What remote learning has taught us about: Modelling

In the fourth instalment of this mini-series from Durrington, we take a look at what we have tried, learned and will take forward from remote teaching in regards to modelling. Despite the obvious barriers to effective modelling in the remote environment, teachers at Durrington and across the country rose to the challenge to ensure this remained a fundamental and effective cornerstone of our practice.

What have we tried?

  • Loom videos have been used to model to students how to tackle a particular task.  This was often combined with the use of a visualiser or a graphic tablet, to enable to teacher to ‘live model’ the process to students, as you would on your whiteboard in a physical lesson.  This has also been used to provide students with a worked example, that can then be used as a part of ‘I, we, you’ modelling.
  • Live lessons developed this idea further, by the teacher modelling the process live to students as they were watching.  Again, this might have been combined with a visualiser or a graphic tablet.  In some instances, for example science lessons, this involved teachers physically carrying out a practical demonstration for students to watch.
  • Oak Academy lessons have proved invaluable.  The videos of teachers carefully modelling ideas and approaches have been useful not only to students, but also teachers.  Watching another teacher explain and model something is always interesting and useful.  There’s always something to learn from our colleagues!
  • Exemplar student work has also been used to support modelling during remote teaching.  Teachers have shared a piece of work online and then used it to show what students should be aiming for with their work.  This has also been used to critique a piece of work, which has then helped students to refine their own work.
  • As well as modelling how to tackle a particular task or produce a piece of work, teachers have also been explicitly modelling self-regulation.  Specifically, how students should plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning.  For example, before tackling a task, teachers will share what they are thinking about before tackling the task e.g. what similar tasks have I tackled before? What strategies did I use?  Which strategies were successful and why?  Which strategies were not successful and why? How is this informing how I’m going to tackle this task?

What we have learned?

  • Effective modelling needs to be well planned and precise.  This means it is  focused on a specific task  or approach that we want students to be able to master.  Any extraneous material that is not going to support this process needs to be removed e.g. going off-topic or additional information on slides, that are not related to the specific approach.
  • It also needs to be chunked, with time in between for students to carry out purposeful practice – with feedback.  This involves breaking down complex, multi-step tasks  into composite parts, which are then modelled in turn.  ‘I, we, you’ modelling provides a good framework for this.
  • Worked examples  are really effective as they reduce the cognitive load for students.  This is important as students learn to master new approaches.
  • Using exemplar work is a really useful step in modelling.  They show students what the end product should look like and can also help them to understand the steps that are required to get there (and the mistakes they might make on the way).
  • Modelling our metacognitive thinking and how we self-regulate our learning is as important as modelling the approach/idea that we want students to learn.

What will we keep?

Obviously we will continue to embed all the pedagogical aspects of modelling that have been discussed in this blog.  We were doing this before the pandemic, so remote learning has just served to sharpen our focus on this.  However, I think there is another huge opportunity available to us.  Thanks to Oak Academy and our own in-house Loom teacher videos, there is now virtually an entire curriculum being delivered by teachers, available online.  These recorded lessons will include a whole host of teacher explanations and teachers modelling new approaches.  What a fantastic resource – especially for those students who are impacted by socio-economic disadvantage.

These recorded lessons will be useful for a variety of reasons:

  • Students who are not in school due to illness or isolation will have access to them.
  • Students who are struggling with a topic that has been set for homework can be signposted to a recorded lesson on that topic, to support them with their homework.  For example, if a student is struggling with homework questions on simultaneous equations, they can watch a teacher explaining this to them again and again.
  • Topic checklists and revision topic lists can now be hyperlinked to lessons of teachers explaining and modelling that topic.  This is really useful when students identify the topics they are struggling with.
  • Similarly, knowledge organisers can now be hyperlinked to videos of teachers explaining/modelling key ideas.
  • For those students who have struggled to understand a topic in lessons, they can now go back and watch the teacher explaining and modelling it, three, four, or as many times as they need to.

The attainment gap remains a huge challenge for schools.  Covid has made it the most stubborn challenge that school leaders have faced.  The resources that have been developed over the past year, have the potential to make a significant contribution to  tackling this challenge.

Shaun Allison

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