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Monthly Archives: August 2015

  • Teacher Tips: Getting Ready for the New School Year


    So the school holidays are soon to be over. This means that when September comes, teachers will have a whole bunch of new names to remember, lesson plans to create and new minds to inspire.

    There’s no denying that the first couple of weeks is a stressful time, so to help teachers get into the swing of things we thought we’d give a few tips on things you can do for when the new school year starts.

    Remembering Names


    As you know, learning the names of pupils in your class as quickly as possible is important. It helps you interact and engage with your pupils on a more personal level, but getting the names right at first isn’t always easy. On the first day of class, here are just a few things you can do.

    • The Introducing Game

    Ask your pupils to introduce themselves by saying their own name and mentioning 3 interesting facts about themselves. Some pupils may have some interesting hobbies, families or creative ideas to share, making it a lot easier to remember their names.


    • Word Association

    This is used as a variation to the introducing game. Pupils simply introduce themselves using alliteration to their own name. Ask pupils to introduce themselves and tell them to mention one thing that they like that begins with the same letter. For example, “Chris” and “Computer Games”, “Ryan” and “Rugby” and so on.


    • Name Then Answer

    Ask pupils to say their name before they answer a question. This will also help other pupils become more aware of who is who in the class.

    Plan Each Lesson

    lesson plan

    It sounds obvious, but every lesson should be planned with an end goal in mind. What is it you want your pupils to get out of from today’s lesson? What approach will you take? Always try to make sure each lesson is engaging and well-structured. Although some teachers have great success in re-using the same lesson plans for years and years, it is definitely worth considering analysing them every so often and deciding if it is worth perhaps tweaking them – is there something different you could try this year to get the message across? Having an engaging lesson is a sure way to help pupils remember key topics and keep them motivated to learn more.

    Establish Class Rules Early On

    class rules

    Controlling a class of 25+ school children in one room is no easy task. Poor classroom management affects both, teaching and learning. Establishing the rules since day one is also very helpful in order for lessons to run smoothly in the classroom. A teacher's attitude is especially important; teachers should show firmness when directing students without being tempted to raise their voice when it can be avoided. Establishing respect and good teacher-pupil relationships is essential to learning and some teachers have found it helps to always talk to pupils in the corridors, especially the ones who are known for misbehaving.

    Work-Life Balance & Stress

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    Teachers get a lot of grief for having 6 weeks off from their friends, but not many people realise how much extra after school work is involved – and it all adds up. Your health and well-being is important, and so it always helps if at the start of term if you can vow to yourself to not let your work interfere with your personal life. Yes, it’s not easy – every teacher has to mark homework, but maybe there is a different way you can manage it without it affecting the time you should have with friends and family.  Teaching is a passion but you will always need some timeout from it to recover.


    And last but not least, smile! Show your enthusiasm of teaching by simply smiling in front of your class and you’ll be amazed at how much pupils will feed off your positivity and energy in what you do. They’ll appreciate it and will look forward to your lessons. Do this enough, and you might turn out to be one of the ‘cool’ teachers in school – just like this Maths teacher.


      Do you have any tips or ideas for teachers preparing themselves for the new school term? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Computer Science at the Heart of the National Curriculum


    Since last year, the UK Government implemented changes to the ICT curriculum and schools across England began teaching children how to code in different languages. ICT was replaced by ‘Computing’ which meant that children as young as 5 years old were starting to learn about algorithms - something that was not traditionally taught until much later in the educational system.

    Many have said that this change was due to big technology giants such as Microsoft and Google having an influence on the Government by mentioning that there has been a large skills gap with filling specific programming job roles. According to a study by market researcher Gfk, 45% of business leaders at London’s Tech City said their biggest challenge was in fact finding talented, skilled workers. It has also been reported that by 2020, the UK will have a shortage of 249,000 skilled workers within the technology industry. These forecasts meant that something had to be done.

    So Where Are We Now?

    The response from teachers and pupils has been rather positive, with some encouraging their pupils to download apps that teach children how to code in an intuitive way, which can be used in the classroom environment or at home.


    Having popular learn to code apps such as Tynker,HopscotchScratchJr and Hakitzu being downloaded at home has meant that children are being introduced to programming at a much younger age due to them being highly accessible. At the same time, it also keeps parents inquisitive into the subject of programming because it’s highly likely that they did not have an opportunity to learn about it when they were at school.

    Due to the subject still being in its infancy, the next steps for the curriculum means that more efforts are being made from educational organisations within the public and private sector in an attempt to fill the skills gap.

    In more recent news, The BBC announced their micro:bit, a pocket sized programmable computer which is due to be introduced into schools across the UK this October.

    Each element of the device is programmable via software on the micro:bit website and can be accessed via a tablet, PC or mobile phone. Sinead Rocks, head of BBC Learning is keen to push the computing curriculum further, and has high hopes for the introduction of the new device.

    "It’s our most ambitious education initiative for 30 years. And as the micro:bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry…The BBC micro:bit is all about young people learning to express themselves digitally, and it’s their device to own.”

    These recent developments are exciting to hear for the computing National Curriculum. As the subject matures, we are also likely to see further advancements in app development which will bring a much broader range of products to the educational sector. The increased choice of apps being made available in app stores will mean that children will have an even greater opportunity to learn a topic in a different, and more engaging way rather than relying on the traditional classroom text book.

  • 5 Fun History Lesson Plans You Need To Try Out

    history lesson plan


    There are a number of ways a teacher can deliver a quality, well-structured history lesson for their pupils, and sometimes it's nice to have the odd lesson that is just that little bit different from the norm. Since the new school term is about to start in just a few weeks, we thought we’d help out by giving a few new different ideas to try out in the classroom for your next History lesson.

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    1.     Europe’s Absolute Monarchs

    It’s time to get creative! In this lesson, students were asked to create pop up figures of 4 of Europe’s Absolute Monarchs. These being Louis XIV, Henry VIII, Philip II and Czar Peter the Great.

    The teacher provided students with a sheet of 4 cut outs of each monarch, a graphic organiser map with a space for the pupils to write notes about each person.



    2.     Ancient Rome

    Ever noticed how some pupils find it difficult to learn Roman Numerals? Well here’s another creative idea that might help. Pupils are asked to create Roman coins, and write the Roman numerals on each coin. They will then be asked by a friend or by the teacher to pay for items using the coins.

    You can use basic items for pupils to “purchase” with various prices attached to them, such as pens, pencil cases, text books etc.



    3.     One Minute History Hot Seat

    This is a great idea for exam revision, or to go over a topic you have been teaching over a particular term. This is how it works - various History topics are written onto a piece of paper and placed into a hat. Pupils are given 20 minutes each to study the topic that was pulled out of the hat by them, and after doing so they will be asked to talk in front of the class for 1 minute without hesitation or repetition on their topic.

    This method will definitely get pupils thinking quickly, as many will feel the pressure of their peers looking at them.




    4.     Answers First, Questions Second

    Another interesting revision idea is to have teachers shout out to pupils the ‘answer’ to a particular History topic, and pupils have to come up with the question. Teachers can start the game with easy answers such as, “six wives” – “Henry VIII”, and make it progressively more difficult by being vaguer and more open with your answers. This gives pupils the chance to become creative, and get more involved with a History lesson as they try to come up with inventive questions to your answers.



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    5.     Government Systems

    And last in our list (but certainly not least!), is an interesting way of teaching pupils about various Government Systems using gummy bears. A rather unorthodox method of teaching this topic, but we love the idea nonetheless.

    To plan for this lesson it’s best to first teach the Government systems as you normally would, but then use this as an additional end-of-lesson activity. This will help reinforce the pupils’ learning and understanding of the topic by making it a fun and very memorable task. The gummy bears also make for a great snack just before lunch time too!

    Have you used any of the ideas above or something completely different to engage your class for history lessons? Let us know by commenting in the box below, we'd love to hear them!

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