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Dunbar Grammar School

Learning Team Report 2012 – 2013


This year has been another eventful one for all teachers and learners at Dunbar Grammar School. We have continued to implement new courses in line with Curriculum for Excellence, strive for improvements in the variety of assessments we use to aid our learning and have tried to broaden the horizons of all learners beyond the classroom. The Dunbar Grammar Learning ran a session at the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow on a Creative Approach to Improve Thinking. The presentation shared the benefits of being in a Learning Team and how to set one up, as well as discussing how educational research can directly translate into active research projects within a classroom, which is a central theme for our learning team. The Dunbar Grammar Learning Team we also invited to speak at the first East Lothian Learning Festival on the positive impact on staff involvement from being involved with collaborative projects. The 2012-2013 session also saw Dunbar Grammar School inspected by HMIe. The feedback from this inspection noted that “each session, teachers have the opportunity to be part of a Learning Team and take forward and evaluate new approaches in the classroom. This work has resulted in improvements to classroom practice across the school.” Other relevant points from the HMIe report include • Class visits, surveys and regular discussions about approaches to learning and teaching all result in a shared understanding about what works well and where improvement is needed • Young people benefit from teachers’ clear explanations and effective questioning. They work well together in pairs and groups, supporting each other and learning together • Staff share the purposes of lessons with young people • Where teachers provide high quality feedback to young people about their learning and progress, this supports young people to have a clear understanding of their next steps in learning. There is scope to make this good practice more consistent across the school • Teachers plan tasks and activities carefully to meet the needs of young people With Learning and teaching the focus of any learning team, this session we decided to collectively work on how learners demonstrate their learning. Each member of the learning team undertook a classroom project, and evaluated it’s success. We also met in smaller ‘trio’ groups to talk through successes and next steps with our projects in a supportive manner. In the following document, you will be able to read all the reports from this session, how they impacted on the learning and any advice or next steps. Please feel free to use these reports as a point of interest and feel free to approach any of the 2012-2013 members to talk through anything that particularly interests you. We will also be running a session in the In-Service day in August to share more of the findings in a more informal way. Thank you for reading, and for taking an interest in how we can all improve learning for all. 1

Learning Team Reports 2012-2013 Theme: Demonstration of Learning

Learner Skills Development A Lane: Explaining, as well as physically demonstrating, technical tasks within PE [Page 3 – 6] E Offer: Encouraging seniors to use and develop their skills of research, discussion, analysis and presenting [Page 7 - 9] L Scott: Enabling learners to take responsibility for their own learning by completing ‘preparation for learning’ task [Page 10 - 13] Variety of Questioning R Archer: Creating Questions to Demonstrate Your Learning [Page 14 - 17] J Gardiner: Using pupil generated questions to develop analytical and evaluative skills [Page 18 - 19] S McDowell: Using open ended questions to ensure deeper levels of understanding for Higher students [Page 20 - 25] P Smith: Demonstrating understanding through Open Style Questions [Page 26 - 32] Technology A Clubb: Using Technology, including Twitter, to Demonstrate learning [Page 33 - 36] J King: Creating a database of educational videos for pupils ta have access to, in school or at home, to gain the information they needed without making poor selection choices themselves. [Page 37 - 40] Assessment For Learning Techniques A Brodie: Can Peer Teaching Enhance Students’ Demonstration of Knowledge In PE? [Page 41 - 45] B Rock : Encouraging active and deep learning by using a range of AFL and spelling strategies in the classroom [Page 46 – 49] 2

Ashtyn Lane, PE Teacher Explaining, as well as physically demonstrating, technical tasks within PE I have found it difficult during assessment and reporting to give a pupil a grade for practical performance in S1, S2 and S3 for PE where there is no knowledge and understanding component. I don’t believe a pupil’s grades should suffer because they are unable to perform a skill successfully but understand what to do to make it successful. Not all pupils are athletically gifted and I wanted to see if less abled students were able to describe how to perform a skill even if they are unable to perform it. I found myself asking the following questions:

Do pupils actually understand the concepts and principles being taught and are they able to identify key teaching points? Should only pupils who are able to demonstrate quality movement in skills be rewarded with high marks? Should pupils who are unable to perform a successful skill but are able to verbally explain how to perform it successfully be rewarded with the same marks as those students with advanced skills? What about pupils who are naturally gifted but don’t understand the key concepts that make the skill they are performing successful, should they be rewarded with full marks? Or should marks in PE be a contribution of both physical ability and knowledge and understanding? I wanted to see if there was a link between successful practical performers with their knowledge and understanding of the success criteria of the skill they were performing. I expected to see that less abled pupils were able to identify key teaching points of a skill just as well as the higher performers. I also expected that if less abled students are able to explain a skill, their own performance might improve over time. Pupils who are able to perform a successful skill might be able to improve their performance if they can identify which part of a skill needs improvement. If they understand the components that make the skill successful then linking their knowledge of how to perform the skill with their weakness should give them the information required to improve. I used my S1 1C45 Girls class for the project and decided to video record their initial performance at the beginning of an activity block. This was done so I could compare performance at the end of a block to identify any improvements in both practical performance and knowledge and understanding. This was done through basketball and badminton. I wanted evidence of practical ability before I taught them key features of 3

any given skill. I then set homework tasks using a website I created through Google Docs for pupils to analyse their performance and answer questions on the success criteria of a skill.

/a/ Throughout each activity block I would video record pupils performing a particular skill. Learning Intentions and Success Criteria were written on the white board and reinforced throughout the lesson. Pupils were asked to analyse their partner’s performance and provide specific feedback to help them improve. On completion of a lesson where a new skill had been taught pupils were asked to video record themselves demonstrating the skill as a homework task. Pupils had to explain what they were doing and teach the key points of the skill in their presentation. They were also asked to watch a selected video of their peer and answer questions on Google Docs on their performance. They had to identify if the student was successful performing the skill and why they were. They also had to state what they could do to improve their overall performance. It was made clear to the pupils that their homemade videos didn’t have to show them performing the skill perfectly as long as they were able to verbally teach the key teaching points of the skill in their presentation. If they made a mistake in their video they were allowed to state what they should have done differently to improve the skill. They were then allowed to attempt the skill again, improving their area for development. If they were still unable to perform the skill successfully they were to state that this was an area they needed to focus on to improve their overall performance. I collected pupil’s homemade videos and uploaded them onto a website I created through Google Docs. I gathered student’s answers they wrote in relation to their own and others performance and correlated the results.


The results showed that pupils that were at a low practical ability initially were able to identify how to perform a skill successfully by verbally presenting the key teaching points. They clearly understood how to perform the skill and were able to identify what they were doing wrong, hence why they were being unsuccessful. Improving their weakness came down to natural physical ability, repetition practice, gradual build -up of a skill and coordination. Most pupils were able to demonstrate an improvement in their performance after receiving visual feedback and identifying what they were doing incorrectly over the block. Pupils were more easily able to identify an area for development through analysing their own performance and comparing it to a model performer. Pupils who verbally presented key points of a skill and identified the success criteria showed a clear understanding of how to perform a skill. Pupils who could already demonstrate a successful skill were able to explain the key teaching points but didn’t seem to go into as much detail as those of a lower ability. This could be due to the fact that they are at the Autonomous Stage of learning for that skill and don’t need to think about the skill they are performing in order to complete it successfully. This may mean that they leave out key teaching points that may be crucial to a lower able pupil to perform the skill successfully. Pupils of a lower practical ability went into much more detail in their presentations and really had to think about each step as they demonstrated the skill. Pupils who were inconsistent with their performance were able to improve after practice but use of video analyses definitely helped them identify areas for development. It is evident that just because a pupil may not be able to practically perform a skill perfectly doesn’t mean they don’t know how to. Pupils may clearly understand the preparation, action and recovery stages of a skill but may not be able to perform the skill for a variety of reasons. It could be due to the physicality of the person (strength, power, speed, coordination, flexibility, agility and fitness). Mental factors and environmental factors may also affect a person’s performance. Is the student nervous, embarrassed to perform in front of others, stressed, frustrated that they can’t improve the skill? Many factors contribute to why a person can’t perform a skill successfully and I don’t believe their overall grade of PE should reflect this. In S1, S2 and S3 pupils reports only ask for an effort grade and a practical grade but do not ask for a knowledge and understanding grade. Pupils might be encouraged to put more effort in PE, in particular girls, if their grade is based on a contribution of both practical and knowledge and understanding. Pupils may also feel more of a sense of achievement in PE if their grades reflect their knowledge and understanding. Through completing this project I also found that pupils gained confidence in their presentation skills. Although they weren’t presenting in front of a class, pupils could 5

still access all presentations online and compare presentations to each other. Pupils became competitive in who could make the best video presentation and the depth of information given increased throughout the year. Use of video presentations could easily be adapted by all subject areas and teachers are able to save them as part of their evidence of presentation skills. I would continue using video analyses, video presentations and peer teaching as a method for improving performance in PE. Peer teaching through video presentations helps other students who are unsure in the class and it also reinforces how much they actually know about a skill. It forces them to look at a skill in detail and break it down into preparation, action and recovery, not just looking at the overall skill. The ability to break a skill down into the 3 phases will benefit pupils completing National 4 and National 5 courses in the future. This project could be transferred across all year groups in PE and also could be used across the Curriculum.


Ed Offer, History Teacher Encouraging seniors to use and develop their skills of research, discussion, analysis and presenting Motivation for Undertaking this Project The focus of the Learning team this year was on the Demonstrate phase of my lessons when students do something to show their understanding. As Bloom suggests, deep learning happens when we do more than just repeat facts. It happens best when we process the information we have received and let it come out of us by creating something (written work, speech, discussion, debate, acting, singing...etc.) However, we historians have sleepless nights worrying about getting through so many events and facts! So I’ve been thinking for some time about how best to encourage students to take ownership of their own learning in lessons where they are expected to understand and learn a large amount of detailed historical knowledge. Should the facts they learn take priority over the skills used in learning them? What good are the facts if we don't know how to use them? I was inspired by reading G. Petty's excellent book Evidence Based Teaching and I've used several quotes from it in this document. Petty describes the ‘Demonstrate’ phase as the point in a lesson when students work on tasks that require them to apply the learning, so that they familiarise themselves with it, and so come to understand it.' he goes on to describe knowledge as virtually worthless unless we have the ability to use it. So tasks should be 'vocationally and/or academically realistic and relevant, building skills which are transferable'. He describes great lessons as 'double-deckers,' that is: both transferring knowledge and understanding to students and also focussing them on developing their skills. AIM: - What did you want to improve? What did you expect your project to highlight? My aim was to improve the resilience of my Highers by getting them to understand a new topic without any guidance from me. To do so they had to use and develop their skills of research, discussion, analysis and presenting and also resist the temptation to ask: “Mr. Offer, can't you just tell us the answer?”. I made it clear to students that they were getting to grips with the 'bare bones' of the content. After the lessons, students did further reading and note-taking to 'add flesh to the bare bones' they had learnt. I hoped my project might challenge and motivate my Highers to realise they have to do the learning and that it can't be done for them. Many of them will go onto further 7

education and will have to be independent learners or face dropping-out. We must encourage students to develop the skills they will need to succeed in further education, work and life. SETTING UP: - How? I gathered a range of primary and secondary sources which contained information about the Declaration of Arbroath (during the Scottish Wars of independence). The language in the sources ranged from simplified to often impenetrable ‘ye-olde’ medieval. Few students had prior knowledge of the topic. On purpose, I gave students no introductory spiel, although the topic follows on chronologically in the story of Scottish independence which they had been studying. PROJECT: - What? •

Students had to investigate the question: What was the most important thing in

Students set themselves up in groups of no more than four and set about researching the texts. Highlighters, A3 and A4 paper were provided. A time limit of 1 lesson worth of research time was set and students were encouraged to continue their research and group collaboration as home learning. The next lesson each group assigned a presenter to feedback while the other group members moved around, listened to other groups and were encouraged to ask questions. Students were provided with a mop-up fact sheet clarifying and adding 'flesh to the bones' of the issue. Their home learning was to consolidate their learning using this sheet.

• •

the Declaration of Arbroath?

EVIDENCE: Knowledge – formative assessment in subsequent class, Twitter debate and exam-type question. Research skills: Evidence gathered from group source packs. I looked at how they had used them and was pleased on the whole with their attempts to make sense of a confusing array of sources. Their research and analysis was presented to other groups. I listened to each group with a focus on whether they had inferred a good amount of correct information and assessing their presentation skills. FINDINGS: The activity worked as a 'double-decker' lesson. Feedback from the students was that they really enjoyed the task because they were more active and felt more engaged with the subject matter.


Knowledge - Students seemed confident about discussing their knowledge about the Declaration of Arbroath in class, and some contributed to a Twitter debate on

DGSHistory. I feel that they understood the same amount if not more than they would have had they listened to me natter on. An exit poll saw most students confident that they understand why the document was so important for Scottish history. All students passed the follow-up exam-style question with the majority getting 7 or more out of 10. Research skills Students used the source packs efficiently and most importantly did not try to highlight, copy or understand all of the content. Many seemed adept at selecting evidence and 'getting to the point' which is an essential skill in History. See attachments for examples. Presentations skills These varied depending on the confidence of the speaker. One group presented using technology, another using a puppet show (!). One student in particular surprised me with a really erudite and knowledgeable presentation which gave everyone a better understanding of his skills. Questioning and debating skills: Time was a factor and some students were reluctant to contribute to the end debate.

WHAT NEXT? Since this project I've carried out similar enquiry tasks with an S4 class and an S2 class. Both of these involved putting sources around the room on the walls. Students liked getting up and roaming about. Others preferred to be given a pack which was also provided. I'll be repeating the activity with my Higher classes. I want to give more time to the presentations and encourage students to debate more during this phase.


Lyndsey Scott, Biology Teacher Enabling learners to take responsibility for their own learning by completing ‘preparation for learning’ task INTRO: During this project I wanted to handover some ownership for learning to my new National 5 Biology class. I wanted them to become more independent learners and take responsibility for their own learning by completing a preparation for learning task. This task would give them an insight into what they were going to be learning about over the next few lessons and allow them to do some research/learning before class. AIM: I wanted to improve a variety of skills including research, data analysis, independent thinking and responsibility. By getting pupils to complete a preparation for learning task before the next set of lessons, they would be more in tune to what they were going to be learning about and had completed the lower level thinking at home. So in class we could concentrate on the higher order thinking and sort out any issues that may have arisen from their independent work. I wanted to give them more responsibility for their learning. If they wanted to do well within National 5 Biology, they needed to take some responsibility for their learning and come prepared to lessons. SETTING UP: I choose two new National 5 Biology classes to trail my project with. I found this was a good class to choose because it was a brand new course and the pupils were all full of enthusiasm. I was also spending lots of time developing the new course, so this project fitted in nicely with my other development work. PROJECT: I looked at Unit 1 and the subtopics within and highlighted areas that consisted of new ideas and concepts for the National 5 classes. Some of these were also areas that pupils had struggled with in the past. Once I had highlighted these, I looked online and found short videos, songs or interesting articles which were relevant to each areas. I then set a “Preparation for Learning” task (which I posted on the department website) in which the pupils would have to go away and complete before we started looking at that topic. Along with watching the video or reading the information the pupils had to demonstrate their learning by answering questions at home and submitting their answers or completing a quiz or similar activity in class, this way I knew where my starting point was for the lesson. 10

Example “Preparation for Learning” task:

To prepare for the lessons coming up over the next few weeks, watch the following video. Try and find the definitions of the following words in the video. Be prepared for an in class quiz on these words next week. • • • • • •

Niche Competition Interspecific Competition Symbosis Mutualism Parasitism

Follow up task in class:




Example a Bee is a pollinator

interaction between organisms that require the same resource Interspecific

Grey and red



Mutualism a relationship between two different species - one benefits (the parasite) at the expense of the other (the host)

Humans and tapeworms


Another example “Preparation for Learning” task:

After your trip to Battlefields we are going to be learning about the Nitrogen Cycle. To prepare for this I would like you to watch this video and try and answer the questions below. Hank speaks very fast so you may want to watch it all the way through the first time and then the second time pause it to answer the questions. The video also talks about the Phosphorus cycle. Ignore this you do not need to know about the Phosphorus cycle. Questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Why do organisms need Nitrogen? What percentage of the air is Nitrogen? Name three ways nitrogen can be absorbed by plants. What type of plants can fix Nitrogen? What do Nitrifying bacteria do? What is the name of the bacteria which convert nitrates into nitrogen?

Once I had set a few “Preparation for Learning” tasks I gave the pupils a questionnaire to get feedback about how they thought it was going. The questions I asked and the learner responses were as follows.


Preparation for Learning Questionnaire & Results As part of your National 5 Biology course I have asked you to do a few “Preparation for Learning” tasks. I would like to know what you think of them.

1. Do you think the “Preparation for Learning” task has helped you understand the work you have done in class? 65%




35% Maybe

2. Do you like to have ownership over your own learning? 50%




33% Maybe

3. Do you think you have too much work to do at home? 53%


47% No

4. What other ways could you demonstrate you knowledge about a specific topic? a. Presentations b. Quizzes c. Posters d. Mind maps e. Revision cards f. Class Discussions g. Videos FINDINGS: From the results of the questionnaire it is clear that the majority of pupils think that the “Preparation for Learning” tasks have helped them learn and be better prepared for the lessons. They liked having the responsibility and didn’t think they were getting too much work to do at home. WHAT NEXT? I am going to continue with the “Preparation for learning” tasks throughout the National 5 course. I believe it will help the pupils have a deeper understanding of the topics, give them a sense of responsibility and improve a number of skills in the meantime. 13

Rachel Archer, Physics Teacher Creating Questions to Demonstrate Your Learning INTRODUCTION:

During class time I feel that I have a good grasp of how well pupils are coping with new concepts and tackling problems. However, some students only reveal particular areas that they are struggling with during homework and tests. The idea behind this project was to help myself and the pupils recognise areas that they were having difficulty with at an earlier stage so that extra help and guidance could be provided. AIM:

The aim of this project was to give pupils the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of new concepts and problem solving skills during class time by creating and marking questions. By doing this pupils would be able to show the teacher and themselves any areas that they have a firm grasp of and those that still need attention. SETTING UP:

I decided to focus this project on my Higher Physics class. They had a wide range of abilities and they particularly needed be able to recognise areas that needed further attention in order to keep up with the demands of the course. Although I often get pupils to create their own questions in class, I had never gotten them to create and mark these on a weekly basis and was keen to see what the impact of this would be. In order to gain an idea of how effective this strategy was I gave pupils a questionnaire both before and after the project as well as looking at any changes in their test scores. PROJECT:

The questionnaire I issued to the pupils is shown on the next page. I wanted to see how confident pupils were with what they had learned so far, how well they felt they can recognise areas that needed improvement as well as their ability to write and mark Higher Physics questions. I also asked them to choose and explain their preferred revision strategy to see whether this changed during the project.


Higher Physics Questionnaire Strongly





























I feel that I have fully understood all material covered so far.

I understand how Higher Physics questions are marked.

I am confident in my ability to write a Higher Physics question.

I can easily identify areas that I need to work on in Physics.

When revising what technique do you find the most useful and why? 1. Creating mind maps 2. Creating my own notes 3. Practising questions 4. Creating my own questions 5. Reading over my notes


In order for pupils to be able to write and answer Higher Physics questions for each other we looked at a range of different questions that they had already tackled and how they were marked. We then decided to make each question that they wrote to be worth three marks, this was so each question would involve some explanation or more than a one step calculation. At the end of every Tuesday’s lesson, pupils would write their question (on a given topic) and mark scheme and then hand them in to me so I could look over them. The following lesson, each pupil was handed a question that someone else had written, they answered this and handed it back to the writer of the question to get it marked. This was a slow process to begin with as some pupils struggled to create their own original questions. To help those that were finding it difficult, I got them to use questions that they had practiced in class and rewrite them using different values and situations. Pupils still benefited from doing this as they had to create their own mark schemes, thus demonstrating what they were able to do. As the weeks progressed all pupils were able to quickly create their questions and mark schemes and seemed to enjoy the challenge of answering each other’s as well as getting more creative with their design of their questions. It became clear to me by looking over these questions how confident pupils were with the material covered and, by listening to the feedback they were providing each other, how well they were able to tackle each question. This information then helped me decide which areas needed to be further explored in order to improve their understanding and ability to tackle questions on it. Once the project was completed (just before study leave) pupils answered the same questionnaire as before in order to gain a comparison between the two. EVIDENCE: The results from the two questionnaires are shown below. The results have been weighted so both the ‘strongly agree’ and ‘strongly disagree’ have been given double weighting.


Higher Weighted Results of First Questionnaire 20

Higher Weighted Results of Second Questionnaire 18



10 5 0 Q1

















The results from the second half of the questionnaire did not change much from the two sittings. The most common technique used was answering questions with a few selecting that they liked to read over their notes as well. In the second sitting of the questionnaire everyone selected answering questions as their preferred technique. FINDINGS: From the results of the questionnaire it is clear that pupils have become more confident in their ability to write and mark Higher Physics questions, which was as expected. Interestingly pupils lost confidence in their ability to recognise areas that they were struggling with and with their understanding of the course material. A possible suggestion for this is that before the project pupils were more confident with both of these as they had not truly put their understanding to the test. They were therefore somewhat discouraged about what they were able to do and with their original ability to recognise what they were being successful in when creating their own questions. WHAT NEXT? I would now like to try this again with my new Higher Physics class from the beginning of the course in order for them to get a good idea from the start about how they are coping with the new material. I would also like to trial this with some pupils in the years below, but as it can be quite challenging I will initially be getting pupils to create and answer questions in groups in order for them to gain confidence with the strategy first.


Jennie Gardiner, English Teacher Using pupil generated questions to develop analytical and evaluative skills INTRODUCTION: The project aimed to encourage critical thinking skills in pupils by asking them to create questions to apply to a text they are studying. This skill could be used across subjects, but has particular relevance in the study of English. When pupils are asked to write critically about a text, their work is frequently scaffolded by teacher questioning, either through textual analysis work, class discussion or in essay plans. The aim of the project was to teach pupils to generate their own questions, and in a way ‘self-scaffold’. This would then form a basis for pupils to work more independently, becoming more conscious of the levels of questioning that can be applied to texts.

AIM: I expected the project to highlight pupils’ difficulty with formulating higher order, analytical and evaluative questions. This was the area that I hoped to improve. Enhancing pupils’ skills in this area should enable them to write in greater depth and with greater confidence about both fiction and non-fiction.

SETTING UP: I created a generic questioning resource which pupils could learn to use in relation to any text, whether fiction or non-fiction. This took the form of individual question cards which pupils could use in sequence or as a one-off.

PROJECT: The project asked pupils to create questions that they could then apply and answer from fiction texts they were studying. I hoped that pupils would ultimately generate their questions without the help of a prompt, and as a result internalise the process of reading critically.


EVIDENCE: Pupils were assessed at the beginning and end of the project to assess their ability to generate their own questions. FINDINGS: The progress of the project was hampered by the suitability of texts. Some fiction texts lend themselves better to different kinds of question. This meant that the technique wasn’t used as consistently as it needed to be to show tangible results. The class involved in the project was middle to low ability S2. Pupils initially struggled to formulate even remembering and understanding questions, but with practice became more confident with this. Several pupils struggled to grasp concepts relating to higher order questions, and I felt that, in retrospect, it would have been good to pilot the project with an older class. It seemed to me that they were confident with right/wrong remembering type questions, but any element of ambiguity caused difficulty. I wondered if maturity might be a factor in this.

WHAT NEXT? I’ll definitely run this project again with a different set of pupils. I plan to refine to resource I made and hopefully this will make it more usable. I’m also looking into the issue of how questioning plays a part in construction of meaning in reading, and how this can affect reluctant readers. This relates to my interest in supporting dyslexic readers and working memory.


Sarah McDowell, Chemistry Teacher Using open ended questions to ensure deeper levels of understanding for Higher students Introduction

I feel that our academic system is driven by the perception that success in examinations is key to success not only in school but in life. Many of the young people I teach believe that unless they get a “good set” of exam results they are not going to be successful in life. They feel under pressure to “do well” in their exams and because of this pressure they increasingly want to be “spoon fed” with the knowledge that is going to lead to the exam result they believe will be their ticket to a successful life.

“What is learned is of little value, and soon forgotten. Surface learning drives out deep learning; specific knowledge, which often has a sell-by date, trumps transferable skills; quantity drives out quality; and so the dispensable drives out the indispensable.” G. Petty “Evidence based teaching” Nelson Times, 2009 This results in learners who leave school with a “good set” of exam results who then struggle to cope with further and higher education or the world of work because they have been de-skilled as learners. I was therefore interested when I heard Sharlene Muir’s presentation at the Learning Team in-service in August 2012. In her report she says “I had to ask myself the question ‘Could my A-grade students work out how a feature is formed without any help or are they programmed to switch off their intrigue and investigative brain to wait on the answer being told to them?’ ‘Had I or indeed Geography teachers killed the possibility of deep thinking in our subject or are Higher students at an age and stage where they just wanted to know rather than discover? At Higher level, are they scared to get things wrong?” This echoed my own concerns and so I decided this was what I wanted to explore in this Learning Team project. Interestingly, it is also an aim of the SQA to move away from a knowledge based approach to a more skills centred assessment. “Although uptake of the sciences remains strong, stakeholder views of the existing qualification arrangements suggested that a decluttering and updating of subject content was urgently required, as well as a move towards an assessment process with more emphasis on skills. A modern, engaging National Course framework for the Sciences is seen as a key contributor to the development of a greater scientific knowledge and skills base, which is critical to the ongoing development of the Scottish economy, in line with Curriculum for Excellence.”


In 1956, Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behaviour important in learning. Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, ranging from simple recall or recognition of facts as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest level which was identified as evaluation (Figure 1). Bloom found that over 95 % of the test questions students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level - the recall of information.

Figure 1: Bloom's (left) and Anderson's Taxonomy (right)(Schultz 2005)

During the 1990's, Anderson (a former student of Bloom) led a team of cognitive psychologists to revisit the taxonomy with the view to examining the relevance of the taxonomy at the beginning of the twenty-first century. As a result of the investigation a number of significant improvements were made to Bloom's original structure (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001). For example, the title of each level is changed from nouns to verbs; the 'synthesis' in the higher level is replaced by 'evaluating', and 'evaluation' on the top is replaced by 'creating'. Table 1 describes the 'new' taxonomies: Table 1 Definitions of Anderson's Revised Taxonomy Definition


Remembering: can the student recall or remember the information?

Define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce, state

Understanding: can the student explain ideas or concepts?

Classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase

Applying: can the student use the information in a new way?

Choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write

Analysing: can the student distinguish between the different parts?

Appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test

Evaluating: can the student justify a stand or decision?

Appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, value, evaluate

Creating: can the student create new product or point of view?

Assemble, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, write


In the Revised Higher Chemistry qualification there is a move towards an assessment process with more emphasis on skills. The specimen exam paper provided by SQA shows that 25% of the marks available in the assessment will be for skills. This is an example of a typical skills based question which is assessing the learners ability to “design an experiment”. Hydrogen and chlorine gases are used in an experiment to demonstrate a free radical reaction. A plastic bottle is wrapped with black tape leaving a “window” on one side. The bottle is filled with a mixture of hydrogen and chlorine. When bright light shines on the bottle there is an explosion.

Why is the plastic bottle used in the experiment wrapped in black tape? Of the K&U marks available…. 17.5% require accurate recall: The structure of a molecule found in olive oil can be represented as shown. Olive oil can be hydrolysed using sodium hydroxide solution to produce sodium salts of fatty acids.

Name the other product of this reaction. 63.5% require application of knowledge: Ibuprofen is one of the best selling pain killers in the UK.

Ibuprofen tablets should not be taken by people who suffer from acid indigestion. Name the functional group present in ibuprofen that makes this drug unsuitable for these patients? 19% require explanation:


In many bathroom cleaning products, the bleaching agent is the hypochlorite ion, ClO–(aq).

Cl2(aq) + H2O(l)

2H+ (aq) + ClO–(aq) + Cl–(aq)

In the bleach solution, the following equilibrium exists. Explain why the addition of sodium hydroxide increases the bleaching efficiency of the solution.

The biggest change however will be that 6 out of the 14 marks available within the explanation category will be for open ended questions. To improve the shelf-life of foods, food manufacturers use several methods to remove oxygen from inside the food packaging. In one method, an enzyme is added which catalyses a reaction between oxygen and glucose present in the foods. glucose + oxygen + water  gluconic acid + hydrogen peroxide Using your knowledge of Chemistry, comment on why this method may not be suitable to improve the shelf-life for all foods.

Although the ability to explain falls into the understanding category which, according to Anderson’s taxonomy, is a lower order thinking skill, learners will have to use higher order thinking skills in order to be successful. They will have to examine the appraise the information they are given, evaluate the knowledge that they aregiven and judge whether it is useful in order to formulate and construct response.

AIM: The aim of this project was to help learners to demonstrate whether their learning during their Higher year was deep or surface learning. I hoped to see that deep learning has indeed happened but my worry was that it hadn’t. If indeed learning was superficial, I hoped to see whether it was possible to support the learner to become a deeper thinker. I then planned to use my findings to improve my practise with the current Higher cohort. I planned to try to ensure that the questions I ask in class were multi-layered and encouraged divergent responses which probe thinking rather than recall. What I wanted to explore was…. “how well prepared are our learners to deal with open ended questions of this sort?” “how can I as a teacher provide the scaffolding our learners need to help them to deal with this type of question?”

SETTING UP: Using my Advanced Higher class who all achieved “good” A/B passes in Higher Chemistry last year I gave them one of the SQA specimen open ended questions.


I used the SQA specimen marking instructions to assess how many marks out of three each response would merit. I then used the model described in Sharlene Muir’s 2011-12 report. For example: Initially, I gave them the question individually and unsupported as my base line. I expected them to struggle. If this is the case, I planned to provide them with some key words. If this fails to help, I planned to encourage them in groups of three to generate some leading questions. Using the leading questions they will then try to formulate a response. I will then repeat, gradually removing the support systems and reassess at the end by repeating the original exercise with a completely new question.

PROJECT: I set my Advanced Higher class, individually and under exam conditions, an open ended question. The question posed was taken for the SQA Open Ended Question Exemplars for the Revised Advanced Higher Chemistry course.

A learner doing Advanced Higher Chemistry wrote ‘There are only two types of arrows used in Chemistry. The usual arrow, which represents reactants turning into products, and a double arrow, which indicates that a reaction is reversible or has reached equilibrium.’ Learners were told…

“Using your knowledge of Chemistry, comment on the learners statement” FINDINGS: What was surprising was just how uncomfortable the learners felt about questions of this type. Most of them had studied multiple Sciences and Maths during their senior years in school. Five out of six were doing multiple Advanced Highers in Science and Maths. The feedback they gave was that they didn’t like these types of questions because they wanted to be able to give the “correct” answer. They thought there was or should only be one correct answer. They didn’t feel at all comfortable when their deeper understanding was under scrutiny and it was causing them anxiety. They commented that they were really glad that their own exam would not contain any of this type of question.

In response to the question, they tended simply to reiterate/paraphrase what they had been told and would therefore have gained no or poor marks. Interestingly, the person who was most relaxed was the only candidate who is going on to study History. They said they were more comfortable answering this type of question because they were used to weighing up arguments and looking at the “bigger picture”. It didn’t bother them in the same way that there might not be a “correct” answer. They were also the 24

only learner who mentioned any other use of arrows in Chemistry outwith the two very narrow examples given in the stem of the question. What I also found surprising was there seemed to be no initial planning stage to their responses. The started to write and kept on writing without formulating a coherent answer. In subsequent tests, learners worked on their responses in a pair or group. They were encouraged to discuss their response and plan out what they wanted to say. They were also supported if they were struggling by being given key words to scaffold their thinking. Learners were far happier when the questions were given to them as a pair or group when they could talk about their thinking before having to commit in writing. I also tried to use more open ended questions with my Higher class. This met with significant resistance. In fact one person actually said “I don’t like the way you teach because we have to think. I preferred it last year when X just told us what we needed to know. Just tell me what I need to know to pass the exam”. In contrast, younger year groups seemed far more relaxed when asked to choose the “odd one out” or “find the link” or to “think of a question” (all tasks which encourage them to think in a more divergent way). WHAT NEXT? The findings have led me to consider whether we teach learners in such a way in Science that they always expect the correct answer. Do we teach them successfully the skills of “convergent thinking” and discourage “divergent thinking” to the point that it is almost entirely eradicated? How do we nurture more divergent thinking and how far down the school do we need to go? What can we learn from other subject areas who are more skilled at teaching learners to balance up their argument and convey that succinctly in writing?


Paul Smith, Physics Teacher Demonstrating understanding through Open Style Questions Intro

Developing a personal strategy for answering open style questions

Our department taught the new Revised Higher Physics course for the first time last session (2011-12). We were one of the first schools to experience several new aspects of assessment, including open style questions. Students were required to demonstrate their learning through these questions and show higher order thinking skills in the process. This fitted well with the theme for the Learning Team this session. An example of an open question is shown below along with a typical marking scheme. “A common type of open-ended question presents a written scenario that students are required to comment on, applying physics principles. Typically the scenario takes the form of a quote from a book or the media. This question type is essentially assessing the ability of students to apply knowledge and problem skills to everyday situations. An example of this type is: In a book in which he describes his childhood experiences, an author describes how he used to drop peanuts down the stairwell of a department store. This would annoy the shop owner ‘who would come flying up the stairs at about the speed that the peanut had gone down, giving you less than five seconds to scramble away to freedom’. Using physics principles, comment on the way the author has compared the speed of the peanut and the shop owner. “ (Excerpt from Open Ended Questions support materials, LTS) Note that only a good understanding is required for full marks. A complete answer is not required. Open-ended questions have no fixed response. So any number of answers may be given which are equally correct (or incorrect). It is therefore impossible to predict all the likely responses of candidates and thus there can be no fixed marking scheme. Instead, the response is marked against a set of criteria (as shown below from a past paper).

(Marking scheme summary from 2012 SQA Revised Higher Physics Marking Instructions)


I found that a significant number of students found answering new open style questions more challenging than other aspects of the course. This included able students who may go on to study Science in Higher or Further education. This was a concern for me as the skills of explaining and discussing scientific concepts required to answer these questions are so important for students to possess. Yet our students were finding the questions more challenging than they were expected to. These questions were not a feature of SQA course in S3-S4 or previous Higher courses. Students in Science will be expected within the new qualifications at National 5 and above to demonstrate their learning through answering open style questions. I wanted to unpick what was causing the difficulties for students and investigate ways to support them. AIM: Enable students to more successfully answer open style questions. I also wanted to raise the students’ confidence in their not being a single “correct answer”. I expected the project to highlight the barriers to success and some methods to support the students to achieve success. SETTING UP: This project was undertaken with a Higher Physics class intermittently over the period of several months. Part of a lesson was used for each part of the project. Open questions had already been introduced to the class near the start of the course. At this time they were given a strategy to follow to support them (see Appendix 2) provided by LTS. I wanted to finding out how my Higher physics students felt about open questions and what strategy/method they were using whilst answering questions. There is no fixed response and the marking scheme reflects this. A questionnaire was used at start and end of the project to find out how students answered the questions and if this changed during the project. Each statement was part of the strategy provided by LTS and I wanted to see if students using any part(s) of this strategy. They answered 1 to 5 with 1 (strongly disagree and 5 strongly agree)) See Appendix 1. Students were also asked to choose three statements they would like to work on (see evidence). I found from the first questionnaire that very few students were aware of following a strategy or what strategy to use. This was despite the fact that I had given them the suggested strategy from LTS. I therefore decided to make helping the student’s awareness and ownership of a strategy for solving the open questions the core of my project.


PROJECT: Here is the process that was followed with the students. I started with providing scaffolding within a supportive group environment, gradually withdrew the support and moved towards developing individual strategies and answers. At the end students worked individually under exam style conditions. 1.

Gave students an open question to answer unrelated to classwork to allow focus on the strategy and skills required. (horsemeat was in the news at the time) A student makes the following statement about the horse meat scandal. “I don’t see any problem with horse-meat in cheap burgers and things because people can’t tell the difference.” Comment on the student’s statement.

a. Students answered question in groups (See Evidence). b. Group reflected on the strategy they used to answer the question. c. Group wrote down up to five strategies used. 2. Students individually created their own question (not physics related) at home and students used the group strategy (created previously) but answered questions individually. Students then reflected on the strategy used and made up their own 1-5 strategy list (See Evidence).

Example of open question from SQA exam paper 2012


3. Next time students used their own strategy list to answer a physics open question from the 2012 SQA exam paper (shown above). They had open-book conditions so were aiming to write the best possible answer with support on the physics from their notes. They then reflected on how useful the strategy had been in helping them answer the question (See Evidence ). 4. Near the end of the course the students answered an open question from the final part of the course on light under exam conditions. They then peer marked the answers and completed the project questionnaire for the second time. 5. Students gave feedback on the project on post-it notes (See Evidence ). EVIDENCE: Example of questionnaire statements students wanted to work on most .

Examples of response from Step 1


Examples of strategies from Step 2

Examples of response from Step 3


Student feedback on project (sample)



In questionnaire feedback at the end of the project on average students were more likely agreed they were using a strategy than at the start of the project. They showed increased agreement with the majority of strategy statements in the questionnaire (see Appendix 3). The approach I took encouraged ownership of a personal strategy for each student. A strategy that was personal to the student was more likely to be used and suit the individual than one handed out by the teacher. 31

• •

• •

The students seemed more comfortable following the project with finding a different answer to their peers. The evidence I collected showed a wide range of possible reasonable answers, although some responses were more common than others. All the students were able to successfully use a strategy to answer the questions. The answers were usually well structured. In the final open question (see step 4) at the end of project most students peer marked the answers as either 2 or 3, no 1 or 0 marks awarded. Students had gained confidence in peer marking the work of others which showed their own understanding had improved. For some students a lack of physics understanding became the main barrier to successfully gaining full marks rather than a strategy for answering the questions. This is to be expected due to the range of understanding of various concepts between the students. I found the students responded really well to being asked for feedback and being involved in dialogue over the next steps for the project. From feedback received most students found it useful to practise/focus on skills and strategy. Some students felt too much time had been spent of the development of the strategy outwith the physics context. They felt more time should have been spent practising physics open questions rather than focusing on strategy. This project has reinforced the importance of explicitly raising student awareness and confidence in relevant literacy skills and the process involved in using them in a Physics context. I have seen the value in creating time for students to think, discuss and record strategies for key skills. The use of scaffolding was effective for students who are extremely confident with some skills e.g. using mathematical relationships but less so with some literacy skills.


• • •

A strategy used at most levels in History to structure answers to questions could be used in Science as well as it will be familiar. PEEL (Point, Explain, Evidence, Link) An on-going challenge is to encourage more divergent thinking in students, moving away from a immediate search for the “correct answer”. The strategies in this project could be used throughout Science and could be introduced in S3 or during National 5 courses. Developing a personal strategy could be applied to a variety of other literacy and numeracy skills.


Alice Clubb, Mathematics How can learners use technology to demonstrate their learning?

I have always been interested in the use of technology in the classroom. Given the pilot within another East Lothian school for a Wifi network, I wanted to investigate if Wifi were available how DGS pupils might demonstrate their learning using their own technology. AIM: Encourage learners to use the technology at their fingertips to research, collaborate and store information useful for learning. I also hoped that learners would use this technology to demonstrate their different methods to solutions. SETTING UP: Before encouraging learners to use technology, it was important to identify if this would disadvantage some of our learners. I surveyed my S3 and Higher classes to find out what technology they had access to, and how they currently used it.

Question Do you have a mobile phone with a

S3 response

Higher Response





camera? Does your mobile Phone have capacity for connecting to the internet? Do you currently bring your phone to school? Have you ever been subject to






64% 24% 4% 8% 76% 12%





12% 6%


online bullying? Higher Class = 17 Learners S3 Class = 25 Learners


Given these results, I decided that I would continue to pursue learners bringing their own devices and using them in class time where appropriate. The understanding was that this was a class responsibility, so if someone forgot their phone, or did not have battery power, they would share images with each other at a later date. PROJECT: Before I let learners use their phones in class, we discussed the East Lothian Council ICT contract, which covers how to use the internet safely. This is also displayed in the classroom. We also set the ground rules for using our phones: No photos of staff or other learners, just examples of work. Both classes agreed that they would be happy for peers to take photos of their own work, to share the skills of the whole class. This was particularly useful when working in groups, only writing one solution, but everyone leaving the room with a copy of the work. In class, we then used phones as appropriate to take photos of work. Sometimes learners have taken photos of board work, sometimes of group posters, and sometimes of their own jotters. Learners have also used their phones to take photos of comments (particularly when they have been very positive) to show their parents! Throughout the year, particularly with the S3 class, I was aware of ‘evidencing’ our work and profiling what and how we have learnt. I tried to get the learners to upload photos as evidence onto their school websites, but without the Wifi set up at school, the learners did not do it immediately and therefore did not sort it in a useable form. We spent 2 hours working with the school’s net books to try to improve the use of websites, but I think this would have to be set up more systematically to be easier to use. This is an area I wish to develop further next session. Individuals were tasked with using whichever method they found useful for storing their photos of workings. They were encouraged to realise that they would want to be able to find their photos for revision so should try to come up with a system that works for them. Having spoken to both classes as to how they use their phones, we also discussed setting reminders on phones for homework tasks etc. The success of this is clearly down to each individual as to how they organise their time. It did not show a significant change in the returning of homework, but equally, homework was never an issue with these classes.


EVIDENCE OF TECHNOLOGY IN ACTION Within the classroom, I have increased the pace of learning by avoiding learners simply copying examples from the board. With larger problems (particularly with Higher exam questions) I have encouraged learners to watch and follow examples, rather than try to copy as I write on the board. At the end of the solution, learners are then given the chance to take a photo of the solution, which they can store on their phone, on the websites or share via twitter for future reference. Example of the style of questions which learners took photos of rather than copying down as we worked through it in class

I have witnessed learners emailing each other examples from a lesson they have missed. I have encouraged this, although did start the year by taking the photos of key points myself and emailing to absent learners. This became time consuming for me, and therefore the learners now automatically do it for their friends when they are absent. Following a discussion on what and how to revise, my Higher class ordered the whole Higher course, identifying which topics to look at first, and which fitted together. We wrote one copy of this on the board, and then learners had the chance to take a photo to help them build their own revision plan. Collaborative Creation of a Higher Revision Map


During revision times, I have also encouraged learners to Tweet each other for help. In previous years, having also taught Higher classes, I have had a great deal more emails asking for help than I have had this session, and can only assume that our learners are realising that they can help each other more. I am very pleased with this outcome, as they still have my support if they can’t work it out between themselves, but demonstrates a higher level of resilience, and I feel really is helping these learners prepare for further education, where tutors will not always be on hand to help out Example of Peer Support by Higher Students via Twitter

TWITTER During the course of the year, I have also started using Twitter from the school account. The number of followed for @DunbarGrammar has risen from 23 at the start of the year to 243 (current figures). I have also been watching how other schools use Twitter. Having run an internal CPD session on Twitter, I think that this will be a whole school development for next session, and an area where we really could improve our communication with parents (an area highlighted by HMIe as having room for improvement). Some departments have already signalled an interest in running their own account, as well as feeding into the @DunbarGrammar account. WHAT NEXT? I would be keen on investigating how learners use their photos as evidence for profiling, but also how it might help them revise, or create a revision plan. I can really see a massive benefit to learners using their own devices across the school, for example in filming their own experiments to watch back at home, or filming some sporting example. 36

Julian King, Technologies Creating a database of educational videos for pupils ta have access to, in school or at home, to gain the information they needed without making poor selection choices themselves.

Have you ever wanted every educational resource you might ever need at your fingertips? Ever thought ”if only I had a video that showed the pupils how to……” Not got time to spend hours trawling for a suitable video but never getting one that meets your exact requirements? I wanted to create a youtube channel that pupils could learn from. “Having the best resources doesn’t make you a good teacher but good teachers utilise resources to create the most inspiring classrooms.” JK

Aim:My aim was to create a database of educational videos that pupils had access to, in school or at home, which gave them the information they needed without making poor selection choices themselves. I wanted to give pupils the freedom to learn as much as they liked, but with the assurance that the resources they used were safe and appropriate.

Setting up:I decided to create a user friendly website interface so pupils could find the resources they needed quickly. The home page of the site had four areas; software, success, subjects and skills. Each of these links goes to a separate page with individual links to videos. The four categories all served a different purpose. Software was specifically video that gave advice on using software packages in school. Success was an area where pupils uploaded their own videos which demonstrated what they had learned. This area was supposed to be the gallery of success criteria, evidence of my pupils progression 37

through he learning intensions. Subjects was an area where teachers could upload instructional videos with specific learning intensions. These videos would enable teachers to share resources and ensure consistency across faculties / whole school. Skills was the area for celebrating the diverse wealth of pupils personal skills, not just sporting or academic achievement but everyone’s personal ‘passion’ or ‘thing’ that makes them who they are. Making my first video was a daunting prospect, what did I want to show? What media would work best? How much information could I comfortably get into each one? Was I going to be able to keep pupils engaged? My first videos showed me drawing out solutions to drawing ability questions from past exam papers. Pupils would have a lesson with me in class on a drawing convention, then attempt the drawing convention with a task. Many pupils would copy each other’s drawings without actually learning how to achieve the drawing convention, so my challenge was to get pupils engaged in their learning.

Project I spent a lot of time at the start of the year making and uploading videos of skills and knowledge that I knew would benefit the pupils, but not necessarily with a planned way of evaluating how the pupils where benefitting from them. I used links to the videos from my website to steer the pupils to the information they needed to achieve learning intensions within class. This proved very successful and allowed me more time in class to concentrate on recognising pupils achievements with positive reward, rather than occupying my time with the delivery of the lesson content several times. The breakthrough came when I started to create videos that contained the information pupils needed to answer home learning assignments. Rather than giving out printed information that pupils had to read and comprehend, pupils would just watch the homework video and extract the required knowledge or skill from it to complete home learning activities. I introduced the ‘learning intension’ video late on in the project, a video that describes what the pupils would learn from watching it and then proceed to give all the knowledge required to achieve the success criteria. These videos proved extremely popular, and not just with my classes. Because I was posting these educational videos on youtube, they were getting hits from all over the world. I started to receive e-mails from teachers and pupils from all over the place asking if I had videos on other subjects. People started to subscribe to the DGSCDT channel on youtube so they would be informed whenever a new video was uploaded. 38


Pupils were keen to express their appreciation, using the videos gave them a different approach to learning. Most did not feel video watching an onerous task.


Hits and subscribers from all around the world gave me positive feedback that I was onto something that others where benefitting from.

Although most of my videos are watched within the UK the second largest audience is India. I suppose when you live in poverty education is seen as a way out of that poverty, if my videos have helped even one pupil achieve their goal then I need no more praise than that.

What next? I started this Google journey by posting some lesson material onto a website, then posting educational videos onto youtube. My long term aim is to get all of my pupils working remotely on GoogleDocs, I upload the learning material and they provide the evidence for assessment on line. In theory I could have my class in front of me, and another class spread all over the world learning from the same materials, having their progress monitored by me!


Amy Brodie Can Peer Teaching Enhance Students’ Demonstration of Knowledge In PE? Introduction: I wanted to design a task that required students to demonstrate their knowledge other than just physically performing. Usually I would use divergent questioning at the end of a lesson to assess students understanding. Varying questioning techniques was fine but I wanted to give more responsibility to the pupils when demonstrating their understanding in class. I believe the best way to learn is “learning through teaching others” so I wanted to put this theory to the test. I also felt students in PE needed more responsibility early on in their school years. Presenting skills within the school had been brought up as a development need for the students. All subjects should look to enhance this skill and I felt PE could help because of its more relaxed environment. I wanted to find a way to assess less practically able students understanding of skills and techniques. I thought verbally talking through a skill and teaching someone else would build up their confidence. Aim: The project investigated whether Peer Teaching could enhance students' demonstration of knowledge. I expected my project to highlight gaps in students’ knowledge about skills and techniques but also highlight those who were confident at presenting in front of others. I expected peer teaching to help less practically able pupils to voice their knowledge and gain more confidence. I hoped students would enjoy taking onus of their learning and having more responsibility. I thought working in a group would be less intimidating than 1 on 1 peer teaching. Project: 2C6 participated in a 5 week block of Basketball. Each lesson focussed on specific skill development; • • •

Passing (chest pass and bounce pass) Shooting (set shot) Dribbling

Man to man marking During Basketball each team was responsible for taking a practice which reinforced the L.I. covered in the previous lesson.


They filled in the sheet provided which outlines what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, and what equipment they need. The group had to explain the drill, organise the class, and give students feedback.


1P1 also participated in a 5 week block of “Old School Games”. Each group had to: Create a new game Design a name for the game and rules • Write up the game on paper with a diagram • Present the game to the rest of the class • Explain the game with a working demonstration • Ensure the safety and running of the game • •

Evaluate the game afterward


Evidence: I videoed each group’s teaching episode: I kept a record of the lesson plans they wrote up

I carried out Interviews with the students after the intervention- recorded (S2 only )


The whole project is online at Findings: S2: Many pupil’s lacked presenting skills and were overwhelmed by the teaching episode. In the interviews a lot of student’s admitted they did not meet up beforehand as a group and it was clear that the more practically able students led the teaching episode. In a lot of cases students with Basketball expertise took on the responsibility of designing the practice and explaining it to the class. In the interviews the students said they liked the responsibility and that they had to think about the skill they were teaching because “If I showed it wrong then they would all do it wrong”. Many said they would like a mixture of teacher led and pupil led styles of teaching S1: Having time in class and more guidance improved the quality of the peer taught episode. The class also got to choose their group which meant meeting up to finish any work was easier. The S1 class were better at presenting as they were less selfconscious in front of their peers. They were also more imaginative than the S2 class when designing their practice/game. More practically able students took on a leadership role. S1 were much better at self-evaluating and reflecting on their teaching episode than the S2 class. The class verbally fed back that they enjoyed having the responsibility and freedom. I believe the peer teaching worked better with S1 because it was a less skill orientated task.


What Next? The videoing of students peer teaching and performing is a brilliant tool to use for National 4 and 5 PE portfolios? The peer teaching episodes would be good to have in S3 profiles to showcase what they have achieved in PE. Although this project wasn’t successful at providing an opportunity for less practically able students to demonstrate their knowledge it would have worked better if appropriate roles and responsibilities were given out in each group. The groups also could have been smaller. I believe it may also have worked better if the S2 group were allowed to choose their group and have some class time. Presenting skills in general need to be improved throughout the school so this style of teaching should continue in PE. I believe "Old school Games" should always include the designing and teaching of games so they are having to present in S1 which will prepare students for S2 . Peer teaching is very much a key part of our CSLA course for seniors. I think if possible students on this course should come take parts of the s1/2 lessons and demonstrate how it’s done. Not only will this hopefully give s1/2 students more confidence to present but it will also challenge the CSLA students (as they usually teach each other).

Overall the biggest positive from the project is that the students take more responsibility for their learning. This will really prepare them for National 4 and 5 PE if they choose to take it. The new PE course is based on improving performance and being able to assess others performance. Therefore peer teaching will put students in good stead for certificated PE




Brian Rock Encouraging active and deep learning by using a range of AFL and spelling strategies in the classroom Introduction: To explore how to support “low ability” pupils and dyslexic pupils to improve their technical accuracy (with a focus on spelling) when writing in their jotters and essays. This is to enable pupils to demonstrate a deeper understanding of how to apply spelling strategies to their written work and to also improve their confidence in writing by employing two peer assessment approaches during teaching and learning activities. Sample: S3 “low ability” class. The general focus on the study is on all 11 pupils in the class. The specific focus of the study is on the two severely and one mildly dyslexic pupils in the class. AIM: 1) In order to enable pupils to achieve at the following Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes: LIT 3-24a: I can review and edit my writing; LIT 3-21a: I can use a range of strategies and resources and spell most words accurately. The enquiry aimed to enable pupils to demonstrate a deeper understanding of how to apply spelling strategies to their written work. This is because many pupils demonstrated a lack of confidence in their own ability to spell prior to the beginning of the project. 2) To embed peer AFL approaches into my practice in order to improve my monitoring and tracking of pupils’ progress while at the same time enabling pupils to self-reflect on their own and their partner’s progress in learning. 3) To reduce teacher-led distance marking and workload which may at times not aid learners in developing because they are not as involved in the assessment process.

PROJECT: - What? This project was based on advice from educational research on how to encourage active and deep learning by using a range of AFL and spelling strategies in the classroom (Dylan and Wiliam; Clark; CfE documentation; Scottish Government’s Information Sheet on AifL practices 2005; whole school applications of this research when teaching literacy) in order to reach the following CfE outcomes: LIT 3-24a: I can review and edit my writing; LIT 3-21a: I can use a range of strategies and resources and spell most words accurately. 46

I wanted to see the following learning outcomes being demonstrated by pupils in order to improve their written work and general literacy: 

 

Sharing knowledge and understanding: The development of personal targets to improve spelling when reviewing writing: this will include effective self and peer assessment. Demonstrating: Pupils demonstrating their understanding of spelling rules and when they do and do not work and implementing these rules as strategies to improve the technical accuracy of their writing. Applying: Pupils to develop a deeper understanding of spelling and phonics by applying strategies learnt to new/unfamiliar vocabulary. Creating: Pupils create on-line homework tasks testing spelling strategies and technical accuracy.

SETTING UP: Through a mixture of text based and on-line learning resources. As a teacher, I handed over the learning to the pupils much more to make them more actively involved in learning pairs to self and peer assess their progress and think about how to apply the information provided by the teacher to improve their spelling in their written work. Initial Survey: A diagnostic survey was completed with the S3 class: they were asked to identify if they know of any spelling strategies and how they would rate themselves in their confidence and ability to spell as accurately as possible in written work. In addition to this, a spelling test was completed without any support from peers or the teacher. Results from their survey and spelling test, as well as evidence from pervious written work, were used to identify the more and less able/confident pupils in terms of their knowledge of spelling strategies and their ability to spell unseen words. Through Teaching: During teaching and learning pupils were paired off based on ability (more able with less able). Spelling strategies taught included: 1) Seven spelling rules e.g. for words ending in ‘y’ change ‘y’ to ‘i’ when the ‘y’ follows a consonant; 2) use of word webs; and 3) study, cover, write, check. In pairs they tried out new spelling strategies introduced and rated how useful these strategies where on a scale of 1 to 10 to enable them to spell accurately. This aimed to encourage student self-reflection. Through Peer Assessment: Pupils worked actively in learning pairs to peer assess each other’s progress at the end of lessons. Pupils had to review their partner’s jotter and note down strengths and next steps (two stars and a wish) in terms of if they think their partner spelt most words accurately and if they could employ any spelling strategies covered in class to improve on this technical accuracy.


In addition to this, pupils developed on-line weekly gap-fill and multiple choice spelling tests for their partner by using the Google Form function of Google documents. Pupils then peer assessed each other’s results and charted their partner’s and their own results in their jotter in the form of a graph as evidence of progress.


Pupil survey and initial testing on their understanding of how to spell when writing Evidence of personal targets for individual pupils. Weekly on-line formative mini self and peer assessments to demonstrate if measurable changes in spelling are occurring (multiple choice, closed and open quizzes using the “form” function in Google docs – pupils share and respond to self/peer assessments of each other’s answers before submitting it to the teacher). Teacher assessment (jotters, on-line tests, written work such as essays) and reflection.

FINDINGS: In general, the peer assessment on-line task was much more successful in enabling pupils to demonstrate a very good understanding of how to spell by applying specific spelling strategies when creating these weekly individual exercises for their partner to complete. This was probably due to the fact that the pupils were actively applying and creating new assessment tests, based on teaching and learning covered in class, and recording their own and their partner’s progress. This resulted in a much deeper understanding of how to apply spelling strategies and error correct individual words. However, peer assessment of pupils’ jotters had less impact on improving technical accuracy. Pupils found it much more difficult to apply the spelling strategies out of context from an individual spelling rule and a list of words which follow that rule in to the general written work produced in each lesson. However, pupils were able to identify at times that there may be a spelling mistake in their partner’s work which their partner had to then check against a dictionary or with the teacher. However, this often resulted in mis-corrections or further errors by more able pupils. Individual spelling strategies taught helped a range of learners depending of their learning styles. In particular, more visual learners benefited from and enjoyed the word web activities. In general, stronger spellers in the group showed a gradual improvement in LIT 3-21a over the short time period (3 months) while the general class, particularly the dyslexic pupils, continued to find it difficult to become secure in LIT 3-24a.


WHAT NEXT? It has made me more aware and sensitive of learners’ needs and frustrations due to their lack of confidence and ability in their own literacy skills. It has encouraged me to regularly track and monitor individual pupils’ attainment in literacy and to employ a range of active learning and AFL strategies as enabling devices to help pupils to track their own progress. It has encouraged me to use more ICT based resources in order to engage pupils.

I plan to embed more peer and self AFL strategies into my practice in order to encourage pupil metacognition and reflection on their own development so that they can create learning targets for their peers and themselves. I also plan to rely less on, but to not devalue, teacher assessment approaches and to use peer and self-assessment approaches much more to track and monitor pupil attainment. I also plan to trial a modified version of this project again but in relation to technical accuracy in terms of punctuation and sentence structure errors in writing.


Lt report final 2013  
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