Category: b) Pedagogy & Organisation

Please click the link below to download a copy of an essay I wrote during my PGCE on the role of practical work in primary science education. Comments/questions very welcome 🙂


Practical Work in Science Education by Jon Chippindall


Here is a quick ‘ShowMe’ video clip I made with one of the school’s iPads to explain division using grouping and repeated subtraction (which are fundamentally the same thing!).

Click the link below to watch – more tutorials to come soon.

The picture below should give you a clue as to what our learning challenge next term might be about! Answer beneath…

Yes, we will be learning about the Ancient Egyptians. Our learning challenge is ‘How awful were the ANcient Egyptians?’

Over the holiday, if you get the chance, you could visit this wonderful exhibition

Although Mrs Whelan and I are hoping to get you all there too 🙂


I was very excited to receive a copy this week of the ASE’s Primary Science journal as it contains my first education paper. The paper explains my use of Survey Monkey, a free online survey website, in the classroom as a form of multi-response tool. See picture below.

I was very pleased with the picture they chose for the first page too – hope it’s not suppose to me!

Please click the link below to download a short article describing the theory beghind, and /prcatical use of, the Question Mountain in the primary classroom. It is hoped that combined with personal reflections on its implementation and impact, this document will be developed into an article to be published in early 2012.

Any questions or comments please email me –

Question Mountain

I throughly enjoyed spending Friday last week listening to John West-Burnham deliver a CPD workshop titled: From Schooling to Learning. The overarching notion John proposes in this workshop is one of movement towards an education landscape in which pupils are empowered in taking greater leadership in their learning. This may be achieved by developing learners metacognitive awareness – enabling them to learn how to learn.

John also drew our attention to a report published earlier this year by The Sutton Trust. The report presents the findings of a review of research into the most effective classroom strategies and promoting progress against their cost. The driver for the report was to act as a guide for heads when they come to spending the newly introduced pupil premium – essentially, what will get me the ‘most bang for my buck’ in terms of attainment.

Below is a link to the report. Whilst it is a reasonably lengthy document, you need look no further than pages 5, 6 and 7 for the key outcomes which rank the strategies with regard to potential impact (given in months progress) and cost. For me the stark finding from this report is the impact that quality feedback to pupils may make on attainment and progress. Such feedback includes meaningful written feedback in books presenting challenge as well as praise and verbal feedback (again including challenge) in lesson time.  It is also important that time is scheduled in for children to digest and consider the feedback – something I need to get better at!

The Sutton Trust Report May 2011

Given the virtually non existent cost of this strategy and the significant positive impact it may have on progress, it is argued that quality feedback should be a core principle of excellent teaching.


Pre learning

At the start of the learning journey it is necessary to elicit what pupils already know or what they think they know – misconceptions!

As such, since starting back for the term, pupils have taken part in a number of activities designed to elicit their current understanding. The outputs from these activities have then enabled us to sketch out a plan for future learning.

The pre learning activities have also been coupled with opportunities for the children to express what they wish to find out. In generating these questions – under our broad learning challenge: What was it like to go to Crumpsall Lane Primary School 100 years ago? – it is hoped that the children will feel that they own their learning and promote their engagement.

The pictures below are from one of the elicitation activities – a meet and greet with Queen Victoria herself!

The photo below is of the learning journey display complete with the output of the elicitation activities. The signposts along the path of the learning journey have now been filled in with questions generated by the pupils which we will address as our bus approaches them. The current question for the first two weeks is: What were Victorian schools like?

The purpose of Mount Cogito, the question mountain looming from the back wall of the classroom, is to aid practical use of Bloom’s Taxonomy within the classroom. Bloom’s taxonomy classifies cognitive function relating to the relative challenge of cognitive tasks. The question mountain has been constructed from consideration of Bloom’s, and others, taxonomy with the cognitive categories relabelled in an attempt to make the concept more ‘child friendly’. I chose to leave out the ‘Analysis’ stage, as I felt it would have been difficult to convey to my Year 3s – and I struggled getting by head around it also!

The simplest cognitive process is the recall of previously learnt knowledge. Questions which prompt responses at this cognitive level do little to divulge the level of comprehension of knowledge, just whether such knowledge is available for recall. Mount Cogito is in five stages and the base stage relates to this level of cognitive function, titled ‘Know about…’.

To climb Mount Cogito, as pupils will be encouraged to do, pupils must tackle questions and tasks stimulating cognitive function at levels above simple recall. An important first step is moving to the second stage, titled ‘Understand’. Ideally, the majority of classroom questioning should be such that pupils are starting at this level, since responses highlighting pupils understanding provides rich info for guiding the direction of future learning (Assessment for learning). In my mind, this is the important ‘Why…’ stage. My pupils know they get one ‘house-point’ for an answer but two if they explain why an answer is such.

Beyond ‘Understanding’ comes ‘Use’ (Termed ‘Apply’ by Bloom). Essentially, operating at this cognitive level is characterised by pupils applying their knowledge and skills in novel situations. For example, a pupil may first demonstrate comprehension of place value, by describing the value of a 5 in the tens column of a number say, and subsequently operating at an ‘Apply’ level may use this understanding to complete multiplication through partitioning.

The final two stages, as climbing gets tougher, are ‘Create’ and ‘Evaluate’. ‘Create’ (labelled ‘Synthesis’ by Bloom) indicates working at a cognitive level in which knowledge and skills are being drawn upon to tackle complex tasks. Such knowledge and skills may have be learnt at previous times and in different contexts but which are drawn upon together, being related and synthesised into an output tackling the current task in hand. Finally, the peak of Mount Cogito represents ‘Evaluate’. Such tasks focus, primarily, on critical appraisal. This may be of your own or others work and is coupled with ‘problem solving’ thinking, ‘How could this be improved?’ etc.

It is hoped that the presence of Mount Cogito in the classroom will foster awareness in pupils of the levels of challenge in the way we are being asked to think – encouraging a meta-cognitive approach to learning. In addition, the question mountain will serve as a teaching aid as each level has question stems to help me in forming suitable questions, or tasks – these come from a document published by Focus Education.

I’ll report back towards the end of the half term to update on how this idea works out.

The Learning Challenge Curriculum may, in my mind, be envisaged as taking pupils on an educational journey. In travelling this journey, pupils explore and attempt to ‘answer’ the Learning Challenge (LC), which for Class 3JC this term is: ‘Would you have liked to have gone to Crumpsall Lane Primary School 100 years ago?’ This is displayed spanning above our learning journey display.

Our journey starts by considering what we already know (no point learning it again). Pupils take part in pre-learning activities designed to both elicit current knowledge and offer the chance for pupils to voice what they would like to find out. Pupils think up questions they believe will need to be answered in order to explore our LC. These questions in principle break down the overall LC, each acting to promote learning within different subject areas. ‘What was life like without electric lights?’ being the science sub-question within this LC for example.

The concept of a learning journey display, seen in the picture above, was suggested by a colleague and aims to provide a visualisation for pupils of the big picture/concept of the Learning Challenge Curriculum – the notion of a learning journey. The section on the left will contain output from the pre-learning activities and the school bus (just visible bottom left) will set off from this area to follow the winding road in the direction of our outcome, (see below). Along the route the signs will contain our smaller questions as discussed above and the bus will be move to each of these as the weeks progress.

An outcome occurs as we finish our learning journey. An outcome provides a purpose and motivation for our learning. It may be an event, gallery or presentation for example, and provides opportunity to review and reiterate everything we have learnt ‘en route’. For Class 3JC this term, our outcome is going to be the opening of our own museum to display our findings against our LC. The museum will be open to the public and have a Guest of Honour (to be confirmed) to open it. The museum will contain displays constructed from learning throughout the term, along with video clips and sound bites. There will even be a shop selling Victorian toys and other gift shop goodies, so we may even make a profit from our efforts.

Implementing progressive evidence-based pedagogy for today’s classroom.