Friday Mindset #117

Helping students get better at studenting

Happy Friday!

Surely one of the finest Fridays of the year is happening right now. To some of us, that is.

But us? We’re cracking on until next Thursday before we break up, like many Manchester schools. OK, so this will be the last newsletter for this term - our next issue will be with you on Friday April 19th.

In the meantime, if you’ve on the cusp of seventeen days off, stick with us for just a few more minutes. There’s some good stuff here - let’s dive in…

Something to try...

Scott Young’s podcast has been interesting us recently. Young is the author of Ultralearning (got it, read it, gave it away to you lot.) Young’s podcast has the simplest of all formats - he talks on a particular topic into a microphone for eight-to-ten minutes, then uploads it. No gimmicks, no jingles, no annoying adverts for mattresses.

This episode is called 5 Ways to Make Studying Fun, and is way more impressive this the usual clickbait listicle you might get with a title like this. There’s lots in here. Young talks about level of challenge, flashcard testing, environment design, rewards, and ‘increasing meaning’; ie. understanding your why.

Well worth cueing up with a tutor group, asking groups to take notes with a focus on each element. He goes fast - there’s lots in here. You might need to listen twice!

Something we're reading...

We were attending an online session delivered by the peerless Ewan Mackintosh during which he mentioned a paper published by Education Scotland entitled How Good is Our School?

It was the questions the paper asks of its readers that Ewan was particularly interested in foregrounding.

You’ll find them from page 12 onwards, on the right-hand side of each page, labelled ‘challenge questions.’ Regular readers will know how much we love a good question. (Looking back over past issues, you’ll see we’ve used this section of the newsletter to recommended Warren Berger’s work, particularly the wonderful Book of Beautiful Questions.)

The questions in this paper are great too; probing, thought-provoking, challenging. They’d work well, carefully filleted, as a stimulus for a team discussion, a departmental session, an end-of-year review, or just a private reflection.

If you’ve only got a moment to dip in, here are some places to go:

  • Leadership of change is on page 14

  • Teaching and learning on page 20

  • Student support on page 21

Portal Talk...

The rain temporarily stopped last week and I actually sat outside in sunshine. I still had my big coat on mind, but those first, weak rays of sunshine, led my mind to wander and start imagining the summer term. The sound of children playing outside, grass being cut, sports days, ice cream… (I know, I know, the reality is actually very different; water fights and chronic hayfever, but let me dream.)

Inspired, I’ve decided to share one of the activity decks from the new Mindset book, which Martin and Steve shamelessly plug below. The activity, “Sweet & Sour Summers” and was created by Zoe Tromans, from King Edward VI, School for Girls, Birmingham. Zoe has been working with us to translate some of the new activities into resource slide decks, I think you’ll agree she’s done a fantastic job!

This is a VISION activity to encourage students to be more ambitious about the types of summer work experiences they take on. Recommended for Year 10, 11 or 12 Students to think about reaching out to employers for the upcoming summer - if it ever arrives…

Finally, our revision App has been used by hundreds more students this week. Last week I promised a QR code, so here it is….


Our latest offer...

Listen. We’re excited about The VESPA Handbook and we want you to enjoy it too. Yeah, we know, not exactly an offer is it? The opposite actually. Going on for twenty quid of your hard-earned cash is on the line…

Anyway. 40 brand-new activities, advice on delivery, suggested week-by-week curricula, and 100 study-related behaviours for coaching… there’s a lot in this one. We’d absolutely love it if you’d consider pre-ordering below. (You supporting us means we can continue this work!) Click the picture…

Heartfelt thanks, folks. We appreciate it!

Have a great Easter.

All the best to you and yours,

Martin, Steve and Tony


An activity for after the holidays!

The post-Easter half term, particularly with exam classes or tutorial groups in 11, 12 and 13, is the perfect time for a thirty-day challenge. Make it study related, join in, and use this clip to get students thinking about it…