Hello and a warm welcome!

Great to see you here! Welcome to the newly launched (ready for 2020-21 academic year) website for Teaching and Learning at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, http://www.macstandl.com.

The site collates key CPD and staff training activities, discussions and contributions, such as the work on what do ‘Great Teachers’ and ‘Great Teaching’ look like, during INSET and Twilight session of 2019-20, through to documenting and explaining school approaches to Teaching and Learning such as the CPD Model so that staff have easy access to it, in order to plan for and inform their own development and improvement priorities.

Resources and strategies for teaching and learning…

A key area of the site in particular, linked to the discussions around great teaching, is the Six Principles page. This explains the foundations and approaches taken at MACS and how the key ideas feed into activities around Teaching and Learning across the school. From there you will find a host of section pages with resources, materials and ideas to prompt discussion on:

In addition the website also has an area presenting all of the books and titles available as part of the MACS CPD Library. You can browse through a list of what we have available from the comfort of your device, and instructions are provided for how to request and reserve a book.

We hope you find the online resource useful, and if you have any thoughts, ideas or contributions for content then please do not hesitate to let us know!

Teaching & Learning Newsletter – Issue Three

Issue Three of the MACS Teaching and Learning Newsletter can be downloaded from the link, below. Alternatively it can be viewed as an online pdf. This features hints and tips for Google Jamboard, The Science of Learning book which is in our CPD Library, and (most importantly perhaps) useful lessons for the future about how remote teaching has shaped teacher explanations

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Teaching & Learning Newsletter – Issue Two

Issue Two of the MACS Teaching and Learning Newsletter can be downloaded from the link, below. Alternatively it can be viewed as an online pdf. This features Loom video, Teaching Walkthrus, and how to apply Cornell note-taking to lesson notes.

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Digital Tools For The Virtual (and real!) Classroom – Miss E Wood

Staff Guest Blog by Miss E Wood – Teacher of MFL and Welsh at MACS.

I recently attended a virtual conference for language teaching (SALT 2020) which left me feeling really inspired by some of the innovative tools and resources that can be used in teaching and learning, both in the classroom and online. After trying a few of them out, I selected the ones I felt could be most useful and thought I’d share them with you!

Virtual Classrooms and Escape Rooms

My greatest creation so far; a virtual classroom! It takes a while to put together but once you’ve done it, it’s easy to edit and can be used endlessly. The idea is that you can use it as a home page with interactive links to other websites, videos, quizzes, assignments and apps.

My Interactive Virtual Classroom – Hosted on G Suite

If you want to have a go at making your own, you will find instructions here.

If you don’t fancy making your own from scratch, then there are plenty of ready-made ones out there that you can put your personal stamp on. Just join the Bitmoji Craze for Educators or Virtual Bitmoji for Teaching groups on Facebook or search for the hashtag #bitmojiclassroom on Twitter.

Genially is a fantastic website where it’s easy to create Escape Room style activities and interactive challenges that can be then put on Google Classroom for pupils to access. An example of one that I have used can be found here. However, I can’t take full credit for it! One of the advantages of Genially is that there is a bank of resources that users have already created to share, which can be easily adapted. Just sign in and search for your subject/topic in the ‘Search for Creations’ toolbar to discover a myriad of amazing interactive resources!

Sharing Ideas with Virtual ‘Pin Boards’

Padlet has been one of my favourite digital tools for a few years. I’ve mainly used it for photocard practice, sharing research on cultural projects and even posting competition entries for European Day of Languages. However, it can be used for a variety of both group and individual tasks, such as collating opinions and even giving feedback if pupils were to upload a photo or video of their work to the Padlet.

Share and Collaborate with Padlet

Some MFL teachers have even shared ideas on about online learning and activities that are safe for the Covid classroom on Padlet for CPD purposes. They act as a form of pin board to share and collaborate ideas and resources.

If you are interested in using it more then instructions on how to use Padlet can be found in the tutroial video here.

A similar site is called Linoit which is basically like an online board of post-it notes. The upside is that pupils don’t need to login so they can access it quickly. The downside is that work can’t be saved like it can on Padlet.

Audio Based Feedback

QWIQR is one of the simplest ways of providing feedback on work. You simply record your feedback to the app, generate a QR code and then share the QR code with the pupil who can then listen to what you have to say about their work by scanning the code using a camera on their device.

Similarly you could add audio to Google Slides or set video tasks on Flipgrid to create a clear dialogue with pupils about their work. Flipgrid does take some getting used to, but seeing what pupils can do with it is hugely satisfying!

AFL and Questioning

The mini whiteboard dilemma…

Having to move around to teach as a nomadic teacher during the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that my usual regular use of mini whiteboards for quick assessment had to stop in many ways…but then I heard about Whiteboard.fi which is essentially digital mini whiteboards.

This would be perfect if you were delivering ‘live’ lessons and wanted to check for understanding. A video with full instructions on how to use it can be found on the website and it is compatible with any device.

Another AfL tool is Flippity which uses Google Sheets to create spin wheels, scavenger hunts, flashcards, board games and loads of other tools. So far I’ve only experimented using it for translations using the Flippity Randomiser tool but this website has so much to offer, it’s definitely worth playing around with to see what you can create.

An example of a randomiser on Flippity.

So there are my current top digital tools! If you have any questions or would even like to share some of your own discoveries, please do get in touch and send me an email woode71@hwbmail.net or tweet me @MlleWood_MFL. Thanks for reading!

CPD Library – New Titles Added!

To facilitate staff development and support professional learning (and as an early Christmas gift to the CPD Library!), there has been a bumper stock update within the CPD Library. New titles have now been added, and further purchases made of books that have been requested. The CPD Library site page has been fully updated to reflect the new additions, as has the MACS internal Google Sheet of the loan list to check availability (this can be access via the CPD Library page, linked). Take a look and please do not hesitate to request a loan or reservation!

The additions of subject specific books from the Making Every Lesson Count series in particular feed into aspects of the Teaching & Learning and CPD Model that has been developed and introduced at MACS since September 2019 and the ‘language’ of professional learning and pedagogy should be familiar to staff. This order includes:

  • English
  • Maths
  • MFL
  • Geography
  • History

These come highly recommended and others in the series are either on order or pre-order. A number of the other titles in general are recent publications across 2020, including two copies of Tom Bennett’s well-received ‘Running the Room’, and form the basis of a key update to the library.

Meaningful Memory – researchschool.org.uk – Dr Niki Kaiser

This week’s Blog of the Week (link included below) comes from Dr Niki Kaiser, Network Research Lead at Norwich Research School. The article considers how an understanding of working with memory can have a positive impact on Teaching and Learning. It emphasises the crucial point that true learning involves making meaning of what we remember.

Dr Kaiser summarises “Activating Hard Thinking” to support learners in making meaningful connections to prior knowledge and how this in-turn can provide the foundation for future learning.

Moving from Novice to Teacher – Making meaningful connections with prior learning to support future knowledge acquisition.

Meaningful Memory


Teaching & Learning Newsletter – Issue One

Issue One of the MACS Teaching and Learning Newsletter can be downloaded from the link, below. Alternatively it can be viewed as an online pdf.

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The A|D|A|P|T approach to implementing teaching ideas – teacherhead.com – Tom Sherrington

This week’s Blog of the Week (link included below) comes from the indomitable Tom Sherrington, and it focuses on a necessary means to reflect and consider the ideas we are presented with during CPD sessions, and to actively tweak or transform them to work for us, for our pupils, and our subject areas. This blog of the week summarises what Tom calls the ADAPT approach; a helpful and concise way of shaping a technique to work better for us and to avoid simply being told what to do by CPD presenters!

This blog has been particularly chosen as the ADAPT approach is something we, as a school, are exploring more in coming twilight sessions in order to further develop our own tool-kits around Questioning.

ADAPT approach by Tom Sherrington and Oli Caviglioli

The A|D|A|P|T approach to implementing teaching ideas

The A|D|A|P|T approach to implementing teaching ideas – teacherhead.com – Tom Sherrington

How I use a visualiser in my classroom – EdTech in the classroom – Simon Baddeley

This week’s Blog of the Week (link included below) comes from Simon Baddeley, and it focuses on the use of visualiser cameras in the classroom. This blog of the week summarises impactful applications that can improve the quality of modelling, feedback and support in the classroom. It coincides with us acquiring 60 additional visualisers for classrooms to support the current way of working, but also as an invaluable tool to add to our Teaching and Learning toolkit further into the future.

How I use a visualiser in my classroom

How I use a visualiser in my classroom -EdTech in the classroom – Simon Baddeley

BBBB and Steps to Success

As part of a T&L focused Twilight in March of 2020 we looked at introducing and trialling two new display/learning mat style resources, in order to promote challenge and independence. This is outlined below for staff to use as a source of information and a recap of the session.

The intention was to explore a means to:

  • Provide a school-wide common language, to encourage learners to ‘keep at it’. and see things through a little more.
  • Avoid being task specific – so teachers retain the freedom to plan and deliver tasks that the resources could still support.
  • Incorporate priorities relevant to the school.
Resource One – Brain, Book, Buddy, Boss (for wall displays)
BBBB Poster Display

The display was professionally printed, however a copy of the file can be downloaded below. In summary the points discussed around this resource were:

  • A wall display for every learning space – prominent position / front of class / next to boards
  • Use as a prompt, when appropriate, to counter “I don’t know”/”I can’t”
  • Brain: includes to think about what you already have been told, can see on the on the board etc.
  • Book: includes looking back at notes, or any other help material you might provide
  • BBBB does not replace you as the expert (important) and sometimes you are needed!
  • Can be used to promote and increase challenge through resilience
  • Could even be used as an assessment tool:
Resource Two – Steps to Success support mat (sets for classrooms)
Steps to Success support mat – with thanks and credit to Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School for the inspiration (see their ‘Solution Seeker’ tool).

As with the above, this resource was printed professionally, however a copy of the image can be downloaded below. In summary the points discussed around this resource were:

  • A learning mat and support tool for classrooms (keep a class set as part of your toolkit)
  • Encourages pupils to actively consider their approach to forming a response to a question or task, supporting and challenging them throughout
  • Does not have to be for written work
  • Will unlikely be used every lesson, but more so when you want pupils to consider and craft out a piece of work and, over time, ‘train’ them to get better at doing this automatically
  • Provides prompts and discussion points to support your classroom dialogue with, and immediate feedback to, pupils

Thanks also to MACS’ James Donovan for supporting with the design and graphic work!

See it from their perspective! — Y Byd a’r Betws – Blog Barri Moc

This week’s Blog of the Week (link included below) comes from Barri Moc, and it considers the approaches and implications with setting work on online platforms like Google Classroom, reflecting on how this might be experienced by learners, with suggestions and tips for making things work better.

What it’s like from a learner’s perspective!

See it from their perspective! — Y Byd a’r Betws – Blog Barri Moc