School starts on Tuesday 27th August where we will be embarking on a week of crew.

Throughout the week students are required to be at school at normal time (8:30am) but finish times will be slightly different depending on the schedule for the day. Students will require a pen, pencil and ruler this week and a kit list has been sent out for Wednesday and Thursday.

The week’s schedule will be as follows:

Tuesday – In school with a normal finish time of 3:15. There is no extended study in school this week.

Wednesday – Out of school on crew activities so students will need a backpack with a packed lunch, a bottle of water, hiking boots and waterproofs.  Please check the kit list for further details of the required clothing.  Please can students come to school in trainers, not their walking boots.  We are expected to be back at school for around 5pm.

Thursday – Out of school on crew activities so students will need a backpack with a packed lunch, a bottle of water, hiking boots and waterproofs. Please check the kit list for further details of the required clothing.  Please can students come to school in trainers with their walking boots in their bag. We are expected to be back at school for around 5pm. 

Friday – Students will be in school all day. Their week will be completed with a Presentation of Learning commencing at 2:15pm which parents are invited to attend and support students as they answer their Guiding Question.

Please refer to these important docs and ensure you and your child are familiar with them.

Yesterday during community meeting Mrs Poncia asked X25 about their highlight of the week, and I amongst other members of my crew struggled to pick! We have just six weeks left of this academic year, it is wild to think how quickly my crew’s first year at high school has passed and how much we’ve crammed into 2018-2019.

Both staff and students are winding up to the grand finale of the STEAM and Human expeditions, where they will be working on final products and preparing to share their learning in a presentation of learning. In STEAM, they are continuing on with ‘Escape Earth’ and yesterday their new Human expedition was announced.

On Tuesday X25 visited the Jodrell Bank Space Observatory, which is home to the UK’s largest radio telescope and the 3rd largest in Europe! Each student was immersed in workshops and classes that allowed them to discover elements of our universe, experience Newton’s Laws, and watch real accounts of the astronauts that visit the Space Station. I’ve uploaded the video file above, check out the incredible resources and facilities that we had access to!

We will be taking the lessons we learned from the specialists back into school to help answer the expeditions guiding question:

“Should humans leave Earth?”

With growing reports of the danger that climate change poses, and the scientific advancements in the technology that could allow us to potentially re-locate our species to another planet, X25 will be concluding what they think the future for our species and our home will be. I can’t wait to hear their responses.

I chose the backing track for the video from an album I really love by a band called Public Service Broadcasting, I was struck by this line that was originally part of a JFK speech from 1962:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things
Not because they are easy, but because they are hard”

I’m taking this particular message back to crew this week. We will be encountering difficulty over the next six weeks with deadlines. We will be setting up Student Led Conferences over the coming weeks, to reflect on and review this years work. We will be finalising products and developing our presentations of learning. It may be the last few weeks, but as per every other day we spend at XP East, I hope that each of my 12 crew members recognises that despite this work being hard, it is also extremely important, and that working hard, getting smart and being kind is fundamental if we are to achieve.

Keeping our eyes on the prize

This week in Crew Turing, we have been building on the data analysis that we completed last week during crew. I asked that each member of my crew come up with 2 specific action points to work on between now and the next data drop, so we can work on our weaknesses and improve our standing in the crew league tables.

I have loved how well considered these targets have been. Each member of my crew have really honed in on what aspects of their school life they need to work on, be it through their grades or their HoWLs. Here are a few examples:

Ralph:

My actions points are keeping up productivity in lesson and keeping my extended study organised, I can use my fries post-it notes to remind me what deadlines or if I need to remember my kit the following day. I also need to remember to bring a ruler and pencil to class, because I always forget these 2 pieces of equipment.

Callum:

My action points are to let people talk in crew and don’t talk over them because in my data drop 2 my be kind in crew is a 2.8 and a 3.8 in the previous one.

My other action points is working hard in science because in November it was a 4.0, but now it is a 3.6 and I think I could use the explore further section of the website to push for excellence.

Lexi

My science grade went down by 0.5 and that could be because my homework wasn’t in on time and I wasn’t paying enough attention because I drift of a lot,  so my target is to stay on task and be tuned in. I will do this by trying to contribute at least twice, by either asking a question or answering one.

Lewis

In maths my action points are to work harder on be kind as my grade decreased. I will do this by working well in collaborative groups and staying focussed. I will also try to be more active in leston and try not to drift off. I will also work harder on my WH average and GS average as they stayed the same I will improve these by:

  • Contributing more in lesson even if I don’t think my answer is correct
  • Stay more focused on my work
  • Putting extra effort into my hegarty to consistently get 100%

Alice

My HUMs grade has gone up 0.7 but i’m slightly off my MEG by 0.1 To improve my grade in HUMs to achieve my MEG I will be more productive in lessons and use the expedition website more often to further my understanding of the topics we study.

I will be doing fortnightly check-ins with crew to make sure they are showing integrity and working hard to achieve the targets I have set them. I hope that as a group, we can all maintain that level of crew accountability and make each other proud by fine tuning and ironing out those targets.

During another crew session we were inspired by the words of Greta Thunberg, and her impassioned TED talk on climate change. I felt this was a really good example of a WAGOLL of their HUMAN final product and also was an issue that my crew are really passionate about.

It moved us on to a really interesting discussion about why nothing (or not enough) was being done about climate change?

In previous weeks in the news, Lexi pointed out that billions had been raised in the space of a week for Notre Dame Cathedral, yet the destruction of our planet was not attracting any attention despite calls from climate scientists and experts on the issue. Dylan built on this, pointing out how many of the victims of Grenfell are still homeless, where are the millions being raised for them and other victims of tragedy? We’re going to follow the climate stories over the next few weeks and also address what we might be able to do as a crew to contribute our bit, however small, to protecting our planet.

These last two weeks have also seen the birthdays of three members of Crew Turing: Lexi, Alice and Torran! We ended the week on a fully deserved high – eating cake!

Decipher the Data Drop

I have been immensely impressed with my crew’s contribution to our school’s community during the week running up to the Easter bank holiday, considering lots of their friends and family are off! Here’s a snapshot of what’s gone on in crew over that period:

Abi brought in a phenomenal model of our solar system in to show us, that links in really nicely with the STEAM expedition, Escape Earth. Her craftsmanship and quality really blew me away, it’s great to see her going above and beyond to set an example of what a 4.0+ (in the excellence category) looks like! As part of our academic crew session and assessment prep for maths, we did a Kahoot competition, where quickfire questions were presented to crew as a race against the clock. They clearly knew their stuff, and I’d like to congratulate Jess for coming first in both rounds! On Thursday, we enjoyed a table tennis tournament with Crew Mandela. It was lovely to get appreciations from members of their crew at the end of the session on how respectful Crew Turing had been throughout.

I was also treated to many a culinary delights from numerous members of my crew, with Torran and Junia’s blueberry pancakes being very memorable.

The final activity we participated in as a crew before breaking up for almost a week off was an individual breakdown of their personal data. We spent a lot of time last week looking at our stats as a crew, but I thought it would be more meaningful if we assessed our progress against our HOWLs data from November to see if there had been gains or losses, and explore why that might be:

I gave them the following criteria for them to colour code their HOWLs, on whether they had gone up/down.

HOWL Progress Colour Codes:

  • – 1.0 or more = red
  • – 0.9 to – 0.5 = orange
  • – 0.4 to – 0.1 = yellow
  • stayed the same = no colour
  • + 0.1 to 0.4 = green
  • + 0.5 to 0.9 = blue
  • + 1.0 or above = purple

These codes match the criteria of how we colour code our spreadsheets and the charts we keep up across the school, to make it meaningful to my crew. We did this as a silent solo activity, some students noticed patterns and were able to decipher why their ‘work hard’ might have gone down ever so slightly, be it, they were contributing less in class, or maybe hadn’t been as diligent with their homework. There was also a lot of positives to take away from their stats too, such as Dylan’s, who had made huge progress in HUMAN after improving his productivity and concentration in session!

Each member of my crew annotated their thoughts on why they had been awarded the HoWLs they had received, while I floated around to discuss their progress individually. I was amazed to hear their thoughts about their learning and character development, and thought that we should seize this opportunity to set some further targets based on our findings.

I’ve left them with the task of over these next three days we have in crew, to set individualised targets which I will publish with next week’s blog post based on their data. Not only were they left with that to think about for extended study, they have also been sent home with these gorgeous easter bunnies that were kindly given to each member of crew by Torran, which he had handmade – what a great way to end the week!

#Winning!

I’ve really struggled deciding what makes the cut in terms of our crew blog after a week of highlights during crew and in session. After all the banter between Callum and Torran, I’d be doing them a disservice not to congratulate Torran and his team for winning the league! I was also delighted to hear that Lexi had achieved her goal of performing her back flip during her floor routine! I love starting the week celebrating our crew’s successes, and luckily for me, there have been many causes for celebration this week!

A definite highlight was the wonderful presentation of learning from C25’s STEAM expedition. I was blown away by my crew member’s hard work, and how they articulated their learning to me as I passed through the lab. It is wonderful to see them stepping up to the challenge, answering tricky questions and doing so in a really mature and professional manner.

This week, we have been analyzing the data of our subject grades and HOWLs. I was worried that the last data set for my crew had been so high we would struggle to top it, but it seems that we haven’t lost momentum. We are top of the leaderboard across all year groups for the be kind and work hard HOWLS, which is wonderful news. For get smart however, we’re in 3rd place (bearing in mind that we have had to compare digits in the hundredths in order for us to calculate the year 7 average)! It really got me thinking about how we can support one another in getting smarter.

Those three criteria have been the focus for our learning, and will be until the next data drop. I decided to set a little extra extended study last weekend, to get my crew to go above and beyond, and do some ‘explore further’ work that was related to their expedition but not something they had necessarily learned about in lesson, as a way of my crew taking responsibility for their learning. I encouraged them to use their expedition sites that have been set up by their teachers to support them with this. They were then asked to feedback to us in the form of a mini masterclass. Here’s some of their findings:

Lexi, Charlotte, Abi, Callum and Sami did some research into slavery in America, looking into Harriet Jacob’s account of her experience as a slave in the 1800s and famous slave traders. It was fascinating to hear her account and how she’d escaped the deep south and wrote a book detailing her mistreatment. Alice expanded our spanish vocabulary with some mythical creatures she had been researching that weekend – I am determined to somehow drop ‘unicorn/llama’ into conversation on my next trip to Spain!

Reece took us through the specialised cells in the body, and ran an activity where each pair had to identify and act as those cells in accordance to their roles. Lewis and Dylan had prepared fantastic slides on the anatomy of the digestive system and the role various organs had to play in processing food. Torran did a brilliant interactive maths recap of conversion, which included mini-whiteboard questions, and Dylan even printed a questionnaire for us to complete at the end of his session!

I’m sending my crew home with another small and optional piece of extended learning tonight, to try a little digital detoxing this weekend. I want them to try and spend a little bit of additional time that they may spend on devices doing some reading, some ‘explore further’ work, cooking or getting out now the weather is nicer! We’re going to debrief on Monday to see how it goes, myself included!

 

How do we best learn?

It’s safe to say that Crew Turing had all missed one another after enjoying a restful couple of weeks off! We started the week with pancakes, after I promised we’d make them on pancake day, having failed to realise we weren’t in school. As per usual, everyone pitched in with preparing and de-gungeing, and were ready to hit the ground running in session 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A significant deadline that we decided to dedicate time to last week was the STEAM assessment. We used Tuesday’s crew to revise some of the content that would appear on the assessment. I was delighted to see so many members of my crew had already made great progress with this, and they had been working at home and in extended study by using the expedition site and all the other amazing resources Mrs Townsend had provided. However, revision is one of those often difficult tasks to execute well, so I decided to direct my crew to look into how we learned. During the session on Tuesday, we examined the following:

Now, I am not suggesting this pyramid and the percentages it is suggesting are totally accurate, however, it was a great way of getting crew to think about how they learned best. We were particularly interested in being able to retain knowledge and be able to recall it. What we see above rang true to crew members, we are more likely to remember something if we have been participating in the learning, and if we can teach someone else, then we have definitely learned it!

It was fantastic to see Reece putting this into practice by drawing specialised cells on mini-whiteboards for others to identify during extended study on Wednesday night. I advised all my crew that as long as you remain on-task, revising with someone else can really improve retention.

I set my crew the challenge of going away and doing some ‘explore further’ work that they need to prepare and share with crew this week. The topic is chosen by them, and I’ve advised they use the expedition sites to help them decide if they are unsure on what they would like to research. They are to prepare a no more than 5 minute master class for crew on what they have learned, which should not be something they have already done in class, but related to what they have been doing. I’ve had some amazing suggestions for topics so far – Alice is building her spanish vocabulary and Callum and Charlotte are researching case studies of slave traders. I can’t wait to hear what they have to share!

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!

Crew Turing have caught the baking bug!

This past week has been really crucial in Crew Turing’s academic development. Each member of my crew was really determined to do well in their upcoming assessments, particularly the spanish writing task that they all had to complete.

We decided to dedicate a couple of crew sessions to revision and preparation. We followed normal crew protocols, doing count up, sorting lunches, greeting each other, but with a slight twist. We did almost the entire check-in in spanish! Crew members then paired up to work on their revision or practice together, which was really well focused and so helpful that we decided to dedicate another crew session to this.

Another highlight of our crew sessions has been all the baked delights my crew members have bought in. Over the week, more and more members of my crew have surprised us with their delicious cookies, cakes and sweet treats – Alice’s chocolate orange cake was to die for! I put on an after school session where we did a bit of a crew bake-off so that we could maximise donations to Cery’s charity bake sale. I set them the challenge of going away, pairing up, picking a recipe and organising ingredients without my input. I’d like to thank parents again for supplying ingredients for that and allowing them to stay, we had a blast, and amazingly, were baked and de-gunged in just 1 hour!

This week, I’m hoping to capture the same crew spirit of bake-off in some reflections of how this week’s assessments have gone. While it’s great to give to charities and bake, it would be great to refocus on how we can make a more optimum use of our time outside of school in preparing for assessments. We had conversations about this on Tuesday, where most crew members admitted that they had not done quite as much extended study as they would have liked to feel confident in their performance. I’ve seen some magnificent ‘Explore Further’ work from other crews, and I’d love to see members of Crew Turing engaging with some of the great stuff that is on offer on their expedition sites. With three weeks to go until half term, this is the perfect time to look at how we can ‘wind-up’ as we put it here at XP East.

Yogi Crew

Last week Crew Turing have had their first student-led crew session, courtesy of Alice and Abi. The girls led a yoga demo, where they released muscle tension and practiced relaxation and enjoyed the scent of tea tree oil. Afterward, we circled up and discussed how we felt before and after doing a bit of yoga. Most people were feeling calmer and more ready for the day which was good to hear! We’re going to try and make it a monthly crew activity, because while it’s important to push yourself in school, it’s also equally important that we have those chances to wind down every once in a while. Particularly when we’d had a couple of difficult conversations regarding conduct, allowing ourselves the time for clarity and reflection was really helpful moving forward into this week.

Another crew activity that has been cherished from crew members is our quiet AR comfy reading sessions. Each member of crew has a habit of finding a little nook in my classroom to get engrossed in their books. As mentioned before, this is a great way to get smart, but it’s also chance to get a lost in a good book! I’ve set a 100 book challenge by summer, that we have to reach collectively – myself included. I want to hear less about fortnite during check-in and more about how much my crew enjoyed something they read at the weekend!

This week, we’ve got a session planned out by Torran, he’s putting on an Active Crew where we’ll be getting a badminton masterclass. C25 have a spanish assessment coming up on Friday too, so we’ll also be putting on a Crew Español to support their preparation for that. I’ve also had requests for art-based crew sessions, a competitive crew session against another crew, so watch this space!

How are Crew Turing getting smarter?

Crew Turing have focused this week on one particular HOWL- getting smart. We agreed that this was the most difficult HOWL to discuss, because some crew members saw this as a product of working hard. We thought about how we could go above and beyond as a crew to work on this, here are some of our ideas:

One focus that we’ve touched on quite a bit as a crew is how reading can positively impact our lives, making us smarter in the process. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s studies on the impact of education and reading shows that teenagers with a reading habit are more likely to get the top grades in GCSE exams. It has shown to improve vocabulary, spelling, and increase creativity in students. We spent a whole crew session recently making book recommendations, discussing our favourite books, and it was lovely to see how passionate everyone got about literature!

What really struck me was a genuine love for reading from each member of my crew. Mr Ryder covered my crew session on Tuesday during their accelerated reader session and he even felt that they were worthy of an entry on the praise form for being so engrossed in their books! While the research on reading and grades is a legitimate reason for me to promote it in crew, I’d hate to think that was the only reason we bothered reading. It does make us smart, but it is able to do so much more than that! A good book is a window into another world, it allows us to empathise and understand experiences that are beyond our own. I think the Harper Lee quote above summarises how transformational reading can be in terms of developing free thought. I can’t wait to do our next accelerated reader crew.

Another feature we’ve been looking at in crew to help us get smarter is having a bit of a handle on what’s going on in the news. This week has been monumental in our country’s history and whenever Brexit has been brought up in crew, there have been some really interesting insights on the matter. I left them with the following question, which again, Mr Ryder led on as I was out on training:

I was delighted to hear my crew had spent a whole 40 minutes deeply discussing issues such as the voting age, Brexit, what they thought about our leaders, and who deserved to have a say in such matters. Apparently there is consensus that the voting age needs lowering so that their voices can be heard. We’ll definitely be taking another look at major news stories next week and how they may affect us!