With so much data available to teachers in schools, are we actually using it as effectively as we could? Are we being reactive or proactive with data? Are we simply ‘doing’ data or using it to improve the teaching and learning in classrooms? In this INSET, teachers were showcased how to use data effectively in classrooms, how to collate data to improve your teaching, how to review data, how to use key materials like transitions matrices and how to share all of this with students.
Top 6 things to make a successful PPRM:
1. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation:
2. Have data analysed in advance.
3. Come with some discussion points in mind.
4. Come with ideas for reteach/what to do next in mind.
5. Keep focused! Don’t get bogged down with trivial points.
6. Agree concrete, time scaled action points
The work of Carol Dweck focusing on the mindset of students in the classroom is an extremely important area of research. Helping students make the change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset was the topic of discussion of our first afternoon INSET this year. With contributions from John Fenlon, Jennifer Phillips, David Fawcett and our Head Girl Emily Tout, a number of ideas and strategies were shared to help create a Growth Mindset culture.
In this session, Head girl Emily Tout explained why students should be aware of Growth Mindset and explained ways in which teachers could integrate it into classrooms.
In this session, Jennifer Phillips explained how she applies effective classroom strategies to promote independence and Growth Mindset in her classroom. Here are some of the highlights:
Prove to the kids that they can do it; use specific examples whether in the past, verbally or retakes. Don’t just tell them, it is meaningless.
Praise process rather than outcome; they feel like they have achieved and it is the process that gets you there anyway.
Ensure that language is reinforcing the belief that they are in control, rather than being fixed; even when praising, avoid “you are great at that” change to praise specific effort and resilience to model for class and move away from “effort” being a tactful way of saying not good enough.
Always give an opportunity to improve and grow-DIRTY time and retaking assessments. they know clearly what they need to do and can see the effect.
Questions are just as important as answers, it is not always about getting it “right”.
Encourage a personal best and avoid comparing to others as this can dishearten and seem unachievable or lead to coasting
In this session, teacher David Fawcett explains why we shouldn’t just say we ‘do’ Growth Mindset. It’s not about simply having an assembly or displaying a poster on your wall. It is the constant things we do day in day out to promote a Growth Mindset that is important. Here are some of the points raised:
Avoid seeing ‘Growth Mindset’ as the silver bullet of education. Please don’t say you ‘do’ Growth Mindset otherwise it becomes an add on, fad or buzz word. Instead build it as part of your everyday classroom culture.
Set challenge high so that learning is meaningful. Avoid making tasks easier or assigning ‘all/must/some’ objectives as this limits challenge for all.
Model what excellent work looks like so students can aspire to achieve higher standards
Use self-reported grades with students so they begin to set themselves targets and evaluate their progress.
Encourage resilience/responsibility within learning through strategies such as 4B’s and stuck walls. When a student says they ‘Can’t do this…..’, follow up with ‘yet!’.
Use DIRT time and critique so students can see how re-drafting, amendments and acting upon feedback improve work
Use a visualiser or images of students work so the class can collaboratively improve it. Demonstrate how to make work better.
By David Fawcett, PE teacher, for Subject Support
As a teacher, we spend the majority of our time transferring knowledge to students in the hope that it sticks. As we teach new content we do all we can to ensure that students grasp this new information and hopefully learn it. We provide challenge, differentiate where needed, provide feedback to close gaps and question until we finally become confident that students ‘get it’.
Unfortunately there comes a time during assessments and exams where this confidence that they ‘got it’ begins to disappear. On numerous occasions I could have put my money on all the students in my class doing well in a test, only for the answers I mark to be nothing like what I expected. Students who can usually verbalise answers with key terminology and structure suddenly write answers that lack all of this. A* style answers in class become mere waffle or vagueness under exam conditions. What we had hoped and expected, clearly did not end up that way. The biggest surprise comes in the exam follow up. When questioned again in class about their answers, students who had failed to write a coherent answer, suddenly provide exemplary ones when questioned. There seems to be something not quite right going on.
So what is it? Is it the pressure? Is it the exam conditions? Is it the exam? The technique? The use PEED, IDEA or whatever? Did we learn it well enough in lessons? Did I teach it the best I could? Did I ask them the right questions? What was it that students struggle to do in exams that they seem to do well in lessons? Part of the problem may be how they tackle the question. In a lesson we prompt, explain, question and give feedback. We focus on the content and hold out until we get the perfect answer. But do we focus on how to tackle exam questions? I know most teachers do. Many have writing structures or have a focus on command words (and rightly so). But I wonder if we really look at the thinking behind tackling them. Do we go into detail showing them the thought process of answering a question really well?
Following in the footsteps of Ron Berger, sharing excellent examples of work with students is an essential part of the process. Students need to see what is truly meant by ‘high quality’ work. By building up a bank of exemplar material, teachers can carefully select a piece that will help steer students towards the highest possible academic standards. Exemplar work can come from many avenues as well. I have been privileged to share work from ex-students whose writing, clarity and structure can highlight the requirements of great writing. Having a wealth of published articles with a variety of writing styles can also be distributed among students and provide real examples of professional work. The most effective pieces I have seen used are models from teachers own work. As teachers we sometimes devalue our own contributions but actually finding time to write an essay, exam question or report, which students themselves will have to do, can provide so much clarity when shared in class.
A model can only go so far though. For some the model may appear to be out of their reach. For others, understanding how to get to work of that standard may be confusing. There may also be students who can’t clearly identify what it is that makes that piece of work so good. As a teacher it is therefore our duty to unpick it with students.
What is it that this work has that makes it high quality? How has the writer used key terminology, structure or tone in their work? How has the writer used evidence or concrete examples to support their thoughts? All of these types of questions can begin to unpick the thinking behind work, and therefore begin to help develop the thinking of our students in creating better work themselves.
We can teach students how to structure sentences. We can show them how to use PEED to construct paragraphs. We can model many techniques within the classroom but do we really model how to think? Do we spend time showing students what our thought process is when detailing an answer? Is there time to really go into depth about how to unpick a question and really plan it well? In the rush of a school day and the pressures of a curriculum, probably not as much (or in as much depth) as we might like.
There are a number of methods being deployed in schools which do such things. Take for example the new phenomenon of a ‘Walking Talking Mock’. The process itself brings together a cohort who are guided through an exam, with a teacher explaining what they would do for each question. The process models the thought process of an expert and provides clarity on how to produce high quality answers. The mock exam itself does have its pitfalls for the everyday teacher though. Bringing a large number of students together within a facility big enough to house them is a big logistical task and can’t be done regularly. The exam itself is also usually led by one teacher who is not able to answer the questions of every single student during the process so personal feedback isn’t readily available. How then can we transfer the same principles into a format that can be used in any lesson?
A while back I read a superb piece by John Tomsett who wrote about Metacognition and Self-regulation as a means to help students with their thinking in exams. Instead of organising a large scale walking talking mock, John annotated a past paper with notes only on what he thinks when tackling each question.
Such a simple idea can have amazing benefits with students. Taking the time to complete a paper which in turn can be copied and shared with a class is an effective and efficient method. The process of modelling this can be done in many ways. Pick a question which you can demonstrate the thought process to the class. What did you pick out from the question? What command words did you focus on first? What did you interpret by state/describe/analyse/assess/compare? What parts of a topic come to mind? Are there any specific definitions that we should be mindful of? What should I be starting my answer with? What evidence would support it? Showing students how you got to your worked answer is a great way to show them how to think when answering questions.
This process can then evolve, allowing time for students to analyse the rest of the annotated paper before attempting to answer the questions (or similar ones) but having themselves showing their thought process first. And that is the important point – insisting that students show their thought process before writing down any academic answer. Being able to see what they think and not just what they know allows us to tackle another element of the learning process.
In lessons we spend a lot of time asking students to practice exam questions. The process itself helps us check understanding and we can work on structure as we go. It’s a vital element in any exam preparation. With most of this time focusing on content checking, it is important we continually find time to get students practicing, and demonstrating, their thinking behind answers as well.
A simple approach is that of a metacognition workbook. The book itself includes many elements and supports each unit or topic. Within it is a section purely on exam questions. With a split page format, students are required to write down what they are thinking about the question before they actually tackle it. What things are they focusing on? What do the various subject specific words mean? What examples might they need? What do they think they need to include if it’s a three marker? Getting this form of thinking and approach to questions in early is key. Having the time embedded into the curriculum (via homework, in lessons, in post exam lessons) over the key stage gets students thinking about how to think. It also gives us as teachers an insight into their process and allows us time to correct it if needed.
Students sharing their thinking with students
I don’t feel that there is an end point with this, but, somewhere towards that is the ability of students to share their own thought process correctly with others. This element of students leading the learning of others can be powerful. There are many simple and time effective ways to do this in lessons.
Projecting a question onto a whiteboard where a student annotates it to the class, either independently or collaboratively, allows them to model the process to others. Under a teacher’s careful guidance, the process can be navigated towards the right outcome.
The use of a visualiser like an IPEVO camera allows a real time account of how a student is thinking about an answer. Simply ask them to work through a question under the lens and it projects across the whole class. As a group you can challenge, support, agree or pick out parts of the thought process. Working collaboratively and scrutinising what to think about an answer before actually putting pen to paper is something we probably don’t do enough of, but can easily be rectified.
So next time you spend time looking over exam questions or practicing technique, ask yourself are you giving any time for students to understand the thinking behind it first? Building in metacognition is a cheap but potentially effective strategy and models exactly what it is that students should be doing with their answers.
I love praising process, not just outcome. I love the reflection. I love using L@B habits in lessons. I love that all pupils can achieve them and obviously that they are ‘Marvel’ themed. They are specific praise and really get the kids talking about learning. It gives a clear specific language which enables me to praise behaviours that lead to progress. I think it has changed how many of the pupils view themselves as learners as they are not only being judged on progress and outcomes. I think it has made them more resilient as the focus is not always on what band they achieved, it’s about how well they are learning (Which is what will lead to progress anyway). I think that they have helped with behaviour for learning as I can remind/question pupils about “being a responsible learner” which is positive and specific, rather than tell them off for being naughty or disruptive.
I think my favourite is “Determined learner”. I have used this especially for those pupils who always have a go, but generally get it wrong. It is heart-breaking to say that they have got it wrong, this has given me a way of praising their effort and enthusiasm so that they don’t lose it. I find these pupils can become embarrassed, ridiculed and in turn disaffected. Being a “lead learner” has meant that they have had specific meaningful praise. This has meant they haven’t been discouraged. Because of the modelling the class become more resilient as the pupil’s behaviour has been rewarded. It has created a lovely culture of being brave enough to ask questions and ‘have a go’.
However with so many things to do, and being a forgetful person they can get forgotten, so I ask pupils to lead giving them out, which has also been useful reflection for the whole class. So that pupils are involved I will ask them to tell me which L@B merit the person in question deserves, which has meant that they are using them, but is also lovely peer praise. They are on every table so that this is easy (however they could have their organisers open on that page).
Carl made me A4 copies of the L@B poster and laminated them so that they are durable. I have cut up the posters so that I can give out; the pupils seem to see this as more of a tangible reward than just saying that they have a merit. Also when they hand them in at the end I can say well done again as they leave.
Lead learner Lanyards
On the second merit they can have a lead learner lanyard. There are just the merit slips, but I hole punched it to put a lanyard through. These can be used in all units for all years, so was well worth making. (Even though Carl did most of it!)
Resource pouches and dictionaries
I have pouches of resources with the resourceful logo on them to highlight the skill and give them a clear understanding of what it means to be resourceful. I also have dictionaries on every table and encourage them to use them rather than ask me for spellings. This also helps with DIRTY time, they are being reflective and responsible.
Are we effectively stretching students to get A*/A’s? Do we just focus on the more able? Are we getting differentiation the wrong way round which makes tasks easier rather than making them think harder? The afternoon INSET session on Wednesday 25th March focused on how we could apply simple yet effective strategies into our lessons. It looked at how we can push all students to get A*/A’s, or at least help them aspire to get the highest grade possible.
The following activities were all designed to develop consciously deeper thinking about a subject before writing about them with any authority.
Using functional English enables students to share conceptual understanding as a class. As a learning community they develop the terminology to understand and explain key terms in a way that they are all happy with. This is fundamental to deeper thinking and can impact upon reading and writing skills equally
Odd one out is a way of forcing students to evaluate and explain their thought process using contextual knowledge. Using a taxonomy approach enables students to engage where they feel capable with the task. However, the true A* student should be able to use their own contextual knowledge to recognise one or more possible odd one outs. The game can be played just as easily with dates or key terms. The ultimate goal is to generate discussions in class which encourage deeper thinking and the skills of evaluation.
Using hexagons or other shaped tiles to make connections is another way to achieve the goal of deeper thinking. The more associations that can be made then the more likely that an A/A* answer can be produced. The activity works best if the hexagons are cut up to allow movement. This way multiple associations can be established quickly and in a kinaesthetic way the student can evaluate the strength or importance of those connections. This contributes to higher quality evaluation between factors or key concepts.
The final activity I presented once again concentrated upon the written skills of the student. By using sentence starters then it is possible to extend an already good piece of writing into an outstanding one. The example demonstrates this very well and there are suggestions about other options for starter sentences suitable for a number of subjects. As with all of the activities I have mentioned the best way to judge them is to give them a go with one of your classes. They are all engaging for the students and the results you get will pretty soon speak for themselves.
Subject Specific Sentence Starters – Use three word sentence starters with students when they are completing essays or long answer questions. The use of well designed starters mean that students may be prompted, stretched or forced to think about possible themes to include in their writing. The use of academic words in the starters also help students to continue writing in an academic manner. Easy to think of but make sure they are rigorous!
The art of the sentence – Borrowed from Mark Millar and Doug Lemov, ask students to summarise or write a statement about a complex topic in one single sentence. The process means that students have to think about how to communicate the complex idea in a clear and concise way. They will also need to use technical language to minimise the word count and keep the sentences succinct. Initially use a scaffold and then progress to get students comparing or evaluating topics when they become more confident in the strategy.
Model, model, model! – Show what great work looks like. Show them past students examples. Show them an answer that you came up with. Take a photo of student work as it happens and project it on the screen. As a class dissect and then develop the answer to make it better. Show them the thought process and procedure. Show them how to write to a high standard and the steps it takes to get there.
Literacy upgrade – When peer assessing or critiquing work, get students to apply a ‘literacy upgrade’ where they need to pick out words and improve the academic standard of them. For instance, students make read the words “to work out” and upgrade it to “to calculate”. Easy to do at any time in the lesson to improve students academic vocabulary.
Format Matters – Again borrowed from Doug Lemov. Set high standards for the verbal answers that students give. We are very critical in what they write, so make it clear that spoken answers need to be of the same high standard. Help scaffold the process and set the expectation that what they say is as important as what they write.
The top grades should be a natural consequence of an excellent education.
A range of strategies to ensure pupils are exam ready, independent and enthused. These ideas need to be embedded into lessons and schemes of work.
By Cameron White, PE Teacher (NQT +1)
Making the decision to step into teaching can be incredibly rewarding. It’s a great profession with numerous challenges that happen on a daily basis. None more so is the first year as an NQT. The year is certainly eventful. Getting to grips with new classes, learning new systems and strategies, working on classroom management, tweaking your approach to planning; all are a great benefit. It is a year full of support, advice and guidance. Working closely with a NQT mentor and colleagues can be a great asset as you develop your practice. Observing lessons and being observed yourself can help stretch your understanding of the profession. It is important though that you use it wisely and ensure you keep on top of things. Here’s 10 tips on how to successfully manage and pass your NQT year:
With the heightened focus on terminal tests and the exam season fast approaching, how do we help students best prepare for them? Are there ways to manage the frenzy of the revision build up? Can we make changes to the way we teach lessons so that we don’t need as much revision intervention? Can we help students manage their revision more effectively so it becomes an independent process? The afternoon INSET on Wednesday 26th November began to share some insight and generate discussion about how can we as teachers help plan for memory and improve revision with students.
[divider ]John Fenlon[/divider]
“Our students mistake reading for revision”
“Write less and make revision more effective”
“Number your revision notes in topics so you can say “What are the 8 things about Red Cloud’s War?”
“Use mnemonic’s as a starting point for retrieving revision information”
“Spend time in lessons teaching students how to create revision notes effectively”
“Get students to reflect on revision. What works and what doesn’t?”
[divider ]Fran Bennett[/divider]
Slide 2 – Using the research of Bjork we have been looking into how to help information stick in students memory better. In particular focusing on 3 main areas of testing, spacing and interleaving. It is not the case if we don’t use it we lose it, it is just harder to find.
Slide 3 – Bjork talks about storage strength (how well learned something is) and retrieval strength (how accessible something is). The better storage strength is the better retrieval strength is. We are working on how we can develop storage strength.
Slides 4, 5 & 6 – we have looked into the fact that study followed by testing, testing and more testing has a greater benefit to information staying in the memory. We have been doing multiple choice pre-tests at the start of every unit. Multiple choice allow students to have a go at working out the answer even if they don’t know it and therefore start to make links before they study it further. We have also been doing fun, low stress tests at the start, middle or end of lessons.
Slides 7, 8 & 9 – examples of the types of fun, low key regular testing we have been using in the lesson to test the information learnt in the lesson or from previous topics.
Slide 10 – to help information stick in the memory we needed repeated practice planned out throughout the year. The brain stores information much better the 2nd, 3rd, 4th time and therefore retrieval strength as well. Therefore you need to plan and space out re-visiting and testing the information. Ideally increasing the length so the information is almost forgotten before you test it again.
Slides 11 & 12 – example of how we have planned out our schemes of work for Yr 10/11 including how we have planned out our testing. For example we cover unit 1 then unit 2 etc and keep repeating spread out over a unit.
Slide 13 – Another way of testing information and reinforcing what has been previsouly covered is by interleaving topics especially user for higher order tasks. Some examples of how we have created tasks interleaving two or more topic areas. For example the first unit we taught was all about how factors such as age, gender etc can affect an individual’s ability in sport. A couple of units later we talked about fitness so the task involved students taking the information they learnt about age, gender and using it to consider how this may affect an opponent’s fitness.
“Avoid the mad panic of revision season by building memory into our curriculum”
“Use pre tests at the start of every unit to begin the memory process”
“Study – Test – Test -Test is better for long term memory”
“Low risk, frequent, varying and fun – testing in lessons”
“Can we space out when we revisit/retrieve topics throughout the year”
[divider ]Mark Barrett[/divider]
I presented a session on memory strategies that are utilised in MFL teaching and discussed ways in which they could be translated to other curriculum areas. I also explained how students best retain information over time and how to make their learning more “memorable”. We looked at some memory statistics and thought about how that could impact on student concentration.
“Ebbinghaus curve shows that 80% of what is taught is lost in the first 24 hours”
“Chunking is a great way for splitting up complex topics”
“How do we use ‘remembering lyrics’ to our advantage in revision?”
“Journey method is good as it piggy backs onto existing memories”
[divider ]Amy Hunter & Fiona Sandford[/divider]
A copy of the full presentation can be found here: Revision and Terminal Assessments.
“Communication at home through the revision period is a great help”
“Present an overview of your curriculum on your school VLE so everyone knows what is going on”
“Flip learning? Can key materials be online (VLE) so students have a base level of background knowledge when they come to your lesson”
“Practice, practice, practice”
“Journey method – Teach students the technique so they see how it works. Use random words at first and then build in subject specific terminology”
“What is the fundamental piece of information in each topic to trigger memory?”
“Could co-ordinate topics as you go throughout the course. Add notes as you go throughout the year”
“Help students to organise their work so it is revision ready”
Owain Hoskins – History Teacher and Learning Innovator
Since my time as a teacher, the one thing that I’ve seen change the most is marking. Gone are the days where marking would just include comments such as ‘well done’ or ‘good work’ and in most cases pupils would probably not even read them. Over the last couple of years I’ve incorporated and planned into my lessons, reflection time for students. Here, pupils are challenged to go back to their work and rewrite a section to improve it in a specific way or to correct errors. It was something that I picked up from Barney Ware in Geography who used the acronym DITRY Time. (Directed Independent Reflection Time for you) This was also commented in a popular blog by David Didau, Educational Consultant and author of books such as ‘The Secret of Literacy’, who said, ‘The big difference is DIRT. The idea that I should dedicate part or all of a lesson to Directed Improvement & Reflection Time in which pupils act on my feedback has been a revelation’.
As a result, in History we have been using our own version called the Purple Pen of Progress. This is a time saving technique that is based on focused marking which has an impact on student progress. I use a specific purple pen to jot questions for students to respond to.
One example of where this can be seen is with my Year 8’s. After looking at a portrait of Henry VIII in class and instead of making general comments when I took their books in, I wrote questions like; ‘Can you use any more evidence from source 2 to justify your opinion?’ or ‘Is the painting a representation of Henry or an accurate portrayal?’ I allowed the class 10-15 minutes to respond to these questions the next lesson. This method actively involves pupils who respond in the following lesson on the skills they had been learning. Here, it had been source analysis and the context, message and purpose of the painting. They were taking more responsibility for their own learning and it gave the marking more meaning.
I had about 5 or 6 target questions in mind before I began marking their books and I then applied them accordingly. If I’m going to commit time to marking then I want it to be purposeful and I believe this really helped in saving time. I have also used it with my Year 7 classes.
As David Didau mentions, ‘Marking is also differentiation. There can be no better way to respond to the needs of an individual than to read what they have written and give them specific tasks to challenge them to be better than they currently are’
For my key stage 4 classes, I extend the process and expect the older students to do more. I ask more questions (Purple Pen of Progress) and use a marking key to enable them to see how I have annotated their work.
Students have to work out what they have done well and why. They also have to set an individual target. (Two stars and a wish) Ultimately, the annotations show pupils how well they are doing, the Purple Pen of Progress asks them questions to move their learning forward and finally a new target is set by them.
Finally, as Richard Charlesworth has mentioned in ‘Bright Spots’ on the BCS Sharing Practice webpage, ‘we have developed in History ‘drop cards’ for use with the L@B initiative for Key Stage 3. The idea of how to use them is that while walking around the room you drop the card next to a student you feel has demonstrated that skill. The cards have the 4 bullet points of the skill which match the classroom poster. Therefore you can say to the student that you will return to them later in the lesson and if they can explain why you have ‘dropped the card’ there then they will have earned themselves a merit. We have embellished this further by stamping a smiley face in their books where they can also write down why they got the merit. This records oral feedback nicely and is also a time saving activity that is documented in their class books. Year 7s and 8s are still young enough to enjoy this type of activity.’
My belief is that marking, reflection and feedback should be worthwhile, both for the teacher and the pupil. I believe the type of feedback outlined above enables effective planning by the teacher. For one minute spent marking a class book, a student could spend ten minutes responding in some way. Therefore, marking becomes planning and we see a shift towards the increasingly proactive participation of the pupil.
With an ever increasing workload and marking becoming high on teachers agendas, is there a way to provide effective marking which is also time efficient? In our first afternoon INSET, Brookfield teachers discussed that very question.
[divider ]Polly Williams[/divider]
Organisation and time management of marking
1. Managing/prioritising workload – assessment/class notes. This would include fitting it into your time – use of a monitoring sheet; and fitting with PPAs etc.
2. Speed: eg taking books in open; only commenting on THAT piece of work; linking comments to an LO.
3. Ensuring marking is purposeful: general feedback at start of following lesson (linked to the LO), followed by ‘purple pen’ time – which could include ‘own starting point’ intervention ‘Act’ tasks.
4. Tick n flick monitoring of books and half term/every now and then comments.
[divider ]Jenny Swan[/divider]
A consistent holistic approach, informed by band descriptors. I use band descriptors to inform lesson objectives, tasks, verbal feedback as well as marking and peer marking.
I use green pen to show the skill that they are demonstrating and red pen to show the skill that they need to work on, this means that I write very little, but they have a very clear understanding of how to make progress.
I also use the red pen to ask “HOT questions” to challenge them further or draw a skill out of them. I find asking questions is easer for them to respond to than an instruction.
[divider ]Owain Hoskins[/divider]
Owain has blogged about his approach to marking which can be found here.
Phil Webb, Learning Leader – Beliefs, Values and Life.
A touch of Hollywood glitz and glamour hit Brookfield Community School for a second consecutive year. Red carpet, trophies but minus the teary acceptance speeches as the BADAs 2014 were awarded.
The BADAs are Brookfield’s Annual Display Awards – the idea spawned from preparations for the school Open Day/Evening in 2013, typically members of SLT would wander round a week or so beforehand fault-finding and ordering improvements ahead of flinging the school gates wide for visitors. Prior to teaching I had worked in marketing and graphic design and have carried a penchant for display ever since, and while making sure the house is in order is important, I wanted to redress the balance and celebrate the good practice going on around the school and share it.
SLT were fully behind the initiative and even provided some funds for certificates, trophies and calorific prizes, thus the BADAs were launched. Having jointly inspected and decided on the top three for each section, a star studded ceremony was held in our regular staff briefing.
As we were going round, we took pictures of the winners and some of the examples of best practice – this led into a “teaching and learning briefing” [see video] on effective display for learning with follow up INSET sessions for NQT and PGCE students, and unsurprisingly a display for display, which sits proudly above the photocopiers for casual staff perusal.
We revised the categories for this year:
So with all of this work around the school learning environment, what makes up an effective display?
“Functional or forget it” – What is the purpose of what you’re displaying? If you’re not using it or it has no use – it’s probably a waste of time. Keep it fresh – Aim to change a display board every half term. If you can try and keep your displays changing, it does get noticed by students, and is more likely to make them look at the things around them.
Exchange – Perhaps if you’re not very good at displays? See if you can exchange your time and skills with someone who is! Barter! If you feel competent, “Bring and buy” share good practice and lighten your load in the process. As a department could you or your Learning Leaders be doing something to facilitate this?
“Keep it tidy!” – Don’t let your good work get disheveled – keep tabs on the aging process to keep things smart. Remember that the learning environment you create can set the tone for the lesson – it is an opportunity to show your passion, creativity and purposefulness.
Materials – Wrapping paper can be a cheap option to bring displays to life. There are lots of ways to make interesting backgrounds.
Maximising locations – Places where students congregate or wait to enter a classroom could be used to your advantage. How is the space leading up to your room being used? Could the corridor space be used better?
Leveling guide – As part of your AfL strategy, displaying leveling guides will help students understand what level they are currently at, and what they will have to do to reach a higher level. Make it accessible – it needs to be in a language that students can digest .
Tailor it – Don’t just use whole school initiatives, develop them – with your PEED posters, could you model some answers from your subject? Mix up displays with both content and skill development.
Building curiosity – If you can create something that makes students ask questions about it you are on to a winner.
Don’t do the hard work if you don’t have to – there are some very good pre-made resources available from educational companies which are reusable and lasting.
Have a personal space – so that a little bit of you comes across in the classroom and humanises you slightly from the teaching robot. It may also cheer you up on a bad day.
Clarity is key – make it obvious what a display item is about, and that it is readable from where students may be sat or can move to.
Make the delivery engaging – Use of colour, size and font of text, pictures and placing are all things that need to be considered. Usually the more it stands out the better.
Be really nice to Carl (reprographics) – he may be vital in your printing requests. Be reasonable in your timeframes and expectations. ALSO be nice to Site Team.
Subject specific – Can reinforce key skills in subject area, useful for concepts that will be used across year groups and serve as permanent visual reminders.
Outer space – Out of classroom spaces still contribute to your learning environment and the approach students take to it – why not use it to celebrate achievement, ‘why do the subject?’, skills learnt or an “in the news” section amongst many other possible items.
Student work – Displaying student work may act as a reward for those students who have done well at a particular task, fostering a sense of achievement and potentially an encouragement to others to increase their efforts. Also, it is useful as a point of reference to those about to attempt a similar task. Displayed work must be marked (If you are using Home Learning, you could use the generic HL mark sheet). SPAG must be corrected on the student work. Finally, it should be rounded off with a title, year group/focus and some questions to engage the viewer.
And finally – Sometimes the simplest displays are the most effective – plan them out rather than just a ‘wallpapering’ approach.
Shaun Riches, Director of Learning saw……
“In James Drake’s Year 8 Drama lesson, students were working a different scenes from a play called ‘Lilly’ (murder/mystery). James set up a ‘hot seating’ session which was really effective. He first of all modelled the ‘hotseating’, taking on the role of one of the characters in the play. Students fired questions at him to unpick his character’s part in the plot related to motif and alibi. The questioning pushed students to really think about the different aspects of the murder/mystery but also James’ modelling allowed students to see how a character could be developed. The learning outcome of the students ‘hotseating’ was to deepen their understanding of the play but also to develop their understanding of the character they are portraying so that this could be expressed further in their acting.
In Emma-Louise Fenner’s Dance lesson, all students were working independently on their dance motifs. The level of engagement was extremely high and Emma-Louise was able to work around the group to ask questions and give individual students feedback and targets on their motifs. Students used clear success criteria which was set out in a supportive booklet. Content was precise with good target language. Students also had work booklets for recording ideas which were extremely well set out in terms of helping the students to develop their ideas.”
John Fenlon, Director of Learning saw….
“(On Owain Hoskin’s History lesson) Although this was not our focus we also saw an excellent activity encouraging pupils to research and reach a decision on Henry VIII from looking at source quotes and trying to determine their trustworthiness, pupils were mobile, engaged in finding the information and able to discuss how their opinions had changed after reading 2/3/4 sources”.
Amy Hunter, Learning Leader of Science saw……
“Mr Fenlon is actively using quick quizzes at the start of every lesson with his KS4 classes. This routine ensures all pupils start work promptly at the start of each lesson. The pupils are tracking progress over time on their exercise books. The quizzes are repeated a number of times and this allows pupils to track their own progress and weaknesses to focus on for home learning and during revision. ”
“On a Science walkabout this week Mr Ruston has been using a numbering system to give pupils targets based on work he has identified as requiring improvement. The specific sentence or keyword has been highlighted according to the department policy and numbered, below the work he has written the number and provided more detail for the student as to how to improve. Students have then clearly responded to this as he has given them space and time to do so.”
Rachel Willsher, Learning Leader of PE saw……
“During a paired learning walk with Shaun Riches of the PE department we saw a fantastic level of focus and work rate. Constructive key questions were used in order to support the learning of the lesson and maximise changing time.
Dave Fawcett’s mixed ability class were using excellent PE specific terminology when questioned and during their coaching of other students. There was clear evidence of progress over time as students were drawing on the previous lesson objectives in order to improve their performance. All students were engaged and enjoyingh the lesson.
Marianne Fox had a high level of challenge in her Year 9 pre GCSE group. The group work of developing strategy was focused and developed higher order thinking”
Andrew Ledward, Deputy Headteacher saw……
“[on using critique and a visualiser to display students work] I was really impressed by the work you [Miss Fox] were doing with your class. I thought the idea of analysing an exam answer on the screen was really useful and the students were all fully engaged. Those I spoke to all said how much they were enjoying the course and the work in their books showed that they have been working hard. It was a pleasure to be in the lesson for a few minutes.”
The 10th July 2014 saw Brookfield host its very first internal ‘Teachmeet’. It was a well attended event held in the CLC. The afternoon saw a number of excellent presentations from across school with staff talking about topics ranging from the use of memory in planning, all the way to effective use of differentiation. Below are the presentations as well as accompanying overviews:
Work smart: Being an English teacher, we have to work smart with our marking and find ways of feeding back to students effectively and quickly.
Peer feedback/ self-assessment
Marking for progress
Progress over time
Students need to know how they are doing; this keeps them motivated. You could provide sheets where they could record their grades, marks, targets achieved, league tables and so on (but be careful how you use the league tables!)
Why use acronyms in the classroom?
Dave and I have been working on how we can make the things we teach student in the theory aspect of the GCSE PE course to stick. We are normal teachers who try and teach in different personalised ways, but often find that over a period of time our students have forgotten the information we were confident they had learnt. We have looked into the work on memory by Robert Bjork who talks about both retrieval strength (how accessible an item of information is at that given moment) and storage strength (a general measure of how well learned that item is) being vital in ensuring what we have taught can be remembered and used by students.
Bjork talks about desirable difficulties to help retrieval and storage strength improve. One of these desirable difficulties is testing. Bjork found that with lots of low stake testing, information sticks for longer. Ideally students should study then test, test, test, learning from their mistakes as they progress. Multiple choice questions can be particularly beneficial for this, as even if they do not know the answer they can have an attempt at working it out.
Another area we have focused on is the spacing of topics and how often we re-visit them. Spacing effect requires you to re-visit a topic just as students have nearly forgotten the information, so causing them to retrieve the information and build their retrieval strength. The spacing should keep increasing over time. Interleaving of topic areas to build links and get students to think of the bigger picture has also been considered and another way to allow us to space out and re-visit information from previous topics.
With this is mind we revisited our delivery of the Year 10 content and re-worked the units to include spaced out testing and interleaving of information within a topic and from previous topics. The power point shows the starting part of our overview for you to see how we have set this up. It also includes examples of fun, low stakes testing and interleaving of topics we have done.
Last year I participated in an action research project run by Southampton University which aimed to use discussion and argument to lead activities in Science. What I found was an extremely effective way of giving all students the opportunities to discover for themselves a new perspective of explaining and justifying their own theories and understanding as to why something has happened or is happening.
This way of providing clear resources which help layout evidence and the possible weaknesses and limitations in it are very good at establishing stronger conclusions and writing well rounded critiques. This is very useful in Science but would also be of benefit in History, Geography, English and Art but could easily be arranged to work in many subject areas.
Students benefit from working in groups and having the resources needed to learn from discussion and uncovering their own feelings and rationales towards a conclusion which encourages motivation and engagement in lesson.
The presentation looked at why we might be getting differentiation wrong and provided some simpler and more responsive ways to incorporate it in lessons. For a more detailed write up with a number of strategies click here.
Kelly Kent, Director of Learning saw….
“In Jens Swans Y10 RE lesson the discussion of abortion was structured beautifully to allow students to use scenarios to consider their opinions, and the advice they would give. Each scenario was slowly introduced to the group who were given one piece of information at a time, after the information was revealed the group who were arranged in a circle were ask to give a traffic light response as to whether the woman should have an abortion or not. Their opinion was displayed throughout the exercise so that changes in opinion were clear based on the information revealed, Jen was then able to probe the students to think deeper about their response using their traffic light colour, linked to their opinion as the focus of the question allowing a range of opinions to develop. As more information was revealed, and more opinions were expressed the development of the thinking process was evident, there were some extremely thought provoking discussions happening. Students then returned to their desks and independently wrote a piece of advice for the protagonist in the scenario producing well considered and structured responses with an excellent range of key vocabulary from the discussion.”
Isabel Isern, Learning Leader of Languages saw….
“On Monday I saw a German year 11 class from Toni Moseley doing some brilliant student lead learning where an able student had been asked to describe in the target language, the location of items of furniture and objects in a room that only he could see. Students had to listen and draw the room in their mini whiteboards according to the verbal description. The teacher only intervened to clarify or encourage students to seek clarification again, all of this only in the target language.”
Rachel Jones, Learning Leader of Maths saw….
“We have introduced a regular times table slot into every year 7 and 8 Maths lesson this year – this is called ‘Times Table Rock Stars’. During a walkabout on Monday I saw that this has been embedded fully into the practice of the department, with all students fully engaged and enjoying the times table challenges. A number of students were very keen to tell me that their times tables have already improved from the start of term and all staff were running the programme consistently and enthusiastically.”
David Fawcett, Learning Innovator saw….
“During a walk around I saw Gina Briant using the L@B ‘Responsible Learner’ matrix with her Year 7 class to highlight the good learning expected at Brookfield. After modelling what the quality means, students self assessed themselves over the course of the lesson, identifying where they are responsible and what they need to do to improve in this area.”
“In Rachel Willshers 10C GCSE PE theory lesson, students were in a ‘Closing the Gap’ lesson where students reflected upon their recent exam and improved areas of weakness. Rachel was modelling good technique and allowing students to improve answers. Similarly, in Mr Siggins Yr10 BTEC Sport lesson, students were using DIRT time to read feedback, act upon it and improve answers from a previous test.”
Amy Hunter, Learning Leader of Science saw….
“Last week following a drop in session Miss Sims with 11T3 had used coloured highlighters to inform pupils of where they were doing well and what they needed to improve upon. She had clearly given the pupils time to reflect upon this feedback as they had used green pen to make changes or additions to their work. This was really clear and pupils found the feedback easy to respond to.”
Dan Coulson, Learning Leader of Art, Design & Technology saw….
“In Technology we have been having fun with “Key Word Bingo”. In a walk round I saw this in Sarah Cowles lesson. Students studied the list of Key Words and meanings found in their folders. They then wrote down 4 Key Words. The game then started. Sarah picked words at random but didn’t read out the word, just the meaning. Students then worked out which word it was and crossed it off… and BINGO… (the winner being the first to four). Students learnt the key words and had fun doing so. In the next round they had to chose 4 different words and learn their meanings. They repeated it 5 times and BINGO… they learnt 20 Key Words.”
“In Art, I was also impressed with the work by Rebecca Smith and the Art teachers. Rebecca has been producing superb examples to aid with the new KS3 assessment. The exemplar pieces enable students to see what is required of them to be “On Track For” in year 7 and 8.”
And finally, Richard Charlesworth, Learning Leader of History has been using….
“I have developed some ‘drop cards’ for use with the L@B initiative in Brookfield for Key Stage 3. The basic idea of how to use them is that while walking around the room you literally drop the card next to a student you feel has demonstrated that skill. The cards have the 4 bullet points of the skill which match the classroom poster. Therefore you can say to the student that you will return to them later in the lesson and if they can explain why you have ‘dropped the card’ there then they will have earned themselves a merit. I have embellished this further by stamping a smiley face in their books where they can also write down why they got the merit. This records oral feedback nicely too. Year 7s and 8s are still young enough to enjoy this type of activity and I have already been impressed by the quality of their explanations.”
The current Yr11 all performed exceptionally well for their Group Performance unit (20%) in the recent GCSE Dance moderation. When asked by a colleague how I did it I answered “hard work”, but l felt compelled to explain later that I know we all work hard however there were strategies that I used along the way to get the most from all of my Yr11s. They found it ‘interesting to see how much self-evaluation and peer feedback [I was] using to get them to reflect and improve.’ They also liked the idea of ‘having more conversation time so that students [were] able to ask questions and deepen their understanding.’
So, this is where I will start; feedback. Used to writing long handed feedback detailing corrections for the Set Dance (20% of examination) I set about devising a quick and instant way to give useful feedback.
The process was extremely simple: students performed their solo set dance which I filmed on a flip camera, I played back the film to each of them on my laptop whilst giving oral feedback, they filmed my laptop during the playback (with my commentary), and then used the film on their phones for ‘Dirt4y Dancing!’
Students still received a numbered mark sheet but without my written comments. The impact was instant; students took notice and were ultimately interested in the improvements to be made rather than their current grade, and they had a personal record close to hand…and as we all know students love their phones so win win all round! There were many benefits: depth and quality of feedback given was far more detailed and thorough, and as a result facilitated an increased level of engagement through personalised, independent learning. I could also stop the video of their performance and explain specifically what was working well and what needed to be improved (not always practical in real time).
Great feedback, but what do they do with it? Leading on from here students used their videos with commentary to note key points themselves, they then used post it notes to prioritise and inform the planning of their rehearsal time. Whilst they worked on their own specific areas for improvement it gave me the opportunity to work with targeted groups on specific foci, the groups were fluid and constantly changing within the lesson which resulted in good progress by all.
So, the feedback strategy was a success; detail of feedback improved, time was saved not writing comments, overall quality of the set dance increased. However the most notable impact was the knock on effect of improving technique and skills in other areas of study. So, coming full circle this feedback strategy is one of the fundamental reasons why all students were able to access high marks for their Performance in a Group.
Hands up, this is not completely my idea. I adapted a method that I read on a blog by a college lecturer who was using a dictaphone to give essay feedback, and realised the potential for my practical subject. Students have really enjoyed this way of giving feedback and more importantly are really acting on it, not filing away a piece of paper in a folder to collect dust until exams loom. It will definitely feature as part of my teaching and feedback process for KS4 whenever possible.
Emma-Louise Fenner – Drama and Dance