they made a good point?

Have they given a piece of evidence to support their point?

Have they explained their evidence relating to their point?

Have they analysed (discussed, giving advantages and disadvantages) their point?

This format seems to be working… However, I cannot get my students to be able to self assess in the same way.  Is anyone working on this  in their classrooms? I’d love to see what you are doing. What does good self-assessment look like? At Year 7, GCSE or A Level.  How can I do this better?