Academic Research Diary- Extended Study

Crew Mandela have a new protocol for Academic Crew!

All students have their own Academic Research book, each wee a topic will be selected by a crew member for students to take home and lead their own learning on extended study tasks set by crew.

This week I chose the first topic and this was based around the STEAM expedition ‘Is knowledge power?’ and static electricity!

The research books have been taken by all members of crew and will form our academic check in on Tuesday. Raven was particularly excited about leading his own research into how lighting can strike in the same place twice and how electrical storms form.

Crew Finch are HOWL-ing!

You may remember that Crew Finch pledged to work cooperatively to improve their HOWL grades, after the last data drop saw them at the bottom of the school league table (more in this blog post.) . Well, it’s data drop time again and I look forward to seeing how my Crew have done with their academic HOWLs, which are set by their subject teachers.

As Crew Leader, I have the job of assessing them on their Crew HOWLs and – as we’re all in this together – I wanted to see if Crew agreed with my gradings.  I gave Crew the opportunity to give their opinions on what each person should be graded, based on what they specifically bring to Crew, including:

  • Do they participate fully and mindfully in all Crew activities and discussions?
  • Do they arrive to Crew on time, with all the right equipment for the day?
  • Do they show empathy and compassion to their fellow Crew members?

I was quite reassured to hear that the grades they would award to one another more or less matched the ones I had already given them.  It was lovely to hear them talk about how they thought individual Crew members had improved, and advise on how they could continue to do so.

Whatever results we get, we will continue to focus on both academic improvement and personal growth, because this is what Crew does best: we encourage each other to become better versions of ourselves 🙂

Shackleton Lost At Sea

It’s been a brilliant half term for Crew Shackleton, but I think it’s fair to say, if you’re lost at sea with anyone from this crew, you’re in trouble.

Considering we’re named after a famous ocean explorer, we’ve got a bit of work to do.

That is according to the Lost at Sea activity we did this week where each person was given a list of 15 items they were able to salvage from a sinking ship. Items were ordered 1-15 in terms of their importance.

Once this was done individually, we worked in groups of 3-4 to decide on the best order using teamwork skills, communication and problem solving, with clear expectations about what this mean before the session started.

Our results were then compared to a panel of survival experts’ rankings to reveal how likely we were to survive.

Thankfully, most students would have survive. But only just.

And as for April and Faith…I think they’re still bobbing around in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere!

The point, however, was working as a group to solve a problem. Some of our strengths were:

  • encouraging each other to contribute asking questions;
  • being respectful with each others’ ideas;
  • having some controlled fun;
  • Excellent time-keeping – everyone finished on-time.

Well done Crew Shackleton. A really enjoyable activity.

A big shout out to Faith and Lilly who circulated to help people with their maths when calculating their scores, and Nikodem who took it upon himself to help another crew member correct their mistakes.

And, Crew Shackleton, I agree. I don’t care whether it’s top of the list or not, Shark repellent is coming with me!

Crew Finch become Yogis!

During this last week of term, Year 8 students have been busy preparing for and delivering their STEAM Presentation of Learning, as well as going on fieldwork to Leeds University where they attended seminars and presented to medical students there.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we don’t wind down at the end of term, we wind up!

However, we took the opportunity in Crew to explore ways in which we could ‘wind down’ a little bit by having a yoga session.  We began with a discussion about why yoga is beneficial.  We are quite a sporty crew – we are a mix of runners, dancers, footballers, MMA fighters, rugby and basketball players! – so we all appreciate the physical benefits of stretching, strengthening and improving our flexibility. However, yoga also helps us to improve our focus and to persevere, as well as encouraging us to practice compassion to others and to ourselves.

We worked through a simple Sun Salutation flow (with a cheeky Warrior pose thrown in for those who wanted a bit more of a challenge!) ending with a 5 minute guided relaxation. We then circled up and discussed how yoga had made us feel.  The boys especially enjoyed it, with Thomas and Mackenzie both commenting that yoga was actually a lot harder than they thought it would be (the grunts and moans I heard from them whilst getting into poses confirmed this!) Aden particularly enjoyed the relaxation at the end, saying that he loved the bit where he was instructed to breathe in peace and relaxation, and breathe out anything that was bothering him. He felt “hypnotised” by the end of it.

We will be doing more yoga and mindfulness activities next term, and I’ve already had a request to do a Warrior sequence – seems to be a favourite pose!


Go, Crew Churchill!

It’s been a great week in Crew Churchill!

After our weekend and HoWLs check-in on Monday morning and an excellent day at Leeds University on Wednesday for fieldwork, we have had two excellent crew sessions led by us!

On Tuesday, Tyler and Alyssa led a session based on our HoWL ‘Work Hard’ and encouraged everyone to participate and take part in a game of dodgeball. Before playing, we circled up and they led a crew discussion about how working hard as a team can help everyone succeed.

Take a look at our dodgeball skills!

Today, our crew session was led by Theone, Aran and Ruby and they had planned their session around another of our HoWLs, ‘Be Kind’. Working in pairs, we had to work our way across an obstacle course. To make things even more tricky, the crew member who was moving across the course had to be blindfolded!

We had to work with each other, taking note of our partner’s instructions as they guided us along. It was great fun, particularly hoolahooping wearing a blindfold!

Crew Parkinson’s Academic Crew

This week we had an academic check in during Crew. The focus was to self reflect on the Habits of Work and Learning (HOWLs) which are Work Hard, Get Smart and Be Kind.

We discussed the behaviour and conduct that needs to be shown in order to meet the HOWLs to a high level. Each student graded themselves on how well they think they meet the HOWLs using a rubric. We discussed the importance of being able to self evaluate and reflect on your own conduct in order to identify strengths and areas to improve on. Each crew member then shared with crew what their reflections were and identified the HOWL that they most need to work on and set themselves a target for this – we’ll check in on this next week!

What can I do this week to be kind to my future self?

Last week, Crew Turing’s guiding question was ‘What can I do this week to be kind to my future self?’

We often reference acts that support other members of our school’s community when we discuss my personal favourite of all the HOWLs, ‘being kind’, but this week we flipped it on its head a little and thought about being kind to ourselves. This week has been strange in that many of Crew Turing’s siblings and friends have been gearing up for half term, but as others are winding down for a week off, we’ll be winding up! I thought that it was important that we focused on wellbeing and making sure we ended this term on a high, after such a brilliant start to the new year.

When introduced to the guiding question, we popcorned some ideas of how we can be kind to ourselves. Keeping on top of organisation, such as extended study and school work was a recurring theme.

Sami was able to lead the way with this as he had spent the weekend creating this incredible model of the Finch household from To Kill a Mockingbird, that wasn’t due until the following Friday. Sami shared that he’d got this done in a timely manner so he had more time in the evenings that week. Others shared they would be doing similar by going to extended study after school to get their work out the way earlier in the week so they felt prepared by the end of the week. I’m delighted to share that we had another week of 100% homework hand-ins!

On Tuesday we had a socratic-style crew, where we debated whether all schools in the UK should provide healthy snacks for their students, inspired by current events of the previous week in the news. The debate was extremely fruitful (sorry, I couldn’t resist), there were even policy suggestions put forward by members of Crew Turing. Dylan and Callum devised a suggestion where rewards were given to those who opted for healthy snacks that week. At the end of the discussion, we reflected back on ‘being kind to ourselves’ and how our eating habits and hydration levels affected our mood and performance in school.

On Thursday, we split crew in two and circled up for a basketball competition! It definitely got our blood pumping and woke us up a little. Reece and others commented in debrief that it was a really nice way to start the day because he felt that he was able to burn off some of the excited energy that can be distracting later in the day. We circled up to reflect on how well both teams had done due to their familiarity with one another, and how this had improved communication during the games.

Finally, on both Tuesday and Friday, we did some AR and spoke a lot about progress with our books and even made an addition to our crew wall. We now have a reading chart up, with 100 spaces waiting to be filled by Crew Turing’s book recommendations. Our goal was to read 100 books by summer time, and also aim to read for half an hour before bed to wind down for a good night’s rest – another act of kindness that we have discussed. Tomorrow we’ll be starting to populate the chart with our reviews during crew time. I look forward to curating something that other members of XP East who pass through my classroom might feel inspired by!

Dylan Takes Crew Parkinson to Mount Olympus!

This week, Dylan ran a crew session on the Greek Gods, he wanted to share his passion with the rest of the Crew and I love hearing about crew’s interests! He explained to Crew about the Greek Gods and Mount Olympus, giving each crew member a God/Goddess to be. Once Crew had understood their character there was an activity where each Crew member had to design a palace for their god/goddess based on the qualities of the character. A game of pictionary was then played, where crew had to guess which god/goddess the palace belonged to based on the features of the drawing.

Dylan articulated his information about the Greek gods very well and he clearly put in a huge amount of effort in preparing for this session. He built upon his already existing communication, organisation and leadership skills to create a fantastic crew session enjoyed by all – a massive appreciation to Dylan!

Whole Lotta Love for Crew Finch!

In a nod to Valentine’s Day, we have spent the week sharing some love!

On Monday, we had a “speed dating session” to find out more about each other.  Crew were set the challenge to find out more about each other in 45 second intervals, including what their favourite book was, what they were most proud of, and what advice they would give to someone to make them feel happier, reporting back to us all at the end of the session.

On Tuesday, we had a bit of a “self love” session, so we all had to think about what made us unique and special.  We’ve created a lovely display of peacocks, and I hope Crew will refer back to these when they feel like they need a bit of a confidence boost.

Thursday was all about sharing the love, so we made these little appreciation cards to hand out to friends or family.  I was particularly touched to receive my own little Valentine’s Day gift and message from Crew – they know the way to my heart is *always* through chocolate!

What a lovely way to spend the week, but we need to remember that showing appreciation to others and being kind to other people (and ourselves!) is not just for Valentine’s Day – it’s for life!

Much love from Crew Finch x

Crew Young lead learning!

This week crew Young visited Crew Mandela to deliver a session on the method of loci. The method of loci (loci being Latin for “places”) is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualisations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one’s environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. The method of loci is also known as the memory journey, memory palace, or mind palace technique. Crew Mandela found the method extremely useful and all students improved their memory of a single list of words!