Welcome to the first of our SAM Schools blog articles, where we speak to our subscribers and find out how they use SAM in their schools.
This time, we speak to Jamie Henderson, the e-Learning Coordinator for Chadwell Heath Academy, who’ve already used SAM Learning for nearly 14,000 hours since August 2015!
Over the last 14 years, SAM learning has been integrated into our school as part of the learning, revision and assessment processes. During each eight week assessment run, years 7, 8 and 9, pupils are required to complete at least four SAM Learning hours in any Activity from the Key Stage 3 category section. With five assessment runs, this equates to a minimum of 20 hours a year, double the number educational charity the Fischer Family Trust research confirmed can lead to significant benefits to GCSE results. However, our pupils engage so readily with the variety of subjects offered and the array of different task formats that the reality is that each pupil averages closer to 40 hours a year.
These figures are not entirely down to the individual pupil’s work ethos alone. SAM Learning has developed SAM World. This virtual world engages pupils in an entirely different way. In Sam World, pupils compete against 10 friends they have selected. They earn points by completing Tasks and “challenging buddies” which allows them to move up a leader board and through SAM worlds many different cities. This really appeals to pupil’s competitive nature and is an excellent addition to the SAM learning platform.
For Key Stage 4 groups we set SAM Learning activities departmentally as part of a school wide program to target C/D borderline pupils. This is done via setting tasks for homework feature. It is incredibly simple to set up, monitor and depending on the Tasks set, is even marked for you. Importantly, this means that teachers can spend more of their time planning and developing further innovative strategies.
Monitoring of individual pupil’s progress through each eight week assessment period is where I come in. It is extremely important that the pupils engage with SAM learning and understand the reasons why they are being asked to do it. I use a three part system of explanation, carrot and stick. During assemblies early in the year, I explain the results from the Fischer Family Trust research and then use Form tutors to reinforce this message during citizenship. Alongside the rewards offered in SAM world, we offer other incentives (“carrots”) like Book tokens for most hours in the year (186 hours completed by last year’s winner) and smaller prizes for most hours for a Form group. The stick side of it is very minor and never affects the vast majority of the pupils in the year. Using the Report feature, I make each individual aware of their current hours. I do this via their Form in registers. They receive a report every 2-3 days in the lead up to an assessment deadline. With the assistance I receive from the Form tutors the number of pupils that don’t reach their target is becoming fewer and fewer (only 8 last module out of the 546 pupils in Years 7-9). Anyone that doesn’t complete their four SAM hours each assessment run does have to come back after school to complete their hours.
By utilising SAM Learning in this manner throughout the school, I believe that it has made a significant contribution to the excellent results our pupil’s receive each and every year.
Do you want to write a short blog about how your school uses SAM Learning? Get in touch today.