Category: Quick wins

Blog(s) of the week – 19th April 2015

Two blogs have caught my eye this week that tie nicely into exam revision.

1. Knowledge organisers – specify subject knowledge in meticulous detail – by Joe Kirby.

In this post Joe makes a case for being relentless specific with the subject knowledge that students need to know. This takes the form of one side of A4 – a knowledge organiser. This is not only useful for revision but also at the beginning of the teaching cycle of a new topic.

2. Sequencing lessons in the run up to exams – by Andy Tharby.

Andy’s post outlines his plan for revision in the run up to the exams with memory in mind. He also makes use of Joe’s knowledge organisers idea.

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#TMNSL 20/03/2014 – Workshop resources: Stop doing I.T. wrong!

Stop doing I.T. wrong! by David Morgan (@lessonhacker)


Stop getting I.T. wrong by David Morgan.

Stop doing I.T. wrong by David Morgan.

Workshop summary.

Digital learning is not something to be scared of or to be worried about.

It’s just learning.

No one called it ‘Pen based learning’ when we moved away from slate tablets, but I’m sure there were a few people reluctant to change their ways, or that didn’t quite ‘get’ the point of pens. In any case, digital learning is here to stay and should be a part of every lesson in some form, if only because it saves you time!

What not to do.

 

We’ve all seen the classic ‘do a PowerPoint’ lesson. *Sigh*. Yes, you know what I’m talking about; it’s the end of term, you’ve got a section of work on something researched based so you say the immortal lines, “Do a PowerPoint on it”… and four weeks later these digital natives have done two slides that make the content appear one letter at a time.
If students *are* digitial natives then should a PowerPoint take four weeks?
@lessonhacker

@lessonhacker

 

There is life after death by PowerPoint, and it’s all about the amazing things you can do with digital learning. In this workshop we covered my top-tips for getting started:

 

1. Get over yourself – you will never be as much of an expert in the technology as a student can be because they’ve got unlimited time to learn it. You have to just plan around that and have strategies for finding out: Classroom Genius: find someone in the class who’s the ‘genius’ at the tech you’re using and get them to be the first port of call for non subject specific questions.

 

2. The connected student – they’re being pinged all the time by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why not leverage the fact they’ve trained themselves to respond quickly to notifications by doing that yourself? Using a tool like edmodo to push out work and ask questions turns simple things into pings that use the same action-reward mechanism that replying to a tweet does; and most importantly, it gets things done!

 

3. Print on Demand – I’ve covered this in my blog [http://www.lessonhacker.com/print-on-demand-for-better-learning/] but essentially it boils down to getting custom printed exercise books so you can force student to improve skills you want them to focus on.

 

4. Blur your classroom – Use a VLE of some kind for taking in work (I wrote about this in the most recent Teach Secondary magazine) and then mark using your mobile device whenever you’ve got some down time. Stood outside Next waiting for your other half? Whip out that phone and mark one or two. Waiting in the car for the football crowds to let out? Your mobile is your friend for quick marking. This means that your work life balance gets much better because whilst you might be marking more often, you’re doing it in ‘dead’ time and suddenly you don’t need to sit down and mark in an evening anymore.

 

5. Record a learning dialogue – using many online tools it’s easy to record the feedback and conversations your having about work and display the progress over time to that tricky Ofsted lot. One piece of kit I’m enjoying at the moment is Kaizena [https://kaizena.com] which allows you to record audio annotation over a Google doc. This is the quickest marking ever because you can highlight a section, click record, then just speak your feedback. Wowzers.

 

6. Record everything – use the video camera in your phone (or something fancier if you have it) to record anything you think is useful, even yourself. This gives more flexibility in the type of lesson you can teach because if you spend five minutes recording yourself work through a particular exam problem then you can reshow that video almost indefinitely. Take a look at my youTube channel for some more examples of where you can take a lot of the repition out of your teaching. [http://www.youtube.com/lessonhacker]

 

7. X-Factor your lessons – Why not use instant poll software like PollEverywhere [http://www.polleverywhere.com] to allow X-Factor style text voting in your lessons. AFL has never been so much fun. It means students can reply anonymously so closed questions work better, but it does have a free text response option which all updates live as a student texts in. Pure magic.

 

8. Plan for epic fails – so what’s going to happen if the computers don’t work? Make sure you’ve got a second strategy, an offline ‘go-to’ just incase because the very worst thing you can do in a lesson is wait for the IT guys to come along to fix things, you’ll lose your class’ attention almost instantly if they have any downtime, have something to do that requires dead-tree-tech so you can jump to it in an emergency. This doesn’t have to be well planned, just planned.

 

9. If you use new tech, use it more than once – because let’s face it. You’re probably not a Computing teacher, so if you do us a favour and teach a bit of software use then why not get a good return on your investment? Use the same tech three of four times, at least, which means that students stop asking you how to use it, and ask you what to use it *for*.

 

10. Sometimes you can do too much – I once had a year 13 student ask me, exasperated, if they could “just do things on paper today sir?”; so please don’t imaging that I expect every lesson to be an all singing, all dancing digital learning machine. No. What I’d like to see is more teachers using tech day-to-day and not worrying about it.

At some point we’ll forget we ever called it digital learning and find the very idea that we differentiated between eLearning and Learning as a bizzare artifact of a bygone era. When even the most old fashioned teacher in the class thinks nothing of slapping on a pair of video-recording glasses and rocking out an epic lesson.

If you’re interested in finding out more then head to my blog [http://www.lessonhacker.com/] or read my book, which coincidentally has the same title as my workshop [http://www.stopgettingitwrong.com/] .


Blog.

Buy David’s book – Stop doing I.T. wrong!

@LessonHacker on Twitter.

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#NeverStopLearning by @DavidJesus

#NeverStopLearning by @DavidJesus

‘Quick wins’ #16 – SLANT – Building habits in the classroom.

Why? I’ve struggled to get 100% attention from students 100% of the time. Quite often when I instruct students I’ll use the “3,2,12 technique to get students attention, which works well. But I then struggle to retain attention. This is made especially difficult when teaching in a Computing room – the lure of the computer screen can be too much for students. A typical instruction will have to be halted within seconds to address students who’s eyes have wondered back to their computer screen.

Possible solution. I needed a routine to retain student attention. I started my research by looking at Doug Lemov’s excellent collection of videos for his ‘Teach like a Champion’ book. I came across the video below.

It was during the video I saw a poster on the wall of one of the classrooms with the word ‘SLANT.’ Further investigation led me to discover the meaning of this term. SLANT is a strategy used to get students to pay attention not only when the teacher is talking but also when a student contributes to a discussion. An overview of the strategy can be found below…

Sit up: What is the right posture to sit in the classroom? Is it to rest your head on your hands, sit slouched in your seat or put your head down on the table? These are all positions that will put students to sleep. In order to develop attentive listeners, it is essential to encourage students to sit up straight with their back against the seat, feet placed firmly on the ground and hands on the table. This is the optimal position to ensure good learning and processing of information.

Lean forward: Another position that is critical to promote active listening is leaning forward. Students should be taught to lean forward during a lesson. It may also help teachers understand the interest level of the class and fine tune their presentation to make it more interesting for the students.

Ask and answer questions: This component can liven up the classroom and encourage students to be active in their learning process. Encourage them to clarify their doubts, answer questions, and discuss or debate on ideas. These question and answer sessions can help activate their thinking, encourage critical analysis of the content and strengthen their understanding of the lesson.

Nod your head: Nodding one’s head is a form of nonverbal communication to indicate that the lesson has been understood. When a teacher observes a student nodding his/her head, they may proceed with the lesson. On the other hand, failure to nod will signal that the student has not understood the lesson and the teacher may need to clarify or explain further. “N” can also stand for ‘noting down and naming key information’ which enables students to retain the information and makes learning stronger.

Track the speaker: The attention span of every student is different. Tracking the speaker is a visual cue to be attentive. Students should be encouraged to track both the teacher and other students who are presenting in class. The conscious effort to track the speaker will help students to be attentive at all times and prevent them from getting lost or daydreaming in class.

Taken from Professional Learning Board.

Resources.

SLANT poster for the classroom [PDF]

SLANT

SLANT

Outcome. I am in the early stages of trialing this technique with Year 7, 8 & 9 students. I have found ‘Track the speaker’ particularly useful as a cue for students to pay attention to whoever is speaking. At the time of writing it has taken a lot of hard work to embed the routine but I am beginning to see more students listening to instructions and positively engaging in class discussions. Other teachers in my department have also started to embed these commands and the initial feedback from them is positive. One restriction at the moment is that students are only exposed to the routine in my classroom for 50 minutes a week so they don’t get to practice as often as I’d like. This means I have to continually remind them, but I believe the effort I put in is worth the outcome.

Post submitted by:

Stephen O’Callaghan

Blog.

@MrOCallaghanEDU

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how ‘SLANT – Building habits in the classroom’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.

‘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.

‘Quick wins’ #14 – Walking dictation – Team work, communication and accuracy.

@gapingvoid

Image from @gapingvoid – http://gapingvoid.com/

Why? Proof reading – self assessment. I am forever correcting the same mistakes which arise from a lack of proof reading. As soon as I question a student they know how to correct their work, but they don’t seem to do it!

Possible solution. Walking dictation. Students work in group of three – one student is the scribe and the other two are runners. Differentiated texts, images or sound files are placed across the classroom from where the groups are based.

One runner from each group at a time ‘walks’ to their allocated text, reads part of it and returns back to the group where they dictate to the scribe what they read. The other runner hears how far their team mate read and goes up to the text to read and then return to relay the next part of the text to the team. The scribe is using listening and writing skills and the runners are using listening, reading and speaking skills.

All members are working on their communication and team work skills.

What’s the carrot?  Well there has to be a success criteria and I use the least amount of points win. Winners win one point, second place two etc. However, points are incurred for misspelt words, or indeed missed words.

Resources.

Walking Dictation – How to – editable

Outcome. Challenge and drive for accuracy. It is an engaging task where students realise the importance of accuracy and to check over their work to eliminate avoidable errors.

Post submitted by:

Becky Thielen

Head of MFL

@EduThielen

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how ‘Walking dictation’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.

‘Quick wins’ #13 – How to mail merge student test results into feedback sheets

Why? We wanted an efficient way to communicate the students strengths and weaknesses to students based on their most recent mock.  We saw the value in a question by question breakdown but it seemed time consuming.

Possible solution. We made a feedback sheet that had space for a question by question breakdown and comment on where to revise.  We then used a mail merge to drop individual results into the sheets.

Resources.

Outcome. The students said the detailed feedback really helped them focus their revision.  Allowing them to work on the topics they needed to instead of succumbing to the temptation to just practise what they were already good at.

Post submitted by:

Vyki Shaw

Head of Maths

@vykishaw

Blog

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Feedback. Please let us know how ‘mail merging student test results into feedback sheets’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.

‘Quick wins’ #12 – Quick & simple student voice.

little effort

Why? The class is quiet. Students are getting on with work. But how do they feel about the lesson? Are they learning? Are they enjoying their learning? School is an extremely busy place the opportunity to reflect on this sometimes passes us by. I needed a quick way to answer these questions as it’s not always obvious to see. Paper surveys collected the information but were to time consuming to analyse. I needed something that required almost no prior planning and yielded immediate results.

Possible solution. A simple scatter graph. Label the axis however you see fit and invite small groups of students to plot their response.

Resources. This can be easily adapted to measure almost anything.

Quick feedback from students. Simple to set up and easy to analyse.

Quick feedback from students. Simple to set up and easy to analyse.

Outcome. I was able to gage student responses quickly and use that as a basis to ask more probing questions. Obviously this is just a snap shot, but valuable none the less in future planning and empowering students through student voice.

Post submitted by:

@Artedu_KHeath & @MrOCallaghanEDU

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how ‘Quick & simple student voice’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.