#100wordTandL on @pedagoo

What is it?

A quick way to share a teaching idea in 100 words or less. There are a lot of great in depth, detailed and reflective blogs out there. But… Sometimes we just want a quick idea to fire us up or give us something new to play with. Something we could use in the classroom tomorrow.

This was the brainchild of Pete “Loving the Learning” Jackson and he’s kindly allowed the @pedagoo community to have some fun with it. Example post here

The Challenge 

Share one of the teaching and learning ideas you’ve used recently either on your own blog or on @pedagoo. Make sure when you Tweet it out to include @pedagoo in your tweet so that we can retweet it to the community.  If you post it on the @pedagoo site we’ll take care of all the social media side and you’ll get to share your idea directly with a huge number of enthusiastic professionals just like you.

If you’re not sure how to get started just go to Pedagoo and sign up. Click onto the “New Post” section and you’re a blogger. It would be amazing to see loads of new people on there sharing their ideas. 

It doesn’t need to be brand new just something you’re using that you’d like to share. I find it’s always great to be reminded of an idea I haven’t used for a while or see someone else’s perspective on it.

We’d also love to see you at #pedagoofriday sharing your great ideas. 



#100wordTandL on @pedagoo

What is it?

A quick way to share a teaching idea in 100 words or less. There are a lot of great in depth, detailed and reflective blogs out there. But… Sometimes we just want a quick idea to fire us up or give us something new to play with. Something we could use in the classroom tomorrow.

This was the brainchild of Pete “Loving the Learning” Jackson and he’s kindly allowed the @pedagoo community to have some fun with it. Example post here

The Challenge 

Share one of the teaching and learning ideas you’ve used recently either on your own blog or on @pedagoo. Make sure when you Tweet it out to include @pedagoo in your tweet so that we can retweet it to the community.  If you post it on the @pedagoo site we’ll take care of all the social media side and you’ll get to share your idea directly with a huge number of enthusiastic professionals just like you.

If you’re not sure how to get started just go to Pedagoo and sign up. Click onto the “New Post” section and you’re a blogger. It would be amazing to see loads of new people on there sharing their ideas. 

It doesn’t need to be brand new just something you’re using that you’d like to share. I find it’s always great to be reminded of an idea I haven’t used for a while or see someone else’s perspective on it.

We’d also love to see you at #pedagoofriday sharing your great ideas. 


#BDONE Part 7 Learning with Laughter

Following his highly amusing keynote Dave Keeling shared his thoughts on creating the right climate for learning. The whole theme was relaxed but challenged; his weapon of choice for keeping a relaxed atmosphere is humour but he also shared the challenge question technique and some reflections on creating the right classroom climate for thinking.

Learning is all about thinking, we need to focus on the deep thinking, but to get them willing to engage in the powerful and profound you need to get students willing to take a risk. Ask them questions they can answer to get them used to sharing their thoughts. Then you can ask them to take a risk on thinking and get them hooked.

Challenge questions

Get them to try and argue what’s best, Daddy or chips, fire or ice? The key is getting them used to giving reasons and building an argument. Or even go for who would win; shark or rhino? Again it’s all about giving reasons and building arguments.

Other Reflections

Curiosity + Passion = Intelligence

Utilise the strengths of others, tap into the skill base of those around you. If you know someone has a skill you need why not just ask them for help, you might even have a skill they need. Can you get students to start using these tactics in the classroom?

Give students reasons to be motivated, tell them why they’re doing things. It gets more passion than just going through the motions.

Start asking real questions, find out new stuff, ask about real world issues.

Get them challenged so that they get to feel “Moments of sudden glory” (Thomas Hobbes) when they figure things out.

Get them to make connections, think in a different way.

Give them answers and ask what the question is. “If this is the answer, what is the question?”

If they’re stuck get them to look for someone who isn’t to explain it to them.

Video Challenge

After the final session delegates were challenged to make a video to share their learning. These can be found here. The link is to the first one and the rest are there on YouTube once you start watching.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

Lesson Study 101

Lesson Study is a professional learning cycle where 2 or more teachers identify a challenge to learning, research possible solutions, plan a lesson together using this knowledge, observe the lesson and reflect upon their findings. This cycle is then repeated until all members of the group have delivered a collaboratively planned lesson and their finding are often delivered to colleagues or others to share their learning.

Dudley (2010) identifies the process originating in Japan in 1872 and due to this it is a significant proportion of the researched written by practitioners in Japan. He identifies this as a “highly effective form of collaborative, classroom-located teacher learning which focuses upon improving and innovating practice knowledge.”


1) Identify an aspect of teaching to improve.

2) Research approaches to improving this aspect.

3) Plan a lesson collaboratively.

4) Lesson is taught and observed.

5) Target students interviewed.

6) Group meets to discuss findings.

7) Cycle restarts.

8) Next steps; presenting findings and forming new groups.

Identify an aspect of teaching to improve

This is a crucial aspect of the process, without determining the focus for improvement this would become a generic lesson observation; Lesson Study is about targeted teacher research making a difference, not measuring a teacher by their performance in a one off lesson. Dudley (2014) recommends looking at the needs of individual students (or groups of students), teaching strategies, the content or curriculum strand to be developed. These give a sound basis to form an area of focus for a Lesson Study project.

From a practical point of view, you may know which areas your students perform less well in due to test or examination results. If you’ve got specific teaching and learning targets for your performance management this could be a personal focus for your project or you could look at whole school priorities to identify a target group. You may wish to choose your target students by sticking performance data for one class in a spreadsheet and filtering those with the lowest progress giving an objective measures for identification.

If you and your colleagues are fortunate enough to teach the same students and either have non-contact periods at appropriate times or your school is supporting your project and willing to cover lessons to allow the observations to happen you could target exactly the same students for each cycle.

Research approaches to improving this aspect

Once you have identified the focus aspect it is important to research possible approaches to improving this. This can be from reading academic research, books and blogs, observing skilled colleagues, discussions with experts or going on an appropriate course. The key is to spend time looking at and reflecting upon what you find rather than rushing in to write a lesson, what you’re really after is a finely crafted lesson based on your research and your identified need. It’s about application of knowledge to your context to see if it works. If you end up with more questions than answers you’ve definitely picked a valuable focus for your enquiry.

Plan a lesson collaboratively

The initial part of the process identifies who we want to learn what and the research gives some ideas about how that might happen. The collaborative lesson planning means that as a group you explore what this learning experience might look like. The aim of the planning is to take joint responsibility for the lesson and give all members of the group ownership; it’s about working together to find ways of making the students learn what you want them to. Each aspect should be discussed thoroughly and critiqued until all members of the group are happy with the result.

This could be explored on a micro-scale by looking at one activity, focusing on starters, plenaries, progress checks, questioning, thinking skills or any other aspect for a targeted short period of time. This can create a lesser time requirement for the planning and observation phases if you wish to focus intently on a short section of learning.

Make sure you’re planning your lesson with your key aspect as your focus, after all “Memory is the residue of thought.” Willingham (2010); indicating that students will remember what they were thinking about. Make sure they’re thinking about what you want them to remember.

Lesson is taught and observed

The lesson is then delivered by the lead teacher for the cycle and observed by the other members of the Lesson Study group. The observers focus should be on the identified students and their learning. Nuthall (2007) identifies the huge significance in student peer dialogue in the learning process either supporting or sabotaging comprehension and learning and this has made observing student dialogue a focus in my classroom practice and when observing others.

If as a group you have difficulty finding time to observe each other there are various video recording packages available such as IRIS or the VEO App which could be used to record lessons for later viewing and discussion. (Please note there are other packages available.) Personally if doing this I would leave the microphone with a table of targeted students to focus on the peer dialogue of students.

A variation on the traditional process could be to have an expert coach watching the live stream from another room providing prompts and support to the teacher delivering. This would require clear ground rules and signals in place but would allow the deliverer to access expert support immediately during the lesson. This could even be a pedagogical strategy which you could explore with your Lesson Study group.

Target students interviewed

Following the lesson the target students should be interviewed regarding the relevant aspects of the lesson. I tend to focus the dialogue around three key questions:-

What did they learn?

How did they learn?

What were their challenges to learning?

The first two allow me to identify what successes there were and what process got them there. The final question allows me to reflect on what to do next, supporting the identification of the focus aspect for the next Lesson Study Cycle.

Group meets to discuss findings

Dudley (2014) identifies the importance of this process being about the learning in the classroom, not the judging of the lesson. It is essential that the dialogue within the group is focused on learning, processes, observations and pedagogical strategies. It is creating this climate which reaps the greatest benefits in Lesson Study Projects. The skill of the group to self-regulate these discussions or of a facilitator leading the group can significantly impact on the professional learning of the participants. So, to reiterate, it’s not about the teacher, it’s about the learning.

Cycle restarts

The intention being that each member of the group delivers a collaboratively planned lesson building each time on the knowledge gained from the Lesson Study cycle. I have referred to this as a Lesson Study project several times throughout this piece as I consider a series of cycles the complete project. Once all members of the group have delivered a lesson it is customary to share findings and, if desired, form new project teams.

Next steps; presenting findings and forming new groups.

Traditionally once a Lesson study Project has been completed the teachers share their findings, often with colleagues but sometimes in journals, blogs and at Teachmeet events. Allison (2014) provides information on these and a selection of other ways in which teachers can share their findings from research projects. If only your group gains knowledge from your project it has value, but if you share that knowledge it has far more.

Once you have completed a Lesson Study Project if you wish to continue with the practice you could begin again with the same group or you could each form new groups, academic splinter cells if you will, where the more experienced member can share their understanding of the process as part of the project.

Things to consider

As with any research project it is essential to consider the type of information you wish to gather, qualitative or quantitative, both? What are you going to gather the information about? Which ways will you gather this data? What questions will you ask? What are the ethical ramifications of your research and methodology? If you’re really committed to the Action Research aspect of teacher led research I strongly recommend Baumfield, Hall, Wall et (2012) as an excellent starting point for practitioner enquiry in education.

Getting Started

All that’s really needed to begin a Lesson Study project is a friend (a colleague will do), access to the materials on the Lesson Study UK website (link here) and a openness to investigate the learning in your classroom in a different way. If you really want to go deeper into the thinking behind it I recommend Dudley (2010), Dudley (2014) and Allison (2014); all of which feature easy to follow summaries of the process.

In an ideal scenario each group would have a skilled facilitator who has been through the process previously as Dudley (2014) identifies the huge importance of the dialogue between teachers in this process and that the quality of that dialogue improves with experience in Lesson Study. Hence the suggestion of founding new groups shared above.

Why Lesson Study?

Most significantly it’s a teacher led approach to improving learning in the classroom, the intrinsic motivation comes from making our own discoveries. It makes us engage with other sources of knowledge when we are planning and preparing our lesson. It encourages us to talk about learning and pedagogy with our colleagues, always a wonderful thing. It provides an opportunity to reflect on our practice in a non-judgemental way with our peers. It sharpens our focus on things we could improve and students we could better support. It opens up dialogue with students about their learning, informative for us, an opportunity for metacognition for them. The only downside I see with the process is the investment in time, this isn’t about quick fixes, it’s about honing our classroom craft.

What if it goes wrong?

In real terms lessons can, and sometimes do, go badly. The purpose of Lesson study is to be a collaborative action research project built around dialogue and micro-research. The consequences of it going wrong are the same as any other lesson, the students don’t learn as much as you’d like and you need a new strategy.

In terms of the group going wrong through conflict and not adhering to roles or expectations, there are two real options, talk through the issue like reasonable adults or realise that your particular group aren’t going to gain from working together. Sometimes it’s good to know when to let something go.


Allison, S (2014) Perfect Teacher Led CPD, ITL Press

Baumfield. V, Hall. E, Wall. K (2012) Action Research in Education: Learning Through Practitioner Enquiry, SAGE

Dudley. P (2010) from: McGrane. J and Lofthouse. R (2010) Developing Outstanding Teaching and Learning: Creating a Culture of Professional Development to Improve Outcomes, Optimus Education

Dudley. P (2014) Lesson Study: Professional learning for our time, Routledge Research in Education

Nuthall. G (2007) The Hidden Lives of Learners, NZCER Press

Whillingham. D (2010) Why don’t students like school?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How The Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, Jossey Bass

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

Featured image created using the Typorama & PhotoFunia Apps.

Update, links to Lesson Study Reports:-

Lesson Study UK

Study Cam
Thanks to @lessonstudyuk for sharing these links.

#BDONE Part 6 – Keynotes

Just in case we weren’t brimming with enthusiasm next up were two powerhouses of positivity to give their keynote speeches – Will Ryan & Dave Keeling.

Will Ryan – Dare to be different

Will started by boldly stating that maybe things are alright.

“Teaching in this country is at the highest level ever; if we were left alone maybe they would be better than alright.” 

We should look for the best bits, enjoy the richness and vivid nature of the English languages. We should teach children how to think. We should have school pride for all the wonderful things that are happening in our schools. We should be enjoying the things that are going well.

Will then suggested we should treat ourselves to a really special experience; a 3G lesson. Every once and a whole we should craft a lesson of such magnitude that not only the learner experiences it but the go home and tell their parents about it. So finely crafted that one day they will tell their own children. You can’t do it every day, but try and add a little magic where you can.

Final thought – Think this on the way out on a Friday:- What was the best thing that happened in my classroom this week? 

(Personal note:- You could also share it on #PedagooFriday.)

Dave Keeling – Make ’em laugh, make ’em learn

With great with and a few gentle nudges into innuendo Dave shared his thoughts on what makes learning memorable:-





By playing round with these ideas it makes the concepts you share more memorable. Then, once they have that knowledge, do something with it.

“Knowledge without action is just storage.”

What do we need to do to get students learning?

Relaxed and happy students learn. Humour is a form of social self esteem. When we laugh together confidence grows and learners engage. We need to make them want to get involved in their learning. They need space to get things wrong, otherwise they’ll never take a chance. They need the confidence to take chances to dig deep in their learning.

#100wordbookreview High Performers by @alatalite

This book transformed my understanding and philosophy of the role of middle leaders in schools. It is far more than this however, setting out the findings from highly successful schools from across the country.

Exploring a wide range of aspects including teaching, culture, curriculum content and self awareness Smith shares both insights and powerful reflective questions.

As well as these Smith shares what he feels are observable features of outstanding lessons; though not Ofsted ratified they do provide a range of ideas worth engaging with when reflecting upon what makes lessons great.

Essential reading for school leaders at all levels.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

POP Targets

“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.” Paul Arden

I’ve been thinking about goals a lot lately, goals for my students, goals for my department, professional goals for myself and personal goals. It’s this time of year I’m looking at student data and thinking about the year ahead and also leading up to my main sporting event of the year The Lakeland 50. (Planning to knock a few hours off last year’s time and finish feeling strong.)

I think that setting goals is an important part of the developmental process; whether long or short term, simple or hugely ambitious. @Learning Spy has written an excellent blog on goals and his tips to make them worthwhile here. He also includes an Ultrarunning story so as far as I’m concerned he hit the target with this one;)

I’ve also been lucky enough to see Dr Ian Boardley speak again this year at the Lakeland Recce Days. He’s a lecturer at Birmingham University and an accomplished ultrarunner. He shared a way of categorising goals in sporting events that I felt had some lessons I could apply to my professional goal setting in education. So the three categories are:- 


This is a focus on the end product of a particular event. Success is determined in very specific terms such as a time goal in running or a specific % of students achieving a specific grade or hitting all of your performance management goals. These are useful for us in terms of long term thinking and really useful to people with leadership responsibilities as these allow tracking of strategic goals.


This focus on the overall outcome of a particular event: usually in comparison to others. Beating a particular rival in a race or in our terms in education getting better results than another school or teacher or getting a better observation grade than a rival. These competitive goals make a lot more sense in sport than education as we’re very much a collegiate and supportive profession. We’re after the best for all not just ourselves.


This is a focus on in-performance goals, what you’re doing during the event. Addressing optimal form, technique and strategy. In race this is about when to run and when to walk (50 miles is quite a long way), getting my eating and hydration right. In school it’s about what to do and when to do it. What time of day do you mark efficiently? What do you need to remember to add to your lessons? (Starters? Plenaries? More questions?) What are the indicators you need to look out for when things aren’t going well and what are your strategies to overcome these? By thinking and planning around process goals in advance it allows me to focus on what I’m doing, not trying to figure out a strategy on the spot. A lot of adaptability comes from having though possibilities through in advance or experience of similar situations in the past. Things rarely go well by sheer good fortune. It’s also good to know what you’re going to do when things don’t go well.

I think all of these have value, process and performance more so in the educational setting. On a day to day basis I feel that thinking about our process goals could make the biggest impact and therefore support us in achieving our other goals. The process goals you set could be about your lesson structure; remembering to use a plenary to check the learning or making sure the class get time to tidy away making the end of the lesson less panicked. It could be setting specific times to do specific tasks; like booking certain slots for marking or putting an hour a week to spend on new ideas that would otherwise fall by the wayside. It might even be specific responses, for example if I see Marmaduke distracted I’ll knock on a table as a prompt rather than yelling – “How ye; get on with yer work.” Make sure the student knows the prompt too otherwise they’ll think you’ve gone wrong.

These small, specific, day to day changes help build good habits; it’s very much the Marginal Learning Gains idea of making lots of little impacts which accumulate to make a big difference. 

So dream big, aim high and know how you’re going to get there.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

Featured image made using the following site:- Dude Generator. 

Big Day Out Newcastle #BDONE Part 5

The Hollywood effect with David Hodgson.

What’s really important in our lessons in what’s going on in the brain. We need to get them excited and engaged; we need to make a Hollywood movie of our subjects. Subject specialists have a rich and detailed vision of their subject; we need to share that film with our students. We also need to think about making the thinking efficient.

Three Big Ideas

1) Mood impacts on performance.

Look at the puppy room experiments where students stroked puppies for four minutes before taking a test and performed better.

In sport; you take time to get yourself in the right frame of mind whether it’s routine, chants, mantras of visualisation. You get yourself focused and in the mood for the task ahead.

Is this a wasted opportunity? We need to spend time making students relaxed, ready and curious. Not nervous and bored. We need to influence the mood of our classes:-

Push them towards it; gentles nudges and prompts.

OR drag them along with enthusiasm.

2) Activate the Learning

Use walk through memory techniques, attach ideas to landmarks. Move it, mark it out. Attach senses to ideas, the more stimuli and links to an idea the greater the recollection.

The example used was people who were good at spelling. 

1) Picture the word.

2) Say it, syllable by syllable.

3) Check gut feeling.

4) If it feels right it is right. Stop.

5) If it feels wrong go back to step one.

Activate your senses to improve learning; look at how the brain experiences the body.

3) Practice

Review at the end of the lesson; remind the brain what stuff is important. Focus on the small improvements.

The more the brain does something the more it will remember it. Make sure they review often and the right stuff.

Then it was time for lunch. (There won’t be a separate blog on the food.)

During lunch delegates were given opportunities for one to one consults with the Independant Thinking Associates. I was really impressed by this extra personal touch; Lisa obviously worked her team hard.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

Visiting The Belmont Learning Hubs

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting @dan_brinton @belmont_school to see his “learning hubs” as part of the package of distributed leadership professional development initiatives implemented at his school.

After sharing an overview of his vision, implementation strategy and long term aims Dan took me on a tour of his learning hubs:

Questioning; how can questioning be used to assess knowledge, challenge thinking and direct learning?

Feedback & Critique; how can we use feedback to promote progress, reflection and pride in our work?

Challenge & Mindset; how can we create a culture of growth mindset where challenge is embraced?

E-Learning; how can we use technology to enhance learning inside and outside of the classroom?

(There was also a Literacy hub which sadly wasn’t on that afternoon.)

These are the five key aspects of learning and culture that the team at Belmont have identified as the key foci to push their school forward and deliver the best for their students.

I’ll not go into detail on the vision and processes as Dan shares a lot about what happens on his blog here. This is one of my favourite five blogs on the Internet and I strongly recommend giving it a read.

What I would like to share was the clear impact that this program had on the staff:-

1) The staff were really welcoming, open and honest about their learning journey. They shared their triumphs, challenges and some great ideas I could take away to use. There was a clear growth mindset in their own learning. 

(My instant takeaways to use in my classroom are at the bottom.)

2) The staff were passionate in their discussions about learning; it seems like an obvious thing to say but putting teachers together and giving them time to think and talk is such an important thing. It not only provides an important opportunity for reflection and development it also clearly defines what’s important in your school. It’s a culture thing.

3) Staff were focused on their legacy and impact. The work they were doing in their hubs was to share with their colleagues to make a difference to all of the students in their school. They knew what they were working on was an investment in the future.

4) Hub leaders and their groups were thinking rich picture; strategically looking at how their work and future plans will impact on all stakeholders. Clearly looking to synthesise with other initiatives in school such as their action research and lesson study groups.

As well as getting a great insight into the workings of the project and experiencing the groups first hand I was also lucky enough to pick up two quick ideas to use straight away in my classroom.

Multi-Coloured PEE

Chris Jones was kind enough to share how he had been focusing his students on scaffolding PEE (Point, Evidence, Explain) paragraphs using 3 different coloured pens. It’s a great, simple to implement concept and a clear way to highlight the paragraph structure to the students.


Lee Ferris shared this tool with me; it was originally designed as an App for language learning but can be used to work on key vocabulary and concepts. It’s easy to use and works around repetition and interleaving the learning by carefully timed reminders by e-mail or alerts on their phones.

I’m not only using it to brush up on my hugely rusty Japanese; I’ve also set up some essential vocabulary for my Key Stage 4 Religious Studies classes and high frequency academic vocabulary using the @LearningSpy list (with David’s kind permission) to develop their comprehension of exam style vocabulary.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

#100wordbookreview An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger

A text which lives up to its name; a beautifully crafted narrative sharing an inspirational educators philosophy and principles.

As well as telling a personal heart warming tale of making education purposeful, personal and relevant this book shares how to apply these principles in your practice. Extolling the importance of community, both inside and outside of the classroom, and the impact it has on learning.  Berger is honest about the effort and care taken to make the right culture and meaningful projects happen. He also shows why it’s worth it.

If you’re passionate about education this is an essential text.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE