Following on from this great bit of CPD last year, the 15 minute forum tonight was led by 6 members of our brilliant Student Leadership Team. Earlier in the week I had met and briefed them on what we as teachers were focusing on this year – The Big 4…….Questioning, Feedback, Independence and Challenge. They were then charged with thinking about and coming up with examples of good practice in these areas, based on their own classroom experiences.
As usual, they did a brilliant job. Below is a record of their thoughts.
- Ask us questions that make us think.
- Follow up questions with more questions, that get more complex.
- Get more students involved by using strategies like the lolly sticks with student names on.
- Start the lesson with something engaging and interesting that will make us think and ask questions e.g. a big picture, a video clip, a practical demo, a puzzle etc.
- If someone says ‘don’t know’, don’t let them get away with it. Ask another question.
- After a test or a piece of writing, instead of just putting a tick or a ‘well done’, tell us specifically what was good about it….so we know to do more of it.
- And of course, tell us what we need to do to improve.
- Useful when teachers talk to us about our work, so again, we can hear what was good about it….and not so good. This also gives us the opportunity to ask questions about it. One teacher made time to sit down and talk to us all individually about our Y10 exam. This was really useful, as it gave me a very clear picture about what I had to do to get better.
- Don’t write a long paragraph when marking books. This makes it hard to pick out exactly what we need to do to improve.
- Using the progress tracker stickers is useful – but only if they are done regularly.
- Marking your own tests is useful sometimes, as it shows you how to get full marks. But the mark scheme needs to be explained by the teacher, so we know how to use it.
- In Science, after a test we get a breakdown of the kind of questions we have done well. not so well at e.g. interpreting graphs, data analysis and comprehension. This is good, as it shows us what skills we need to develop.
- Before we are set off to work on a task independently, the idea we are working on needs to have been explained to us thoroughly by the teacher…..otherwise we won’t be able to do the task very well.
- Make sure the work is challenging, otherwise it’s hard to keep motivated with it. Too easy and we get bored and switched off. Too hard and we get frustrated and switch off too!
- Don’t let us sit next to our good friends, as we’ll get distracted and are so less likely to work independently.
- Good relationships with the teacher are important here too. If you are working independently and get stuck, if you get on well with the teacher, you are more likely to ask them for help!
- Make sure the task is very clear – write it on the board.
- When teachers tell us all the time that it’s OK to make mistakes – that gives us more confidence to work independently.
- Keep checking our work – otherwise if we are just working independently and get it wrong, we won’t know!
- Working independently is good, as it allows us to put our thoughts down on to paper, so we can then assess what we have learned.
- One of the best ways to make sure we are challenged is to keep asking lots of difficult questions, that will make us think.
- Make sure there is always some kind of interesting extension work. Not more of the same work, but different and harder.
- If we are working through questions, don’t make us all do the same ones. Direct us to specific ones, that are matched to our ability.
- Avoid giving students the ‘choice’ of which questions/ work to – tell us which work we should do, based on your knowledge of our ability. Otherwise, most students will just take the easy option.
- Don’t mind high ability students being paired with low ability students some of the time, to support, because by having to explain something to another student, you really have to understand it well. But mix it up. So also match us by our ability, so we can question and challenge each other at the right level.
- Expect us to get higher than our ‘Minimum Expected Grade’.
- Make sure we’re in the right set!