Monday, 14 August 2017

First Day #MTBoS

This week's blog prompt from the #MTBoS was about the first day of the school year. I'm slightly late writing/posting mine as I've only just returned from the Lake District with my little family! To read all the posts on this topic click here.

My First Day at my new school is the 4th September. It's not an INSET day. When I had my induction day at the end of June this was also my new school's INSET day to prepare for the new school year (2017-18). So, the majority of this day was spent preparing for the new school year. It means that on the 4th Sep only our new Year 7s will be attending school (years 8-11 are in for the first time on the 5th Sep). As a Year 7 form tutor this will mean that I will be busy this day as I'll have to meet with my form '7PCO' in the morning as they arrive, have assembly and then go to our form room (also my classroom). There, they will be given their timetable and Show My Homework login details. It will also give me a chance to ask them how their Summer Holidays were and generally speak with them all on how they are feeling about being at 'big school'.
As well as my new staff Induction/INSET day at the end of June I also attended the Year 6 taster day and so I have met my new form already. I even met their parents that same evening. On that day, I asked them who their favourite cartoon character/superhero was. This was because I like drawing - I find it takes my mind off things and I'm a geek, so any excuse to draw Wolverine, a Minion, Buzz/Woody, etc, I'll take it. I'm drawing each of their favourite cartoon characters over the next few weeks of the holidays in my spare time to hand to them each on our first day back together - kind of as a welcome to year 7, 'thing'. They'll get the original copy and I'll put a copy of them all on our form noticeboard so they can see all of the form's pictures together, in the one place, all year. This is something that I have done previously for my departing Y11 form and they seemed to appreciate the gesture! Luckily, I only have 13 students in my form group!

After form time, assembly and break/lunch the Year 7s will then go to Periods 4 and 5 as per their usual timetable. For me, this means I'll also get to meet my Year 7 Mathematics class for the first time period 4.
The students have been pre-set based on their KS2 data and will be moved (re-set) once we have completed their in-house assessments and compared the data.

In that first lesson together there are a number of things we will be doing...

...I'll start the lesson by greeting them at my classroom door, they'll be lined up in the corridor before coming in. I use iDoceo as my teacher's planner and do all my planning/record keeping, etc on here. I also use it for my seating plans. As such, the seating plan for the class will be on the board and they'll be asked to find their seats on entering the room.
Once sat, they will then be welcomed by myself, I'll tell them a bit about me and my general expectations when they're in my classroom. I'll then take any questions they have already about my classroom, Mathematics, etc.
The main activity for the lesson will then be the same activity we are using with all our students this year in their first lesson(s) and that is their 'lighthouse' checkpoint activity.

I will undoubtedly post more about the 'lighthouse' mathematics assessments as the year progresses, but let me just outline what they are here...
  • it's basically a series of 12 question checkpoints to assess students basic knowledge needed to access each of the new GCSE 1-9 grades.
  • The topics are broad topics that the students must know if they are to achieve each grade. Therefore lighthouse 4 checkpoints should be fully completed if a student is to be able to achieve a grade 4 in their GCSEs.
  • The lighthouse checkpoints will take place every first lesson of each half term.
  • If the student gets 12/12 they will move onto the next 'lighthouse' (grade). If they don't get 12/12 they will stay on that 'lighthouse' for the next half term/checkpoint where they'll try again to get full marks.
  • Each class/set will start the year at a predetermined 'lighthouse'. These have been set by the existing department. All the checkpoints have been printed out and students will be handed these in their first lesson. They'll do their workings in their exercise books and these will be marked in the lesson.
  • The students will be given 20-30 minutes to complete the checkpoint, their answers will then be marked before we go through any misconceptions/mistakes.
  • We have all the answers to the checkpoints and these will just simply be displayed on the IWB. Once students have moved onto different checkpoints it will be easy enough for them all to check their work at the same time as 3 or 4 checkpoints' answers can be displayed on the board at once.
  • Each checkpoint will cover the same topics/questions (the numbers are just changed between checkpoints). So, students clearly know what they need to work on to progress next time round.
  • My new department have also already set up homeworks that compliment the assessments (checkpoints) and these will subsequently be given to students each half term for them to practice the questions on their current 'lighthouse'
Here's what one of the 'lighthouse' checkpoints looks like:

'Lighthouse' 4 (Grade 4) covers: basic times tables; division; rounding; multiplying decimals; percentages of amounts; area of triangles; solving equations (unknown both sides); coordinates; simplifying expressions; finding missing angles; averages and spread and ratio.

As I briefly hinted before, these are not 'Grade 4 topics', but topics/questions students must be able to do in order to access the 'Grade 4 work'.

Unfortunately, I don't know much more than that at this stage. I've tried to Google the 'lighthouse' assessments/system etc, but didn't get very far with my search. So, for now I'll see how it all goes and will feedback how the process works in practice and how the 'lighthouses' relate to the new grading system.

That will be my first day.

I believe after school I have a new staff training session to go over some last few bits we couldn't cover on the induction day at the end of June, or that were left until the first day back as to not overload us with information.

I'm very much looking forward to my first day at my new school, meeting '7PCO' again, teaching my first lesson, using the 'lighthouse' assessments and generally getting started! Good luck to all new teachers starting their first days at their first schools and to all returning teachers on their first days. :)


  1. Just wondering, if you do seating plan in idocceo, do you export to project on the board or is there a cleverer way?!

    1. I export them to a PDF and then copy and paste into ppts, they come out plenty clear enough for all students to see. It's really easy to e-mail yourself the PDF file of the seating plan straight from iDoceo too!
      Thanks for your comment - hope this helps?

  2. Hi there. So glad someone is making use of the Lighthouses.

    They all exist as pdfs on the free website

    Although displaying just one would negate the differentiation you get as pupils progress at different paces (in one of our classes we have a 4 lighthouse spread).

    Lovely blog and I'm genuinely chuffed to see people taking on our Lighthouses.