Andy Tharby and I walked around the school today to look for some bright spots. We found plenty:
In science Carole Burden had previously marked some student work on reflection – the students had very specific improvement comments written in their books. In this lesson, based on the aspects they had struggled with previously, students were being talked through some exam questions – which they then worked through. A great example of marking informing planning for the next lesson and then picking up on elements of the work that students had struggled with. Also in science, Harriet Schuler was starting the lesson by eliciting what students already knew about 3 pin plugs, by questioning them. As they came up with things they knew e.g. ‘they have fuse Miss’, this was then developed by further questioning e.g. ‘That’s right, do you know what it does?‘
In English Jas Rose was leading a very sophisticated analysis of a poem. High level language was being stressed, such as ‘negation’, as the analysis was being modelled on the board by Jas. As this was happening, the students were quite naturally adding annotations to their own poems, based on the modelled work being done by their teacher – without prompting. This showed strong evidence of good routines and autonomy on the part of the students.
Down in maths Lee Ridout was working with Y11. There was much excellent practice to pick out here. Lee was discussing a recent homework task they had completed – a series of exam questions. A student was asked to model a solution to one of the questions, to the rest of the class. In order to ensure that the rest of the class were kept on their toes during this, Lee would periodically stop her and others in the class questions like ‘Why do you think she did it like that? Is that stage right?‘ Again, students were attentively checking their own responses, as their peer was modelling the answer. It was also impressive to see Lee, feeling the response by students to particular questions. So for example, they came to one question and the response from students indicated that they had obviously struggled with it. So rather than just plough on with it, Lee stopped his discussion of the answers, told the students to think about it and discuss it in pairs and then they would come back together as a class to look at it in a few minutes. As Lee was moving around the room, looking at student responses and discussing their work with them, he would write corrections on their work to support their understanding – live marking.
In geography, Martyn Simmonds was also discussing a homework task that students had just completed. Again, it was great to see homework being valued and discussed. What was particularly impressive was his layered approach to questioning. Firstly students were being questioned on the factual information that they had found out e.g. what products in their homes had been produced where in the world? Once this had been established, the questioning was developed to get them thinking about this information they had gathered e.g. what does that tell us about global production? Why was that produced there?
In history, there was more great questioning taking place by Jack Tyler. After Jack had asked a question, and a student had answered, they were always then asked a follow up question to develop their thinking further. The topic of the questioning was trench warfare, and a great diagram of trenches was used on the board to clarify and develop student responses further e.g. ‘Yes, you can see what Tom says about the zig zag nature of the trenches by this diagram. Why do you think they were zig zagged?‘ Jack also exemplified Lemov’s ‘Right is Right’ approach – so when a student got the answer wrong, it was made very clear why it was wrong – and they were then supported to get it right. This is important, as all too often, what we try to do is make them feel better about attempting the answer by saying things like ‘That’s nearly right’ …..when it clearly isn’t. This is not helpful for students as it gives mixed messages. Of course we do it in a supportive way, but if students are to get it right, they must know when they get it wrong!
In textiles with Steve Bloomer, students were working with a great degree of independence on felt making. But it was evident that they were only able to do this, because of the excellent modelling and explanation of techniques that had taken place beforehand. They were also surrounded by examples of previous work that had been produced, to set the standard for what they had to produce – supporting an ethic of excellence. As this was taking place, Steve was moving around the room, giving very specific feedback to individuals.
In MFL, Pam Graham was using another Lemov technique to great effect – cold calling. So questions were asked along the lines of ‘I want to know what je fume means….Tom‘ This is a smart strategy – everyone has to think about the question and do the cognitive work, because they don’t know who is going to be asked until the last minute. They were then taken through a more tricky translation, but in a very slow and deliberate manner, on the board as a class – this ‘supported struggle’ gave them the confidence to then go on and tackle more challenging tasks.
Finally, drama teacher David Hall was supporting a group of Y11 students who were rehearsing their piece. The feedback given was honest and very specific. Students were left in no doubt about what was good about their piece, but also exactly how it had to be developed. It was very clear that the Dave had a great understanding of the exam board requirements, which then informed his objectives for the lesson, which in turn shaped the feedback he was giving to the students. Students were clearly used to this, as they could also be heard giving each other feedback as the piece progressed e.g. ‘Don’t forget we need to….’
A great way to end the week – seeing lots of great, solid, gimmick free teaching. Thanks all.