The Lazy Teachers’ Handbook

The deliberately misleading title hides the fact that this is a book for those teachers who wish to be the “guide on the side”, as opposed to the “sage on the stage”.  Well worth reading.

The Lazy Teacher's Handbook

You can find it on Amazon.  I don’t have an affiliate account and will not receive anything for this post.  I just liked the book 🙂


Working with the SAMR (Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition) Model

Ruben R. Puentedura’s blog offers an absolute wealth of information on teaching, pedgagogy and use of technology (more broadly, along with iPads in particular).

Today I started reading (it’s 64 pages long) his article (PDF) on the SAMR model for using technology:

Redefinition: Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable

Modification: Tech allows for significant task redesign

Augmentation: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement

Substitution: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change

The stages are hierarchical, with Substitution and Augmentation forming the Enhancing phase, whilst Modification and Redefinition are part of the Transformation phase.

Reading the article made me realise that, although the iClass has come a long way, there is still a long way to go before our use of the iPads is truly transformative.

We have used the iPads to complete maths questions which could be worked out mentally or on paper (Substitution, albeit with extremely high engagement).

In the first or second week we started to tailor maths apps to skills needs (Augmentation).

Later on, we have used multimedia to record our learning in ways we could not have done without the iPads (Augmentation), with the children working on tasks which could not have been planned for without our 1:1 scheme (Modification).

There you have it, a brief summary of (very few) of the ways we have employed our tablets. For me, the next step is to move more of the technological use to transformation, as I really think we have cracked Enhancement.  This is a very exciting time and the children are sure to agree 🙂

I envisage outlining for them the content and/or skills we need to cover and facilitating a protracted discussion of the many ways of demonstrating this with a range of apps, ideally in ways which were “previously inconceivable”, possibly by introducing apps separately in skill-building workshops.

It’s going to be a lot of fun!

How to get and hold attention: stop telling your students to “pay attention!”

Eric Jensen wrote an edifying post about this, which is well worth reading on his site.

In essence, he makes the point that there are much better ways of ensuring attention than asking for it.  Here I have re-produced his tips for making children want to pay attention.  As I mentioned, the original post is on Eric’s site and is an engaging read.

  • Use prediction. Ask students to make a prediction on something related to your content (the process, outcome, circumstance(s), etc.)  BTW…They care more about the outcome. Then help them get vested in their prediction by making the prediction public (“Raise your hand if you believe that …”) Next, increase the stakes of the prediction (“Those that predict correctly will get one free homework pass this month. Now, let’s find out who was right.”) Prediction forces the brain to care about the outcome because we get vested in being right.
  • Use the brief “pause” and chunk technique. Give students a stand up break of 30-90 seconds (the “pause”) to give them mental processing time for the content. It also adds a sense of anticipation or even importance to the content. Brief breaks just to stretch may help focus (Ariga,A. & Lleras,A., 2011). Be sure to also break your content into 5-12 min. chunks (depending on grade level).
  • Prime the learning with small hints, appetizers and teasers ahead of the content to create a pre-attentional bias to the content.
  • Start getting “buy-in” to the content. This is the “hook” that fosters attentional vigilance.  Then, add a strong goal-acquisition to the activity, keeping them vested in reaching the target goal.
  • Do a fast physical activity (like Simon Sez) first to activate executive function areas with the induced strength from the brain’s internal focus-inducing chemical, norepinephrine and working memory ally, dopamine.

How to be an outstanding teacher, or at least have an outstanding ofsted lesson (Paul Dix)

Source – The Guardian website:

1. Step back and look at your teaching space, does it scream outstanding?

2. Meet the children at the door and talk to them about their prior learning as they walk into the room. Show that you know them, know where they are in their learning and know what they need to do as they step over the threshold.

3. Have a first five minutes that creates curious, questioning, engaged children. Cheesy ‘starters’ are old hat and won’t stand out from the crowd.

4. Teach and rehearse 2/3 amazingly well drilled routines that you can click into at a moments notice.

5. Ensure that children leave with an idea/target/question/task. Use writable wristbands or stickers or writing notes on their arm. Show the inspector that children literally carry their learning with them.

6. Take small risks alongside the big ones. Wait the extra few seconds for an answer, show a passion that risks spilling into over excitement and give time to self organised work.

7. Make learning obvious and on show. Give time for thinking and self study but have an active collaborative outcome that demonstrates what has been learned.

8. Prime your trickiest student to demand ‘flipped’ homework at the end of the lesson as if their life depended on it!

The Secrets of a Happy Classroom

An old Independent Article, found at:

Tips are here – but read the rest of the article for more:

Something we can all learn from: how to improve teaching techniques

* Stop students putting their hands up to ask questions – it’s the same ones doing it all the time. Instead introduce a random method of choosing which pupil answers the question, such as lollipop sticks, and thus engage the whole class.

* Use traffic-light cups in order to assess quickly and easily how much your students understand your lesson. If several desks are displaying a red cup, gather all those students around to help them at the same time.

* Mini-whiteboards, on which the whole class simultaneously writes down the answer to a question, are a quick way of gauging whether the class as a whole is getting your lesson. This method also satisfies the high-achievers who would normally stick their hands up.

* A short burst of physical exercise at the start of the school day will do wonders for students’ alertness and motivation. As any gym addict or jogger will tell you, it’s all about the chemicals released into the brain.

* Ditch the obsession with grades, so that pupils can concentrate instead on the comments that the teacher has written on written classwork.

* Allow students to assess the teachers’ teaching – they are the ones at the sharp end, after all. Letting pupils have a say is empowering and, if handled constructively, is highly enlightening.



Whole Brain Teaching 2

I have relaxed into the Class-Yes and the children now respond brilliantly to this, regardless of activity, noise level etc.  Next step for me and the class is to improve Teach-OK, as this dwindled slightly, after initial enthusiasm.  The partner teaching and choral response aspects fit well with Read-Write Inc and Maths Makes Sense, both of which are working extremely well in our school.

Over the weekend I read about the very promising AfL technique known as Pose, Pause, Bounce and Pounce!  In this, teachers refrain from playing “ping-pong” with questions and answers, instead playing “basketball” drawing out evaluative responses from other pupils.  For example:

  1. The question is posed to the whole class
  2. Thinking / reflection time
  3. Throw the “ball”  to Pupil A for their answer
  4. The ball is returned to the teacher, who bounces it whilst all pupils think about Pupil A’s answer
  5. Pupil B is “pounced” on (asked for views and evaluation on Pupil A’s original answer).
  6. Continue to develop as appropriate

I love it!  The depth and breadth of answers is incredible.

Biker Baron

This half term sees some exciting work with the Bike Baron app.  In this lively game, children control a dirt bike which hurtles around a track, allowing them to perform simple stunts.  As a stimulus, it was fantastic.  The buzz in the room was palpable and many children said it was their best ever literacy lesson.

The original idea came from Mr. Andrews, a teacher who is much further along with iPads than I am.  Here is my comment from his website, which says it all, really:

My lower KS2 children had an absolute ball with this. Today we wrote instructions and they remembered EVERYTHING taught yesterday relating to PAT, so fired up by the subject matter were they. I appreciate the idea and will definitely be using the app to inspire writing for other genres, as you suggest. Thank you again!

If you are in a position to use Bike Baron to inspire writing do now or next week.  I plan to use it to inspire recount, narrative, newspaper, diary/blog, but not necessarily in that order!  I also recommend, in the most enthusiastic terms, visiting the Mr. Andrews blog.  It is well worth bookmarking for regular visits.