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The Marlborough Science Academy

Leading Learning

Articles about hot topics in education 

This term we have been looking at how we can bridge the digital divide and how we can use our display boards more effectively. Two really useful articles we found on this are:

1. 'Bridging the UK Digital Divide' taken from TheTeacherToolkit. 

In this article the author explores how remote learning was relied upon during the national lockdowns and how it encouraged teachers to use ICT more often within their classrooms and lessons. However, this has meant that households who do not have connectivity have come under increasing pressure and may result in those students under preforming when compared to their peers. 

What is to be done? Reports suggest that we must move towards IT integrated lessons. This is something we do every day in Marlborough and our recent year 7 Chromebook initiative another step in bridging the digital divide. 

2. 'Why you might want to keep your display board' taken from TES.

Display boards are a staple of the classroom teaching environment however, they are not without debate. Some argue that display boards can lead to a visual overload in the classroom while research has shown give students ownership and a self-esteem boost. 
In the article it explores both the pros and cons of keeping them in the classroom. They argue that keeping displays new and interesting makes each classroom feel different and helps set the tone of the learning environment. Ensuring that displays remain ‘unchaotic’ and ‘focused’ will help student feel comfortable and therefore optimism learning. 
At TMSA teacher’s take full control of their display boards and even include interactive or ‘working’ boards. Displays are used to support teaching and learning. 

3. 'Top Ten Strategies For Revising' by  Alex Quigley. 

In this blog, the writer looks at the top 10 revising methods to help exam students come up with a study plan that suits them. The top ten are as follows: 

1.    Quizzing. Good old fashioned quizzing is an ideal vehicle to get students self-testing, which is proven to be a robust revision strategy, so that students can calibrate their knowledge and remembering. There are various types of quizzes, of course, such as short answer quizzing, multiple choice or a hybrid of the two, with different question types suiting different purposes.
2.     Flashcards. Flashcards are a very familiar tool used by students. Crucially, however, too many students fail to use them for effective self-testing – (only 30% in this research). Clearly, we need to train students to design, or find, effective revision flashcards, before then training them in their use. Students should also beware dropping flashcards they think they know.
3.     Graphic organisers. Students need to be active in revision, not just reading their notes and doing some colouring in with a rainbow of highlighters. Graphic organisers are a handy vehicle to get students reconstructing their revision topics, making meaningful links and connections (in cognitive science, this is labelled the ‘generation effect‘).

4.    Cornell note-taking. Another strategy that utilises the ‘generation effect‘ is the well-known note-taking approach: the Cornell method. Named after the US university, this strategy gets students thinking metacognitively, asking questions, noting key terms, and summarising the content being revised.
5.    Exam wrappers. This helpful feedback strategy, labelled ‘exam wrappers‘ because they wrap around information on how the student has revised, offers important information for the teacher to help diagnose how effective, or extensive (or not), revision has proven. Also, it can prove a good way to help puncture student over-confidence in their revision.
6.    ‘Just a minute’. A long time favourite strategy of mine, ‘Just a Minute’ takes the classic radio game and adapts it to almost any topic, text, or examination revision term. Put simply, students have to talk for a minute on the given term/topic – no pauses, no hesitations. Slips or repetitions or micro pauses lose a ‘life’ – three strikes and you’re out. This strategy harnesses the ‘self explanation effect‘. In short, if you can elaborate on a topic and explain it well, you have retrieved it from memory – a good revision act – as well as likely consolidating it too.
7.    ‘Prepare to teach’. Similar to ‘Just a Minute‘, the ‘Prepare to teach‘ strategy involves the common idea of getting students to teach a peer a topic/term from their revision. Once more, it gets students to elaborate on their knowledge. Even expecting to teach appears to have a positive impact on students learning material, so this seemingly inconsequential tweak can have very beneficial effects.
8.    ‘Select, elect’. Another revision strategy that gets students thinking hard about their revision is ‘Select, Elect‘. In simple terms, you get students to  ‘select’ the most salient facts, ideas, concepts, or terms, from a given revision topic, before then asking them to ‘elect’ what they deem the most significant knowledge or idea/concept that they need to understand for their examination. This gets students actively engaging with their revision material, whilst being metacognitive about what is the most salient information they need to remember.
9.    Topic ranking. Remember that students are often not the best judge of their own revision and how  effective it may or not be. By getting students to rank their own knowledge of their topics being revised, they deploy the important metacognitive strategy of evaluating their learning. Though they will likely be inaccurate – indeed overoptimistic – in their judgments of their knowledge and learning, it still helps students better calibrate their revision and monitor their ongoing progress.
10.    Past questions. Ok, so no rewards here for originality: students need to practice examination questions, over and over, well spaced over time. The effect of exploring worked examples or exam answers, as well as writing their own, helps students process, practice and refine their revision to meet the parameters of exam success.

Teaching tip Tuesday:

30th of November 2021:

Display Boards: We have seen some great displays for learning with extension activities etc that can be accessed via learning walls. These resources with the finished display are all contained in the link I sent out via Email. 

6th of December 2021:

Thank you to Ms. Walker and Ms. Begum for providing today's Teaching Tip. 
1.    Tom Sherrington’s blog on reviewing learning building again on retrieval practice.
2.    Education Endowment Foundation summarising their research on effective use of ATs 

13th of December 2021: 

So to the final teaching tip Tuesday of the year. Thank you all for the fantastic teaching and support you all give to our young people. Please keep your ideas coming, so they can be shared.

This week’s resources are attached, the first a series of prompt to promote open-ended questions. The second a scaffolding PowerPoint to support extended writing. I have also included another great blog from Tom Sherrington the link and full link below:

11th of January 2022: 

And so for the first ideas for 2022. We are going to focus on revision ideas for the next few weeks so if you have any subjects specific or general revision ideas please can you share them.
We have shown 5-day challenges before but Mr. Eve has kindly sent in a science specific calendar month of revision questions.
I have just found this great free app which demonstrates retrieval practice questions and activities . Below is a demo video link, working on both Android and ios platforms
I have also put the link to the site with a screenshot of the principles and all the subjects currently catered for



Teach Meet

What is a Teach Meet? A TeachMeet is an informal conference-style meeting held by teachers all around the world to work together for better CPD (continued professional development) and mutual support, as well as to share ideas and to provide inspiration for good practice.

Our first Teach Meet was a huge success! Please see our instagram account for more information: TMSA_teachlearn. 


Click here for TMSA TeachMeet Dates.


Link to our instagram account:



Learning Counts

Year 8s feel that Marlborough is home is to nice staff who prepare fun lessons. They feel safe and love their learning. They made a special mention to History, Maths, ICT and English. 

Year 9s are enjoying their learning and are enjoying how supported they feel. They gave a special mention to History, English and Maths. 

Feedback from the 7th of December: 

Year 11s feel proud to be at this school and actively encourage others to join here.  They made a special mention to Art, Geography and English