Category Archives: Teaching tips

Knowledge Organisers

Knowledge organisers were developed and adopted by the famous Michaela Community School, whose motto is ‘Knowledge is Power’.  These have recently become very popular and link both to our focus on linear learning and independent learning.  If you run a google search you will find lots of examples for different subject areas.  I have created one, attached, which I am going to try with my Year 11s to support their revision for mock exams.

On their website in their vision they state:

‘…we have, for too long, been teaching skills and neglecting knowledge. In English, we have taught any novel, or any poem, thinking that the thing that is important is the ‘skill’: of reading, of inferring, of analysing. And yet, novel finished, what have the children learnedDaniel Willingham says that memory is ‘the residue of thought.’ The problem with skills-based lessons is that they don’t require thinking about anything you can commit to memory. Nothing is learned because nothing is being remembered. Over years and years of skills-based teaching, children aren’t actually learning anything. They are simply practising some skills in a near vacuum.

We hugely underestimate how vital knowledge is. Skills-teachers across the land cannot work out why their kids cannot improve their inferences, cannot improve their analysis. Why can’t their ideas about the text just be a bit, well, better?

The children who grow up being taught facts and knowledge will thrive in their national exams. They will use all their background knowledge and cultural literacy to deliver deft insights in glorious prose, and sweep up the top grades with ease. The children taught through skills will improve slowly, painfully, and nowhere near fast enough to compete. They will endure two years of teaching to the test and lose any love of learning they might have gleaned in the previous years.

Is there another way? Of course: teach a knowledge-based curriculum from the very start.’

This link describes the knowledge organisers.

Teachers prepare these for particular topics and students go away and learn/self-test this as homework, there is a big emphasis on the testing effect.  This is then tested in lessons via starter activities so that teachers can monitor progress.

Are you already using a similar approach?  Have you tried knowledge organisers?  I’d really like to hear about it if you are, perhaps this is something to discuss at one of our next 15 Minute Forums or the T and L group.  Do you think it is ‘spoonfeeding’?  Do you think it is an approach we should adopt?  Do you think students should be creating their own knowledge organisers?

More information can be found here:

And here in a podcast shared by Steven which is very useful

KO Muscular System

TED talks

There is a link to a page that talks about ‘Green TED talks’, it wasn’t really that that caught my eye but the idea of students preparing TED talk.  It talks about using the green screen to provide a background and this is something that could be done here in school with the help of IT or SDLs, or it could just be done without.  This could work well linking to independent learning and research skills.

How My Students Create Their Own TED Talks



This week’s tip is a dingbat created by a fellow PE teacher who works at Flixton (@TedfordDanielle).  I am sure that most people know what a dingbat is but if not it is a visual word puzzle from which a well known phrase or saying has to be identified.  In this case, it is keywords from our GCSE specification.  I am sure this could be used in any subject area as a starter activity.


Concentric squares

This tip comes from something that I saw on twitter and used last year.  I am about to revisit it again with Year 11 in preparing for mocks and extended writing.  There are two links to two blogs where you can find out a little more about it.   In addition, Kal sent a SOLO taxonomy document that also support this.   Templates below.

Concentric Squares


Microsoft Teams in Office 365

You may have noticed in O365 that there is an app called ‘Teams’.  This is something that I trialled with the student digital leaders last term and was very successful for efficient and safe online communication, sharing of files and resources.  We have since adopted it as a PE department to use with our sports teams.  It is perfect for groups of people such as clubs, ambassadors, departments or even with classes, if you want to use OneNote (although OneNote can be set up separately).  The mobile app is very useful and allows the staff and students to ‘follow’ the channel giving notifications directly to the device.

You Tube voice over

This tip was shared back in May and is something I stole from a teacher on twitter.  Students watched a slow motion clip of a javelin thrower and prepared a voice over to share with a partner.  The voice over included an analysis of muscles contracting/relaxing and also some analysis of the technique to link to our practical work.  I am sure something similar could be used in other subjects in some way.  Please do share an idea if you have done this or something similar before.  Powerpoint attached.

For those using One Note, I am preparing something similar for them to complete in the collaboration space where they will record their voice over on the device directly to One Note.  If you are interested in One Note and want a mini session, get in touch.

You Tube Voice Over Javelin Throw

Revision resources

Attached are some templates that I have prepared for Year 11 back in April that you may be able to adapt for your subject.

Tic Tac Know

A noughts and crosses style activity where students have to link three keywords from a topic together.  Then they will try to think of keywords for another topic with the challenge being where to place them on the grid.

Board rush

I have shared the original version of board rush before which I found extremely effective, see here

On this version I have written an answer and in pairs students are going to write as many questions that they can think of on post it notes and stick them on the board.  They will get a point per question.

12 Minute Recall

A clock style template which could be adapted for a wide range of things.

1.1 Tic Tac Know

1.1 Board Rush Question Version

1.2 CV System 12 Minute Knowledge Recall