Today saw the second EduBook club meeting at DHS, led by Andy Tharby. All classroom based staff were bought a book in September, from the selection above. They then meet to discuss the book they have chosen, during INSET days. An account of the first meeting can be read here. As this was the second meeting, colleagues were thinking about how the book was having an impact on their classroom practice. Andy and I had the pleasure of visiting all of the groups – we made the following general observations:
- When you put teachers, teaching assistants and cover supervisors in a room, with a book as a catalyst, they have some incredibly rich discussions about their day to day work in the classroom. This makes for great collaborative CPD.
- It was great to see staff taking many of the principles behind the books and adjusting them to fit their own context/ needs.
- All discussions about ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ teaching have disappeared from the school since we have stopped grading lesson observations. Staff now talk about the process of learning, and how this impacts on our teaching.
- As a CPD exercise, it has provided us with a framework to think about and discuss learning.
There now follows a small snippet from the conversations taking place as we moved around the different groups.
Bounce – Matthew Syed
Facilitated by Jo Grimwood
In PE, James Crane has been thinking about mastery of rugby skills. So rather than just going on with the scheme of work, he’s been getting students to keep practising particular skills, before moving on. Students have also been set specific targets to focus their own personal deliberate practice.
The maths department have also been thinking about mastery. So rather than trying to cover everything, they are focusing on key skills and knowledge and embedding this – especially with students who have a low starting point. Do less, but do it better!
In science, Steph Holt has been using the ‘growth midset lingo’ (her words!) So, setting students a hard task and warning them they may find it hard, but that’s the point. Then reassuring them they may find it hard and that’s OK – she will help them, but only once they’ve given it a go. One thing to be careful about as you move towards this strategy is that to begin with, students will get cross with you for not helping them!
Visible Learning & The Science of how we Learn – John Hattie & Gregory Yates
Facilitated by Andy Allen
- Often, as soon as students begin to struggle, they shut down. We need to support them with this struggle.
- The greatest gift that we can give to the is to allow them to fail, and then help them to learn from it.
- Working memory can only cope with about 3-4 bits of information/ instruction. Too often we overload them whilst teaching them.
- To learn we need to focus and concentrate – this is supported by a quiet and calm learning environment. This is in contrast to some more ‘progressive’ views of teaching that sometimes favour a busy and noisy classroom.
Mindset – Carol Dweck
Facilitated by Jas Rose
Fixed mindset students can often appear arrogant/disruptive, as they don’t want to engage with the task/test for fear of failing and so appearing ‘not smart’. Alternatively, they will appear to be embarrassed. The group were then going on to explore and discuss three questions:
- How can we use ‘frontline feedback’ (from students) to inform and develop our teaching?
- What techniques do you use to engage students who are exhibiting the fixed mindset ‘signs’ as described above?
- What revision techniques do you use to support and embed learning – so students can experience success?
The Secret of Literacy: Making the Implicit Explicit – David Didau
Facilitated by Ben Crockett
- Important that all teachers see themselves as teachers of literacy.
- Having a good subject knowledge, knowing your subject inside out, is essential for effective teaching. Lessons built on artificial knowledge from the teacher are not effective.
- Martin Robinson suggests that a lack of teacher knowledge leads to waffle and waffle leads to a lack of academic language being used.
- Do we put as much emphasis into planning our explanations e.g. hooks, intonation, pace, story telling etc as we do other aspects of our teaching?
- A great exercise is to not use technology for a week – just you, the whiteboard and a whiteboard marker – no powerpoints etc! This makes your teaching far more responsive and ‘organic’. Often what you write on the board is a great way of modelling your own thinking process.
Why Don’t Students Like School? – Daniel Willingham
Facilitated by Jane Squire
- Use and build on their prior knowledge. ICT teacher Andy Paul was explaining how his students were struggling with the sequencing aspect of algorithms. So they thought about something they did everyday, such as running a bath, and wrote this out as a sequence. They then managed algorithms easily!
- Strengthen explanations by playing to our love of story telling!
- We remember what we think about – so make it hard, so students have to think!
The Hidden Lives of Learners – Graham Nuthall
Facilitated by Martyn Simmonds
- Need to be careful of dominant students in group work – as their peers will take notice of them and they may be wrong.
- Monitor what they are learning, not what we think they are learning.
- When students are discussing their work/thinking, when do we jump in if they are getting it wrong? Or do we leave it and let them work it out for themselves?
- Misconceptions can spread like a virus around a classroom – be aware of this.
- We need to encounter things three times in order to really learn it. We often move through the curriculum too fast and don’t provide opportunities for this. This is where interleaving the curriculum is so important (chunking topics up, so you keep coming back to them) – how many times have we said something like “Come on, we’re at the end of Y9 and you did this at the start of Y8…you must remember it!” Don’t be surprised if they don’t remember it!
Teach Like a Champion – Doug Lemov
Facilitated by Emma Mason
- Think about how often you interrupt students from their work during lessons – usually to give one or two students an instruction. Avoid this by using non-verbal communication with students e.g. if a student is off task, walk past them and tap on their desk; get students into the habit of using signs for specific things e.g. a hand up with a thumb stretched out means ‘can I borrow a pen please’.
- Normalise errors – so if they get an answer wrong, don’t just tell them – question them further to develop their response. Similarly, if they get it right, don’t make a big deal of it – again, develop their response by further questioning.
Practice Perfect – Lemov, Woolway & Yezzi
Facilitated by Chris Runeckles
- Show students exemplar work – ‘this one is a grade B and this one is a grade A, what’s different about it?’
- If they are stuck, go back a couple of stages and find out exactly what’s stopping them from doing it. Then work on refining these skills.
- Quality of feedback is key – needs to be very specific to the individual student.
An Ethic of Excellence – Ron Berger
Facilitated by Claire Gray
- Show students a piece of work from a student in another class and get them to critique it – this makes it far more objective as they don’t know who has produced the work.
- Alternatively, the teacher produces a piece of work that students critique.
- A number of staff are trialling the use of ipevo USB cameras to display student work on their whiteboards, for peer critique.
- A danger of just using one exemplar piece of student work, is that students will just try to copy that. So instead, use 3 or 4 different exemplars. This avoids copying a particular style and highlights the importance of individuality and creativity.
Make it Stick – Brown, Roediger & McDaniel
Facilitated by Carole Burden
During exams, anxiety can take up a great deal of their cognitive capability. So how can we reduce this anxiety?
- Revise with them all the time, so that it becomes normal.
- Walking talking mocks in exams venues are sometimes used to address this (though probably not popular with the PE department!)
- Show them revision strategies that have been shown to work – so they feel secure about what they are doing. The work of Dunlosky et al is useful for this.