Tag Archives: Teaching

Blog of the Week: 16 April 2021 – Sustainable improvement – What works in addressing learning loss

Introduction

Learning loss caused by the covid pandemic has led to a large number of catch-up initiatives internationally, such as the National Education Programme in the Netherlands, which provides schools with significant additional funding to address the issue. This and similar initiatives by national governments are to be welcomed, though the danger exists that money will be squandered rather than spent effectively. In this blog I will describe some evidence-based approaches to address learning loss.

I The teacher at the core

Notwithstanding some controversy around the term, the evidence that learning loss has arisen as a result of the pandemic is overwhelming, as is the fact that the gap is greatest among pupils from families with the lowest levels of education (Engzell, Frey & Verhagen, 2020; NFER, 2021). Government support to eliminate learning gaps is therefore welcome. However, effective interventions need to put the teacher …

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Blog of the Week: 11 December 2020 – Pupils can learn more effectively through stories than activities

A randomised controlled trial found that children learn about evolution more effectively when engaged through stories read by the teacher, than through doing tasks to demonstrate the same concept.

The scientists investigated several different methods of teaching evolution in primary schools, to test whether a pupil-centred approach (where pupils took part in an activity) or a teacher-centred approach (where pupils were read a story by the teacher), led to a greater improvement in understanding of the topic.

They also looked at whether using human-based examples of evolution (comparing arm bones in humans with those in animals), or more abstract examples that were harder to emotionally engage with (comparing the patterns of trilobites), produced better…

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Blog of the Week: 31 January 2020 – 7 Rules of Rosenshine

Reflections on schools, teaching and education.

Last weekend we (United Learning) launched our Expert Teacher Programme. We are using Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of instructions as a core text for this course. At our launch I proposed 7 Rules of Rosenshine to support teachers in developing expertise through these principles.

Rosenshine Rule 1: Theories of teaching begin with theories of learning

Whichever Rosenshine paper we choose to read, from his classic 2012 PDF published in the American Educator, to the lesser known 1982 Instructional Functions paper, it’s clear that his guidance on teaching is rooted in his understanding of how we learn. We see this in these lines from his 1986 Teaching Functions paper:

“When too much information is presented at once, our working memory becomes swamped. This suggests that when teaching new or difficult material, a teacher should proceed in small steps and provide practice on one step before adding another. In this way, the learner…

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Blog of the Week: 26 September 2019 – This much I know about…how I have transformed my own teaching

johntomsett

I have been a teacher for 31 years, a Headteacher for 16 years and, at the age of 54, this much I know about how I have transformed my own teaching.

I never thought I would transform my teaching in my 50s.

After 31 years of being in the classroom, I have never enjoyed my teaching more. For the last term I have been teaching Business Studies, a new subject for me. We had a challenging, 22 student, all-male Year 10 class. Relationships in the class were broken. I agreed with the teacher that I would remove the ten most disruptive students and teach them myself. When I told those students to stand up, pick up their bags and follow me at the beginning of their first lesson after Easter, they had no idea what was going on. I took them to my office, cramped them round my meeting…

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

teacherhead

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: 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: 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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Blog of the Week: 15 March 2019 – Messy Planning: Part Two

All Ears

If you don’t plan lessons, what do you do during your planning and preparation time?

In the first of this series of blog posts, I explained that I rarely employ the use of written lesson plans or presentation software to guide the direction of my lessons. I also asserted that it’s my use of planning and preparation (P+P) time that allows me to work this way.

The short answer to the question that opens this post is: I read. My reading can be split into two sorts: Pedagogical reading and subject reading. Because I spend as much as my P+P time reading, I believe I am a better teacher. I’d even go as far to say that if I spent my time endlessly creating Lesson Plans or PowerPoint presentations during my P+P time, instead of reading, I (emphasis on ‘I’) would be a worse teacher because of it. For me…

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