Category: learning objectives

‘Quick wins’ #15 – Getting students to articulate their learning.

Getting students to articulate their learning by Steve Gill.

Getting students to articulate their learning by Steve Gill.

Why? I guess I was never really convinced by the idea of getting students to articulate their learning; I thought it was one of those tokenistic additions to lessons, something that would please the observer rather than having an impact on students’ learning. So, when students were clearly making progress through their written work, I was little concerned if they couldn’t express precisely what they were learning, verbatim, like they had regurgitated every word of the specification. I was also very cautious of time that this took; I feared it would slow down the pace of the lesson, that I would lose the students before I had a chance to engage them.  I was wrong…

Possible solution. I now think that getting students to precisely articulate their learning is integral to their engagement and to their progress. So, what changed? Persistence and developing habits. Just like Einstein said,

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Although I had always shared the lesson outcomes with students, their interaction with them was something that I tried to build on, every lesson; before, I had just assumed that reading the objectives to students was enough. However, David Didau’s book, The Perfect English Lesson, was something which helped me to question this process. He talks about getting students to interact with the lesson objective in creative ways – getting them to guess missing words; to write the lesson objective as a facebook status and then allowing students to comment on this. Therefore, I took inspiration from this.

Firstly, I started with the language in the outcomes of the objective. I stripped the specification down, picking out the key words. For a reading lesson in English this usually translates to getting students to explain, explore, analyse language or ideas. Through questioning, I then got students to define – precisely – what these words meant. To help with this I added pictures beneath my outcomes and I asked students to match up the correct pictures to the outcomes. This led to an increased sense of clarity. For example, students were able to link the picture of an explorer surveying a landscape to the need to look everywhere in a text; to find more than one quotation to support a point; to look at more than one interpretation when looking at a quotation. Discussion evolved further to looking at sentence starters which would help students to demonstrate that they were explaining or exploring an idea.

Resources.

Example learning objectives (editable).

Outcome. This strategy has worked successfully. Students are now clearly able to say what they are learning in a lesson and they can also precisely say what level they are working at, as well as being able to articulate how to move to the next level. This has motivated students: their next learning milestones have shrunk, becoming tangible, and within their reach. Also, with a new emphasis on lesson grades being linked to ‘progress over time’, students’ ability to articulate what they have learnt and how they have progressed is more paramount than ever. In a recent observation it was great to see students explaining to the observer what they had learnt and how they could progress further. However, I don’t think this has solely been achieved by getting students to interact with the lesson objectives and outcomes alone; the language used in the objectives has permeated all aspects of learning. I have used it repeatedly through questioning and book marking, too. In this respect, it has also sped up the latter as, in some cases, I am able to write ‘explain your point’ or ‘analyse these words.’ In short, having high expectations around students being able to articulate their learning has led to significant improvements in my classroom. So, if you are worried about this absorbing too much lesson time, fear not: just persist. And slowly, students will possess a clear understanding of what they need to learn, and know exactly how to get there.

Post submitted by:

Steve Gill

Blog.

@MrGillEnglish

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how ‘Getting students to articulate their learning’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.

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#TMNSL 20/03/2014 – Workshop resources: ‘Solo taxonomy’

Solo Taxonomy by Mat Pullen – @Mat6453


Mat Pullen delivered a workshop at #TMNSL on 'Solo Taxonomy.'

‘Solo Taxonomy’ by Mat Pullen.

Workshop Summary.

I have been thinking about SOLO taxonomy for a while and the impact it can have on student learning in PE. I have also looked at ways to make it easier for students to access.

Guide to Solo Taxonomy

Guide to Solo Taxonomy

I have previously blogged about Project Based Learning here and the feedback has been really positive. both staff and teachers are engaged in this approach to co construction of the curriculum and lots of teachers are telling me about their plans for embedding it in their schemes.

To move things on a bit I wanted to look at ways of supporting students to create their own learning models. To help facilitate the process of finding out what they need to improve on and where to find out how to do that.

That is where the link with SOLO comes in. I have used SOLO to great effect in practical sessions and students are really showing great progress in lessons and more importantly they kbow what they need to do to keep progressing.

In order to support this further I have created posters that I can use in sessions that allow the students to acces some visual cues to support them in their construction of lessons. The posters trigger augmented reality links to images and videos to help students check on technique and to assist in giving detailed feedback to each other.

The process is fairly simple, I created a poster on my iPad using Comic Life. Add this image to Layar.com in their creator section, add in video and images to the relevent sections and voila, augmented reality posters. The students can now access these with any device with the Layar app installed.

So now in a session, we start with students looking at a problem that they need to solve, they look at the skills they will need to develop to support them in overcoming the problem.  Around the hall are posters with links to images and videos to help support their learning.  They integrate numeracy to support their understanding of success, they use literacy to improve communication and feedback and they can see how they can progress using the SOLO stages.

This is a real change in lesson structure but really engages students to be active whilst learning a whole wealth of key transferable skills.

Related blog post.

Presentation slides.

@Mat6453 on Twitter.

#neverstoplearning


#NeverStopLearning by @DavidJesus

#NeverStopLearning by @DavidJesus

 

Begin with the end in mind.

Begin with the end in mind.

Begin with the end in mind.

Recently I rediscovered a strategy that has revolutionised my teaching; a fundamental shift in mindset resulting in enormously simplifying my planning, consistently producing lessons graded as ‘Outstanding’ and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from student voice in my classes. It’s not new. It’s not difficult. It is simple.

The strategy (taken from Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of highly effective people’): beginning with the end in mind.

I have now begun to structure the teaching of every topic/unit of work by starting with the end i.e. at KS4 and KS5, starting with sharing a possible exam question for that topic; or at KS3, starting with sharing the end of unit assessment, using these to create just one set of learning objectives for a sequence of lessons (differentiated by bands of marks in an exam question or success criteria for levelled skills and content in a KS3 assessment), rather than pandering to the misconception that every individual lesson requires a new and different learning objective.

We start by deconstructing the exam question (using the opportunity to draw out prior knowledge to help in deconstructing a question for a topic they haven’t studied yet and discussing a bullet-pointed checklist of the success criteria/mark scheme for the question) or, with KS3, drawing out the skills they will need to use and what the assessment task will be. Planning and delivery of knowledge and skills for the new topic becomes so much simpler as in ‘keeping the end in mind’ we regularly return to the exam question or end of unit assessment checklist to self or peer assess how much knowledge and skill we’ve gained to be successful in completing the question or assessment. My planning has simplified because I now know that simply with a well-thought out set of learning objectives shaped by the end goal, a passionate delivery of subject knowledge and content (drawing students into this with ‘storytelling’ and deep questioning that also encourages them to link their verbal answers to the end in mind), and encouraging students to regularly assess their progress against the end in mind, I have the tools to provide my students with at least a Good lesson each time.

I worried for a while that the students would be bored by starting every new topic in this same way and being so exams, or assessment, driven so I carried out some student voice work with my classes. The students love it. They say it keeps them focused, they understand how everything they learn fits in with what they will be assessed on (some students sharing horror stories with me of when they’ve had teaching where the end of unit assessment did not assess them on the skills they had been learning all term). Most importantly, the student voice revealed the sense of success the students feel as they work towards the end goal. Each time they are able to link a verbal answer to the end goal, or prove in a self or peer assessment that they have mastered the next skill or gained the next piece of knowledge towards that end goal, they feel a sense of success and can see the progress they are making.

Then, when they come to the end of the topic and properly complete the exam question or end of topic assessment, students are already in a good starting place because of the way the teaching of the topic has been structured. Finally, unless they gain full, or almost full marks in their exam question, my students know that they will never be allowed to just do the question once and that they will have to redraft it again. But that, and the magic of storytelling, whatever your subject, is for another time.

Here’s a video summary of Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of highly effective people.’


Post submitted by:

Domini Choudhury

Assistant Principal

@DominiChoudhury

#neverstoplearning

‘Quick wins’ #7 – Differentiated SMART objectives

Why?To raise achievement in my Year 12 and Year 13 classes, I knew that this year I needed to have an embedded exam focus in all my lessons and not just at the end of topics. At the same time, I also felt that the trend for differentiated learning objectives that are leveled or graded in every lesson was becoming meaningless for my students who knew full well that the learning that we were going to cover in a singular lesson would not mean that they were going to achieve a ‘C’ or ‘B’ grade by the end of that lesson. My objectives needed to become SMART: measurable and achievable steps to success with a focus on practicing exam skills and demonstrating exam knowledge in every lesson.

Possible solution. SMART objectives: differentiated objectives that are set within an achievable context of progress towards full marks in a specific exam question by the end of the lesson.

Differentiated SMART objective with achievable outcomes.

Differentiated SMART objective with achievable outcomes.

Resources.

I adapted a lesson objectives template to refer to marks towards a specific exam question rather than overall grades as outcomes, using the mark scheme for that question to guide my wording, which allowed students to very clearly see the success criteria needed to achieve each progressive band of marks.

Outcome.
Students felt a real sense of success as suddenly they could very specifically measure their progress in the lesson and in real, achievable terms for that lesson, work steadily towards gaining increasingly more marks. The objectives were the launch pad for regular AfL opportunities – I kept returning to them and asking students how many marks they thought they had gained so far after the last activity and then saying to them ‘prove it’. This then led into lots of self and peer assessment opportunities where students used different coloured highlighters to highlight evidence of where they were picking up the marks for different skills or knowledge in their work, and we could then discuss what the colour patterns of their highlighted work revealed about where they were not picking up the marks. By the end of the lesson, students were very confident about how to gain full marks for that question and able to reflect well on what had held them back from gaining full marks. The next lesson then looks at a different exam question but covering the same topic so students have the opportunity to repeat this pattern of learning over again and secure higher marks after reflection from the first time around.

Post submitted by:

Domini Choudhury
Assistant Principal

#neverstoplearning