GHS Learning & Teaching - Staff Page
Welcome to the learning and teaching page. This page will provide information for staff and provide information and ideas to enhance the learning experiences of pupil at Gracemount. Pupils at Gracemount deserve the very best learning experiences, which will help them to develop as successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

Everyone at Gracemount High School is committed to this and this page will provide guidance, information and practical help for effective learning and teaching.
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GHS Teacher Toolkit
File Size
Teacher Toolkit (Aug 2014)
5.6 MB
Teacher Toolkit (Sept 2014)
8.7 MB
Teacher Toolkit (Oct 2014)
800 KB
Teacher Toolkit (Nov 2014)
1.9 MB
Learning and Teaching Documents
File Size
Developing Questions
903 KB
Learning Intentions Examples
73 KB
289 KB
Study Skills
818 KB
Growth Mindset
419 KB
Formative Assessment
228 KB
Pose, Pause, Pounce & Bounce
666 KB
GHS 5 Minute Lesson Plan
270 KB
Latest News from our Learning & Teaching Twitter Feed
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Useful Links:
What makes an excellent lesson?
Faculties have recently untaken discussions about what makes an excellent lesson. Below is a summary of the key points from these discussions, while there is an excellent video from TED here

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Assessment is for Learning Toolkit
The 4-Phase Model
The four-phase model, illustrated below, is a flexible framework for planning which allows ‘scrolling’ through the phases more than once in any lesson. The phases need not be sequential or applicable to every lesson. Generally though, it is considered good practice to include 4 phases as this promotes active learning.

The Overview establishes the learning intentions with pupils and shows where the lesson fits into the bigger picture. This is also the phase where teachers can introduce and discuss success criteria (end result of lesson) with pupils.

In the Input phase teachers provide a brief exposition, since the attention span of pupils is short. New information is delivered in a wide variety of ways which take account of pupils’ different learning styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic).

In the Processing phase pupils are actively engaged in different learning processes. Various types of tasks are used which motivate and engage pupils. For example, active learning approaches can be used in the delivery of knowledge and understanding, in conjunction with the use of ICT, peer and self-assessment and success criteria to inform pupils’ next steps as they work.

The Review (or ‘plenary’) usually takes place at the end of the lesson. However in some lessons teachers conduct regular reviews throughout. In other areas it may be appropriate to do a formal review after an extended piece of work organised over a number of weeks.

The review is when the success criteria of the lesson may be discussed and pupils’ learning evaluated.

A number of activities can be used to review the lesson, including teacher-led quizzes, question and answer (using a variety of questioning techniques), pupil presentation, pupil feedback, ticket out the door etc.
The 4-Phase Model Illustration
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Thinking Skills and Questioning Techniques
Studies show (Petty, G. 2006) that, as teachers, we tend to ask questions which are knowledge based 80% – 90% of the time. Whilst these questions can be effective in helping pupils to learn facts and knowledge, higher order questions require much more thought and can lead to more extensive and elaborate answers. Using strategies like Bloom’s Taxonomy to inform our questioning can promote the development of higher order thinking.

Essentially Bloom identified 6 major categories or levels in which all cognitive and intellectual responses occur. The table below shows these categories in order of simplest level to most complex.

Studies also show that pupils of all abilities do best when they are regularly encouraged to use higher order reasoning through the use of careful questioning.

Good questioning is a crucial tool for checking understanding and ensuring learning has taken place. At its best it can encourage active learning and inform future learning and teaching. Questions should be used that give pupils thinking time and that encourage all pupils to be actively involved in the question. Questions should also be accessible by those with different personality types and be fairly distributed across the class.
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Examples of Questioning for Bloom
From Bloom, et al., 1956
As teachers we tend to ask questions in the "knowledge" category 80% to 90% of the time. These questions are not bad, but using them all the time is. We should try to use higher order levels of questions. These questions require much more "brain power" and a more extensive and elaborate answer. Below are the six question categories as defined by Bloom.

• Remembering;
• Memorising;
• Recognising;
• Recalling identification and
• Recall of information
• Who, what, when, where, how ...?
• Describe

• Interpreting;
• Translating from one medium to another;
• Describing in one's own words;
• Organisation and selection of facts and ideas
• Retell...

• Problem solving;
• Applying information to produce some result;
• Use of facts, rules and principles
• How example of...?
• How is...related to...?
• Why is...significant?

• Subdividing something to show how it is put together;
• Finding the underlying structure of a communication;
• Identifying motives;
• Separation of a whole into component parts
• What are the parts or features of...?
• Classify...according to...
• Outline/diagram...
• How with...?
• What evidence can you list for...?

• Creating a unique, original product that may be in verbal form or may be a physical object;
• Combination of ideas to form a new whole
• What would you predict/infer from...?
• What ideas can you add to...?
• How would you create/design a new...?
• What might happen if you combined...?
• What solutions would you suggest for...?

• Making value decisions about issues;
• Resolving controversies or differences of opinion;
• Development of opinions, judgements or decisions
• Do you agree...?
• What do you think about...?
• What is the most important...?
• Place the following in order of priority...
• How would you decide about...?
• What criteria would you use to assess...?
Assessment is for Learning
In AifL assessment is used as a tool for learning. It promotes a dialogue between teacher and learner which is based on thoughtful questions, careful listening and reflective responses. It emphasises the role of assessment in supporting learning and in identifying strengths and next steps. Good formative assessment is important in informing the next steps for both pupil and teacher.

The aspects of AifL that have been identified as the focus of our development as a school are:

1. Self and Peer assessment
• promotes a greater grasp of what is to be learned
• links learning to success criteria
• encourages higher order thinking (analysis, synthesis etc.)

2. Personal Learning Planning
• encourages pupils to think and talk about learning
• encourages pupils to recognise how they might improve the quality of their work.
• encourages pupils to be actively involved in decisions about their learning and their next steps.
Emotional Literacy and Confidence
It is recognised that our pupils and Scotland’s young people as a whole suffer from a lack of confidence. Pupils’ confidence in their ability to learn is linked to resilience and self-efficacy. Luckily these can be developed.

We must recognise that confidence is different from self-esteem and that we would be better served focusing on developing pupils’ confidence in specific areas rather than focusing on raising self-esteem per se.

Feedback plays a very important role in developing this confidence. It has been recognised that feedback which promotes the idea that performance is down to hard work, rather than innate ability, is most successful in bringing about improvements in performance.

A growth mindset, which is characterised by the determination to meet challenges and overcome difficulties and by the belief that intelligence is not pre-determined or fixed, is best developed by praising hard work and effort rather than praising good results. Here are some links to more info on growth mindset.

Matthew Syed: The myth of talent and the power of practice

Khan Academy: You can learn anything

The Guardian: Secret to Success - Practice, not talent

Understanding Talent

Mindset Online: The Nature of Change

Emotionally intelligent responses to different situations can also be fostered by the use of strategies such as Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats. This technique is useful in encouraging pupils to approach both learning and behaviour issues from a variety of perspectives, ensuring that their responses are considered and thoughtful rather than purely emotional.
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Questioning Techniques
Wait Time (or “Think Time”): The concept of ‘wait time’ is based on the recognition that students need an uninterrupted period of time to process information, reflect on a topic and consider their response. ‘Wait time’ should last at least 3 seconds after a question has been asked. It can have the following positive outcomes: the number of correct pupil responses increases; pupils tend to answer in more depth; the number of "I don't know" responses decreases; the number of volunteered answers greatly increases; the scores of students on academic achievement tests tend to increase. Using ‘wait time’ also leads to positive changes in the ways that teachers approach questioning: questioning strategies tend to be more varied and flexible; teachers decrease the quantity and increase the quality and variety of their questions; teachers ask additional questions that require more complex information processing and higher-level thinking on the part of students.

No Hands Up: A questioning strategy where pupils are not allowed to raise their hands and instead the teacher selects a pupil to answer. By establishing a rule of 'no hands up' in a question-and-answer session, distractions are reduced and pupils have more time to think. This technique also helps the teacher to ensure that every pupil in the room is involved in questioning, and encourages all of the pupils to stay focused, because they are aware that everyone is expected to be able to offer an answer.

Beat the Teacher: This is a technique where the teacher makes deliberate mistakes and the pupils have to correct them. It can be used during any stage of the 4-phase lesson and is a useful tool in ensuring that pupils are engaged in the lesson, as well as in assessing understanding, by checking pupils’ ability to correct mistakes made by the teacher.

Think, Pair & Share: An activity to encourage higher-order thinking that involves pupils thinking about a given topic individually, then pairing with a partner, then sharing ideas with the wider group. The sequence generally begins with the teacher posing an open-ended question, to which there may be a range of responses. Think time is followed by discussion with a partner. The pair then share pooled ideas with the whole class. This structure has also been adopted as a co-operative learning strategy.

Thumbs Up: This is a simple strategy where pupils signal using their thumbs to indicate their understanding of a given topic. It works best when pupils are able to use their thumbs to convey three different meanings:

• Thumbs up: I understand this topic fully and could explain it to someone else
• Thumbs sideways: I’m not yet completely sure about this topic and need to study it in more depth
• Thumbs down: I do not understand this topic at all
Active Learning
“Active learning is learning which engages and challenges children’s thinking. It embraces the principles of approaches such as Critical Skills, Enterprising Learning and Teaching, Co-operative Learning and Thinking Skills."
(Edinburgh City Council Position Paper, 2009)

“We learn by doing. Research shows that active learning is much better recalled, enjoyed and understood. Active methods require us to 'make our own meaning', that is, develop our own conceptualisations of what we are learning. During this process we physically make neural connections in our brain, the process we call learning. Passive methods such as listening do not require us to make these neural connections or conceptualisations.”
Geoff Petty

Active learning also targets different learning styles and develops higher order thinking. Tasks usually involve elements of problem solving, decision making, explaining to others etc.

Active Learning Techniques




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• Class arranged into groups.
• Each group has a question/topic to brainstorm. (timed to suit)
• Groups then rotate and evaluate each others work.


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• On large paper make a placemat as shown. (this example is for 4 – rearrange as required.
• Individuals write on their own section.
• Rotate and allow others to read all comments, or/add extra.
• Best idea/s go into centre – group decision.

Market Place/One Stay, Others Stray

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• Each group works on project/ poster/ model/ topic.
• Once complete one member of each group stays as stallholder to explain to other rotating groups return to original seats & feedback to stallholder. All pupils tested on knowledge.

Big Picture/Running Dictation

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1. Teacher prepares picture/ poster.
2. Pupils are put into groups and numbered/ coloured within the group.
3. Each group are given paper & pens.
4. Task is to reproduce picture/ poster as accurately as possible.
5. A number from each group is called out and that pupil is given a set time to study picture, return to group and reproduce.
6. Each person in group takes turns as directed by the teacher.

Fist of Fire

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Pupils use hands to indicate understanding
Fingers indicate level of understanding.

  • Clenched fist – no understanding
  • Five fingers – full understanding.

Post It - Out the Door

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Each pupil is given a post-it.
Can only leave once post-it is completed with

  • Answers to any question
  • 3 things they have learned
  • How they felt about lesson

Numbered Heads Together

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• Groups work out answers to questions and every member must know answer if asked.
• Each member of group must check that every other member of group knows the answer.

Speed Dating

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Revision technique or questioning
• 2 rows of seats face to face
• On one row of seats there is a card with topic/ description or explanation, faced down.
• Teacher sets a time limit and starts the pupils.
• Other pupil without card has to guess topic from description or answer questions on card.
• Pupils move on a seat.

Two Stars and a Wish

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Evaluating/ feedback
• Do activity – then evaluate yourself or others
• Feedback on performance by teacher or pupils and their peers
• Focus on 2 stars– 2 things that were good in their work (strengths)
• A wish – an area for future development

Rally Table

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Questioning or a revision technique
• Question/ topic written at top of each page
• Pages put on separate tables
• Answers completed by groups or individuals
• Answers written at the bottom of the page, then bottom folded over to cover answer
• Groups/ individuals move tables

What am I?

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Revision technique, Groups or Pairs
• Pupils given a topic, have to write down 3 clues that would help their partner/ group guess what the topic is
• Pupil reads out 1st clue. If someone gets it correct = 3 points. 2nd clue = 2 points, 3rd clue = 1 point
• Pupils swap, partner/ next person reads clues

Expert Jigsaw

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Expert Jigsaw
• Form 3 groups (E.G.3)
• 3 pieces of information
• Individuals from groups become experts of each piece of info
• Teach group about your info
• Teacher to quiz each group to assess

Thumbs Up

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To check for understanding
• Ask the class to put their thumb up accordingly
• Thumb up = yes I understand or know/ fully
• Thumb horizontal – not sure need a little help
• Thumb down – I don’t know, haven’t got a clue

No Hands Up

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Form of questioning
1. Class asked not to put hand up
2. A question is asked by teacher
3. Given thinking time or discussion time
4. Teacher selects a pupil to answer


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Answering or evaluation
1. A choice is allocated to each corner e.g. put choices on smart-board
2. Teacher asks a question e.g. how did you feel about a unit of work?
3. Pupils stand in a chosen corner
4. Pupils asked to justify choices

Gallery Walk

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1. Students work in a group to identify key ideas/ info on a topic and present in a poster
2. Limited words can focus students
3. In each group students are then numbered. They form groups so there is one person from each original group. (e.g. – all number 1’s together)
4. The posters are displayed. Groups rotate and each person explains their group poster

Think Pair Share

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1. Students given a short amount of time to respond to a task/ question
2. Students given a short amount of time to talk to a partner about their ideas
3. Students share their ideas with the whole class

Story Triangle

Listeners Storytellers

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1. Students form triangles (see over)
2. Students in the middle listen and give feedback
3. Students on the outside explain learning or share an idea
4. after feedback storyteller rotates, (the storyteller can only say thank you for the feedback)

Fan and Pick

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1. Prepare cards with key words on one side and definitions on the other
2. Organise students into pairs or groups
3. One member of the group fans the cards for students to pick one
4. Student who picks the card needs to give the definition or word which matches


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1. Students are split in to two teams. The whiteboard is also split into two.
2. The class is given a challenge
3. Each team has a pen. A team member runs up and writes their idea. The pen is then passed to the next team member
4. Ideas are totalled at the end. Double answers are scored out

Traffic Lights

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Assessment tool:
  • Red, Amber, Green

  • check for understanding
  • quick evaluation & learning
  • signal if you need help from teacher
Learning Styles
Our learning and teaching approaches should recognise that we all have different learning styles and that intelligence can be demonstrated in a range of different ways. A range of learning styles should therefore be targeted in each lesson and activities should be chosen which allow learners with different styles to learn effectively.

Visual Learners:
… learn through seeing. These learners need to see the teacher's body language and facial expression to fully understand the content of a lesson. They tend to prefer sitting at the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions (e.g. people's heads). They may think in pictures and learn best from visual displays including: diagrams, illustrated text-books, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts and hand-outs. During classroom discussion, visual learners often prefer to take detailed notes to absorb the information.

Auditory Learners:
… learn through listening - through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say. Auditory learners interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. Written information may have little meaning until it is heard. These learners often benefit from reading text aloud and using a tape recorder.

Tactile/Kinaesthetic Learners:
… learn through moving, doing and touching - through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them. They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and can become distracted by their need for activity and exploration.
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