Blog of the Week: 19 September 2019 – What have you learned this year?

Pedfed

This week I was honoured to contribute to Craig Barton’s education podcast. If you haven’t subscribed to yet, I couldn’t recommend it more. Fun, positive and full of incredibly insights from a range of guests from across education.

Craig asked me to record a message outlining what I’d learnt this year, to feature alongside other teachers answering the same question. It was really hard, as I feel that with every year that passes, I know less and less about education and am more and more confused. I decided to focus on Ratio, which I’ve been lucky enough to receive some training on at my school – Reach Academy Feltham – this year. I’ve found Ratio really difficult to get right and am only on the start of my journey to harness it to make my lessons more effective, but I’ve (I think) had at least one or two successes this…

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Blog of the Week: 12 September 2019 – Great Teaching: The Power of Questioning

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In my Learning Rainforest and Evidence-informed practice CPD sessions, a core element is a focus on the power of questioning.  In my view, good in-house CPD and feedback from lesson observation should put teachers’ capacity and confidence with questioning at the centre.  In my experience, great questioning is the hallmark of a really effective teacher and sits right at the top of the list for things teachers can and should improve.  It’s far far more important to support teachers with questioning than, for example, to fuss about the quality of their marking or accuracy of their data entry.

As I’ve explored elsewhere, there is good evidence for the role questioning plays in securing strong outcomes.  It’s the frontline of formative assessment and the key tool in responsive teaching.  Teachers need feedback to them from multiple students in order to gauge how successful they have been in securing learning from their…

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Blog of the Week: 19 July 2019 – Something is happening

Something is happening in the teaching profession.

People are bounding into work, buzzing about what they read on Twitter last night. People are asking “what’s the evidence for this?” And they are finding it out, or finding out its absence.

People are giving up their Saturdays to go to conferences. Actually that’s not quite right. People are going to conferences on Saturdays and they are absolutely loving it. They can’t wait for the next one. They’re being extra-accommodating to partners in order to build up credit so they can go to the next one.

People are speaking at these conferences for free.

People are writing resources and sharing them for free.

People are reading, blogging, talking and thinking.

People are experiencing the intellectual thrill they experienced at university. Many of us had assumed that this thrill was a treat limited to the student life rather than an integral part of…

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Blog of the Week: 12 July 2019 – Thinking Curriculum: The One Stop Shop

A Chemical Orthodoxy

Thinking deeply about curriculum is new to most of us. For a long time, we’ve focussed a lot more on the how than we have on the what. Recent changes in mood have been revelatory to me and, I imagine, many others. Perhaps ironically though, most of us who are now interested in curriculum, didn’t follow a formal curriculum when learning more about curriculum. As such, and I’m happy to only speak for myself here, my knowledge came in drips and drabs, bits and pieces and stops and starts. That’s probably just the nature of the beast.

I was asked by school to deliver some training on curriculum, and argued that the thing that would be most useful would be to introduce staff to some of the key terms that are bandied around when thinking about curriculum. Familiarity with these concepts isn’t just important in and of itself, but is…

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Blog of the Week: 5 July 2019 – 10 Techniques for Retrieval Practice

teacherhead

Image Credit: https://emptechgroup.com/the-internet-of-things/

I’ve written about retrieval practice several times in other posts but here I just want to make it easy to lay out various alternative methods for the process of reviewing your students’ knowledge and understanding.   Before doing that, I would suggest that there are some key principles:

  1. Involve everyone:  Good techniques involve all students checking their knowledge, not just a few and not just one at a time as you might do when questioning.
  2. Make checking accurate and easy:  it should be possible for all students to find out what they got right and wrong, what they know well and where they have gaps. Every technique involves students testing their knowledge and then checking their work for accuracy and completeness. (This is not the same as giving students extended mark schemes to mark longer assessments which, for me goes beyond a simple retrieval practice activity)

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Blog of the Week: 21 June 2019 – Exploring Barak Rosenshine’s seminal Principles of Instruction: Why it is THE must-read for all teachers.

teacherhead

This post is based on a talk I gave at ResearchEd in Rugby.  The paper in question is Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction published in American Educator in 2012, downloadable in full as a pdf here:

I first came across if after seeing Oliver Caviglioli’s superb graphic summary for How2 – available here:

Principles-of-InstructionDownload here: 

My admiration for Rosenshine is largely informed by my experience working with teachers in various schools and colleges where I’ve been trying to engage people with research in order to support them to improve their practice.  For me, it is the best, most clear and comprehensive guide to evidence-informed teaching there is.

Here are some of the reasons:

  • It resonates for teachers of all subjects and contexts – because it focuses on aspects of teaching that are pretty much universal:  questioning, practice, building knowledge.   There are good examples from English and Maths lessons but…

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