Tagged: Lesson

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’ #9 – Developing oracy: Getting students to respond in full sentences.

Why? Students, due to apathy or due to the state school pandemic of not wanting to sound clever, often avoid giving a thorough explanation to reveal the depth of their learning; rather, given the chance, they will utter a barely audible ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and quickly retreat back into their protective shells. Sound familiar?

Possible solution. To combat this – a simple solution: have high expectations of students’ oracy so that they respond in full sentences.

a) To achieve this, get students to rephrase your question as part of their answer.

For example: Why does Dickens open his novel, Bleak House, with pathetic fallacy?

Student answer: Dickens opens his novel, Bleak House, with pathetic fallacy because…

b) When posing an open-ended question, provide an oral scaffold to extend students’ thinking.

Resources.
An example slide scaffolding oracy.

Example oracy scaffold.

Example oracy scaffold.

Outcome. Having high expectations around students’ oracy has resulted in students providing in-depth feedback as opposed to giving one word answers. In English, levels can also be attached to the quality of student responses: level 5 is linked with being able to explain your ideas; level 6 requires students to explore ideas, thereby showing that information can be interpreted in different ways.  As a result, students have evolved to see the value and importance of talk in a lesson – no longer is it an opportunity to doze off or give a mere one word answer, which had previously given them the impression that they were making a meaningful contribution to the lesson – but, by giving extended answers, students now realise that this is an integral part to the lesson. It has also helped to bridge the gap between the talking and writing stage of the lesson. Students recognise that if they can articulate their ideas verbally, this also helps them to translate their ideas to the page.

Post submitted by:

Steve Gill

English Teacher

@MrGillEnglish

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how ‘Developing oracy: Getting students to respond in full sentences’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.

‘Quick wins’ #8 – Differentiated question cards

Differentiated question cards.

Differentiated question cards.

Why? To ensure that students are aware of the key questions that need to be asked and answered in a learning topic, and that pre-planned questions are appropriately pitched to the right students in a very mixed ability class (grades A through to E at A-level). Also, when questions are chosen carefully to have an appropriate level of challenge for each ability, this resource makes it easy to demonstrate the progress students make within the lesson.

Possible solution. As they walk into the lesson, provide each student with a slip of brightly coloured card with their key question on it and some space to write their answer on the card later on. Questions which are more open to interpretation can be repeated with different students. Students should keep their question card on their desk in front of them throughout the lesson as a visible reminder of the key question that they are seeking an answer for. Either use these questions punctuated throughout the lesson to draw students attention to what they have learnt so far after each activity, or use as a plenary at the end of the lesson.

Resources.
A set of pre-planned and differentiated questions, a couple of pieces of coloured card.

Outcome. The key questions keep students intently focused throughout the lesson seeking the answer to their question. Student responses to these questions, and further questioning that develops from their responses, enables the teacher to demonstrate the progress made within the lesson. Pre-planned questions which are more open to interpretation enable the teacher to ‘basketball’ the questioning to develop a depth of response from a range of students.

Post submitted by:

Domini Choudhury

Assistant Principal

@DominiChoudhury

#neverstoplearning

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

‘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

‘Quick wins’ #3 – ‘Roll a plenary’

roll a plenary grid

‘Roll a plenary’ grid – great way to engage students in reflecting upon what they have learnt in a lesson.

Why? Plenaries should be one of the most important parts of a lesson where the teacher assesses the progress students have made during the lesson and begins to plan the direction of future lessons. Sometimes we just run out of time and plenaries end up being a quick round of questioning before the bell goes. How do teachers plan for more rigorous plenaries that examine the learning that has taken place whilst empowering students to work independently and lead their learning?

Possible solution? ‘Roll a plenary’ grid:

A grid of different plenary activities that students select by rolling dice. All you need to do is…

1. Get a class set laminated.

2. Get some dice.

3. Ask students to roll dice over grid to select a personalised plenary.

Resources.

roll a plenary (PDF)

roll a plenary editable (docx)

Outcome. Allows students to take ownership and feel empowered to show what they have learnt during a lesson. This grid can be further developed to include differentiated tasks using blooms stems/solo levels. The grid supplied is generic but the editable version can be tailored to any subject.

Post submitted by:

@ASTsupportAAli & @tombrush1982

@ASTsupportAAli’s Blog

#neverstoplearning

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

‘Quick wins’ #2 – Engaging starters

Why? The start of a lesson is extremely important for engaging students and getting them ‘hooked’ on the learning that is about to take place. It’s tough to do on a consistent basis. It needs lots of creativity from the teacher when planning the lesson and requires the teacher to know their students.

Below is a summary of a #UKEdChat hosted on Twitter earlier this year with contributions by teachers from around the UK.


Date of UKEdChat: Thursday 5th September 2013

Host: Jon Tait @TeamTait

Topics discussed:

What is your number 1 starter activity for engaging students as soon as they walk through your door?

What is the 1 routine in your classroom that you couldn’t live without?

Which top tip from tonight’s discussion are you going to use tomorrow?

Notable Tweets:

@teachertonytips Engaging question on a slip of paper given to kids in the queue outside classroom.
@gceyre A Mystery – keep the students guessing and wanting to find out more.
@with_ict Must work harder after assembly. Kids hold it together during and are often in need of an active exciting task afterwards.
@with_ict After lunch register, response is giving a number out of 10 to show mood/feeling. It gives a good indication of playground drama.
@georgeEblack After lunch, sympathise with them (who isn’t sleepy after lunch) have shorter tasks prepared, plan accordingly, build in down time.

Tweet of the Week:

@ReachPsychology Be mindful that some Friday afternoon non-engagement behaviours are not about your lesson. Not every pupil loves the weekend!

Resource: 

Engaging starter tweets – Archive supplied by @ukedchat. Contains lots of ideas for engaging starters!!


Post submitted by:

@ukedchat

UKEdChat’s site

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how any of these engaging starters worked for you and your students. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.