Monthly Archives: November 2012

Newsletter 8

Friday joke: How did the dog stop the DVD player? By using paws.

For those of us missing Sarah she has set up a new blog which can be accessed at  If you click on High Tech High Learning Visit you will see that she has posted photographs and thoughts on what she has seen from an English teaching point of view. It ties in with Hillary’s ideas on creating a gallery to showcase work and answers Caroline’s question ‘How is a culture of achievement created?’ We have these ideas and just need the – whatever the word is – to do it!

We have a CT meeting on Monday and we will start by looking at the Speaking and Listening standardising DVD. Please make sure that you bring the marking criteria. I will also bring some speaking and listening forms. We will be having an advisory visit in February and will be asked to show our forms for Year 10 and Year 11. I will also make a note of the Literature set texts being taught in Year 11 to pass to Kellie. If you refer to the Map you will see that the intention is to teach non fiction text types alongside the reading. Please stick to this to ensure complete coverage. Let me know if you need me to email another copy.

Thank you to those of you that I have managed to catch re Performance Management input on google docs. I still need to see Matt and Dave. Remember you can edit the form but click on submit at the end to save any changes.

Our English Subject Review is fast approaching – 23rd January… My feelings are that we should focus on our use of feedback and/or group work but I would be interested to hear of any other suggestions. I would imagine that the observations will centre around KS5 and KS3 but will let you know as soon as I know.

iPad news – the new Storybird is live.

Why don’t we try…?  A lot to learn from primary colleagues.

Happy mock marking!

Claire S


Newletter 7

Friday joke: ‘I bought a bad thesaurus. It isn’t just terrible; it’s also terrible.’ (Thanks Geoff.)

Congratulations to Katherine for her successful Teachmeet on Wednesday. I particularly loved Dom’s ‘Top Trumps cards’ for group work and I must remember to get Triptico installed on my laptop. Lisa explained “Human Sentences’ and it was great to watch Maria using them as a starter activity with Year 8 the following day.

Mocks week is upon us already; a big thanks to Sarah for organising it this year. Next week you should be starting a set text with Year 11. I have asked Jon to print ‘A Christmas Carol’; they are A4 size and the first batch of 30 is ready on the trolley but please let me know if you have taken any.  I have not had requests or queries about other set texts –  see me urgently if there are any problems in this area so that no one falls behind on the curriculum map. I know it’s a few weeks away but the last Monday and Tuesday of term may be interrupted due to Christmas Concert rehearsals – make sure that CA for ‘Of Mice and Men’ avoids these days.

Some of you met Natasha on Tuesday afternoon we are hoping that her visit will lead to the departments collaborating and creating new revision resources. Her feedback from the Summer exams was to be cautious when entering students for the Higher Tier; this is the tier which was hardest hit by the boundary changes.

Am still thinking about closed classroom doors; I appreciate that sometimes it is unavoidable but have a read of ‘Can I Come In?’

Why don’t we try…? Joining Twitter. Had my first retweeting success at the weekend involving ‘lazy marking’. Give students a ‘random’ level – in pencil! – and they have to persuade you otherwise using AF marking criteria. I even had one student who wanted me to award them a lower level needless to say…

Please remember to give Sarah any questions that you have regarding the work of High Tech High.


Claire S

Newsletter 6

Friday Joke: Past, Present and Future walked into a bar, it was a tense moment.

Quite a list of key dates this month. I will keep updating them each week – let me know if there are any other dates that need to be included eg the assembly rota. The newsletter is also on our blog

Our photo this week is of High Tech High. At the end of the month a team from LG are visiting this innovative school in San Diego. Take a look at this video to be inspired. The website has links to examples of their projects and publications which will be  incredibly useful as we move towards the new curriculum. I particularly liked the project ‘A Hero in my Eyes’. The emphasis is very much on high quality ‘beautiful’ work; I also know that they follow Berger’s critique methodology. We are lucky as Sarah is one of the team – please think of questions that you would like her to investigate whilst she is there.

On Tuesday afternoon we are being visited by Natasha Pugh, Team Leader English from Brislington Enterprise College. She is particularly interested in WJEC GCSE and our decisions on entry. I am hoping that we will be able to support each other in the coming year.

Am thinking about the pros and cons of setting and mixed ability teaching – came across this quotation ‘Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit opposed from without but falsely identified as lying within’ – what do you think?

Why don’t we try…? Keeping our doors open.


Claire S


Newsletter 5

‘I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.’

So what would Steinbeck have thought?

Here’s the link for Obama’s victory speech. Great real opportunity to analyse language techniques and to simply inspire.

Take a look at this too

Thanks for all of your hard work inputting KS3 and KS4 data. Caroline and I will be sending you some feedback tomorrow/today (Friday) after school.

As you know I went to the WJEC exam meeting on Tuesday. All of the resources can be found on the secure website; click on Resources PDF download and then CPD (INSET) materials. I will write up the key messages and distribute them next week to be discussed in our CT meeting. I met Wayne Powell our Speaking and Listening advisor and we have agreed that the advisory visit will be in February. He will need to look at all of our speaking and listening records for Years 10 and 11. The forms are in the slot; see me if they have disappeared. We will watch the standardising dvd next team meeting (3rd December) when I will also outline the procedure for the visit.

Why don’t we try…?  3 minute motivators to help refocus and engage learning  Read more on

Take care – Claire

Key Dates

11th November Hillary’s birthday

22nd November – Sarah’s birthday


Newsletter 4

Well that went quickly…

Have just discovered that I am to be performance managing you this year. We are a little behind schedule and so I will be pursuing you with timetables over the next couple of weeks. We need to arrange your planning meeting for 2012-13. You will need to decide on 3 objectives. The first is to meet all of the Teachers’ Standards. Nick has uploaded these onto Studywiz, the second can be selected from the following: Developing Learning through literacy/mobile technologies/new Year 7 curriculum (C&M or PDC teachers)/internationalism/school based enquiry project. The final objective focuses on an aspect of independent learning not explicit in objective 2. We will be completing this on google docs which is accessed through Studywiz.

iPad news – I know that some of you were disappointed that Storybird could not be used with iPads. According to their blog ( they are a few weeks from a relaunch which will enable it to be used on an iPad. Keep an eye on their blog for further updates.

Why don’t we try…? Take a look at You will need to sign in to be able to download the free resources, podcasts and posters. It would also be great if some of us signed up for Katherine’s TeachMeet on Wed 21st November. Here’s a link to TeachMeet Clevedon which Vic Goddard opened

Hope you are having/had a fantastic holiday – looking forward to seeing you all on Monday.



Newsletter 3

Less than a week to go. I’ve had an exciting but exhausting Term 1; thanks for all of your support and good humour. I hope you’re all going to spend some time in the holidays doing lots of nothing and lots of interesting somethings.

Sarah has volunteered to write a SOL for KS4 revision. This will pull together our ideas as well as introduce new ones. Please forward favourites to Sarah so they can be included. We will be looking at ideas for intervention for KS4 in Monday’s meeting. It would be useful if you could look through the list I put in your pigeonholes before the meeting so that we have something to work from. I am going to be working with Stuart, Dan and Lucy A to see what we can achieve together.

How are you getting on with inputting Year 11 data? A not very subtle reminder.

Of course we need to be looking at how we intervene in KS3 too. You have completed a mapping exercise for Caroline which we will also be discussing in Monday’s meeting. I found this quite challenging and it was a really useful way of making sure that I am covering the Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening AFs.

iPad news – Steve B is setting up an internal WordPress server that will enable staff/students to create blogs. I am going to start with 7E; will let you know how we get on; the more the merrier.

Why don’t we try…? ‘Getting students hooked in early’ sometimes known as ‘Bell Work’. An intriguing open question on the board. A fascinating photograph/powerful image. An appropriate piece of music playing – students need to make the connection.

Time for a cup of tea.