Setting up your classroom: DIY Registration

Interactive register

This is a simple way of registering your class on your interactive whiteboard. It is quite a visual way for both yourself and the pupils to see. They like to interact with the whiteboard and as long as they understand that they only ever move themselves across the board, then it is an accurate way of registering the class.

What you need to do:

  • Using your whiteboard software, create a new whiteboard that will be your daily interactive register.
  • Split the board in half vertically.
  • On the left side, write every child’s name. Alternatively, you could add a photo of each child. Remember to put the names or photos of shorter children lower down otherwise it leads to jumping to reach their name!
  • On the left side, write something to signify that those children aren’t in school (e.g. ‘Away today’ or ‘Absent’).
  • On the right side, write something to signify that those children are in school.
  • Save the file but don’t save it every day, as you will have to move all the names or photos back!

What the children do:

  • As they enter the class, the first task they do is to move their name or photo from the left side of the board to the right side of the board.

Pupils could be directed to do a task once they have registered on the board, e.g. read their book, or other early morning work (EMW) as part of their routine.

Use of computers / tablets for research in lessons

SurfaceA few years ago, I attended an INSET with Chris Moyse (@ChrisMoyse) about independent learning. One of the things I took from it was the use of computers for research within lessons (I think pupils had been asked to find specific answers to questions). In the scenario given, pupils had to find answers to a range of questions in the context of a Science lesson and given the opportunity, pupils would go straight to the computer instead of accessing the other resources provided to find answers. Their skills when it came to the effective use of a search engine were slightly lacking and as a result, pupils who had opted to use the other resources provided (printed information and books) were far more successful in the task.

A great focus in my teaching is in creating an environment that benefits and encourages independent learning, and in facilitating learning, without me constantly standing at the front talking at pupils.

I am fortunate in that I have access to tablet computers for use in class, without having to relocate to a computer room. Bearing in mind what I learnt from Chris, in research-based lessons, I provide a range of resources (books, printed information, sometimes a list of websites etc.) but I also provide access to a few (2 or 3) tablet computers. Whilst sometimes I find that it is beneficial to provide each group with one or more tablets, in the type of lesson I refer to, I limit the time pupils can access the tablets for to a 5 minute period. (I provide stopwatches for timing, and if the IWB isn’t needed for other uses, I have the number of interactive stopwatches that I have tablet computers displayed on the board). This means that all pupils in the class are aware when they can access the internet if they choose to. They write their names down on the board so there is an obvious order to the computer time, and groups can decide whether or not the use of the computer is beneficial to them. I often find that pupils initially opt for the internet, but soon find that their time is more effectively spent finding out the information in other ways.

Learning Journeys Displayed As Tube Maps

Example of a learning journey
Example of a learning journey

This is a great website that has allowed me to create learning journeys displayed as tube maps. I create one for the start of each topic. Pupils like them as they know which direction their learning is taking and there is a clear structure that they are aware of. I encourage pupils to tick the tube stop after we have covered that part of the topic.

I have used them in English and History but I would also like to use them in Science and for other Humanities topics in the future. The only negative I find with the website is that it isn’t that user-friendly so I tend to draw out my learning journeys beforehand. Here are two examples I have created and used with my class: Beowulf Learning Journey and Riven Learning Journey (based around the iPad app, Riven, inspired by the work of Tim Rylands adapted into a scheme of work by BeeGnuEd @GnuBee.

This is a website that I found in a great book called Teaching Backwards by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns and is part of Osiris Education’s ‘Outstanding Teaching’ range of books. I also recommend their previous book, Engaging Learners.

EMW: Early Morning Work

To create a calm classroom environment as pupils arrive in the morning, introduce Early Morning Work. Pupils enter the room, follow the directions on the board, and work on the task they have been directed towards.

Ideas for EMW:
Times tables
Basic maths operations
Write down an adjective for every letter of the alphabet
Countdown maths or letters
Countdown conundrum or anagram

EMW can be organised to suit any age group and fit in with your curriculum. You may want to encourage participation by rewarding pupils for participation using a reward system that they are engaged with. Pupils could complete tasks on a mini whiteboard or book to keep track of their EMW. You may just want them to complete tasks in their rough books or something similar.