Professional development

End of the year review- my top 3 Teaching and Learning tools.

 Ruthana Christofides-Lead Practitioner 

As we approach the end of the academic year, it’s an apt time to reflect. 

What were the great moments that provided you with solace post Trump’s election? What will one change to ensure an even better academic year 2017-2018?

In light of this reflection,  I’d like to share with you my top teaching and learning strategies from this school year.

3rd place- Pearltrees


In third place is the use of Pearltrees to create a bank of current and relevant TV clips which can be used as hooks for lessons.

Pearltrees is free to use and, it allows you to store web links and resources, which any individual with the link can access.

When I see something on the TV which I think I could use to introduce a particular concept, I add it to my Pearltrees (feel free to have a look here: .

When planning, I visit my Pearltrees to see what gems await me. As well as engaging students in learning, the hooks encourage them to think how scientific ideas link to the real world.

Here are some examples of how I have used these hooks:

  • Buzz Lightyear travelling through space to address misconceptions with sound and vacuums.
  • The ‘Friends’ episode where Joey proposes he should urinate on Monica’s leg to remove a jellyfish sting to introduce the concept of neutralisation reactions.
  • ‘My Sister’s Keeper’  to analyse treatments provided for leukaemia and the ethical considerations that surround these treatments.


2nd place-Feedback sheets

In second place is the use of feedback sheets, stickers and sticky tabs to encourage effective dialogue with students. When marking, I provide students with feedback on one assessed piece of work using a coloured feedback sheet. The feedback sheet lists the WWWs as statements and EBIs as questions; these are formulated using the success criteria. I highlight the appropriate WWW statements and EBI questions and students then respond with a brief reflection on the task and answers to their EBI questions. I revisit this to either state gap closed or provide further support.

In addition to this,  I probe students with one question in their book where knowledge needs developing, or misconceptions need addressing.

This page is identified using a sticky tab with students responding to this. I also provide students with an animal sticker (see below), besides which I draw a speech mark and praise the student for something they have done particularly well.

Only those who have gone above and beyond receive a sticker. Marking isn’t too time consuming, as writing is minimal.

Marking is effective, as pupils are clear on where responses are required and do so; they make progress as a result of this. Marking encourages students to go above and beyond, as they are motivated by the specific praise they are given.

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1st place – Google docs

google docs

In first place is the use of Google Docs and its ability to promote student-led and collaborative projects. I have used it for projects ranging from: creating an advisory website on muscular and skeletal injuries for athletes (feel free to have a look here:, to writing a blog in the life of a geneticist.

A few (of the many) reasons I have found it so useful have been that students can collaborate or work independently remotely without requiring Microsoft. As well as this, a student’s work can be monitored and provided with quick and easy feedback wherever the teacher may be. The challenge I am setting myself  for next year is to use Google Docs more for self-marking activities via the Google Forms feature.

Please feel free to contact me about any of these strategies using the ‘contact us’ form or using the comments box below. 

Happy reflection time!


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