Harrogate Thursday continues…


Bill Murphy hated his groundhog day, However I love mine, in fact I’m lucky because I will wake up tomorrow and get another day of #IATEFL. Our days do differ in one important way of course, nothing has been the same in my day, and I’ve learnt so much.

This afternoon I attended the following sessions:

Open Space event with Adrian Underhill

The idea behind this event fascinated me, billed as “a conference within a conference”, the idea is simple – attendees write a title/question/problem on a post-it, these are then grouped into common themes, we vote for our top ten or so favourites, then break off into different groups per theme to discuss/solve etc.

The only problem was that I did not obey the only rule of the session, I know, there was only one and I couldn’t even manage that, it was  the law of two feet -If you are not contributing or getting something then take a walk … to another group.

Actually, I did contribute, although the subject was not really what I’d hoped, or expected. I think our group was too eclectic and we all had different expectations of this event.

I would still like to attend another open space, however I think its success depends a lot on group dynamics, and maybe on choosing the right topic.

Motivating teenagers by involving them in assessment with Deborah Bullock

Perhaps one of my favourite sessions, I’m fascinated by the new theory that I’ve been finding out about, and conferences are there to pick up that, however you can’t beat a good old workshop when you walk away with a lesson for Monday and a way of improving your teaching in the long term.

I’m interested in self-assessment. It’s not easy in my context, a secondary school where frequent testing is not only expected, but the results are directly responsible for the pupils passing into the next year or redoing this one. However I agree with Deborah when she pointed out the benefits which include motivation, reflection, increased ownership, as well as a useful life skill, since self-assessment is required as much in the workplace as the classroom, if not more.

After discussing the disadvantages ( lack of accuracy, taking up teacher time, etc.) Deborah gave us some practical tips of how to put into place self assessment in our classrooms :

-make it meaningful

-make the criteria clear

– use functional “I can do” skills, along the lines of the European framework.

We looked at how to prepare a task form to scaffold the pupils in an oral presentation task, and then looked at how to negotiate assessment criteria with the students to produce a task assessment form. This should include:



-feedback, including “I could make it better by…”

-space for comments by learner and teacher

– overall grade.

Deborah managed to fit in a lot of useful information in a short time, whilst simultaneously encouraging group work and pair discussions.

I saw another couple of sessions that I’ll tell you about another day, I’ve a little last minute preparation to take care of for my own session tomorrow first.




About fabenglishteacher

enjoying sharing learning
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