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Year 8 'no pens day'

Students improve their oracy skills on a special day that promotes both verbal communication and active listening.

On Monday, Year 8s had an unusual day at school. To promote the importance of Oracy (the ability to speak clearly, confidently, and correctly and to listen intently) Year 8s attended their regular lessons but were not permitted to write anything. This day - No Pens Day - shows our students that effective learning can take place without having to write; throughout the day teachers delivered lessons full of learning with the onus on students speaking and listening. This gave the students the perfect opportunity to use the skills they were taught the previous week on the Talk-the-Talk Oracy Day.

I hope the accounts written by some of the students involved, and photos below, give a sense of what a wonderful day it was. The students threw themselves into it and their teachers ensured that the quality of learning was as exceptionally high, as it always is. Well done to everyone involved!

Ellie Moore, 8A

For our first lesson of the day, English, we were put into groups and asked whether we agreed or disagreed with a particular statement. We presented at the front of the class, which developed oracy skills and confidence. Next was Geography and we argued in a class debate on whether we should save the oceans from plastic now or leave it to future generations. Everyone took part and this activity was very fun. In our French lesson, we debated which educational system was the best: the English or the French. As well as this, we learnt new vocabulary and completed small activities with our partners. In Science, we performed group presentations on a given topic, for example, my group discussed erosion. Everyone contributed and took part in these. PSHE was the last lesson of the day and here we learnt about online dangers and how to stay safe on social media. We did lots of talking and listening to each other. No Pens Day definitely built my confidence with public speaking, and it was really fun. It was such a joyful day.

Amelia Giblin & Bella Hill, 8D

Throughout No Pens Day we took part in many different lessons with oracy as a focus. All of the different activities gave us chance to improve our oracy, thinking about how we could learn without producing written work, and communicate effectively with each other. We developed strong arguments within debates and worked on listening skills, using a placeholder to do so. We will be able to use these skills in our future learning, when giving constructive feedback and improving our confidence in speaking. We also thought about how these skills will be helpful to communicate effectively in our future workplaces. It was great not to have to write anything down and become more involved in our learning, having the opportunity to develop our debating skills, and not to forget having lighter bags without our pencil cases!

Otto Forkin, 8G

The most fun lesson of the day was Design Engineering, as it was so practical and involved lots of testing and experimenting. We had to work together, communicating as a team. This meant we were exposed to stressful environments while still having to maintain a strong clear voice to manage and direct the rest of your team. This was why the lesson was so much fun. Another good lesson was Science. We learnt about different types of waves (x-rays, microwaves, infrared light waves etc). We were then asked to present, in groups, our findings to the rest of the class. This was a great way to learn and develop oracy skills at the same time. I was actually quite nervous before presenting as Physics isn’t one of my best subjects but I felt comfortable in the environment. I really enjoy speaking in front of others so the fact that I had to overcome nerves was a great challenge and further boosted my confidence when I overcame it.

All in all, the No Pens Day was a great success and taught me lots about public speaking. Particularly the fact that everyone has very different styles of public speaking but no matter how you do it, it’s important to seem confident and keep the audience engaged. I know that this day really taught my friends and me how public speaking is helpful and can be used in life.