Eight talented teachers have been awarded a share of over £100,000 to help bring their project ideas to fruition, after winning a prestigious education award.
Let Teachers SHINE, which is run annually by the education charity SHINE, supports great teachers by helping them develop new innovations in the classroom.
Winners receive grants of up to £25,000 for pilot projects designed to help disadvantaged children in the North thrive in school.
In addition to funding, SHINE offers all winners free access to a wide range of development workshops and coaching opportunities – helping teachers get the most out of their ideas.
This year’s winning projects span math, science and English.
Rachael Chong – Feed Forward
Rachael Chong, a maths teacher at Greenford High School in London, has been awarded £25,000 to develop an online platform to provide feedback to secondary school pupils.
Rachael believes that by helping teachers provide effective feedback on assessment, her Feed Forward program will boost student achievement, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
She explained: “Feed Forward aims to increase achievement and reduce the disadvantage gap in two ways: first, by diagnosing gaps in student knowledge in a personalized way that encourages essential independent learning, and second , giving their teachers a sustainable way to provide effective feedback.
“Winning Let Teachers SHINE and receiving their support helps me develop this project and share it with other schools. I have so many exciting plans for Feed Forward, and receiving this award opens up so many incredible opportunities for its development – and alongside the hope that it can ultimately benefit more students.
Ebrahim Tafti – Arithmagists
Ebrahim Tafti, a math teacher inspired by the creator of Times Tables Rock Stars, is developing an online program to boost students’ confidence in arithmetic skills.
Arithmagicians is a fun website that features games where students can race against time to mentally answer math questions. As they improve, they gain status – from Rookie to Super Genie.
“Students often use a written strategy to answer questions that can and should be posed mentally. As a result, students do not become comfortable mathematicians,” Ebrahim explained.
At present, Arithmagicians exists only in print format and fifteen schools have signed up to test the program. But with funding from Let Teachers SHINE, Ebrahim plans to develop an online version and hopes to have a basic version tested in schools by this fall.
“I’m really grateful that unique charities like SHINE exist,” said Ebrahim. Otherwise, teachers like me would not have the opportunity to develop their ideas and share them with other colleagues across the country.
Richard Cowie – Reading on Your Head
Richard Cowie, a primary school teacher from Doncaster, is developing an innovative quiz website aimed at getting children to read more at home.
Richard, who teaches Year 6 at Lakeside Primary Academy, has spent the past five years developing Reading on Your Head with his friend John Applin.
Now, after winning Let Teachers SHINE, Richard can take his idea to the next level.
“I am an avid reader myself and have always believed in the power of reading as a tool to elevate students’ potential and enable them to perform at their best,” said Richard. He believes his site will “make reading more fun.”
“Kids can make their own quizzes, they can share them with their friends, they have their own avatars, they can collect rewards. There are game features and kids can compete in reading – much like Times Tables Rockstars. What this platform does for times tables, we aim to do the same for reading. »
Sarah Eggington – STEM Busy Bags
Sarah Eggington, a teacher from Scunthorpe hopes her project will improve young children’s language and communication skills while instilling in them a love of science.
The early years teacher explained: “What we have noticed, since the pandemic, a lot of children were coming in with significant communication and language issues. We wanted to try to improve that by encouraging time spent with parents, reading with them and doing activities.
“The idea is to make a bag full of activities around a scientific subject. These bags will go home for a few weeks and the children will do activities with their parents who will be invited to send photos. At school, they will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge at home.
“Children in early childhood are so naturally curious about absolutely anything. You can bring science anywhere. They always have questions, so it encourages that language and communication. It’s a fantastic subject for that. .
Vacaas Zaman – STEM buggy project
Vacaas Zaman, a science teacher at Stephen Longfellow Academy in Leeds, hopes his buggy building project will engage science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students.
The academy is an alternative offer, which means that it welcomes vulnerable children and young people who cannot access mainstream school for reasons such as school exclusion or behavioral problems. Most of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
As part of the project, students will build a working buggy, while accompanying lessons explain the science behind their work.
“I thought if I could link science to something that [the students] enjoy and help familiarize them with a project, it could be an amazing experience for them and help them re-engage with education.
“These students come from very disadvantaged backgrounds. They are not often pushed to do hobbies or activities or anything extracurricular. The experience of building a working car will be amazing for them.
Rachel Major – STEAM Pathfinders
Rachel Major, from Horbury Academy, Wakefield, hopes her project will bring more young people into science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM).
Rachel’s STEAM Scouts project will target students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the aim of increasing their aspirations and engagement in these subjects, while addressing some of the stereotypes associated with STEAM careers.
The project will also support primary school students preparing to move on to secondary school, introducing them to STEAM in a fun and engaging way, all around an annual theme.
“It’s about creating a STEAM culture in our academy and throughout our community,” Rachel explained. “I hope to inspire students from diverse backgrounds to embark on a career in STEAM after school.”
Jonny Foster – Prodigy
Middlesbrough Secondary School teacher Jonny Foster is developing an idea that will help pupils transfer knowledge and skills between maths and science and make connections between their lessons and the real world.
Although this is a well-known problem, Jonny says there are few to no solutions available to teachers.
“I will be creating animated lessons that students can access online,” Jonny said. “And to keep them engaged, my idea is to create a profile of students’ interests and tastes, and then ask them questions that are relevant to them.”
Jonny also plans to include gameplay elements, allowing students to create an avatar, collect coins, and compete against classmates.
If successful, Jonny thinks Prodigy could be extended to other subjects that share similarities, such as geography and science.
Estelle Bellamy – Bookmarks WIKI
Blackpool English teacher Estelle Bellamy is developing a project that uses printed bookmarks to improve children’s understanding of vocabulary.
The Head of English for the Fylde Coast Academy Trust Group of Schools has designed a series of ‘WIKI’ bookmarks which contain the most common word elements (prefixes, such as ‘semi-‘ and ‘under-‘, suffixes such as “-ish” and “-ness” and roots, including “aqua” and “mega”) to help students decode unfamiliar words.
“Bookmarks train children to decipher the meaning of words by breaking them down, a much more powerful technique than using a dictionary,” explains Estelle.
“The dictionary definition may not make sense to you, whereas if you relate a word to something you already understand, that’s much more helpful.
“The most important thing for our students is to build confidence, self-regulation and metacognition skills. Children, when faced with something they don’t understand, are given a strategy to deal with it.
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