28 September 2016

Going Well...

I'm struggling with workload at the moment but I'm taking a quick break from the marking and UCAS references to share three things that are going really well this year.

1. Low Stakes Quizzes 
I started doing regular multiple choice quizzes with my Year 10s last year and instantly loved it (I wrote about it here). I've never done anything before that's given me so much insight into my students' understanding and the effectiveness of my teaching. My Year 10s ended up being taken by a PGCE student for a significant part of the year so the quizzes stopped, but I have reintroduced them this year with the same class (now Year 11) and again I'm reminded of how awesome these quizzes are.

My weekly quizzes take 20 minutes to run in the lesson (we do it every Friday), plus about 20 minutes to mark after the lesson. The quizzes don't take long to make when I'm planning my lessons - lately I've just been using the snipping tool to take questions from Diagnostic Questions (shhh, don't tell Craig!). You can view my quizzes here.

I give each student a grade (A, B or Not Yet) and anyone who scores 100% gets a sticker (they love that!). The quizzes are open book so there's no stress for students - in fact they love them (I get a cheer when I say it's time for the quiz!) and they are always excited to see their score in the next lesson. For me 'it's like I'm looking at the freaking Matrix' (in the words of Nathan Kraft in this post about vertical whiteboards!). Seriously, this is one of the best things I've ever done.

2. Folders
My Year 11s now use ring binders instead of exercise books. It's brilliant. I need to write a separate post about how this works because there's lots to say. Loads of people told me it wouldn't work, mainly because the folders would quickly become disorganised (which may still happen - we're only three weeks in), but I've designed a good set of resources that minimise the risk of messy folders. I'm pretty confident that it will continue to work well. Watch out for a post about this!

3. Times Table Rock Stars
I'm not sure I'm allowed to put photos of my students on my blog, but if I could then you'd see the happy faces of my Year 7s absolutely loving Times Tables Rock Stars (whilst wearing wigs and sunglasses!). All Year 7 teachers at Glyn now have one lesson in an IT Room every fortnight to run a Times Tables Rock Stars lesson. I do the paper version with my class too, plus I've just launched an after school 'Rock Gods' club for keen Year 7s. A number of teachers have also set up other classes (Year 8 to Year 10) and it seems to be going well all round. My students happily sit there for a full hour enthusiastically practising times tables, and I get to listen to rock music so it's win-win...!

So that's three things are going particularly well for me this year. Are you trying anything new that seems to be working? Please tweet me or comment below.


  1. Thanks for sharing!
    I like the quiz activity and I'm very tempted to do a quiz weekly with my Yr 10 and Yr 11. Do you mark the answers yourself or you get the students to mark them? Do you record the results for e.g on a leader scoreboard? By doing a quiz every week don't you get behind the scheme of work?

    1. Hi. I mark the quizzes myself because it helps me see exactly what they know and what they don't know. It only takes about 20 minutes to mark and record their scores so it's not a problem time wise.

      I have 4 hours teaching time with them a week and this only takes 20 minutes of the lesson every Friday (15 minutes quiz plus a couple of minutes to hand out and collect), plus about 5 minutes of review every Monday. So it doesn't take away too much teaching time. It's definitely time well spent.

      I don't do a leader board but I find they are motivated enough by the gradings I give - they all really want an A every week, and my brightest students really strive to get 100% every time (which is hard to do!).

  2. Hi There, I would like to start with saying I think your blog is an amazing resource to us teachers. Could I enquire as to how successful the folders were with your Year 11s? Thank you

    1. Thanks! I wrote a separate post about it here: http://www.resourceaholic.com/2016/10/folders.html.

      I liked it so I will be doing it again next year. The only thing I'll do differently is using lever arch folders, because ring binders definitely weren't big enough!

  3. Hi, very interesting post, thank you. I like the idea of it being open book, did you allow textbooks? I'm just thinking going back next month, my year 11s won't have a great deal in their books. Also, did you give tests on random topics or topics they'd been studying that week? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi. The idea behind the 'open book' aspect is partly so they refer to their notes from that week (to encourage good note taking). The tests I do are always on the topic just studied, though there are also benefits to mixed-topic tests. Adam Boxer has a good blog post on this.