Ms Harry (Drama) – Year 7 students were developing freeze frames for a specific genre of film. Ms Harry spent some time questioning students on their understanding of freeze frames and what great performance would look like in this area. What was interesting here was that after Ms Harry had asked a series of questions about what makes a great freeze frame she followed this up with what not to do and a series of questions on this theme. This was a great opportunity to check for common misconceptions and address these with the class. Students then went onto some focused practice in groups where they were developing a freeze frame of their choice. Whilst students were practicing Ms Harry circulated the groups providing further feedback and challenge that prompted students to think harder about what they were doing and why.
Miss Camwell (English) – Year 9 students were having a second attempt at a question following a recent assessment. Ms Camwell spent some time explaining to the class in precise detail what they needed to do and what her expectations of them were. Students were then giving time to practice whilst Ms Camwell then began giving 1-to-1 feedback to students. In student books it was great to see good use of memory platforms to get students retrieving information from memory (a great way to build long term memory). Feedback from students on this was really positive as it helped them to remember. Ms Camwell has also been trialling whole class feedback, making use of a crib sheet to collate common errors and misconceptions which then leads to a range of targets being generated that students can select (or sometimes this is selected for them) from.
Mrs Zagani (Year 8 Pastoral leader) – This blog aims to not only celebrate the great work by teaching staff, but also the remarkable work of all staff from across the academy. Earlier this week Mrs Zagani supported a student who was finding things particularly difficult. Mrs Zagani spent time expertly dissecting what had happened with student before clearly (and concisely) presenting the options to the student. Her balance of compassion and support mixed with high expectations enabled the student to make the right decision. If you ever get the chance to spend some time with the pastoral team (in any academy) I would recommend it! There is a lot to learn about how our pastoral leaders interact with and uphold the high standards we expect from students whilst creating a caring, supportive and safe environment.
Ms Litchfield (English) – Year 8 students were working on a descriptive writing piece. This piece of work had recently been the subject of feedback from Ms Litchfield. She is currently trialling whole class feedback using a crib sheet to track common errors and misconceptions (something the English team have adopted). Following the completion of a crib sheet, Ms Litchfield then uses this information to generate targets (see form below) and a space for students to act on this feedback. The targets are really specific so instead of re-drafting a whole essay students are given a specific bit to improve. This approach has drastically reduced the time it has taken to mark & feedback to students and the level of response from students has impressed Ms Litchfield!
Miss Ridgway (English) – Year 9 students were looking into gender stereotypes associated with Macbeth. Miss Ridgway gave students a series of examples and students were asked to give their opinion (using their prior knowledge of stereotypes) and provide examples of gender stereotypes. One student gave a fantastic response where he explained the gender stereotypes related to toy shops and that boys toys tend to be blue and girls toys tend to be pink. Miss Ridgway used questioning to explore student answers further and challenge their thinking. Looking at some student books it was great to see more memory platforms and spelling tests (extended so that students not only recall the correct spelling but also the meaning of the work).
Ms Harvey (Science) – Year 7 students were investigating an experiment into heat transfer. As students were conducting a practical experiment, Ms Harvey was circulating the room ensuring students were safe but also questioning and challenging students on what they were doing and why. Following the experiment students were supported to write an evaluation that explained whether or not their hypothesis had been proved and what was the scientific evidence to support this. Looking through student books it was great to see some examples of regular low stakes quizzing, end of topic quizzes and students acting on feedback regarding SPAG. Feedback from students on the usefulness of the regular quizzing was really positive as it was helping them to remember more which was breeding confidence.
Mr Gandon (Science) – Year 13 Physics students were working through some practice questions. They had previously spent some time developing their vocabulary and building knowledge so that they could apply this to questions. Mr Gandon modelled well making use of his whiteboard to walk students through how to complete a particular equation. He was then able to circulate the group, draw out misconceptions and re-teach to smaller groups where needed.
Mr Leahy (Maths) – I managed to see Mr Leahy twice this week. The first time was during a year 10 (top set) Maths lesson. Mr Leahy’s direct instruction was fantastic – clear, concise and challenging. He used a mixture of explanation, live modelling of worked examples and questioning to explain a new topic and get students to make links to prior knowledge. Following instruction, students were then given time to practice (in silence so that they could concentrate). Whilst students were working Mr Leahy circulated the room providing verbal feedback and looking for misconceptions. After spotting a few students making the same mistake, he paused the class and re-taught a section explaining the misconception and modelling the correct process.
The second opportunity to see Mr Leahy came during a walking/talking mock for year 11 students. This is a fantastic way to prepare students for an upcoming exam (student feedback on these have been really positive). Mr Leahy taught from the front, giving students time to attempt questions before live modelling the meta-cognitive approach for solving each question before arriving at the correct answer. He took this opportunity to also highlight common misconceptions and address these with the group (60+ students!).
Mrs Taylor Evans (Art) – During the Art departments feedback review I had the opportunity to sit down with Mrs Taylor-Evans and look through lots of student work and discuss the impact of feedback on student work. The majority of feedback in art is delivered verbally as students are creating, so it was great to discuss the progress students are making and see how their work has developed over time. The quality of work produced by students is exceptionally high which is a testament to the feedback students receive in lessons.
Mr Parrott (PE) – Year 7 students were in a Football lesson whereby they putting into practice skills developed in previous lessons, in a game situation. Feedback was frequent and Mr Parrott stopped students regularly to challenge students on their understanding. Often this led to immediately re-teaching students through modelling & explanation and then followed this up with further questioning. The immediateness of the feedback meant students were able to adapt what they were doing (as directed by Mr Parrott’s feedback) and improve instantly. The verbal feedback was built into the learning as opposed to it being bolted on at the end. The nature of PE practical lessons lends itself to constant verbal feedback during sustained deliberate practice, which leads to students making progress over time.
Mr Rutter (Science) – Year 7 students were learning about chemical reactions. Mr Rutter was in the middle of co-constructing an answer with the class making great use of questioning to scaffold responses from students. He was able to identify misconceptions and tackle them with students immediately. Feedback was frequent and built into the learning. Mr Rutter has also been trialing retrieval practice in the form of quizzes. Students responded well to frequent quizzing, explaining that they have found it useful in helping to remember key knowledge. They also explained that this helped them to feel more confident about Science.
Mrs Guy (PE) – Mrs Guy was teaching year 7 students the scissor kick technique for the high jump. Whilst students were practicing the technique (jumping over low benches to get the technique correct before attempting it on a higher bar) Mrs Guy was circulating the space providing lots of verbal feedback to students on their technique and providing very specific actionable things to change in their next attempt. Again, this was a great example of feedback being built into the learning, in the moment while students were practicing. The immediacy of the feedback allowed students to make noticeable, incremental changes to their practice which produced visible differences in their performance.
Mr Heath (PE) – Year 9 boys were running the 800 meters in small groups. Although this was predominately deliberate practice there was still lots of verbal feedback and instruction. As students were running Mr Heath gave feedback on technique that students were able to immediately action. He also involved other students who were waiting to run by asking them questions and giving them feedback on preparing to run. Each time a lap was nearing completion students would receive lots of feedback and encouragement. It was great to see students actively participating and enjoying themselves at the same time!
Mrs Heath (Art) – Year 7 students were spending time writing about a piece of artwork they had spend some time developing on the theme of surrealism (one student gave a fantastic description of surrealism when they were asked to explain the concept!). Mrs Heath had set students the task of writing about surrealism and she had provided students with a writing frame to help them structure their writing. Whilst students were working Mrs Heath was circulating the room and providing feedback on their writing / artwork. The artwork itself that students had created was exceptional and it was obvious to see that students had taken real pride in their work.
Mrs Payton (PE) – Year 9 girls had been playing tennis (I arrived just before the lesson finished) and in particular practicing the volley shot. Mrs Payton questioned the students to assess their understanding of the practice they had carried out during the lesson. The questioning involved wait time and opportunities for students to discuss in pairs to help formulate ideas before answering (great strategy!). I questioned a couple of students and they were very articulate in their answers, describing the best grip to use when making the volley shot and when the best time to use shot in a match would be.
Mrs Williams (English) – During Mrs Williams TRM she was able to discuss what has been working well in her English lessons. One strategy that has been trialed is whole class feedback mixed with the re-teaching of areas that students found difficult. The whole class feedback highlights common misconceptions, SPAG errors, identifies targets for improvement and then champions exemplar work for all students to see. In addition to reducing the amount of time it has taken Mrs Williams to provide feedback to students, it has also helped plan the next lesson in a timely manner so that she can address the common misconceptions and move student learning forward.
Feedback (especially verbal) appears to be strongest when it is:
- built into the learning process rather than tagged on at the end.
- close to the learning – whilst students are working provide them with feedback that allows them to make incremental changes.
- used to re-teach misunderstood knowledge and challenge misconceptions.
Mr Day (Maths) – Year 9 students were working through equations. Mr Day had approached this with students through problem solving, with students having to think really hard about common patterns across a number of different equations. This part of the lesson also sparked lots of discussion around meta-cognition with students being asked to articulate their thought process in solving equations and identifying similarities between different equations. A real strength of teaching practice here was questioning and Mr Day’s use of spiraling up the difficulty of questioning to make students think hard.
Miss Jacobs (Science) – Miss Jacobs has been trialing a new whole class feedback strategy with students in order to provide actionable feedback in a more time efficient way. Whilst reading through student work she is using a crib sheet to collate common misconceptions and errors. From this a series of targets for improvement are created. This is then fed back to the whole class and students are given targets appropriate to them. The sheet is photocopied and stuck into books so students are able to see what they need to do next. This has approached has also been combined with live marking in the lesson. Miss Jacobs is aiming to see 5-6 students each lesson and provide them with verbal feedback (using a highlighter to quickly highlight errors that need correcting). This has already drastically reduced workload whilst providing more frequent, actionable feedback to students.
Mr Bates (Music) – Year 8 students were engaged in deliberate practice. They working on a short piece of recorded music where they were attempting to recreate the Wallace & Grommet theme music. Mr Bates was circulating the class providing lots of actionable verbal feedback which was enabling students to think about and improve their work. This was a mixture of direct instruction and questioning to support further development. Students were all very proud of what they had produced and very keen to get visitors to listen to their work!
Mr Thompson (Maths) – Year 7 students were studying number sequences and in particular looking at whether a sequence was linear or not. Mr Thompson used questioning to get students thinking about the process of identifying a linear sequence, looking out for any ‘red herrings’ that may throw them off the scent. This was a great way to challenge misconceptions and address them with students. Students responded well despite finding it challenging.
Mr Browne (Maths) – Year 7 students had been working on sequences of number. Although this was right at the end of the lesson, Mr Browne had been getting students to practice their understanding by applying a method to working out the next numbers in a sequence. This form of practice is really useful for students to think hard about their learning. As always Mr Browne’s class was very calm and purposeful which is a good sign of strong routines and high expectations.
Ms Bracey (English) – Year 7 students were investigating how great stories create suspense and tension through the medium of film. Ms Bracey used questioning to really probe students’ understanding and ideas, utilising the ‘no opt out’ strategy to ensure students thought hard about their answer. Initial questions were always followed up with ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ to deepen the the response. Ms Bracey also involved many students in her questioning and often asked other students to elaborate on another students answer to make sure they were listening.
Ms Williams (MFL) – Year 9 students were learning about the stem and root of different French verbs. Ms Williams modelled these from the front and then followed up with some great questioning that not only prompted students to identify but challenged them to explain the reason why. This is a really strong habit for probing student understanding and deepening their knowledge. Ms Williams also spent some time modelling the common misconceptions to help students avoid common mistakes. Feedback in books showed students had been forced to correct errors close to their learning through live feedback (highlighting mistakes there and then in the moment and asking students to correct) which is also a great strategy for reducing marking workload.
Mr Wignall (Computing) – Year 9 students were learning about the different pieces of hardware needed to create a computer network. Mr Wignall has spent time modelling high expectations of presentation of work which was seen in the current student work. The lesson was a part of a sequence of lessons which focused on the key knowledge (as outlined in the knowledge organiser) and students were busy applying this knowledge by answering questions. Mr Wignall intervened with students that were struggling to understand key bits of knowledge by questioning them to depth and modelling theory on the whiteboard whilst other students worked independently. The classroom was calm and purposeful, a sign of high expectations.
Ms Harris (D&T) – Year 11 students were independently working through their Textile portfolios during this lesson. The atmosphere in the room was calm but focused. Students knew what they were doing and motivated to work hard – a sign of established routines. Ms Harris was busy questioning students in small groups and 1-to-1 to deepen their understanding. Students were encouraged to elaborate on their answers and think hard about what they were doing and why. The caliber of student work was really high. It was clear to see that students were enjoying the subject, working hard and producing excellent work.
Ms Burrell (MFL) – Year 7 students were recapping vocabulary (items from a pencil case) from the previous lesson that they had started learning. Ms Burrell questioned the students to depth asking them to remember content from a previous lesson. Students were allowed to look back through their books if needed in order to construct an answer and they were given ‘wait time’ in order to do this. It was clear to see that this was part of carefully sequenced series of lessons as the challenge in today’s lesson was to extend students vocabulary to include different colours so that they could begin describing different items form the pencil case.
Ms Pickup (English) – Year 9 students were revisiting a piece of transformative writing and making corrections to improve their work. Students were given a clear framework to do this by Ms Pickup which involved checking for spelling errors and the comparing their writing to success criteria to see what else could be improved. Questioning of students in the lesson was really strong. Ms Pickup used the ‘no opt out’ strategy to make students think hard about their answer and allowed students to look at their books and other resources to help answer questions. Clear routines for feedback were evident in the amount and quality of writing students were producing.
Mrs Miles (MFL) – Year 7 students were revisiting some key Spanish vocabulary from a previous lesson. Mrs Miles used quick fire questions to assess their knowledge which kept students on their toes as they didn’t know who would be asked next. Students were able to use their books to help construct an answer if needed and Mrs Miles scaffolded her questions carefully to differentiate for different students. This was a great example of retrieval practice – making students think and remember knowledge form a previous lesson.
The first #BOTW for the new academic year goes to Harry Fletcher-Wood for his post on meeting a new class for the first time (something almost all teachers have to do every September).
Harry makes use of a checklist to identify some key questions (and potential answers) to help teachers make a great first impression.
Blog of the week goes to an excellent post from David Didau who provides a useful summary of a recent research report into learning called: ‘Learning about learning: What every teacher needs to know.’
The research picks out 6 things teachers can do to make a difference:
Pairing graphics with words. Young or old, all of us receive information through two primary pathways — auditory (for the spoken word) and visual (for the written word and graphic or pictorial representation). Student learning increases when teachers convey new material through both.
Linking abstract concepts with concrete representations. Teachers should present tangible examples that illuminate overarching ideas and also explain how the examples and big ideas connect.
Posing probing questions. Asking students “why,” “how,” “what if,” and “how do you know” requires them to clarify and link their knowledge of key ideas.
Repeatedly alternating problems with their solutions provided and problems that students must solve. Explanations accompanying solved problems help students comprehend underlying principles, taking them beyond the mechanics of problem solving.
Distributing practice. Students should practice material several times after learning it, with each practice or review separated by weeks and even months. This is sometimes called the ‘spacing effect’
Assessing to boost retention. Beyond the value of formative assessment (to help a teacher decide what to teach) and summative assessment (to determine what students have learned), assessments that require students to recall material help information ‘stick’. This is usually referred to as the ‘testing effect‘.
Read David’s full post here: http://www.learningspy.co.uk/psychology/learning-is-liminal/
Read the full report here: http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Learning_About_Learning_Report
This weeks #BOTW comes from Matt Davies a secondary MFL teacher who describes how he is setting the bar high for all students and supporting them through scaffolding. Here’s a snippet from Matts post…
But challenge is difficult. I am the first to admit that I get things wrong, gauging work either too hard or easy at times. But I would like to think I am flexible and can adjust in these circumstances. The key thing though is that the bar is high always regardless of the students starting point. As Andy Tharby and Shaun Allison discuss in ‘Making every lesson count’, to not set the bar high is to disadvantage students who might be deemed less able (for example) and it is therefore about how we scaffold tasks and make them more accessible.
Read the full post here: https://mrdavismfl.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/challenge-and-scaffolding/