DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: PLANNING

Since the new A-levels have gone linear, it’s taken students and teachers some adjustment to start adapting their teaching to fit into this new format. I think it’s fair to say, it’s been quite a learning curve for myself and others especially with the removal of the January exam window.

With the linear format, students sit all their A-level exams at the end of the second year across all their subjects. Previously you had students learning everything in a more digestible modular format with the option of retakes. The problem with this is they have now not only lost the opportunity to re-sit their exams if they do poorly at college, they are faced with the task of recalling two years worth of learning across at least three different subjects all at once. These new changes place a huge amount of pressure on learners as well as teachers to get it right first time.

I’ve spoken to a number of other teachers who also feel the pressure. Take A-level psychology: students have to sit three exam papers, which are really heavily essay-based. The paper 3 exam, for example, can have up to 30 essays students need to know inside-out just to guarantee they go in fully prepared. That’s not even factoring in the other two exam papers or their other subjects (which can have up to four exam papers each)!

So what can we do? Here are some tips that can be applied across all the different subjects, which myself and other teachers have started to implement.

Show Students the Specification

Every subject has a specification that can be downloaded from the exam board website. The specifications outline exactly what students need to know for their subjects and they are relied on heavily to plan sessions. I consider them a map that shows literally step by step what students need to know for each exam paper.

Students are not always aware they exist or what they are or where to find them, having come from GCSEs. Showing this right from the offset will help them have a point of reference for their subject going forward. This also helps encourage independent learning, so they can simply refer to the spec should they want to learn outside of the classroom.

The four main UK exam boards are AQA, OCR, Edexcel and WJEC. You can find the specifications simply by clicking through and choosing your subjects and qualification, whether that's GCSE or A-level.

Make the most of free resources

I’m currently working with colleagues to create Psychology, Science, English, French and Maths resources at LearnDojo. The site was popular with the old spec but we've wiped all the content as the new 9-1 GCSEs and linear A-levels came in. It's completely free for everyone and the aim is to make it so parents and students don't have to buy expensive textbooks so all can benefit. Keep an eye out for resources coming soon!

Plan and get started early

With the huge amount of content you need to learn and it all coming down to the exams after two years of study, it's incredibly important to plan and start early so you can begin to fit everything in. Students are required to learn a number of topics over 24 months and are then tested on them… which might include something learnt right at the beginning of their studies almost two years ago. By planning and starting early, this means students don't need to be overloaded trying to cram everything in at the tail end as they approach their exams.

One really good method is to leave contingency sessions free to revisit tricky topics. I'll ask students every quarter to identify what they are finding difficult from the topics we've covered so far and then dedicate a session to go over them again.

For example, in the new Psycology A-Level my students have been a little fearful of the newly introduced Maths and Biology content, so we’ve spent the contingency time going over that. This way, you can revisit older topics within those gaps to keep the content fresh in their minds with refreshers.

Offer revision classes

Sometimes an hour or so isn’t quite enough to cover everything you need for your subject and revision classes for students always prove popular. Every subject will have topics which are quite frankly difficult, and you will know which ones these are because as a teacher because you probably find yourself getting confused with them too.

For example, teaching psychology, I know essay writing is something students really struggle with and I’ve run classes where we break down a good essay structure and how assessment objectives work (e.g. AO1, AO2/AO3). The jump from GCSE essay writing to A-level is fairly significant and students often find this a struggle.

Similar issues will apply for other subjects with problem areas and it’s always a good idea to identify and invest some time to tackle them outside of the classroom. This should help students become more confident and raise their grade levels as naturally they would have shy away from things they feel unconfident with.

Practice with Past Papers

A really good way of preparing for a future exam paper is to practice using past ones. What I like to do is:

  • print out all the past papers and break down all the different topics into individual booklets
  • print out all the mark schemes too and separate them into answer booklets

You’ve now created practice booklets you can hand out for all the different topics and students can use them get more confident with the exam style questions too.

Doing this encourages good exam technique from students as it gives them the opportunity to practice answering the questions as they will come up in the exams, but also refer to the answers and correct them using the answer booklets. This will enable them to get into the mindset of examiners and help them understand what they answer incorrectly and how they can fix this going forward.

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There’s no denying that while teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, many teachers are working long hours to meet the demands of the job. At Whizz Education, we’re keen to empower teachers by providing high-quality interactive teaching resources that aim to cut down on planning time both in and out of the classroom. 

We’ve already discussed how the Maths-Whizz Tutor can save you valuable time by automatically assigning and marking fully-individualised lessons, but our Tutor is just one of the four time-saving features in our Schools Suite. Let’s look at the others.

1. Assessment & Reporting

Each minute your students spend learning with the Maths-Whizz Tutor is actually a no-stress formative assessment that is used to tailor their learning experience. Maths-Whizz looks beyond just ‘right and wrong answers’: when assessing your students’ performances across its exercises and games, it factors in the time taken on each exercise and the number of hints and tips that are needed before the student answers. This information is gathered in Assessment & Reporting in real time, which converts the data into easy to understand reports that allow you to monitor the progress of individual students, classes, or even an entire school, at a glance! 

Our Topic Focus feature allows you to direct the Maths-Whizz Tutor to focus your students’ lessons on any curriculum topic of your choosing. Better yet, these lessons are individualised. Students who are ready for the topic will receive lessons that meet their specific needs while students who aren’t ready yet will continue to build the right foundations. It takes just three clicks - simply pick a topic, set a deadline and click ‘confirm’. It’s that easy!

Not only does Assessment & Reporting cut down on your marking time by putting all students’ results in one convenient location, the fact that our easy to understand reports are easily shareable makes them invaluable for parent-teacher meetings, school performance reviews and meetings with school governors.

2. Teachers’ Resource

With Maths-Whizz, your days of scouring the internet to find the right maths resources for your students are over! With over 3,500 hours of teaching content in one convenient online location, Teachers’ Resource is the perfect tool to help you build your ideal maths lesson.

Our high-quality maths resources cover every National Curriculum learning objective from Reception to Year 6, and 96% of learning objectives up to the end of Year 8, allowing you to quickly and easily create differentiated lessons that cater for all of your students, irrespective of their maths ability. These lessons can be printed off as worksheets and given out to your class or displayed on an interactive whiteboard. All you need to do is log in, select your students’ ability and pick your topics.

That’s not all. With Teachers Resource, you can easily create assessment tasks covering multiple topics in just a few clicks.

3. Customer Success

At Whizz Education, we see ourselves as an education partner rather than an edtech provider, which is why we work closely with you to understand and achieve your specific educational goals.

When you subscribe to Maths-Whizz, you get your own personal Customer Success Manager, who will not only assist with the implementation of the programme at your school but will be available throughout your subscription to ensure you achieve all your unique educational goals. They will be responsible for providing your teachers with bespoke CPD-certified training courses and actionable impact reports while also holding special celebration assemblies that recognise student success.

So, if you’re looking to scale back your planning time this school year, while also ensuring that your students experience accelerated growth in mathematics, visit our website to request a free consultation.

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Teachers need to be on point, especially to meet each pupil’s needs effectively. Tiredness, fatigue, and other factors can contribute to slower cognitive activity; something teachers must have to fulfill their duties.

Teachers across the UK are using an innovative resource to remove the burden of lesson planning by making collaborative planning and sharing schemes of work easy, wherever they are based. Lumici Slate frees teachers to focus on delivering engaging lessons that their pupils enjoy. Teachers are allocated responsibility for planning schemes of work (either partial or complete), which the rest of the team can access and easily adapt to their own class. This is particularly useful for teachers across multi-academy trusts or teaching school alliances. Because Lumici Slate is online, planning together can be virtual.

Whatever education setting you work in, the word “marking” will have a different meaning for you. For a lot of people reading this article, “marking” is the albatross of their teaching career; the one thing which can really impact upon a person’s well-being and, no matter how much we might loathe it, a fundamental part of our jobs.

 

When it comes to classroom design, any teacher will tell you it’s all about managing the space you’re given and adapting your teaching style to suit the room and your class size. So of course, the opportunity to completely change your classroom opens up a world of possibility, offering the chance to create a layout that’s easier to control, has better circulation and enables new, more collaborative teaching methods.

My job as a Year One teacher is many things, but it is certainly never dull! I count dressing up, leaving mysterious messages and generally making a bit of a fool of myself as all in a day’s work! Luckily, my colleague is almost as crazy as me and fully on board for the ride! Faced with a lively and very enthusiastic cohort, we wanted to end the previous school year with a topic which would really engage them. Thus we began our topic ‘Do monsters live amongst us?’ by hooking pupils into Claire Freedman’s book: Monsters Love Underpants.

 

First of all, for those unfamiliar with ‘flipped learning’, my presentation will help explain. Flipping is not new, as back in the 80s, before the days of the World Wide Web, I would give my students handouts to study in preparation for the next lesson (hence the term ‘prep’, as opposed to ‘homework’). This then freed up the lesson for learning where the content of the handouts could be discussed, questions on the handouts answered and practical work done to reinforce the handouts.

 

Behaviour management is something that applies to the playground just as much as it does the classroom. By implementing the correct behaviour management techniques, playtimes and lunch breaks can run smoothly, leading to positive learning outcomes.

The integration of edtech into the everyday school environment has resulted in a diverse range of technologies being present in any one classroom – never mind across an entire school. More recently we’ve seen a steady move away from IWBs towards a variety of technology that encompasses personal devices such as tablets and smartphones, through to front-of-classroom teaching technologies, with a strong shift towards interactive flat panels.

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