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 blogs of the week focus on deliberate practice and its essential role in facilitating learning.
This weeks blogs of the week look at challenge and how this can be achieved in various different ways across the curriculum. Both posts nicely summarise what is meant by challenge and ‘challenging work.’ They also provide a number of strategies to use in the classroom tomorrow.
- Challenge – success for all: https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/challenge-success-for-all/
- Great lessons number 3 – Challenge: http://headguruteacher.com/2013/01/31/great-lessons-3-challenge/
This weeks BOTW comes from the ever resourceful blog of Shaun Allison – ClassTeaching.
The post in particular is called – Subject knowledge matters and is a summary of why subject knowledge is important for effective teaching but also provides lots of resources and ideas for improving your subject knowledge. My favourite tip is: ‘get advice from an expert.’
The school was able to secure some support from the ‘Institute of Physics’ in the shape of a superb ‘Teaching & Learning Coach’ Colin Piper. Colin was a fantastic resource. He met with Bex on a regular basis, went through the topics she was going to be teaching at a very high level, broke it down and explained the best way to teach it. He would also discuss misconceptions and how to address them, as well as unusual and interesting practicals and demonstrations to support her explanations.
Below are a few organisations that provide support for teachers to improve their subject knowledge:
- National Association of English Teachers – https://www.nate.org.uk/
- Association for Teachers of Maths – http://www.atm.org.uk/
- Association for Science Education – http://www.ase.org.uk/home/
- Geographical Association – http://www.geography.org.uk/
- The historical association – http://www.history.org.uk/
- Association of Physical Education – http://www.afpe.org.uk/
- Design & technology association – https://www.data.org.uk/
- Association for citizenship teaching – http://www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk/
- Association for Language Learning – http://www.all-languages.org.uk/
BOTW this week is not so much a blog but a report, a summary of report in fact into The Science of Learning.
The summary (produced by Deans for Impact) outlines a number of things a busy teacher should know about how students learn with lots of practical implications for the classroom. It also debunks lots of myths…
Having spent some time with trainee teachers this last couple of weeks I’ve tried to steer them towards some interesting books that have helped me develop my understanding of teaching and learning. One book in particular that stands out is – Why students don’t like school by Daniel T Willingham. In the book Willingham neatly explains a theory of how we learn and makes the argument that the way schools tend to deliver their curriculum conflicts with the way people actually learn, which may be why schools (secondary in particular) end up trying to ‘get year 11 through’ with last minute strategies rather than addressing the actual problem – are students learning things from year 7 onwards or just covering them?
Just because teachers are teaching does not mean students are learning.
This may be hard to digest, challenging the status quo of how curriculums are traditionally designed. It eeks of the phrase “but this is how we’ve always done it…”
I wanted to write a definitive post for NQTs but was struck by how many useful posts already exist. Instead of repeating what others have already written, this post will serve to index some great advice from some remarkable people. The is predominately for new teachers but will also serve as a timely reminder to all teachers at any stage in their careers.
- It is completely normal | Sue Cowley | @Sue_Cowley | Blog
- ‘Crowd wisdom for NQTs’ iBook | Rachel Jones | @rlj1981 | Blog
- A letter to my NQT self | Chris Hildrew | @chrishildrew | Blog
- Contemporary educational ideas all my staff should know about | Tom Sherrington | @headguruteacher | Blog
- The pedagogy postcards series | Tom Sherrington | @headguruteacher | Blog
- This much I know about why all of us must improve our teaching | John Tomsett | @JohnTomsett | Blog
- Back to school series | David Didau | @LearningSpy | Blog
- Some quick tips for NQTs and Trainees | @OldAndrewUK | Blog
- What I wish I knew then | Mark Anderson | @ICTEvangelist | Blog
Stop doing I.T. wrong! by David Morgan (@lessonhacker)
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!
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.
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.
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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.
As every school does we wanted to improve the quality of T&L and I am a firm believer in doing this through the sharing of good practice, as we have, and had, loads of great practitioners in school in lots of different departments. To share all of the ‘gems’ that everyone had in their toolkits we put together ‘Robert Blake’s Best Bits’ which is a collection of all the bits that make our teaching great. We asked every member of staff to contribute at least one idea that could be used generically by other staff in other subjects around the school, all of which were completed on a common format of a powerpoint slide. These were then collated, organised into different sections and shared with staff. Immediately we had helped create a culture where people were more open about sharing their teaching and helping others. The off-spring of this was we had more staff doing learning walks to see these gems in action in the classroom and T&L took on a greater priority with staff.
Resource. NSL TeachMeet presentation (PDF)
From this we wanted to further embed the culture of sharing T&L so we created the ‘Learning Lunches’ where every fortnight we would put on a buffet (£1.50 per head!) for teachers where 3 ideas from RBBB would be presented and explained. This led to a huge uptake in the ideas and the resultant conversations that were generated as a result of seeing the idea. Our SENCo then developed the idea for LSAs (as we couldn’t fit all staff in our food room where we have the Learning Lunches!) as they have a Learning Breakfast every fortnight, during PSHE lessons, to share their best practice.
The beauty of RBBB is that any one person can initiate and develop the idea. As a class teacher you can create your own ‘best bits’ then begin to share with other people, hopefully making the scheme whole-school. The Learning Lunches can happen informally without providing lunch for staff but putting on the buffet is hugely appreciated by staff who value the school’s commitment to developing T&L.
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Feedback. Please let us know how ‘Learning lunches’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.