Blog of the Week: 20 November 2020 – Connection Cues

Kat Howard

I’ve been thinking about how I use retrieval in the classroom, and how over time, this has become a much more responsive process, with a sense of automaticity that was certainly not there in the earlier years of my teaching practice. I thought it might be useful to share my thinking on how to set about the task of using retrieval in an organic way that pushes beyond substantive recall, and looks to achieve perhaps a little more than that at a conceptual level to aid delivery of the curriculum.

I wanted to explore the core components of the way in which I use retrieval in my explanation and questioning with students, as opposed to an isolated event at the start or close of the lesson. To be able to ascertain the process, I sought to first establish the stumbling blocks of why, whilst retrieval to engage students is effective…

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Blog of the Week: 13 November 2020 – One Sentence at a Time

The Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to Write Well

By Judith C. Hochman, Natalie Wexler

American Educator Summer 2017

When Monica entered high school, her writing skills were minimal. After repeating first grade and getting more than 100 hours of tutoring in elementary school, she’d managed to learn to read well enough to get by, and she was comfortable with math. But writing seemed beyond her reach.

During her freshman year at New Dorp High School, a historically low-performing school on Staten Island in New York City, Monica’s history teacher asked her to write an essay on Alexander the Great. “I think Alexander the Great was one of the best military leaders,” Monica wrote. Her entire response consisted of six simple sentences, one of …

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Blog of the Week: CLT 2.0 – The Teacher Scaffolding Effects


Cognitive Load Theory is increasingly impacting on teachers. Its latest inclusion being in the Early Career Framework.  Alongside its wider impact on policy, it is featuring in professional development programmes, influencing people’s thinking and hopefully their approach to teaching.  At its heart, it is a theory about instructional (teaching) design. 

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Blog of the Week: 23 October 2020 – Booklets, Rosenshine, Teach Like A Champion, and Knowledge-Rich Curriculum

Booklets are a brilliant tool in delivering an ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum. While a curriculum can never be reduced to booklets, it can be highly codified in them and in doing so is much more likely to be consistently enacted in lessons. The subject of planning with booklets has often been misunderstood: it is necessary for teachers to plan for lessons delivered with booklets, and planning consists of three strands. For two of these strands, Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction provide a useful structure as a starting point, but caution is advised. Any generic model will eventually fall foul of subject specialism if applied unthinkingly; instead of mandating rigid structures to all teachers of all subjects we should proceed with questions and trust, ultimately, in what the subject tells us is appropriate.

Let us first briefly outline the benefits of booklets. The booklet model can provide:

A minimum guarantee – If your department uses booklets to codify curriculum as far as possible, then you are immediately lifting the minimum guarantee in several key areas. The content itself is no longer left to individual teachers’ interpretations of a section of the spec, what they think will or won’t engage that particular group, or what was free on TES when they were planning on Sunday night. Subject leaders are empowered to really lead their subject and assure excellence in the substance …

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Blog of the Week: 16 October 2020 – Front-loading

A Chemical Orthodoxy

Scene: it is 3.02pm and 8Sc2 have been working well throughout the double lesson. The bell goes at 3.05pm

Teacher: ok year 8, well done today. In a minute we are going to pack up and stand behind our chairs, but I want you to make sure you havewritten down the homework from the board. Dave and Charlie please stay at the end and can you all remember to put all papers in the bin.


As a set of instructions, this looks pretty clean. The teacher praises the class, uses economy of language (as few words as possible), doesn’t get bogged down in details and gives directives that are clear and easy to follow. And yet, as any teacher will know, it doesn’t work. As soon as the teacher is a few words in noise starts to build as students pack away their books and pencil cases, start…

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Blog of the Week: 9 October 2020 – Nurturing history teachers and teaching in a time of Covid


Thanks to Kath Goudie and Corinne Goullee from Cottenham Village College for reflecting on the story so far… academic year 2020-21. They share with us their determination to keep great history teaching and learning and curriculum development to the fore. We are loving the idea of a department ‘Pipe Roll’!

As we approach the end of possibly the longest September in living memory, we wanted to take the opportunity to share some reflections on how we have coped with teaching with COVID restrictions in place, whilst keeping our focus on what we have always valued.  This has not been easy, but we hope these brief reflections will prove reassuring and thought provoking.

Nomadic Life

Running from one side of the school to the other is certainly a challenge, particularly when it involves going all the way up two flights to stairs to maths. To make this more bearable, we have…

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Blog of the Week: 17 July 2020 – Assessing learning in the new academic year (Part 2 of 2)

Having explored the different purposes for school assessment in the academic year ahead in part 1, here EEF senior associate Prof. Rob Coe looks at the role of quality assessment in helping teachers understand how best to help your pupils regain any learning lost during Covid-19 school closures.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most high-profile topics in English education proved to be the content and aims of the school curriculum. Too often, curriculum was the subject of debate, but assessment received too little attention.

Any consideration of curriculum should be inextricably bound to understanding quality diagnostic learning assessments. If you want to use assessments to tell you whether students have learnt something, you need to be clear what it is you wanted them to learn in the first place. Clarity about the intended learning (ie, the curriculum) is crucial if we want to create or select questions for an assessment that will tell us what has been learnt.

Ideally, this includes thinking about the sequencing and anatomy of that learning. When a learning aim or task is complex, clarifying the curriculum includes identifying …

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Blog of the Week: 10 July 2020 – Assessing learning in the new academic year

Assessment – to help identify pupils’ learning gaps following Covid-19 school closures – has emerged as one of the top priorities for schools preparing for the new school year. In the first of this two-part blog, Prof. Rob Coe, senior associate at the EEF, looks at the different purposes of assessment to help teachers and school leaders think through what you want to put in place for the autumn.

Since the Covid-19 closure of schools in England to most children, there has been a lot of concern about learning loss and widening gaps. The EEF’s own rapid evidence assessment has suggested that school closures are likely to at the very least reverse progress made to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers since 2011.

Many teachers have suggested that when children return to ‘normal’ schooling, assessment will be crucial to identify gaps and target catch-up strategies, while others have argued that cancellation of Key Stage 2 and GCSE exams proves we can live without them and perhaps should downplay these kinds of assessments in the future. 

Assessment can certainly help to identify what students have, or have not, learnt and …

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Blog of the Week: 26 June 2020 – What does the research say about designing video lessons?

Education technology is really powerful. The problem is that it is just as easy to use that power badly as to use it well.

You can see this with video lessons – clearly video allows you to do all kinds of cool things, but how many of these cool things will help students to learn better?

The best guide I have come across is the work of Richard Mayer, in particular The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. It is truly exhaustive – it details hundreds of studies, establishes a couple of dozen principles, and makes it clear where the research is limited or in flux, and where the boundary of each principle lies. In chapter 3 of my book Teachers vs Tech I write about quite a few of Mayer’s principles. I also say that given just how complex …

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Blog of the week: 19 June 2020 – Rebooting behaviour after the lockdown

No one would have believed in the last term of 2019 that a microscopic enemy was gathering speed against us. ‘With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter,’ as H G Wells said. Suddenly, a meteor landed in our schools and abruptly playground sounds – almost – ceased. 

All schools suddenly became special schools, serving the children of key workers, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged. Almost every student in the UK was sent home on what was effectively a fixed-term exclusion. Even the default model of the physical classroom experience was replaced by emergency remote learning. The effects of this earthquake will be impossible to understand fully for years. 

And now, or at some point in the future, schools will be thinking about opening their gates wider to more groups of pupils. Whenever that is, and in what sequence, is for others to decide. But whatever the shape and timing of this awakening, schools …

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