Tag Archives: Post-16

Back to the Sixth Form

Final Year Undergraduate QTS students visited Carmel  College to discover how it is different to teach in a Sixth form college.  We were met by Sarah Daley, who is in charge of 10:10 RE, the general RE provision for all students, and a Glenn Skelhorn, who is in charge of the A Level Philosophy and Religious Studies.  

After introductions, we thought about the Art of the A level RS lesson. Sarah and Glenn reminded us that sixth form students are not that different from Key Stage 4. They explained how hey have worked on the principles of The Flopped Classroom for their A Level lessons. They try to remove the element of ‘rote learning’ from lessons in college. This learning from text books, for example, is done at home prior to the lesson. As they do Buddhism at A Level, and there was no textbook for this, the department have produced their own flipped learning booklets, which have been very successful. This means that the role of the teacher is different- they do not deliver content in class, they are challenging misconceptions and developing students’ ideas, which in some ways is a much greater challenge.

Sarah talked us through how she would plan a lesson on the three marks of existence in Buddhism. It was clear that the focus was on engaging with the material, rather than being on transmitting knowledge.  She also introduced us to the idea of the Carmel Mindset, based on the Vespa material, developed from the growth mindset of Carol Dweck and others.  She then explained the general RE that the college delivers as part of their 10:10 programme, which is a common feature of RC colleges.

Next up was a tour of the college.

We then went to observe some 10:10RE lessons, one with Sarah and one win NATHAN a graduate of our course.  The lesson was an introduction to Human Rights, and began with a picture starter. This was followed by writing nine rights on post it notes and ordering these with a diamond 9 activity.  Students then questioned what is meant be Human Rights, It was great to see Nathan and Sarah really work hard to draw out answers from even the reluctant students.

In Glenn’s Year 13 RS lesson the students were continuing with Sexual Ethics, but began with some riddles, and a starter involving incest. Students were given two minutes thinking time, were they were asked to write a justification for their moral opinion.  They then shared and scrutinised their reasoning in small groups, before a whole class discussion. This discussion was ten widened to a broader discussion of sexual ethics. There was then a teaching episode ensuring students were aware of Mill’s Liberty Principle.

Sarah’s Year 12 lesson was on situation ethics, but was focussed on students developing their essay writing skills to improve their examination performance.

We then had some time to prepare a short part of a lesson, and we all got the chance to deliver to the lovely students of Carmel College.

A Level Experience

Year 3 undergraduate RE with QTS students spent a day at Haslingden High school, looking at how to teach A Level RS in a school with a sixth form.  Ben Wood the Head of RE and the Chair of NATRE welcomed us and offered us pastries and coffee!

We then were able to observe a Year 13 RS lesson, focussing on sexual ethics, and specifically an introduction to Christianity and homosexuality. We saw how Karen, the teacher, skilfully introduced students to the massive changes to social attitudes which have occurred over recent years. Using the school produced literature, she guided students through traditional interpretations of key biblical texts relating to homosexuality. Drawing on prior Learning they applied Catholic teaching (such as natural law) to the issue, discussing how the church is responding to the complexities of the issue. Previously taught ideas, such as Jesus the Liberator, were used to show a more liberal Christian view.  The lesson was mostly discussion and reading of the materials, with students making a few notes on their handouts.

Ben’s year 12 class started with him collecting in homework. He then gave them the questions for a timed assessment that they would do next week, with a recommendation to work on a plan over the weekend. The lesson was the beginning of the Developments of Christian Thought module and was looking at Augustine. The students were given homework on the background of Augustine. Genesis 2 and 3 was analysed, and will be used over the next few lessons. Ben led the class through Augustinian interpretations of this text. The final part of this double lesson focussed on Augustine’s teaching on human relationships.

This was followed by another Year 12 class, They had the follow on lesson about Augustine, and began where the previous class had finished, recapping what we had just seen. Whereas the earlier lessons had been very teacher led, in this one there was much opportunity for students to work independently, but Ben was constantly helping individuals with their work, explaining the concepts repeatedly. When Ben looked at students’ work, his praise was very specific: “the language you have used here is spot on!”, for example.

After a fantastic lunch supplied by the school we stayed with the same Year 12 class, but this time being taught by Karen. We joined in with the first activity, which revised key terms and the basics of  Situation Ethics in an Active way. This was followed by a quick 15 minute test, as Karen wanted to see how well the students had got the basics, before moving on. Karen explained that the purpose of the test was not summative – about collecting marks, but about helping the students self identify what they need to revisit. In order to point out these areas, they were peer marked with missing information highlighted.Students were then set targets to work on in their independent study time.

At the End of the day we had a Q and A session with Ben and considered pedagogy, teaching styles, the intrinsic fascinating subject that Religion is, and Behaviour. Ben gave us a sample of NATRE materials and told us about the New2RE scheme.

Post 16 in Haslingden

We were welcomed to Haslingden High School by Sally Finney who is the director of teacher training at the school. Then Ben Wood, the Head of RE and Vice Chair of NATRE met us and explained the day.

The first class we observed was a Year 12 class.

Welcomed the class as ladies and gentlemen,

Homework collected in.

Coats off.

Revision questions – as part of the routine. Worked in silence. Numbers are 1,7, 13, 25, 30

Targeted questions by name,  can you give me more? Still want a bit more. Did allow others to help fill out the answer….

Work is a continuation, looking at Augustine’s teaching. Last two this week, following on from Prior learning.

Students begin by reading through a source sheet (holes already punched for easy insertion into folders), making notes and drawing to a conclusion.

Students work informally in groups, to put the sources into for or against columns.  Ben circulates and is called on by some for help. He is able to ask challenging questions and is clearly expert. He observes what some students are writing, and challenges some to write in more depth or ensure their conclusions are firmly evidenced. He is trying to get them to think beyond the obvious answers. Having already taught the knowledge in previous lessons he is helping to prepare for exam essay questions by debating.

When students have completed their work, they move on to the second question independently. The atmosphere is relaxed with a buzz of on-task chatter.

Work is not completed, so this will be returned to next lesson. Homework is to do 17 revision questions on body, mind and soul.

 

Ben then explains to us that at A level he is not interested in opinions which are short term, and easily changed. He is interested in conclusions based on evidence.

He outlined our task which is to read about Wittgenstein and language games and think about how they would teach the Year 13 lesson later.  We did this, enjoying some breakfast pastries and struggled with both the subject content, and how we would present it to a Year 13 class.

Next we watched Ben actually teach it.  As with the Year 12 class, the lesson started with 5 revision questions from the selection the students had done for homework which they first handed in. They have a short amount of time to do this on their own in silence, and they are given a one minute warning. These answers are shared, Ben selects a students to say their answer and rewords the correct answers to emphasise correct terminology. He further questions incorrect or incomplete answers.

The last two questions about Heaven, hell and purgatory being symbols or metaphors directly relates to today’s lesson. Ben begins with a mindmap on the board asking students prior knowledge of Wittgenstein. He uses the two Ideas they remember to draw out the difference between logical positivist, and Wittgensteinl’s later view. He asks if Wiggenstein can be described as a cognitive st or a non-cognivist.

He turns to the prepared information sheet. He stresses that the meaning of a word depends on its use. Words have no fixed meaning. Using Wittgenstein’s chess analogy he shows that meanin depends upon context.Students add to the printed notes.

He compares chess and football are different games and therefore have different rules. In the same way religious language has different rules from other forms of language. This means that the criticisms of the verification principle are irrelevant for the language game of religion.

To illustrate the key term lebensform, the students discussed ‘offside’ in football, rugby and driving, and then the changing meaning of ‘literally’. The understanding of this concept is enhanced and developed by discussion; students are free to answer or ask questions as they wish.

The lesson then turns to reading and interpreting a quote form D. Z. Phillips, suggesting that ‘eternal life’ has a meaning other than an infinite extension of living after death. Pupils are asked to write a paragraph exemplifying this idea. Ben offered help and challenge to students who requested it, or who he noticed needed help.

At the end of the lesson, students were given another set of revision questions to work on at home.

We then had lunch and then spent an hour discussing the theory of how to teach A Level RS.

Back in the Sixth Form

Final year students spent a day at Carmel College, a large Sixth Form College that Edge Hill works with, to find  out more about teaching A level RS, and what life is like in a Sixth Form College, including the compulsory Ethics and Values lessons for all students.

The day began with us being privileged to join in the staff briefing. This was quite unlike briefings in Schools, and much more like a school assembly. It was held in the college theatre and led by the College Principal. Sarah gave a ‘Thought for the day’ and there were a number of other announcements about events going on, special services and some encouraging words about ensuring that teaching staff are not working too much, with the mantra #50isplently suggesting that a working week of 50 hours (including time at college and working time at home) is a maximum.

We then observed Sarah teaching an A level Buddhism class and were surprised that it began with a period of silent reading after which the students were invited to talk briefly about what they had read and what they had learnt.
There was then a key word test on 12 Buddhist terms. These were then peer marked and scores recorded. Students were to work on the terms that they did not know.
Students were then reminded about an upcoming file check and guided as to what was expected.
Next was a kahoot quiz testing how well the students had engaged with their prescribed reading from last lesson which had been posted on the students’ VLE. Sarah was able to use the answers to set relevant homework questions in the future.
There followed a discussion about hagiography in the texts of the Buddha’s enlightenment, and then groupwork on the hagiography of the four watches of the Buddha. At the end students were given a practice question to do at home. The students have a WhatsApp group chat which they shared the question.

After a break in the staffroom we had a tour of the college, meeting the pastoral tutor team and Foundation provision, where post 16 students with learning difficulties are educated in a practical way, with some vocational courses. We also got to see the canteen, the chaplaincy and the whole college.

Sarah then talked about some of the differences between a school sixth form and a sixth form college. She highlighted the way hat the college is trying to develop in their students a ‘Carmel Mindset’, trying to develop independent learners who make progress towards high achievement at A level, based on the VESPA model.

Nathan, a former graduate of our course, then talked about how to survive the NQT year. Some students were pleasantly surprised that it was possible to do the NQT year in a Sixth Form College. He also had some wise advice about not taking the ‘reputation’ of a school too seriously, as sometimes a school with a bad reputation can be a great school to teach, or do a placement in.

After lunch we got to observe and take part in more lessons.  In the A2 class there were over 20 students who were working on the philosophy paper. The lesson began by students selecting a lollipop stick that had a philosophical question on it to discuss. Glen then took in the essays that students had completed over the weekend and then introduced students to the Westphal essay. As part of this we were able to contribute brief sections on scholasticism and deism. In Lexy’s AS Philosophy class we helped the students reconnect with the learning they had been doing focussing on Hulme’s criticisms of the teleological argument. Whilst in Glen’s AS RE lesson we gave brief overviews of the three central Buddhist concepts of dukkha, anicca, and anatta. It was interesting to see how he used the material of the subject content about the social setting of the Buddha to teach the academic skill of note taking in a cohesive way.

We were also able to observe and take part in the Ethics &Values lessons, which are compulsory core RE lessons which all students at the College take part in. Nathan was teaching issues involved in IVF, whilst Heather was asking pupils to think about the ethics of France’s burka ban.

“Really Useful in terms of seeing how sixth formers are taught”

You can see more photos from the day on Flickr.

“It made the idea of teaching in a college not as daunting”

Deanery Day 2016

Third year Undergraduate QTS students have been regular visitors to Deanery High school for a number of years.  The main purpose of the visit is to fins out about teaching A level in a school sixth form, but over the years we have added more features to get the best out of the day.

This year’s trip began with a tour of the school, including the sixth form centre and the portable buildings that the school is temporarily housed in whist a new building is constructed on the same site.  Taco – who did his PGCE with Edge Hill a number of years ago and is now Head of department, then spoke to us about the joys of teaching a level.  He explained that it was very similar to teaching Key Stage 4, but that teachers tried to encourage the development of independent learning skills as part of their preparation for University.

We could see all this in action as we observed Taco teach his year 13 students – and we got to have a try ourselves! We were very impresed with the quality of the student’s presentations – they were a clever bunch!

The RE department at Deanery is almost totally staffed by former Edge Hill people and we got to observe four simultaneous Year 11 revision lessons taking place at the same time.  It was brilliant to see the same thing taught so differently, but in all cases taught very well!

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Finally the day was rounded off by Leanne giving us some helpful advice about applications and how to avoid some common pitfalls when applying for jobs.

“I thought the interview advice was very useful”

SOLO & Technology at Holly Lodge

Year 2 RE Undergraduate students prepared for their placement with a visit to one of our partner schools Holly Lodge Girls’ College where Former Edge Hill graduate Terri Lee is Head of RE and led the informative and useful session.  The afternoon began with a quiz using Socrative, to assess our prior knowledge.

Then Colin Riddell, Lead Learning Innovator at the school, went through some of the theory surrounding SOLO taxonomy, including Lego and y8 science examples.

Rachael Douglas: The session really enthused me. I loved learning about solo taxonomy and want to apply this method of teaching if I can. Good to visit the school as well.

Applying this to RE,  Terri showed us an example of how she used SOLO taxonomy in her practice- an example from A Level Business Ethics.

Students then had opportunity to work on their own lesson plans structuring the planning using SOLO taxonomy.

Jade Parke: I thought it was really good and I’ll definitely use the resources they gave us in my lessons on placement! I thought the solo taxonomy was really easy to understand and is very student friendly 🙂 also I like the idea of using all that technology in classrooms

Next, Colin showed us Triptico, an Internet based collection of interactive resources which enable imaginative teachers to create engaging learning tools.  One of the features  is the ability to move and create hexagons on an interactive whiteboard, clearly linking to SOLO.

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Next up was Edmodo, described as a bit like Facebook for schools.   This is completely free! and gives teachers the ability to communicate safely with pupils.  Terri showed us how she uses it with her A level students for discussion and younger pupils as a way of sharing resource which she suggests is particularly useful for stretching higher level students.  By signing up and joining the classroom, we were all able to access the resources from the day.

Christie Kennedy: I really enjoyed the session, I thought the technology stuff was really good and I think solo taxonomy would be really good to use in the classroom (need to try and get my head around it a little more though)

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Lastly, Terri showed us progress books, which look good in principle – as a way of tracking progress throughout a pupil’s school career, Fillling these out by hand could be can be quite tiem consuming, so creative staff such as Terri and Colin have used Google forms to generate this feedback in an efficient way.

 Nicola Lyon: I think it was really useful. Solo taxonomy was good 🙂 and all the computer stuff makes life a while lot easier 🙂 I learnt a lot

Teaching A Level at Deanery

As a follow up to the inspirational day with Peter and Charlotte Vardy, Final Year Undergraduate students visited Deanery CofE High School and Sixth Form College in Wigan, to hear about the practicalities of teaching Post-16 students.  The day began with students observing a Lower Sixth Ethics lesson with Mr Michiels. He used a variety of techniques to introduce Kant’s deontological ideas including the Ricky Gervais film ‘The Invention of Lying’ and Phoebe from Friends’ attempts at performing a selfless good act.

Lesson two was an Upper Sixth Philosophy lesson with Miss Daley, where the students were working in groups to revise the topic of Miracles. They used a market place activity before finishing with a fun quiz using buzzers. Progress was measured by students’ self evaluating at the start and end of the lesson using RAG scoring, allowing them to set their own revision targets. Both upper and lower sixth were handing in essays, reminding us about the demanding workload for students and teachers in the Sixth Form.

After a cup of tea in the staff room at break, Sarah led a session on teaching and Assessing RE at KS5, giving examples of what makes a good A level lesson. Students were struck the many of the techniques and activities were just the same as lower down the school, with structured lessons using active learning, an emphasis on questioning and facilitating independent learning – simply at a higher level.

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The morning ended with students working together to plan a short plenary for the Upper Sixth lesson on predestination which they then delivered. The undergraduates are now well prepared to plan and deliver A level classes on their final placement after Christmas, or even in their first teaching job!

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Teaching A-level with the Vardys

We were delighted to recently welcome Charlotte and Peter Vardy to Edge Hill to spend a day with a postgraduate and third year undergraduate RE students and a small number of school based patrners, helping them think about how to teach RS to pupils in the sixth form.

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The day began with a discussion of the proposed changes to the GCSE and A-level content which have been proposed, followed by an introductory session considering what is truth and what this means in a post-modern age. After a break came two weighty sessions led by Charlotte Vardy explaining some tried and tested approaches to teaching the Design Argument and the  Cosmological Argument.  Students and teachers were able to improve their knowledge and understanding of the arguments, becoming more confident in their teaching.

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After lunch Dr Peter Vardy considered how to teach the problems of Evil and Suffering, considering the fundamental philosophical issues it raises about truth, human freedom and responsibility, before Charlotte Vardy explored Utilitarianism, considering what differentiates between mediocre teaching from excellent teaching in relation to this topic.

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The thought provoking day ended with a final Peter Vardy session discussing Natural Law and Sexual Ethics.  This was a mentally taxing day which was made much easier by the energy and enthusiasm of the speakers and has enabled students to be ready and confident to teach these topics during the Post 16 elements of  their teaching placements.  The school based partners were equally pleased to have been able to attend and leave having considered how to improve their teaching of A level.

“Thanks for a informative, educational day” – Glynn, teacher of A level RS in a partner school.

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Post 16 Preparation

Final Year Undergraduates spent a morning at Deanery Church of England High School Sixth Form College to learn about the teaching of RE Post 16, and specifically A level RE.

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Sarah Daley, Assistant Head of RE at the school told us about the Art of teaching A Level, using some recent examples from her teaching, such as a lesson comparing the Judeo-Christian Creation stories at AS level and the Augustinian Theodicy at A2.  we were reminded that at A-level, teaching does not radically change and that structuring a lesson is still important to encourage student engagement.

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Sarah spoke to us about the procedures at Deanery for assessment of student work and the tracking of progress which goes on, before finishing with some thoughts about the upcoming changes to the way A Levels will be assessed in the near future.

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After a brief chat with the Head Boy, about the challenges of A level from a student point of view we were able to go and observe former Edge Hill student Taco Michiels teaching a very small Upper VI RE lesson on business ethics.  We were able to recognise the influence of Edge Hill as Taco started the lesson by outlining the Key Question behind the enquiry, “what if all businesses behaved ethically?”.  He went on to use some active learning techniques with the class – a silent discussion and some creative Diamond 9 sorting.

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A brew in the staffroom at breaktime was followed by a chance to observe Sarah teaching her Lower VI class on the problem of evil, and again we could see that good teaching at A level looks very similar to good teaching at all ages: an odd-one-out activity, images as thought-provoking stimuli, picture sorting, a market place activity and high-quality teacher input were all squeezed into the hour long lesson, which had pace and challenge without ever seeming rushed.

“Thanks to Taco and Sarah for today – I now feel much better prepared (and less scared!) to teach A level RE in my next placement” – Katie