The beneficial side-effects of retrieval practice

By Andy Tharby

Over the past three years, many teachers, departments and schools have wholeheartedly adopted the evidence that supports ‘retrieval practice’. Put simply, retrieval practice involves diving into your memory to recall information that you have previously learnt – which, in turn, strengthens the memory and increases the likelihood that you will recall it next time round. Many teachers use quizzes based on prior learning – often at the start of lessons – as a way of ensuring that retrieval practice becomes a regular habit.

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This week’s blog on the Durrington Research School website summarises some useful advice for those trying to implement retrieval practice effectively:

  • There is no need to change teaching style – retrieval practice can be a standalone task.
  • Don’t allow students to look the answer up in their book.
  • It doesn’t need to add extra time to your teaching. Swap ineffective activities for retrieval practice strategies.
  • There is no need to change your curriculum, textbook or resources. Use your classroom materials to support retrieval practice questions.
  • Ensure all students engage with it.
  • Try to do it as much as possible and space it out – make sure you cover material from previous lessons.
  • Retrieval practice can reduce test anxiety in students.
  • The retrieval benefit from short answer vs. multiple choice quizzes appears to be similar.
  • Retrieval practice should remain ‘low-stakes’. It is a learning strategy not an assessment tool.

In this post, we will investigate some of the beneficial side effects of retrieval practice for students and teachers, especially when it is used as regular ‘starter’ or ‘do now’ task at the opening of a lesson. We will also look at a number of alternative ways of providing opportunities for retrieval practice. It need not always be death by quizzing!

Formative assessment. Even though retrieval practice is best used for ‘low-stakes’ testing – i.e. when scores are not shared and grades not awarded – there are many subtle ways that teachers can use quizzing to respond in the moment and adapt their teaching. For example, after a quiz some teachers ask “Which of the five questions was the hardest?”. The resulting feedback offers an immediate chance for the teacher to address a misconception, re-iterate a key fact or re-teach a complex idea. Similarly, it is very easy to scan a room and get a quick picture of which questions many students have not answered or those that have led to incorrect responses. As I say to my groups: “I’m not worried about what you know; I’m worried about what you don’t know.” Quizzing helps us to uncover these hidden knowledge gaps.

A springboard for development. One of my favourite questioning strategies is to ask a closed question and then follow up with a probing question. For instance:

“Do you think a relationship like George and Lennie’s relationship was typical during the Great Depression?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Questioning like this works so well because it pinpoints an idea, gives a student an instant sense of success and begins the process of drawing out an idea. After students have answered a retrieval quiz, it is always a good idea to probe their thinking and encourage them to make connections. Do the class understand the significance of the fact or idea? Can they link it to the wider ideas of the topic or subject?

Prioritising key concepts. It is important that quizzes are centred around the key ideas or concepts that underpin the subject. For example, a question like “Give an example of foreshadowing from Chapter 1?” is more useful than “What does Lennie have in his pocket?” This is because foreshadowing is a key element of literary structure, a concept that will be returned to again and again in the study of English Literature, whereas the dead mouse in Lennie’s pocket is specific to only one context, the novella Of Mice and Men. If retrieval practice  centres on the  big ideas of your subject, then every time a student walks into your lesson they will be compelled to think about these concepts. Over time, this is bound to shape their thinking.

Mixing it up. There are many different tasks that constitute retrieval practice. If a student is actively using their memory, then it is likely that retrieval practice is occurring in some way. Trigger words, images and key facts can all provide the clue required to spark the act of retrieval. Responses to clues can be written or verbal – or even silent thoughts. Once students have developed a decent knowledge of a topic, they can be expected to take ‘free recall’ tasks – e.g. write down everything you know about Lady Macbeth? This allows the teacher to assess the ‘shape’ of a student’s knowledge as well as the breadth. After all, it is no good knowing lots of stuff unless you can use it and organise it in a beneficial way. This task is even more effective when organisational templates – such as mind maps and flowcharts – have been taught in advance.

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In all, retrieval practice comes with many teaching and learning benefits. It is most effective when it is planned as a door to learning rather than a simple activity to keep the class quiet.

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Threshold Concepts for Teachers

“A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view.” (Meyer and Land, 2003)

Both as people and professionals we will have encountered threshold concepts.  Be it how to interpret the London tube map or teaching students phonics.  There is no going back once learnt and they are transformative in nature.

This year at Durrington we have framed our teaching and learning priorities around what we consider to be the key threshold concepts for teachers working in our context.  I stress our context, as undoubtedly other schools may choose different concepts and there would be a debate as to which would make the top four.  Our rationale is that we believe that once teachers truly and deeply understand these concepts, their teaching will be tranformed for the better and will never be the same.

As a Research School our threshold concepts are based on areas of strength in terms of research-evidence together with what we consider to be essential for our staff.  They are:

Thresholds

The extra elements in brackets are where they relate to our six princples, which those familar with our approach at Durrington will be aware of.  During our first day back INSET myself and Fran Haynes split these between us to share with staff.  We focused on where we were on our journey with these concepts and where we wanted to be.  For each section we started with a timeline.

Formative assessment

Form Ass

We know from the work of Dylan Wiliam and others that formative assessment is capable of dramatic increases in the quality of student learning.  I have previously blogged about it here.  The slight problem we’ve encountered recently, is while the mechanisms of formative assessment are happening in lessons, the results are not always being used formatively, i.e. to directly affect teaching, learning or the curriculum.

To support teachers with this, we have narrowed formative assessment to four key types for teachers to work on this year, and provided advice on how these methods of assessment can be used formatively.  This is not to say other methods of formative assessment are outlawed, but rather to give the implementation of this sometimes hidden form of assessment, greater focus.  The four are (with suggestions on how to make them formative):

Quizzes & multi-choice questions

  • Ask: “how many people got this one right?”
  • Scan the books during the quiz.
  • Have a look at the end of the lesson.

Reading or observing student work

  • Keep a book!  Read a class set of books and note down what are the key misconceptions ready to re-teach them next lesson.
  • Change the plan.  If you see something is worng, go off script to correct it.
  • Use summative assessments formatively.  Whole class feedback is particularly effective here.

Questioning

  • Elaborative questions.  Use these to find out how deeply students understand a topic in order for you to fill the blanks.
  • Ask a lot.  The more you ask the more learning you uncover!
  • Plan them – what they are and who to ask.
  • Ask for an audit.  Get a colleague to sit in a lesson and record who in the class asks or answers a question.

Breaking a complex task down into several component parts and assessing one part at a time.

  • Assess just that section with formative comments.  Chose one single part of a complex procedure.  Just practice this part and then either through live marking or written marking give formative comments on how to improve.
  • Live mark.  Either verbally or through written prompts or ideally questions mark student wotk as it is being completed.

Metacognition

Metaco Tconc

As the timeline above shows, while metacognition has been on our radar for some time, it is only in the last year that we have made it a teaching and learning priority.  You can find a previous blog about it here.  As with formative assessment, the evidence that this is a strategy that can potentially have a transformational effect on learning is compelling.  However, it is a tricky concept to crystallise for teachers and so has the potential to fall short of this level of impact in practice.

During the summer term I completed an evaluation of where we were with metacognition.  This involved three parts: trace observations; questionnaires for teachers who had been specfically working on metacognition as part of their appraisal; questionnaires with curriculum leaders (for which I had done a baseline questionnaire in September).

The results were interesting.  The questionnaires revealed that while teacher understanding and use of metacognitive strategies has increased this year, this has not year filtered through to our students.  Our teachers are doing a lot different due to their learning around metacogition, but as yet, it seems, this is not having a significant effect on student behaviour.  This is then our next big focus as the value in metacognition is all about student behaviour and self-regulation.  Our next steps to make this shift are therefore to:

  • Use the language of metacognition with staff, students and parents.
    • Plan, monitor, evaluate
  • Explain the purpose of tasks – a lot.
  • Ask the right questions when we intervene to explicitally teach metacogntive knowledge and regualtion.
  • Teach them the cognitive strategies that we as experts possess.
  • Use the 7-step model from the EEF guidance report to teach these strategies.
  • Provide scaffolded monitoring activities such as checklists.
  • Build structured reflection time into our curriculum.

Vocabulary

At Durrington, we started our whole-school literacy focus based on using explicit vocabulary instruction in November 2017 (which you can read about here). Since the launch, explicit vocabulary instruction has been adopted widely across curriculum areas and we are now confident that all teachers are aware of the link between student success and their breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge. For example, staff are confident at differentiating between tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary as it is used in different contexts and have made careful decisions about which repertoire of words (and therefore concepts) would most benefit students in the subjects that they teach. Curriculum areas are also embedding vocabulary instruction in lessons through the use of knowledge organisers, which you can read about here.

An area that we have found requires more detailed CPD is ensuring teachers know the difference between modelling vocabulary when teaching and explicitly instructing students in their own vocabulary use. To support teachers in effectively teaching vocabulary we shared several evidence-informed strategies including the Frayer model, sentence stems and use of morphology and etymology. This has proven to be a successful move as curriculum areas felt able to adopt the practices that best suited their subject pedagogy whilst ensuring that the ‘active ingredients’, or non-negotiables, of vocabulary instruction are consistent across the school.

The next stage of implementation for vocabulary instruction at DHS will involve:

  • All curriculum areas adopting evidence-based practices for vocabulary instruction as part of the daily diet of lessons, including effective use of knowledge organisers;
  • The creation of five-year vocabulary curriculum maps so that vocabulary instruction is planned as part of a progression model. This will help students to strengthen their vocabulary breadth and depth more sustainably through careful, incremental instruction;
  • Better use of formative and summative assessment of vocabulary so that the impact of the literacy strategy can be monitored and evaluated, thus ensuring maximum gains for students.

Cognitive Load Theory and Memory

Cognitive load theory and the research evidence around the role of memory in learning is probably our least visited threshold concept at Durrington at this time. As a teaching staff, there is a clear but somewhat generalised awareness that ‘memory’ is important to learning. This has resulted in some excellent pedagogical practice across curriculum areas, especially in terms of retrieval quizzes, cumulative assesment, use of live modelling and worked examples. However, the reality is that whilst this classroom practice is sound, and certainly something that we wish to see developed and embedded over the next few years, not all of our teachers could articulate why they have put these strategies in place.

As a research school it is important to us that all of our our teachers develop as evidence-informed practitioners so that they can make the best possible decisions for the specific students sat in front of them. With this in mind, our aim over the next year is to deepen our shared understanding of the most influential ideas that underpin cognitive load theory so that every approach and strategy used in a classroom is informed and strengthed by this knowledge base. Key components of this will be the work of John Sweller and his explanations of the types of information held in the working memory: intrinsic load, extrinisc lead and germane load. This in turn will lead to greater appreciation of the negative effects of cognitive overload on learning and how these can be mitigated in the classroom. You can read about the reserach evidence of cognitive load theory that we will be using in this blog by Andy Thaby here.

We are very excited to be setting out on this part of our journey as an evidence-informed school. Guiding our next steps through the framework of threshold concepts means that  teachers can benefit from both implementation of the best subject-specific pedagogy as well as a rich understanding of how to increase the effects of of those practices for all students in all lessons.

 

 

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Working Together in 2019-20

As now is the time when schools are thinking about their CPD offer for next year, we wanted to let you know about the training we are offering for 2019-20 as a Research School.  We have focused on topics that we believe will be high  priority  for  school improvement work.   We will be offering a range of different training opportunities:

  • 3 Day training programme
  • 1 Day workshops
  • Twilights
  • 1 Day subject specific workshops
  • Support packages for NQTs and RQTs.

 

You can find out more about these at our ‘Training Offer Launch Event’ on 12th September 2019, 5.00pm-6.30pm at Durrington High School.  During this evening you will be able to hear about all of our training opportunities as well as being able to discuss more training and support to suit your school improvement priorities.  You can reserve your free place/s for this here.

In the meantime though, here is a summary of what we have on offer.

3 Day Training Programmes

  • We are delighted that author and pupil premium expert Marc Rowland will be leading our ‘Effective use of the Pupil Premium fund’ training.  Marc was Director of the Rosendale Research School in south London and wrote the really popular book ‘An Updated Practical Guide to the Pupil Premium’.  He now works full time supporting schools with improving their Pupil Premium provision.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Curriculum is now a key focus for the new OFSTED inspection framework and so is also at the forefront of school leaders’ thinking.  To support schools with this we are leading an ‘Evidence Informed Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment’ training programme.  This will explore how these three key areas should be aligned and what the research evidence says about them in terms of effective practice.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Improving Behaviour & Attendance’ is key to school improvement.  This training programme will explore what the research evidence says about this, including the new EEF behaviour guidance report on this topic.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • As we learn more and more from the field of cognitive science about how we learn, we need to ensure that the key messages from this are threading through our teaching.  Our ‘Improving Memory & Metacognition’ training programmes will explore these two key areas of learning and how they can be mobilised in the classroom.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Literacy development is incredibly important to our young people, especially those from a disadvantaged background.  Unfortunately most strategies employed by schools to address this are not based on research evidence and have limited impact.  Our ‘Evidence Informed Approaches to Improving Literacy’ training programme, aimed at secondary teachers, will provide you with a range of strategies to address this.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • For primary colleagues, we are offering ‘Improving Literacy in Primary Schools’.  Details  and booking information are available here

1 Day Workshops

We are also offering a variety of one day workshops next year:

  • If you enjoyed ‘Making every lesson count’ by Shaun Allison & Andy Tharby then this day is for you! During the day we will explore the research evidence behind the six pedagogical principles from the book, and how this can be mobilised in the classroom.  Details and booking information are available here.
  • The EEF Implementation Guidance Report has become a ‘must-read’ document for school leaders.  This ‘Leading Effective Implementation’ one day workshop will explore the main stages of effective implementation.  Leaders will then be given the opportunity to produce an implementation plan for an aspect of their school improvement plan.  Details and booking information are available here.
  • A growing number of schools are realising the importance of appointing a ‘Research Lead’.  In ‘Becoming a Research Lead’ we will explore the difference a Research Lead can make to a school; what a Research Lead does; how you can know if you are making a difference.  Details and booking information are available here.
  • Join us for a ‘Leadership Open Day’ at Durrington High School to hear about, discuss and see how we have focused on improving teaching and learning and CPD by adopting a more evidence informed approach to school improvement.  Details and booking information are available here.

We also have a range of one-day workshops focusing on effective and evidence-informed teaching in particular subjects:

Support for NQTs and RQTs

Getting early career teachers off to a flying start is key to the success of our schools.  To support you with this, we are offering the following:

  • NQT Support & Development Programme’ – 3 twilight sessions spread throughout the year, focusing on the key lessons from research evidence that NQTs need to refine and develop their teaching.  Details and booking here.
  • For primary NQTs, we are leading a more intense programme – ‘Evidence Informed Support for Primary NQTs: Ks1 and 2’.  This consists of 5 half-day sessions throughout the year, focusing on key aspects of planning and teaching. Details and booking here.
  • For RQTs (Recently Qualified Teachers – in their 2nd-5th year of teaching, we are offering an ‘RQT Support & Development Programme’ consisting of 3 twilights. Deails and booking here.

Twilights

And finally, for those who prefer their CPD in bite-size chunks, we are offering a range of twilight sessions throughout the year, running from 4pm-5.30pm.  The topics are listed below:

Twilights give schools a flexible approach to CPD.  Schools can buy individual places on the twilights that suit their improvement priorities.  Alternatively, you can buy our twilight package for £250. This allows you to send one member of staff to each twilight session on offer.

Alongside this, if you would like to discuss a more bespoke training programme/event to meet your specific improvement priorities (as a school, MAT or TSA), then please do not hesitate to get in touch – research@durring.com .  

As always, you can also contact us if you have any questions about our training offer or any other ways in which we can work together to support your school improvement work.

Thanks to everybody we have worked with this year – have a great summer!

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Improving Secondary Literacy – ideas from the EEF Guidance Report

The EEF’s most recent Guidance Report on Improving Literacy in Secondary School examines the research on how to best support students who struggle to read, write and communicate to the required demands at secondary school. The report provides 7 detailed and evidence informed recommendations to support literacy provision in schools:

  1. Prioritise disciplinary literacy across the curriculum
  2. Provide targeted vocabulary instruction in every subject
  3. Develop student’s ability to read complex academic texts
  4. Break down complex writing tasks
  5. Combine writing instruction with reading
  6. Provide opportunities for structured talk
  7. Provide high quality literacy interventions for struggling students

For a more detailed consideration of these please refer to Fran Haynes latest Research School blog which can be found here. The success of these guidance reports is of course dependent on the quality of the implementation of any/all of the recommendations, as such this blog will aim to demonstrate how the humanities departments at Durrington have developed practical classroom strategies to support the implantation of recommendations 2 and 3.

A. Providing Targeted Vocabulary Instruction in every subject

Explicit vocabulary instruction is integral in developing disciplinary literacy, and departments must have a secure understanding of the key tier 2 and 3 vocabulary required to be successful within their subject and explicitly teach this vocabulary as part of their curriculum. As part of their curriculum review at the end of last year, the Geography department identified that student’s use of tier 3 vocabulary was strong, but their limited tier 2 vocabulary was restricting their attainment, particularly at KS4 where long-worded questions with complex vocabulary were preventing students from accessing the correct knowledge. In addition some vocabulary was causing confusion due to its very different meanings from subject to subject – for example the meaning of “factor” in maths was very different to its meaning in Geography. As a result, Sam Atkins (Deputy Lead of Geography) set about identifying a set of core tier 2 vocabulary for each unit of kS3 taught that students would be expected by the end of the unit to know, understand and apply in their own work. These words were derived from Averil Coxhead’s list of academic words, which can be found here, with 10 academic/tier 2 words, being linked to each SoW. Once this vocabulary had been identified, the challenging of ensuring it was taught was next. Simply using this vocabulary in lessons is not sufficient, nor is giving the students the list and asking them to learn their spellings/definitions. As a result, Sam developed a homework based on the school wide literacy policy in which not only did students need to learn the spelling and definition of the work but they also had to show their understanding of the word through test and stem sentences. The test sentence activity involves the students having to choose between two sentences; one in which the tier 2 word has been used correctly and one where it has not, while the stem sentences ask the students to complete a sentence starter by using the word. This system prioritises understanding over just knowledge of the vocabulary. Below is part of a year 9 homework for Geography looking at tier 2 vocabulary associated with a scheme of work on “The Development of China”.

china ts

B. Developing Students Ability to Read Complex Academic Texts

Academic reading is naturally challenging, and subsequently students avoid reading such texts and teachers may be fearful of providing students with them. However the EEF recommends that students should actively engage with complex subject specific texts. Effective readers of informational texts continually draw upon a wealth of prior knowledge, language skills and ability to infer to develop their understanding of the text. Some of the strategies recommended by the EEF to support students in reading academic texts, include activating prior knowledge, predicting what might happen next as the text is read, questioning and summarising the text. As part of their KS3 homework provision both the Geography and SME team at DHS have been attempting to embed academic reading into their curriculum. Each KS3 SoW has one homework which expects students to read part of or a whole academic text, selected from a reliable source such as broadsheet newspaper, academic journal and subject association article. This text will be linked to the unit of study. Students will be asked to read the extract for their homework, and generate 5 of their own questions about the texts to check their comprehension. They will then be asked to summarise the meaning of the text to consolidate and elaborate upon their understanding. An example of the a KS3 SME reading article can be seen below.

ar

 

Of course, such strategies only scratch the surface of literacy instruction in secondary schools, and the EEF recommend a vast variety of ideas that can be utilised in the classroom. If you would like to explore the EEF Guidance report and its recommendation then why not join us at Durrington High for our three-day literacy training programme in 2019-2020. This will be an opportunity to explore the guidance and further research evidence on literacy at secondary level, as well as hear suggestions for practical ways to coordinate and implement literacy approaches at your school. Details can be found here

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Implementation

The Education Endowment Foundation offers a very insightful guide into how schools can put evidence into practice. This can be found here.

The EEF state that schools are learning organisations. They continuously strive to do better for the children and young people in their charge. In doing so, they try new things, seek to learn from those experiences, and work to adopt and embed the practices.

Implementation is a key aspect of what schools do to improve, and yet it is a domain of school practice that rarely receives sufficient attention. In our collective haste to do better for pupils, new ideas are often introduced with too little consideration for how the changes will be managed and what steps are needed to maximise the chances of success. Too often the who, why, where, when, and how are overlooked, meaning implementation risks becoming an ‘add on’ task expected to be tackled on top of the day-to-day work. As a result, projects initiated with the best of intentions can fade away as schools struggle to manage these competing priorities.

This blog will aim to suggest, in line with the EEF’s guidance report, steps to follow in order to ‘implement’ change coherently within a school setting. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great an educational idea or intervention is in principle; what really matters is how it manifests itself in the day-to-day work of people in schools.

Step Number Recommendation Detail
1 Treat implementation as a process, not an event; plan and execute it in stages. Allow enough time for effective implementation, particularly in the preparation stage; prioritise appropriately.
2 Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.
  • Set the stage for implementation through school policies, routines, and practices.
  • Identify and cultivate leaders of implementation throughout the school.
  • Build leadership capacity through implementation teams.
3 Define the problem you want to solve and identify appropriate programmes or practices to implement.
  • Specify a tight area of focus for improvement that is amenable to change.
  • Determine a programme of activity based on existing evidence of what has – and hasn’t – worked before.
  • Examine the fit and feasibility of possible interventions to the school context.
  • Make an adoption decision.
4 Create a clear implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources. Develop a clear, logical, and well-specified implementation plan:

  • Specify the active ingredients of the intervention clearly: know where to be ‘tight’ and where to be ‘loose’.
  • Develop a targeted, yet multi-stranded, package of implementation strategies.
  • Define clear implementation outcomes and monitor them using robust and pragmatic measures.
  • Thoroughly assess the degree to which the school is ready to implement the innovation.

 

Once ready to implement an intervention, practically prepare for its use:

  • Create a shared understanding of the implementation process and provide appropriate support and incentives.
  • Introduce new skills, knowledge, and strategies with explicit up-front training.
  • Prepare the implementation infrastructure.
5 Support staff, monitor progress, solve problems, and adapt strategies as the approach is used for the first time ·         Adopt a flexible and motivating leadership approach during the initial attempts at implementation.

  • Reinforce initial training with follow-on coaching within the school.
  • Use highly skilled coaches.
  • Complement expert coaching and mentoring with structured peer-to-peer collaboration.
  • Use implementation data to actively tailor and improve the approach.
  • Make thoughtful adaptations only when the active ingredients are securely understood and implemented.
6 Plan for sustaining and scaling an intervention from the outset and continually acknowledge and nurture its use.
  • Plan for sustaining and scaling an innovation from the outset.
  • Treat scale-up as a new implementation process.
  • Ensure the implementation data remains fit for purpose.
  • Continually acknowledge, support, and reward good implementation practices.

The diagram below summarizes the 6 steps:

The two fundamental elements when using these recommendations above are:

  1. To treat implementation as a process, not an event. Plan and execute in stages.
  2. Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.

James Crane

 

 

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Evolving homework

I often tell our staff at Durrington: “homework isn’t going anywhere.”

I’m starting to realise this phrase is open to misinterpretation.

What I mean is: homework is important at secondary school (according to research evidence) so get used to it, because it will remain a priority until that changes.  However, upon reflection it may sound like I’m bemoaning the fact it isn’t moving forward.  Which is not what I mean at all.  Perhaps I need to work on my whole-staff communication.

This year has been a year of evolution for homework at Durrington.  I explained the changes we were making in a blog I wrote back in October that you can read here.  It wasn’t so much that homework was bad, it was more that some systems needed tightening and we needed to add some extra layers of detail to what we felt constituted effective homework.  As Dylan Wiliam so eloquently put it at a ResearchEd in 2014: “Most homework that teachers set is crap.”  And if the homework isn’t any good then all the positive effects the research-evidence points to will be lost.

We have kept with the four Durrington principles that all homework must either embed, improve, extend or apply learning, and together with some additions from the world of educational research, have created the following active ingredients for our homework:

HW AI

What we haven’t said to staff is that all homework must involve every single one of these elements as this would create confusion and a tick box approach.  What we have said, however, is that a homework that doesn’t take account of these principles must not be set.

What this is leading to is more homework that is deeply integrated into the curriculum, teaching and assessment.  It is feeling less like a bolt-on and more an extension of what happens in the classroom.

An example is this history homework:

HW hist

Here’s how this homework would connect to our active ingredients:

  • It embeds knowledge on the early Cold War.
  • It applies this knowledge through a practice question.
  • It involves retrieval practice as the quiz questions are answered from memory.
  • It exploits the benefits of spaced practice as this homework was set while students were learning about crime and punishment in lessons.
  • Feedback for the quiz questions is through teachers revealing the answers at the start of the lesson and students marking their own.  The exam answers are marked summatively with formative feedback provided through whole-class feedback on common misconceptions.
  • The quiz questions involve tier 3 vocab.

Not all homeworks need a list this long, but they must demonstrate clear connections to our active ingredients.  How this looks has been left to subject areas, with our refurbished homework policy documents created with active ingredient tick lists to ensure this has been considered for all homework we plan to set.  It is then up to curriculum leaders to monitor in the first instance with line managers and myself providing the overview.

As always, the evolution continues, but, just to be clear, homework isn’t going anywhere.

Posted by Chris Runeckles

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Durrington Research School 2019-20 Training Offer

Regular readers of ClassTeaching will know that we also lead the Durrington Research School.  As now is the time when schools are thinking about their CPD offer for next year, we wanted to let you know about the training programmes the Research School will be offering for 2019-20. We have focused on topics that we believe will be high on your priority list for your own school improvement work. Details follow.

  • We are delighted that author and pupil premium expert Marc Rowland will be leading our ‘Effective use of the Pupil Premium fund’ training. Marc was Director of the Rosendale Research School in south London and wrote the really popular book ‘An Updated Practical Guide to the Pupil Premium’. He now works full time supporting schools with improving their Pupil Premium provision. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Curriculum is now a key focus for the new OFSTED inspection framework and so is also at the forefront of school leaders’ thinking. To support schools with this we are leading an ‘Evidence Informed Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment’ training programme. This will explore how these three key areas should be aligned and what the research evidence says about them in terms of effective practice. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Improving Behaviour & Attendance’ is key to school improvement. This training programme will explore what the research evidence says about this, including the new EEF behaviour guidance report on this topic. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • As we learn more and more from the field of cognitive science about how we learn, we need to ensure that the key messages from this are threading through our teaching. Our ‘Improving Memory & Metacognition’ training programmes will explore these two key areas of learning and how they can be mobilised in the classroom. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Literacy development is incredibly important to our young people, especially those from a disadvantaged background. Unfortunately most strategies employed by schools to address this are not based on research evidence and have limited impact. Our ‘Evidence Informed Approaches to Improving Literacy’ training programme, will provide you with a range of strategies to address this. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.

We are also offering a variety of one day workshops next year. Details follow.

  • If you enjoyed Making every lesson count’ by Shaun Allison & Andy Tharby then this day is for you! During the day we will explore the research evidence behind the six pedagogical principles from the book, and how this can be mobilised in the classroom. Details and booking information are available here.
  • The EEF Implementation Guidance Report has become a ‘must-read’ document for school leaders. This ‘Leading Effective Implementation’ one day workshop will explore the main stages of effective implementation. Leaders will then be given the opportunity to produce an implementation plan for an aspect of their school improvement plan. Details and booking information are available here.
  • A growing number of schools are realising the importance of appointing a ‘Research Lead’. In ‘Becoming a Research Lead’ we will explore the difference a Research Lead can make to a school; what a Research Lead does; how you can know if you are making a difference. Details and booking information are available here.
  • Join us for a ‘Leadership Open Day’ at Durrington High School to hear about, discuss and see how we have focused on improving teaching and learning and CPD by adopting a more evidence informed approach to school improvement. Details and booking information are available here.

Alongside this, if you would like to discuss a more bespoke training programme/event to meet your specific improvement priorities (for schools or MATs), then please do not hesitate to get in touch – research@durring.com . We will also be offering our popular ‘NQT Support & Development Programme’ again next year.

We look forward to working with you in 2019-20.

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