The modelling toolkit: 4 essential pieces of kit every teacher should have.

Just like playing football isn’t possible without a decent pair of boots and shin pads…great modelling needs a great toolkit! Here’s four things I use all the time – is there any you would add?

1. Visualiser/Desktop Camera

This is THE piece of modelling kit that you MUST get as soon as possible. I use mine most days and it has added an extra layer of precision to my modelling and pupil concentration. The purposes of modelling are for pupils to see the processes they need to follow when they practice new learning. The best way for them to see this is by getting close to an excellent model piece of writing or solution to a calculation being performed as they possibly can. A visualiser allows your pupils to do just that. They are seeing you hand, your pencil, your exercise book, your writing or workings and while they watch, they can listen carefully to you thinking out loud about what is going on in your head. Awesome. The one I use is really simple and I can pack it up really easily in a locked draw (they can be very expensive). You can get far fancier ones but this works a treat for me.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 15.59.08

2. SMART board tools

I don’t just mean using an interactive board to show pupils what to do…there are some great features you can use to record yourself doing a process that is in built into the programme that I use regularly. One to note here is the ‘Lesson Recorder’, which records what you’re doing and then plays it over and over again. I’ve found this useful when teaching Art and Handwriting, since once you’ve modelled something, it plays repeatedly so you don’t have to go round desks and repeat the same instruction a hundred times.

3. Physical Objects

When I teach Geography, I have a globe and a map glued to me at all times. When I teach History, I try and fill my topic table or the classroom generally with artefacts, objects and books from the period we are studying. When I teach Science, I try and do every experiment that my pupils will do step by step with the same objects they will be using. When I teach art I sketch or paint whatever I want them to sketch or paint and make sure that they can see what I’m doing.

I mention all of this because I am under the impression from my personal experience that pupils love to try and associate whatever you talk about as a teacher with concrete objects and experiences. They also love to look at things that they might not experience everyday. Based on this premise, I’ve tried to fill all of my modelling with physical objects and concrete examples.

4. My Exercise Book

This sounds like such a silly piece of modelling kit but in my classroom it’s worked wonders over the past two years. I have a literal Maths, English and Science exercise book with my name on the front. Whenever I model anything written under the visualiser, I do it in the book that is needed for that lesson.

This has worked for three reasons

  1. It has a novelty factor: pupils like the fact that the teacher has an exercise book (at least mine do). Combined with this, there is a lot of implicit modelling. It says to your pupils – “when I am showing you how to do something, I don’t just do it on a scrap of paper, I actually do it in a real exercise book because I’m the chief learner who still practices and uses things like this.” I realised how important this was when one of my pupils noticed I was modelling on a piece of paper as I wanted to show them something quickly and they said, “sir, where’s your exercise book?”
  2. It means that you can model presentation and processes exactly as your pupils will do it in their books. This for me has been the most important thing when modelling. I show them how I write the date beautifully, write the WALT perfectly and do whatever presentation thing I need them to do and then I start whatever task I’m doing. For me, it’s added depth to what I model and implies that I care deeply about their presentation and what they do in their workbooks.
  3. When doing worked examples in Maths, it has helped my pupils to see exactly how they present their work and follow each and every step. Initially, some thought they were copying me. They have quickly realised that they are taking down ‘what really good learning’ looks like in that lesson. At this point, they also don’t have to put their hand up and ask me what to do or how to solve something, since they have a perfect model already in their book that they’ve watched me do. It saves any confusion about how to present work or where to put things on the page.

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