Tuesday, 19 August 2014

#poundlandpedagogy - ready for the new school year

If you're anything like me, a lot of the Summer holidays are spent seeking out bargains for the new school year. Whenever I'm out and about I can't help but think of what I might need in my classroom next year, or how something could be used. This week has been one of those weeks. We went to Ikea and I really had to stop myself buying items that, although they might look good, wouldn't have much 'educational value'. But, today, I found myself in the local 'Poundland' and 'Wilkinsons' purchasing a few items that I had been inspired to get/found a purposeful use for next year.

In the true spirit of #poundlandpedagogy, here are my bargain buys and how I intend to use them this coming school year...
(check out the hashtag above for other fantastic ideas that other teachers have) [thanks to @WallaceIsabella for creating this phenomenon]

I've been looking for something like this since the back end of last year when I was doing my numeracy puzzle(s) of the week with my tutor group - check out my recent numeracy across the curriculum post here. I was getting fed up of having to find spare bits of scrap paper for them to work on during tutor time and, without the budget to get them their own exercise book, was looking for some small notepads that they could use instead.

I found these note books (a pack of 8 for £1) from 'Poundland' and they are pretty much what I was thinking of. I bought 4 packs of these so each one of my tutor group has their own note pad to use throughout the year.

These will come in handy for weekly discussions, numeracy puzzles, literacy tasks etc etc. I will keep them in our room so that 1) the kids don't lose them 2) I can look at what they've done and 3) I can easily hand them out on a daily basis when needed.

Here's what the note pads look like out of the packets. There are 50 pages per note pad, which should be more than enough. Plus, if I need to kill any time during tutor time in the 1st week back I'll be sorted - personalise your note pad!

The only foreseeable problem...fighting over what colour each person gets!

The next idea I got whilst visiting my fiance's school/classroom yesterday and helping her set up her displays etc (yep, I had nothing better to do).
On a separate note, I'd be interested to know how many teachers are able to go into school (if they want to) over the Summer holidays? My school is closed throughout the whole of August (except results day) and so I'm not able to go in even if I wanted to. Whereas my fiance's school is open throughout the holidays between 9am-3pm. Let me know via Twitter (@mrprcollins) or by commenting below.
When helping set up her classroom I noticed she had a load of bulldog clips on nails that were hammered into the wall. I asked what she used them for and she said that was where students kept their 'works in progress'. Being a DT teacher she often has students that are partway through a project and to keep all their work in one place they clip them onto the bulldog clips and were kept there until next lesson. I believe she used this process with a single class (maybe her GCSE class)? What I liked about this is that all her other classes, and classes of other teachers using her room, would see the work on display and the development of it over time.
I've decided to magpie this idea and tweak it for my #takeawayhomework display. To read more about the takeaway homework I use with my classes click here and here. What I intend to do is, on my display board that I've set aside for the takeaway homework I will put up some of the bulldog clips, with some 'backing paper' ready to hold in place examples of fantastic homework that I receive/have received so far. So I got some bulldog clips and backing paper from 'Poundland' today...

Here's her 'work in progress' display with the bulldog clips and backing paper ready for her students' work...
...my recent purchases from 'Poundland'. I will pin up about 5/6 pieces of homework and then complete the display with my takeaway homework menu and some other examples that can't be clipped up - things like the foldables, tweets, trump cards etc.

Next, an actual purchase from Ikea - my new organiser/whiteboard and some added whiteboard pens from 'Poundland'. The one thing I did buy from Ikea (only £2.25) was a noticeboard that doubles as both a whiteboard and a pin board. The whiteboard section is, conveniently, split into 7 sections (I'm assuming 1 for each day of the week). Now this, for me, is ideal as I have 6 Mathematics classes next year and my tutor group. So for each section I intend on writing up important information for each class on a regular basis. I used to do this using the magicwhiteboard A4 sheets that I stuck up on my windows, but I didn't update them as much as I could have. The whiteboard will be hung up somewhere visible to students and myself and I will aim to put the following under each class' section: homework details/deadlines, important dates (assessments etc) and pupil(s) of the week. Here's the board...

In addition to the board I stocked up on some whiteboard pens from 'Poundland'. They seem to work fine and you get 5 for £1, all different colours too. I'm forever running out of these and our departmental supplies constantly run low. So, in an attempt to avoid constantly bothering our faculty assistant for whiteboard pens, I figured I'd get some spares to keep my students going for a while!

Finally, another great find today came from 'Wilkinsons' in the form of index cards or cue cards (whatever you refer to them as). I got some of these last year to use as a starter/plenary task - 'my favourite no'. Check out this link/video for a full explanation on the task (it's well worth it). This was an idea I found on the web last Summer and the task works fantastically well! The only drawback was that wherever I had looked in the past for index cards they seemed to be £4/£5 a pack, which was far too much!

These index cards (50) from Wilkinsons cost just 75p each and so I got a few packs of these to use with the 'my favourite no' task. I'll get students to do use both sides of the cards and might even cut them in half so I get as much use out of them as I can.

There we have it, my recent haul of stationary to prepare for the new school year. Be sure to tweet your #poundlandpedagogy finds and uses and tweet me @mrprcollins, or comment below, if you think of other productive ways I could use the items I bought today.

Having just linked the hashtag above I've already found another teacher @TheMathsMagpie who has used sponges bought from 'B&Q' to create whiteboard rubbers for her mini whiteboards...

Great idea...one for my next trip to the shops!


  1. Great ideas! My school is open throughout the holidays but the IT often doesn't work and there's always lots of building work going on. It's frustrating when I've got work to do. I end up working at home (and doing my own printing - at cost to me). I also buy lots of my own stationary like you do - isn't it funny that teachers spend their own money on stationery, props, rewards etc to use at work? In pretty much every other industry people wouldn't dream of spending their own money on work supplies. Says a lot about how lovely and selfless teachers are, always putting pupils first.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jo. I completely agree - I know plenty of teachers that get their own stationary etc. personally it's easier that way, rather than having to request it at school, wait for it to be ok'd and then ordered/delivered. Plus, with budgets as they are I feel guilty asking for simple things such as pens/pencils etc.

  2. Really like that IKEA board, think I will have to go get one tomorrow. I use the sponges as whiteboard rubbers too...just be careful not to use the scratchy side because it can leave scratches on the whiteboards. In poundland, look out for end of summer lines like plastic beakers as they make good table pots.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Good shout about the 'scratchy side', I'll cut these bits off if the ones I buy have them!

  3. I love the index revision cards and always buy them when I see them on sale! My favourite use so far has been circle theorem revision cards. One theorem per side, with proper wording and a diagram, bound together with string. We did them in yr 10 and they randomly starting appearing after January of year 11 and were regularly making appearances during revision, so was worth it!

  4. Thanks for your comment Louise. Using them for revision sounds like a good idea - I can see how the circle theorems would work well here, perhaps with laws of indices too?!

    1. Yes, essentially any topic when they have to learn different rules! I've used them with lower ability with area rules and properties of 2D shapes, just they tend to get lost 😟 just seen the edexcel grade boundaries and pleased with Higher so hoping they've done well. 95 for a B is better than I thought, I said to them it would be +100

    2. Yes, the grade boundaries are interesting - I'm hopeful for my set 1s in getting their A*s as it was only 164? Also, I had a set 3 so those hoping for Cs may be ok with the 57 boundary? Who knows though - it's all a guessing game until we go in and see what they've actually got tomorrow! Fingers crossed and good luck to your students :)

  5. Does anyone keep track on how much they spend on items (and printing) for school? I do buy the occasional item, but mostly those that can be re-used (and are classed as 'mine').

    I've not been sold yet on the 'takeaway homework' idea, especially with the mixed responses and propensity for using trade marks, but that's for another post. I do, however, like the idea of using the bulldog clips (or similar) to hold work in plain view in order to show progression, which does tie in well with the homework choices. I can see that there could well be fewer homeworks handed in late or on deadline day if students are inspired by what they see coming in through free choice. I'll need to do some more reading about the 'takeaway homework'.

    I saw packs of 50 blank postcards and thought about using them with my new GCSE class (hopes and dreams for the future). I didn't want to buy them without thinking this through, as they'll probably be there for at least another month.

    1. Nope, I haven't/don't keep a track of it all-it would be a very scary amount I'd imagine-best to pretend it doesn't exist!
      It took me a while to get on the takeaway homework wagon, but I was getting fed up with the lack of homework coming in and quality of it from the 'normal' worksheets they had to do. It's surprised me as to how much the kids have taken to it-they seem to like the choice more than anything, and the creative ones really go to town with it, and probably spend far more time than they normally would have?
      Give it a try, see how your kids react and take it from there-you can always go back to how you 'normally' have done homework after if it doesn't seem to have any benefit?
      The post cards seem like a good idea-I had my current Y10s write a letter to their future selves after their Y10 mocks-they'll be getting them back before they start their exams this year!
      We have departmental postcards that we send home every fortnight for those students that have excelled in class/done that little bit extra-could be a cheaper way to do this?
      Thanks for your comment Mr Jefferson.