No pens today please students!

October 14, 2015

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October 7th saw our first ‘No Pens Day’ at Hele’s . Far from being a day where ‘we do no work’, as some of our pupils gleefully thought, we decided to have one day where we privileged oral literacy over written. There is a wealth of evidence which shows that if pupils have the opportunity to verbalise their thoughts before writing, their writing and understanding is dramatically improved. It also builds confidence, eloquence and helps pupils to find their voice.

It proved to be an overwhelming success, with staff and students alike! The many and varied ways staff found to teach key concepts was inspirational. From hand-made puppets in languages, to marching around ‘Constantinople’ in history to a liberal application of chocolate to solve maths problems, the whole school was alive with different activities.

Many pupils said they felt they had to concentrate harder because they could not write anything down. Others said how enjoyable and rewarding it had been to be able to look at their learning through a different lens. Our staff were overwhelmingly positive about the experience.

Principal, Justine Mason, was delighted by the energy and creativity demonstrated on the day, by both teachers and students. “The deep learning that was evident across a wide range of curriculum areas was a joy to behold. I’m a great advocate of the power of the spoken word in encouraging learners think for themselves, to listen and respond to others, and to develop their thoughts and ideas to solve problems. You get a real insight of a person’s understanding through listening to dialogue and observing the way they present to others, and of course you can give immediate feedback too.”

Plans are underway for another No Pens Day next year. No doubt, thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of our staff, it will be bigger and noisier and more creative than the last!

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