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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Blog of the Week: 7 June 2019 – Is the Feedback You’re Giving Students Helping or Hindering?

In 38% of well-designed studies, feedback actually made performance worse—one of the most counterintuitive results in all of psychology.

If there’s a single principle teachers need to digest about classroom feedback, it’s this: The only thing that matters is what students do with it. No matter how well the feedback is designed, if students do not use the feedback to move their own learning forward, it’s a waste of time. We can debate about whether feedback should be descriptive or evaluative, but it is absolutely essential that feedback is productive.

Add to that concept a second related principle: Feedback should be more work for the student than it is for the teacher. Teachers who internalize and practice feedback based on these precepts will be well on their way to teaching that improves learning.

What the Studies Say

In their review of feedback studies conducted between 1905 and 1995, Kluger and DeNisi (1996) found that in 38% of well-designed studies, feedback actually made performance worse—one of the most counterintuitive results in all of psychology.

Let’s examine what must be the oldest and most common forms of feedback in public education: grades, rankings, and written teacher comments on tests and papers. Letter or numerical grades on papers give students information about their current performance. Class rankings give students information about their performance compared to …

 

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Blog of the Week: 24 May 2019 – I, We, You – A Simple Approach To Modelling

Class Teaching

By Andy Tharby

Modelling is the bit in the middle. It is the teaching stage that comes between the teacher’s explanation of a task or procedure and student practice. It is also the stage that is so often left out or not given enough attention by teachers. Modelling has a number of purposes: to lift the veil on hidden thinking; to demonstrate and break down step-by-step procedures; and to provide excellent examples for students to emulate.

Without careful modelling, many students are left feeling rudderless and all at sea. They have little conception of what the final product, the goal, should look like, and they do not understand the small steps they need to go through to achieve success. Inevitably, without models their thinking – and subsequent work – becomes patchy and filled with avoidable errors. Ultimately, modelling brings greater clarity.

What is less clear, however, is the best way to…

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