Today, half way through the school year, I started with two new year 10 GCSE English classes. Through no fault of their own, they’ve been passed from pillar to post all year, and whilst it’s not the best solution for me, having one (qualified and experienced) English teacher for the rest of the year is a good option for them. Both classes have some characters in them. Luckily, I have a lot of them in my form, so behaviour isn’t likely to be too much of an issue.
I haven’t taught some of them before, and others I’ve taught but not in English. I decided to use a bit of simple edtech as the starter for my first lesson with them, for a couple of reasons. I’m hoping first of all that showing off my use of technology will win some of them over a little bit, and secondly I quickly gauged a few things about students – who was willing to take things seriously and work hard, and who are likely to be my biggest behavioural concerns.
To get started, I created a Padlet wall for each class. I asked the question ‘What is the one thing I need help with at the moment in English?’ I added in my own answer first – getting to know them and finding out what I can do to help them succeed. As we have a BYOD policy at school, I had planned on getting students to populate the wall using their phones. I changed the URL to be specific to my class and easy for them to type in if necessary.
I also used the handy share facility on the Padlet wall which generates its own QR code. I copied the code from Padlet and into a table I’d created in Microsoft Word, so that I could print multiple copies to leave on the tables for students to use if they wished.
I asked students to enter their name and to answer the question. Unsurprisingly for a rowdy year 10 group, I had plenty of amusing names pop up instead of their own. Luckily Padlet allows you to delete responses as necessary. Putting the wall on the screen allowed me to talk it through with students – pointing out those who were clearly taking it seriously and those who perhaps needed to adjust their attitudes. It was a good talking point to get us started, especially given the difficulties they’ve had so far this year (I’m their 4th teacher since September!).
In our next lesson we’ll be cracking on with their controlled assessment. The other group will get the same start with me tomorrow, and will then start studying ‘Macbeth’. I haven’t taught that for a while, certainly not since I really started employing technology in my lessons. I have the feeling I’ll be utilising both Thinglink and Fakebook with that, and probably a few other ‘toys’ as well.