ALDE VALLEY SCHOOL SEAWARD AVENUE LEISTON IP16 4BG
Volume 1 Autumn Issue 3 2012 Special points of interest: Oral Formative Feedback English Writing Effective Communication Jigsaw Grouping
‘Talk for Learning’ and Showing Good Progress!
Promoting Learning through Discussion ‘Talk for Learning’ INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Oral Formative Feedback (@huntingenglish)
The Mathematics of Writing (David Didau)
No Pens Day (Lisa J Ashes)
The Jigsaw Classroom (Prof Aronson)
The ‘Washing Hands’ of Learning: Think Pair Share (Tom Sherrington)
Discussion to Promote Learning (Yvonne Lewington)
‘Talk for Learning’ PD Day (Alde Valley Teachers)
And Finally.... ............. iPad 10 Apps
Well, what an end to the longest half-term in memory! Our staff certainly pulled out all the stops to make our third PD Day a real success. The hall was buzzing with collaboration and discussion. Certainly everyone threw themselves into the day. The theme was ‘Talk for Learning’ and was ably led by Suffolk Advisor Jo Merrion, with support from fellow advisor Jill Larkin. Felllow members of staff led workshops focused on this area.
I have included a transcript of the day and also articles publis hed by fellow educators focused on similar themes of improving literacy. I thank them for the sharing of their expertise and experience. A huge thanks to our c o l l e a g u es w ho l e d workshops: Lydia Unwin, John Green, Sue Woolliams, Sue Pine, and Bradley Thompson. Not easy after one of the hardest halfterms that I can remember in my long career.
In this issue I have also included articles that support showing ‘good progress’ in the classroom a hot topic of discussion at the moment. Also, a quick list of iPad Apps - we seem to have caught the bug with teacher use increasing A BIG thank you to the authors of the articles - this is entirely due to the world of TWITTER and my PLN! Can’t speak too highly of this…. Happy Reading!
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘ORAL FORMATIVE FEEDBACK - Top Ten Strategies’
AJQ Subject Leader of English. Sharing resources & ideas for great teaching & learning. His blog: http:// huntingenglish.wordpress. com
“In the latest OFSTED guidance, they have clearly stated that lesson planning should not be inflexible, that teachers should react to the progress, or the lack thereof, of their students. This is heartening recognition of what we have known all along – and that is that teaching and learning are contingent activities.”
For me, formative oral feedback and questioning are the two key ‘hinge point marginal gains’ that make for great teaching and learning. My previous #marginalgains blog identified new teaching strategies for these two key areas and pedagogy, but here I wanted to use this blog to reflect on what I view as the most high impact formative oral feedback strategies that I have been using in my everyday practice. I want to use my list as a reminder, each time I plan lessons, of the key strategies to use – as it is too easy to forget and slip into autopilot planning, forgetting even our most effective of strategies. In the latest OFSTED guidance, they have clearly stated that lesson planning should not be inflexible, that teachers should react to the progress, or the lack thereof, of their students. This is heartening recognition of what we have known all along – and that is that teaching and learning are contingent activities. Learning is often problematic, changeable, non-linear, beset by a host of unique factors that cannot be exactly replicated (but with experience we can determine common patterns). We must therefore be constantly tracking the evidence of learning with as much precision and skill as we can. That is why effective teaching hinges absolutely on oral formative feedback and questioning on a lesson by lesson basis. It appears to me that the greatest benefit of experience that I observe in excellent teachers is the recognition of how and when to elicit feedback, with the nuanced understanding of what questions to ask, how and when. I have drawn upon this wealth of experience for my top ten – indeed it is my inept stumbling near the shoulders of giants that is responsible for the whole lot! In nearly all of these examples the feedback includes all three parties possible in the class: the learner, peers and the teacher. I dispute the idea of peer feedback as an undertaking exclusive of the teacher – we are always there steering the feedback, establishing ground rules and success criteria, modifying and adjusting the feedback of peers – that is why we are the paid experts! Therefore I do not differentiate between ‘teacher led’ or ‘peer’ feedback in my list. MY ORAL FEEDBACK TOP 10: 1. ‘Making the Learning Visible’ – Oral Feedback on Worked Examples: This heading captures a variety of methods and tools to essentially do the same thing – showing student work in the midst of the process.
Whether it be through an iPad and Apple TV; a Visualiser; a video camera or still camera, or more simply pinning ongoing work up onto the wall or a display; making the work ‘visual’ is a powerful tool for assessment for learning. For one, it raises levels of pride, giving students a keener sense of purpose, and it often instills a healthy competitive edge to the learning. It is also evident that most successful students have an innate sense of what ‘good work’ looks like, but many students simply don’t have this degree of self-efficacy. Making visible exemplar work, and breaking down its component parts, is a simple and powerful way to modify the learning of each student – helping to enhance what Ron Berger described as the crucial assessment going on “inside students”. Having used an iPad this year, I have repeatedly photographed student work, put it into the ExplainEverything app and immediately annotated through the projector, whilst giving formative feedback. Students are more then willing to get involved (a handy benefit is that good work can be saved and shared through the iPad), given clear modelling and parameters for effective feedback. Student feedback regarding this approach is highly positive. 2. Guided Writing: Ostensibly, the task is a writing task – but it is the ongoing oral feedback at the heart of this strategy that is essential in establishing where the learners are and where they are going with their learning. This is one of those activities that teachers often shy away from, perhaps through a sense of fear of making a mistake in their writing, or not having absolute control of behaviour whilst undertaking the writing (a neat trick is to select a student to scribe the guided writing to allow you to freely roam the room; or going one step further and having an object passed around, like a conch(!), for which students need to hold to contribute). Working effectively, it can harmonise a symphony of understanding. Given any topic the teacher can begin with a prompt to the writing to oil the wheels, before students are asked to contribute subsequent ideas and sentences. As an English teacher, I love getting embroiled in debate about the semantic meaning of one individual word choice over another! Once more, it has the attendant benefit of modelling excellence in a very collaborative and fulfilling fashion. 3. Peer Response Partners (or ‘think-pair-share’): This style of peer feedback is well trodden and nothing new, but it is
worth reflecting that it is the aggregation of understanding provided by learning in groups which provides the positive impact inherent in collaborative learning. Some people complain about the aggregation of misunderstanding that can occur in group work; however, that ‘failure’ isn’t necessarily negative at all, for it gives the teacher the chance to modify the misapprehensions in whole class feedback, indeed, it opens up new avenues of learning – coming back to the contingent nature of learning! The ‘think-pair-share’ approach has been elaborated upon better than I could possibly explain – so here is a useful blog on the activity and its importance from @headguruteacher (Ed: see this issue for info). 3. Success Criteria I would add that it is crucial that success criteria are shared with students and that they have a rigorous structure for feedback – whether it be a ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ approach, or something similar. Ideally, it follows from some quality modelling, as exemplified in points 1 and 2 of my list. 4. Critique: Once more, it is Ron Berger I have to thank for this. Put simply, it is a systematic approach to peer feedback that is structured, clearly and positively, depersonalising the feedback, whilst honing in upon the steps required to improve towards excellence. A fuller explanation can be found here by the venerable @DKMead. 5. One-to-one Teacher Feedback: This is as old school as ancient Athens I know! Yet, in the hurly burly of thirty GCSE students rumbling along in unison, the prospect of one-to-one feedback appears slim to non-existent far too often. Yet, we all know the power of the swiftest of one-to-one oral interventions. Too often our elegant written commentaries are ignored or simply misunderstood. We need to talk it through. With our KS3 groupings in our English and Media Faculty we have allocated one-to-one weeks for each class each term. We are going to ensure students work in peers collaboratively ‘marking’ prep books for SPaG in their preparatory writing, before undertaking independent reading and writing challenges. Every student will spend five minutes with their teacher reflecting upon their progress, targets and their finished, or ongoing, work. At GCSE, you may find that mock feedback would be doubly useful given an oral one-to-one to
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘ORAL FORMATIVE FEEDBACK - Top Ten Strategies’ cont’d
supplement a written commentary. How about setting up a small group task where students devise their own exam questions and answers – a higher order thinking task that required some scaffolding support, but which is a tried and tested success – whilst undertaking that crucial one-to-one feedback.
“I must commend Zoe Elder aka @fullonlearning for ideas related to the humble post-it note, found in her luminous book ‘Full On Learning’. “
6. Opinion Lines: A lively debate can ensue from this kinaesthetic strategy. Select topic sentences that convey a clear option and then use both sides of the room as an opinion continuum, from ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’. This is an ideal task at the beginning of a topic, to determine their understanding, or at the end – perhaps it is a good way to bookend learning to identify changing opinions after a topic has been studied. Students must orally feedback their opinions, justifying their ideas with evidence, building upon or challenging feedback from other students. The feedback can be made visible by a student scribing the continuum on the board in note form (photograph it and save it for later, or use it for ideas for a subsequent written activity). 7. The Secret Teacher – ‘The Power of the Post It’: I must commend Zoe Elder aka @fullonlearning for ideas related to the humble post-it note, found in her luminous book ‘Full On Learning’. I have embedded these techniques with real success and with real ease – even though their aim is moving slightly away from oral feedback as such. Firstly, the ‘secret teacher’ aspect comes in when you have students work independently, for example, on a piece of writing (for me it was students working on Recreative writing in preparation for a controlled assessment). Students
were asked to note any questions on a post it and place it on the ‘questions wall’, as they worked. This small step was helpful in eliminating those helpless and distracting questions, like ‘How do I spell such and such…’ when a dictionary is in a box in front of them! The freedom from answering these questions meant my teaching assistant and I could go around quickly giving feedback with limited interference, whilst casting surreptitious glances upon the work students were doing. Rather than interrupt the flow of the whole group by stopping to talk with individuals (students, like adults, are inherently nosy!), we simply made a note on a post it and placed it on the desk of the student – from a simple ‘Proof read your punctuation’ to ‘Should you develop your scene direction further?’ These little nudges actually moved away from the notion of oral feedback explicitly, but the nudge and modify approach is exactly in tune with the notion of oral formative feedback. In reality, you cannot simply use the post its without some verbal feedback at times, but that feedback becomes very precise and concise. The hum of learning when this strategy goes well really is a pleasure to behold. 8. TSSSTSSS: This simply strategy relates to the method of questioning to elicit oral feedback. The ‘Teacher-studentstudent…’ approach explicitly rejects the ‘tennis style’ teacher led questioning, to instead encourage students to feedback upon the ideas of one another – bouncing ideas around the room like a basketball team (without the heavy ball obviously!). It is a timely reminder to ensure students still own their learning, building upon the ideas of one another. 9. ABC feedback: Closely related to the previous point is the very simple model for students to respond to one another – A = Agree with… B = Build upon… C = Challenge. When students know this structure it is a finely tuned short-hand for effective collaborative learning that enriches the quality of feedback. The teacher is the ultimate guide, but students can develop their thinking more independently. This style does work better with a meaty topic where students are grappling with an argument, or questions, that
requires higher order thinking. It also helps if students are given notice that they will respond, as it ensures they listen ever more keenly. 10. ‘Learning Spies’ Feedback: Taken from the eponymous @LearningSpy himself, David Didau, this strategy works great for group work where you want students to remain on task purposefully throughout the lesson. It is a great way to celebrate and feedback upon positive learning, making explicit what good learning looks like, sounds like and feels like. I used this strategy a lot in the last couple of years with eager Year 7s, who were energised by the opportunity to seize some teacherly control! By making explicit before the task what behaviours you expect of good group work, the two ‘spies’ (I found a gender and ability mix for the pairing worked well), would note each group at work; making notes about skilful contributions, good leadership, levels of engagement and active listening. At the end of the lesson, they would feedback with real skill about the learning habits displayed by the group, identifying the best insights and behaviours on show. Try it with one of your most ‘challenging’ students – we all know the type – it really gets them reflecting and can be very powerful way to get your group learning about how to learn. Admittedly, it isn’t something I would use daily, but with complex group work of some extended length, it is a great strategy. The excellent @davidfawcett27 has produced his own spin on the idea on his Blog ‘Reflections on my teaching’. I particularly like the recording of evidence idea from the blog – with the iPad learning spies could photograph or film exemplary learning – an incredibly powerful strategy that gets students really focused and to reflect upon their learning.
“The hum of learning when this strategy goes well really is a pleasure to behold.”
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘THE MATHEMATICS OF WRITING’ By David Didau (@LearningSpy)
8 weeks ago I took over an AS
David Didau: During the day he is an associate member of SLT and the Director for English and Literacy at Clevedon School in North Somerset. He is also an associate of Independent
David is also author of
‘The Perfect Ofsted English Lesson’
“ I had an argument with Phil Beadle recently in which he maintained that he’d never met an English teacher who a) knew what a sentence was and b) knew how to use a comma. I was shocked. ”
English Language class in which none of the students had a clear understanding of the difference between a noun and a verb. How is that they have got so far through formal education with absolutely no explicit understanding of how sentences work? The answer, my friend, is that teachers’ own language skills are just not up to snuff. I had an argument with Phil Beadle recently in which he maintained that he’d never met an English teacher who a) knew what a sentence was and b) knew how to use a comma. I was shocked. Could this really be true? Obviously I proceded to demonstrate my own understanding in true show off style but this merely disguises the problem he was trying to describe. It really doesn’t undermine his argument to say, I’ve only met one English teacher who knows what a sentence is. (See below for definitions.) Like most English teachers, I’m a graduate of English Literature and, like most people my age, I escaped any hint of grammar teaching in my own education. My great good fortune was to teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) before becoming a ‘real’ teacher. I had to get to grips with my trusty copy of Michael Swann’s Practical English Usage in fairly short order to be able to field the steady stream of questions about present participles and phrasal verbs. As products of this system, the modern English teacher is very comfortable discussing metaphor, alliteration and other literary techniques but is often rather out of their depths with semi colons and conjunctions. Needless to say, if we don’t know these things, there’s little chance they will! My personal bête noir is the lie that you put a comma where you take a breath. I’ve lost count of the number of children that I’ve had to disabuse of this misapprehension: it is simply not true. That said, knowing that punctuation marks where originally notation for actors on how to read scripts does give some credence to this theory and while it’s still fairly useful advice that you might take a breath where you see a comma, it’s certainly bad advice for our putative writer. So what to do? Well, the teaching of punctuation deserves a post of its own; here it
is my intention to demonstrate how approaching sentence construction from the logical and precise stand point of the mathematician might be helpful. Basically, one has to start by knowing that a sentence contains the following elements: A subject. This is the noun (or noun phrase) about which the sentence is about A verb. This is the process by which the subject interacts with the object. It is not a ‘doing word’. An object. This is (usually)the noun (or noun phrase) with which the subject is interacting. Sometimes it isn’t, so if you’re not happy with object, refer to it as ‘other’. It’s all good. For instance: I (the subject) am (the verb) a teacher (the object). The observant among you may have noticed that I failed to label ‘a’ (an indefinite article) and that’s deliberate. For one, I don’t want to over burden anyone and also they aren’t required in a sentence. A better, purer example perhaps might be: David (subject) loves (verb) English (object). This understanding of the SVO structure can then be applied to existing sentences. Here’s one entirely at random from earlier in the post: Like most English teachers, I’m a graduate of English Literature and, like most people my age, I escaped any hint of grammar teaching in my own education. Now, this is a fairly complex sentence made up of 4 different clauses which I’ll try to deconstruct into its component parts:
And other stuff:
We could then instruct them to write a sentence which did this: S V O; S V O. Or this: V, S O. And, by God, they’d know how to do it! But language is messy. Maths on the other hand is neat and ordered. If algebra makes sense to you, it is a realm of certainties. So, can English harness some of this logic and precision? Can we, as English teachers (and don’t forget that every teacher in English is a teacher of English) give students the mental tools to be able to construct technically accurate sentences? And does it even matter? Some may argue that all this emphasis on grammar stifles creativity. To them I say, pah! We wouldn’t value a mathematician so focused on a creative solution to a problem that they couldn’t add up, or an architect whose ‘creative’ buildings were unbuildable. We value precision in so many other fields, why is it OK for writing to be sloppy? I’m pleased to report that after 8 weeks of an intensive crash course in grammar, my AS class are now able to write. They are so much more thoughtful about how they’re writing rather than just dumping their thoughts on the page. I would argue, and so would they, that this has allowed them to be much more confident and creative in their writing. Most of all, it’s allowed them to decide when, where and why they might want to break the rules. And crucially, none of this need be dull. Just as there are bucket loads of creative, exciting maths teachers out there, so too can there be regiments of outstanding grammarians. Take a leaf out of the wonderful Dancing about Architecture for some excellent ideas on how to combine the physical with the abstract.
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
NO PENS DAY - the Power of Effective Communication By Lisa Jane Ashes from her blog ‘Reflections of a Learning Geek’(@lisajaneashes) A survey of two hundred young people in an inner city secondary school found that 75% of them had communication problems that hampered relationships, behaviour and learning. The Communication Trust
“No pens day is a whole school initiative designed to help students know the value, importance and power of effective communication.”
No pens day is a whole school initiative designed to help students know the value, importance and power of effective communication. Looking back to my first lessons as a student teacher, I can remember being really proud when the Head of Department told me that I had great control over the pupils. He said they were always so quiet and obedient when he observed me and they hung on my every word. I thought this meant great learning was taking place; now I know better. Perfect behaviour does not always mean perfect learning. How did I know my lesson was making the right connections in my pupils’ minds? How did I know they understood? Of course, I took their books home at the end of the week and wrote HUGE comments to further impress the HOD. This would take a great deal of time and pupils would have to wait for feedback. If we can get pupils to articulate their understanding there and then and we really listen to their responses, that review of learning becomes instant and effective. Opportunities to develop our pupils’ communication skills and avoid them ending up like the statistics above should not be being missed. Our no pens day aimed to start the ball rolling towards righting that wrong. We launched the idea to staff during a training day in September based on RWCM (reading, writing, communication and mathematics). We rolled out our bespoke resources, designed to support staff in becoming teachers of RWCM. Following that, reflection, preparation and collaboration time was provided to ensure that our no pens day was successful. Departments were offered support for their planning. Students were also given a special assembly to help them see the bigger picture. I am desperate to now start telling you about the amazing
lesson that I had with my Y9 pupils exploring leadership in Lord of the Flies but I suspect the response to that might be something along the lines of “yeah but it is easy in English.” I agree, speaking and listening is easy as it is part of our content. For that reason, I will avoid this and instead go for the opposite end of the spectrum and show you how this might work in Maths. I have chosen to demonstrate a lesson on shape, space and measurements. Pupils in this lesson will be using discussion and research to persuade their teacher that they have made progress in their knowledge and ability from the beginning of the lesson to the end. I have used APP criteria to determine the levels of mathematical understanding in this lesson; you can use whichever criteria you would ordinarily use to determine levels.
New Information Pupils are given a box full of items. This could be wheels, measuring instruments, cut out shapes, solid shapes, scissors, glue etc…. They are told that they must make progress in this lesson and will be doing this by persuading you that there is Maths in their box. On their tables is an effective communication mat, a laminated A3 sheet, outlining ideas such as using effective vocabulary, persuasive techniques, what confidence looks like, how and when to use gesture and those all important listening skills. This is where the differentiation really kicks in, show pupils a grid of progress and ask them where they think they should begin based on their previous discussion. Example of o progress grid
Where’s the Maths in this? As pupils enter, they are faced with the above image and question and are asked to discuss the answer in their groups. At this point the differentiation is by outcome as a level two pupil might discuss the shapes that they see whereas a level five pupil might discuss the different angles contained within the shapes. Listen to pupils’ responses and know their starting level. You alone are allowed a pen and should use it to note on a register the level pupils are reaching through discussion.
Get them to think about the words they were using to describe the Maths in the image and link it to the vocabulary in the grid. The grid will link to a task, which will allow them to build their knowledge and make progress; they should then work their way through the tasks (each one being a level higher than the last) to ensure progress. You could use a symbol for each level or just have the number of the level on it so that pupils can easily find their chosen tasks. This is similar to what I do with SOLO boxes if you want further information on how this works. For example: A pupil has been discussing the different names for all of the angles contained in the image above (multi). To get to the next level, he needs to begin to solve problems using his knowledge of angles (relational). Cont’d over page
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
NO PENS DAY - the Power of Effective Communication cont’d
Cont’d from previous page His task will ask him to consider the geometrical problems within his box of shapes and will direct him to reading material on what this means. If you are lucky enough to have ipads in your classroom, have them set up on revision guides for the different levels. If not, good old fashioned printed information stuck around your room will have the same effect. Search for Meaning As pupils are working, listen to their conversations and intervene with questions to help keep them continue to make progress. Pupils should never get to the “end” as there is always more to discover. If you hear pupils talking confidently about the properties and angles within their box and they don’t seem to be looking to move to the next level, ask them if they feel expert enough to move on and guide them to choosing the next level. If you see pupils really struggling to solve geometrical problems, ask them if they have really understood angles and make it ok to move backwards to the previous task to be able to move forwards eventually. They are still making progress as they are learning something they did not know. Do not forget about your communication mat either. The literacy does not have to take over the mathematical learning but being able to articulate their ideas will help them to make sense of the ideas that they have. At the start of the lesson, level four pupils might have been using level two terminology. They would have started at an easy task and worked their way quickly towards something that challenged them which would raise their confidence in now using the mathematical terms they are learning. Challenge poor vocabulary. If you hear a group discussing how trying to measure a circle with a set square is “stupid,” point at the vocabulary section of the mat and ask them if there are any better words that would make their argument
stronger. The pupils might then replace stupid with “ineffective,” increasing the formality of their argument. Highlight effective communication that you see, praise it and use it as a model for the other groups. “Everyone, Billy just replaced an informal word with a more formal choice; it has really made his argument stronger.” Demonstrate Avoid the clichéd presentation at the end as it takes too long and bores everyone. Instead, ask pupils to teach each other what they now know by persuading another group that there is Maths in their box. You can set this up like jigsaw groups*. Once again, have your register handy and really listen for progression. Pupils should have learned new mathematical ideas and techniques and should be confidently presenting them to a group of peers, using effective communication. They can use their communication mats to remind themselves of what this looks and sounds like as they present whatever they have created from their box of tricks. Review There are so many benefits to having a noisy classroom like this. You can listen for misconceptions to inform your planning and you can offer feedback there and then on their knowledge and understanding. Although you do have to think carefully about the set up of a lesson like this, during the lesson, you are not the one doing the hard work. The progressive tasks allow pupils to be independent and you are free to advise, question, encourage and praise. The danger with no pen day is that people will see it as an excuse to stick on a DVD, to do group work for the sake of doing group work, to make pupils work independently and sit back with a coffee as they get it wrong and start hitting each other with rulers. To get RWCM right is not to just do it because Ofsted say so. The teachers’ planning, preparation and collaboration stage of creating this no pens day was far more important than
the day itself. Teachers need to see the bigger picture, the reason behind this way of thinking and the benefits for both themselves and their students. Just as I realised that good behaviour does not equal good learning, so too have I realised the importance of never forcing literacy and numeracy into your subject for the sake of it. I have stopped asking pupils that can classify quadrilaterals to count the lines in a poem as I hope Maths teachers will stop asking pupils who can create sonnets to spell the number one.
*Jigsaw group: highlighted in ‘Evidence Based Teaching’ by Geoff Petty. The jigsaw classroom is a cooperative learning technique with a threedecade track record of successfully reducing racial conflict and increasing positive educational outcomes. Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece--each student's part--is essential for the completion and full understanding of the final product. If each student's part is essential, then each student is essential; and that is precisely what makes this strategy so effective. See graphic below:
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
The Jigsaw Classroom (after Prof Elliot Aronson) The jigsaw classroom is a cooperative learning technique with a three-decade track record of successfully reducing racial conflict and increasing positive educational outcomes. A History The jigsaw classroom was first used in 1971 in Austin, Texas by Prof Elliot Aronson. His graduate students and himself had invented the jigsaw strategy that year, as a matter of absolute necessity to help defuse an explosive situation. The city's schools had recently been desegregated, and because Austin had always been racially segregated, white youngsters, African-American youngsters, and Hispanic youngsters found themselves in the same classrooms for the first time. After only 8 weeks, jigsaw students expressed less prejudice and negative stereotyping, were more selfconfident, and reported liking school better than children in traditional classrooms. Moreover, children in jigsaw classes were absent less often than were other students, and they showed greater academic improvement; poorer students in the jigsaw classroom scored significantly higher on objective exams than comparable students in traditional classes, while the good students continued to do as well as the good students in traditional classes. How Does it Work? Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece--each student's part--is essential for the completion and full understanding of the final product. If each student's part is essential, then each student is essential; and that is precisely what makes this strategy so effective. Here is how it works: The students in a history class, for
example, are divided into small groups of five or six students each. Suppose their task is to learn about World War II. In one jigsaw group, Sara is responsible for researching Hitler's rise to power in pre-war Germany. Another member of the group, Steven, is assigned to cover concentration camps; Pedro is assigned Britain's role in the war; Melody is to research the contribution of the Soviet Union; Tyrone will handle Japan's entry into the war; Clara will read about the development of the atom bomb. Eventually each student will come back to her or his jigsaw group and will try to present a well-organized report to the group. The situation is specifically structured so that the only access any member has to the other five assignments is by listening closely to the report of the person reciting. Thus, if Tyrone doesn't like Pedro, or if he thinks Sara is a nerd and tunes her out or makes fun of her, he cannot possibly do well on the test that follows. To increase the chances that each report will be accurate, the students doing the research do not immediately take it back to their jigsaw group. Instead, they meet first with students who have the identical assignment (one from each jigsaw group). For example, students assigned to the atom bomb topic meet as a team of specialists, gathering information, becoming experts on their topic, and rehearsing their presentations. We call this the "expert" group. It is particularly useful for students who might have initial difficulty learning or organizing their part of the assignment, for it allows them to hear and rehearse with other "experts." Once each presenter is up to speed, the jigsaw groups
reconvene in their initial heterogeneous configuration. The atom bomb expert in each group teaches the other group members about the development of the atom bomb. Each student in each group educates the whole group about her or his specialty. Students are then tested on what they have learned about World War II from their fellow group member. What is the benefit of the jigsaw classroom? First and foremost, it is a remarkably efficient way to learn the material. But even more important, the jigsaw process encourages listening, engagement, and empathy by giving each member of the group an essential part to play in the academic activity. Group members must work together as a team to accomplish a common goal; each person depends on all the others. No student can succeed completely unless everyone works well together as a team. This "cooperation by design" facilitates interaction among all students in the class, leading them to value each other as contributors to their common task.
â€œThis cooperation by design facilitates interaction among all students in the class, leading them to value each other as contributors to their common taskâ€?
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
The ‘Washing Hands’ of Learning: Think Pair Share A Blog by Tom Sherrington @headguruteacher A blog about something really obvious but worth spelling out. After 25 years of teaching, I’ve been through a fair amount of dodgy INSET/CPD. As a result I am something of a ‘visiting speaker’ sceptic. However, it hasn’t all been bad; far from it. Some ideas have been very influential such as the ideas behind CASE (Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education) developed at Kings in the 1990s; also the principles of formative assessment that have trickled into our collective consciousness as teachers since ‘Inside the Black Box’. Whilst some ideas have helped me to frame an overarching philosophy for teaching or have augmented my armoury of teaching tools, there is one simple strategy that has transformed the way I teach every lesson, every day: Think, Pair, Share. I used to be a ‘hands up’ merchant just like a lot of people. Then, at an INSET session about 10 years ago, delivered by a superb trainer from Haringey LA (employed through National Strategies – imagine!) the seed was sown that ‘hands up’ might not be such a great idea. It is so obvious when you think about it. In fact it is rather alarming that such a poor and even harmful strategy is still so deeply ingrained in pedagogical practice. For years I’d fought my way through the forest of hands- “Oo, oo, oo, me, me, me!!!” OR faced the tumbleweed of deathly silence; those ‘blood out of stone’ moments when you scan the room desperately looking for someone willing to give you an answer and everyone is staring at the floor. And of course there would often have been kids at the back wishing ‘please, please, don’t ask me, I haven’t got a clue.’ But the solution came: Every time you ask a question, get the students to think first, then discuss it in pairs before they answer. Lightening bolt. This simple strategy has transformed how I teach – and helped develop an entirely new way of thinking about teaching. I’ve
since often referred to this as th e ‘washin g h an ds’ of teaching. This is the hospital analogy where the single simplest act with the greatest impact is to ensure every hospital worker washes their hands after each patient contact; i.e. changing something that you do all the time every day has an enormous impact. I think it is worth revisiting just why ‘hands up’ is such a poor strategy: Only one person gets to answer at a time so you have no idea what most people are thinking. The answer can be offered before others have had a chance to work it out for themselves. Students can opt out of answering or thinking altogether if they choose to. They can hide. It is difficult to express confusion or simply to say that you don’t know the answer. In the ‘forest of hands’ scenario, the competitiveness inhibits less confident students (and there are gender-specific behaviours here that can’t be ignored). In the ‘blood out of a stone’ scenario, you can’t tell if students are really stuck or just too unsure of themselves to offer a public answer. Very often ‘Hands up’ goes together with closed questions with very short ‘think time. We are not comfortable with silence –and expect responses within seconds of asking a question. Ingrained patterns of behaviour develop; students who always put a hand up and students who never do. So, what changes when you ask routinely, ‘in your pairs, discuss…..’: Crucially, in doing this you are creating a small bubble of security around each pair; a safe space where they can think for a while and say whatever they like. ‘I think X’, ‘No, I think Y’…’I haven’t got a clue’, ‘I wasn’t really listening’ ‘It is more complicated than that… maybe it is X except when it is Y?’ In this bubble it is safe to admit you don’t understand and the pair can pluck up the courage
together to report this back. Easier to say ‘we don’t get it’ rather than ‘I don’t get it’. Every single student can engage in answering the question; they are all generating answers simultaneously – and there is less chance of hiding. Shy students will speak to their partner; the blood comes out of the stone! It has an immediate effect. Two heads are better than one. If the question is a good one, pairs can debate their answer. They can then rehearse it and feedback to each other ‘..yes, that sounds good but maybe also say this….’ When the teacher brings the class together to hear answers, the students are repeating something they have rehearsed. It is easy to report back ‘we thought that maybe it is XYZ’ when you have already thought this through… compared to being put on the spot with a cold question. It is crucial in the report-back phase to ask selected pairs directly to share their discussion; it means everyone needs to be prepared to report back in case they are asked. Using a building process is also key here – anything to add, to challenge, any better or different answers? And so on. (It is not always timeefficient to get each pair to share their answer.) I could go on…. it is just such a powerful change. Still now, it is by far the most common piece of feedback I give after lesson observations: ‘If you had asked them to discuss in pairs, the learning would have been better’. The question is, why do teachers still ask for hands up or accept it when students take them down the ‘hands up’ culde-sac? What are the barriers to adopting ‘in your pairs’ as the default mode of questioning? For some it is about behaviour management. To repeatedly stop and start a class –full of kids talking is more difficult than keeping a lid on them and taking one answer at a time. Good stop-start strategies need to be developed and rehearsed. It can be overwhelming dealing with all the answers that are generated. After 15 paired
discussions – what do you do then? The key is to encourage active listening and the process of building on previous answers as you s a m p l e t h e responses. Sampling is valid – and much much better than only taking a couple of cold hands-up responses. Students default to handsup themselves and have to be trained out of it – which can be a drag. Yes, it can, but it soon works if you ignore students with hands up and get the pair discussion going. If you reward ‘hands up’, that is what you’ll get. It can feel like a sledgehammer to crack a nut if you only want to know ‘what is the capital of Spain ‘or ‘what is 3 x 4’. Well it is. But is that a good question in the first place? This is the crux; think-pair -share forces us to ask better questions. There is room for a few sharp closed questions in a lesson but if we are looking for higher order thinking, answers that model literacy skills as well as content and, generally, are probing to a deeper level of understanding, then ‘hands up’ with closed questioning, is never going to be enough. Once you are into the groove of routine ‘in your pairs’ questioning, you find yourself asking better questions –it all flows. So, thank you to Alison from Haringey for showing me the light! I’ve never looked back…. My hands are clean – are yours!!?? Tom Sherrington is the Headteacher of KEGS, Chelmsford. He says he’s “on a mission to encourage and challenge teachers to take more risks and release the full creative potential of the learning process.”
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘Discussion to Promote Learning’ By Yvonne Lewington (from her website ‘From Good To Outstanding’) Have you ever noticed that often, when someone is being interviewed, they say “That’s a good question.”? It’s usually when it’s a question they can’t answer quickly and easily. Indeed, “good” questions are ones that generally need thinking about. In the Ofsted inspection schedule, the reference to questioning relates to how questioning is used to PROMOTE learning: “the extent to which teachers’ questioning and use of discussion promote learning” Ofsted 2012 Notice, in this instance it does not say “ASSESS” learning, although clearly this is undeniably a major purpose for questioning. Hence, this post is focused on using questions to promote learning and stimulate thinking. Questions that are easy to answer don’t move learning on; they might indicate that learning has happened, or that at least something has been noticed, thought about or memorised, but they don’t promote learning. How do questions promote learning? Good questions stimulate thinking, and often generate more questions to clarify understanding. Good questions generate informative responses often revealing not only misconceptions and misunderstanding, but understanding and experience beyond that expected. Good questions encourage learners to make links. Good questions push learners to the limit of their understanding. Good questions from pupils push teachers to the limits of their understanding too, and challenge them to find better ways of explaining.
Good questions offer opportunities for learners to hear others’ answers to questions, it helps them to reflect on their own understanding. Questioning can fail because: - questioning techniques are inappropriate for the material. - there may be an unconscious gender bias. - there may be an unconscious bias towards most able or more demanding students. - levels of questions might be targeted to different abilities inappropriately. - students don’t have enough thinking time. - learners don’t have any idea as to whether they are the only ones to get it wrong/right. - learners fear being seen by their peers to be wrong. - questions are too difficult. - questions are too easy. Questioning succeeds when: - all learners get a chance to answer. - learners can see how others are thinking. - teachers gain information about thinking and learning. learners have time to consider their answers. - learners have time to discuss and follow up on their answers. the answers are not always clear-cut. - learners feel safe to answer. - questions stimulate more questions. - questions stimulate thinking. What kinds of questions do you routinely ask, and how do you ask them ? A great deal is talked about open and closed questions, and I’d be surprised to find any teacher who isn’t aware of
the difference, but good questioning to promote learning has much more to it than that, and is a vital skill to keep on developing. There are many questioning and response techniques that are employed throughout schools, many of them very effective: “No hands up”; Mini whiteboards; Vote or student response systems; Online discussions and forums etc.. ……….but more important than the technique, is the quality of the questions asked. Professor Dylan Wiliam talks about the need to get away from the IRE system (Initiation, Response, Evaluation), and to think more carefully about the way in which we ask questions and respond to pupil’s answers. E.g. Teacher: How many sides does a hexagon have? (Initiate) Pupil: 6? (Response) Teacher: Well done. (Evaluate) (Yes…I accept that this is an oversimplified example, but I’m sure you can think of others you’ve seen/used) He gives an example of what one teacher (Ross MacGill) calls “Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce”: The teacher poses a question, pauses to allow pupils time to think, pounces on any pupil (keeps them on their toes) and then bounces the pupil’s response onto another pupil. E.g. T: How might you describe a hexagon? P: It’s a shape with 6 sides T: (to second pupil) How far do you agree with that answer? Depending on the answer of the second pupil – the line
of questioning could continue – Is the first answer completely right? How could we improve the question? How could we make the answer accurate? Dylan Wiliam also puts forward the idea of ‘Hinge” questions. A hinge question is based on the important concept in a lesson that is critical for students to understand before you move on in the lesson. The question should fall about midway during the lesson. Every student must respond to the question within two minutes. You must be able to collect and interpret the responses from all students in 30 seconds E.g. Choose the best description of a rhombus. a. a 2D shape with two pairs of parallel sides b. a quadrilateral with two pairs of parallel sides, each side being of equal length c. a quadrilateral where all four sides have equal length. Opposite sides are parallel and opposite angles are equal. d. a quadrilateral where all four sides have equal length. Opposite sides are parallel and all angles are right angles. You can collate the responses using ABCD cards, mini whiteboards etc. These types of questions are particularly useful for using with student response systems (Like the voting system on “Who wants to be a millionaire?”), as they will record the responses too. Whatever the response, it offers an opportunity for probing and further discussion. Cont’d over page
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘Discussion to Promote Learning’ cont’d Dilemmas and discussion Asking questions which stimulate discussion are a great way to promote learning. They lead pupils to express their thinking, reveal their understanding and to reflect and compare their thinking with others. They also enable learning and progress to be demonstrated explicitly, as shown in this comment from a recent inspection report. “In the best lessons, teachers engage their classes with imaginative activities. In a Year 10 history class, the teacher provided a collection of interesting resources, some print based and some in electronic format. Students worked in groups to explore these resources and form a judgement as to the quality of leadership provided by Field Marshall Haig in the First World War.” Clearly the students were working at the higher end (Evaluation) of Bloom’s taxonomy. Examples: Lower Order Questions Remembering What did we say a noun was? What’s the symbol for sodium? What happened when we heated the wax? What’s the formula for working out area? What do we have to remember about starting a new sentence? Understanding Which note is higher? Which words tell us that the character is sad? What happened to the salt when we added it to the water? Why does the water level go down faster on a hot day? Higher order questions – (These are the kind that will promote learning!) Applying Given what you have just learned, how could you devise a
better way of doing this experiment? How might you use this technique to solve this (another) problem? Use your understanding of changes of state to explain how the water cycle works. Analysing Why did this event in the match prove to be the turning point? Why is this business website more successful than this one? What would we need to know about geology and chemistry to understand the industrial development of Stoke-on-Trent? What features of the writing work to increase the tension in this chapter? What elements in this piece of music create the sense of anger?
you ask relate to the learning objectives? Do the questions you ask challenge thinking? How often do you ask further questions that really probe understanding? How many questions do you ask to which you don’t know the answer? How often do the learners ask the questions? How often do you ask the learners to generate probing questions? How do the questions you ask promote learning?
“Do the questions you ask challenge thinking?”
Evaluating How accurate were the measurements in the experiment we have just carried out? How well does this piece of music create the sense of anger? Which material is better for this purpose? What are the characteristics of this material that make it worth considering for this purpose? Which method of calculation do you think is more efficient/ accurate? Creating Design a pocket guide to fair testing. Create a one minute video/audio to explain why we have night and day. Write a “Ten commandments” of good design. Re-present the information in the text as a diagram. Compose a piece of music of your own to convey one of these emotions…..
How is your questioning? Do you ever consciously audit your questions? How good are the key questions you plan for each lesson? How well do the questions
Yvonne Lewington is a curriculum specialist in science, ICT and creative practice, holding a First degree in Biological Science and Science Education, and a Masters degree in Creative and Critical Practice in Educational Settings. She is also currently Vice Chair of Governors of a primary school.
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
NOTES FROM THE ‘TALK FOR LEARNING’ TRAINING DAY 1. Communication, Reading & Writing: Developing Talk for Learning (Jo Merrion) TASK 1 - Talk: Who talks in your classrooms: When, How, why? A speaks to B Then split pairs and A explains to B. Move to Groups of 4: discuss same question and agree points that emerge. Time management and digression often occur with the facilitator interceding. Discuss why paired work? Means less opportunities for opting out in larger groups Why swap partners? Sharing new ideas, rephrasing, cumulative, have to have listened which leads to respect of each other Why the new group? Refining the ideas, can be unequal, group dynamics leaders, listeners, scribes. How far do you think your points reflect the pupils perceptions of what happens in the classroom? Most would say that teacher talks the most and pupils asked to be quiet. Outcomes for AVS: average of 5 mins per lesson on talk for learning, mostly Q&A, most opted out, rarely asked to talk in pairs, groups were used in some lessons, but skills not explicitly taught, teachers talk for about half the lesson, more in Y9 than Y10, they'd like to do more 'thinking for themselves' instead of being told. What can we use talk
for? - Talk for Thinking, Talk for Reading, - Talking for Writing. How can we use talk to,promote achievement in these areas? What strategies can we use? And why should we? JM noticed that the school was the 2nd quietest school that she had visited. On task activities but v little 'talk'. We are all teachers of English: report from Ofsted 'Methwold' - "the curriculum is inadequate failing to provide opportunities for pupils to improve CRW" Outstanding Teaching OFSTED: high expectations, teaching of CRW, maths needs to be highly effective; teachers and adults generate high levels of engagement and commitment to learning across the whole school Need talk for learning to achieve these outstanding features. It is the best way of promoting critical thinking and inquiry. Engaging in genuine dialogue with others, individuals can work at a higher operating level. Speaking and Listening: puts thought into words, generates thought, etc Auden: "How do I know what I think, 'til I know what I say?" Professor Debra Myhill has found: whole class talk tends not to be just teacher-led but teacher dominated Low level tasks: recitation, teacher-childteacher-child, teacher echoing and repetition, teachers ask questions to find out what children
know. Reduces listening skills. Encouraging pupils to develop and move on Talk: pupils need to know talk is valued by the teacher, teachers need to share strategies Activity: "We learn: 10% of what we see, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we experience ourselves, 50% of what we hear and see, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we experience ourselves 90% what we teach". Can be a paired then a group activity. Discussing skills needed to operate, brings in meta cognition. How do you measure Progress? Ofsted "teachers systematically check pupils understanding..." Examples : by listening to what students are saying, by reading what they're writing/have written, by observing their actions and questioning them. Exercise: Read extract, answer questions: corandic is an emurient grow with many fribs; Corite, an log which crags like lange, etc Learning from this text has achieved absolutely nothing - correct answers but no learning. Often in comprehension tasks Talk to support idea generation Talk to plan text outline Talk to support phrase or sentence construction Talk to collaborate with peers Talk to reflect on writing
"We learn: 10% of what we see, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we experience ourselves, 50% of what we hear and see, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we experience ourselves 90% what we teach".
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘Talk for Learning’ @ AVS cont’d
Talk to share writing Talk to hear printed text aloud Developing Talk: seating plan for maximising learning, beware of seating plans that do not work (e.g. Boy/girl, alphabetical, no variety), learning partners, think/pair/share, pairs to fours, report back to whole class. Developing Talk: in Pairs - refer back to the written task: series of tasks for developing the piece of written work - scaffolding with key points to include. Peer and self evaluation, developing the ideas through talk. They finish the composition and then develop further Example for Science: write about Photosynthesis for 1 min, words & definitions, play crossword games, draw pictures whilst other reads, discuss pictures, 'just a minute' talk on photosynthesis, play 'Articulate', 'just a minute' again,now write for one minute and compare with earlier attempt. So what do NC levels look like? Rank ordering examples of written work, suggested order: N (5A), O (4A), K (4B), M (3C) Attainment Target (AT) 3: Writing The most important question? How would you help these pupils improve? What feedback would you give? What strategies would you use in your lessons to help each one? By engaging in genuine dialogue with others individuals will make progress.
2. Innovation Team: Short Presentations by Colleagues Maths (Lydia Unwin): 'Just a Minute'
Based on 'Just a Minute' - introduction to the talk show with a video clip from 'Just a Minute' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Topic card handed to the students: pupils talk on the topic with no hesitation, repetition topic is handed on to next person.
Colleagues presented with topic name and stopclock: discuss to the rules of 'Just a Minute' in groups of 4.
Discussion: some opting out, focused on the deviations etc, but can be fine tuned to the subject. In many cases there are usually less students dropping out, as the exercise develops students become more confident, scaffolding before you launch the exercise, key words.
Science (J Green): Teacher Demonstration/ Speed Dating Grouped colleagues: students and teachers sitting at the desks developing thoughts on 'Energy'. Use of Green Hat thinking: moving on to creative ideas about energy Use of Blue Hat thinking on types of energy - thinking of better questions related to the key words that are grouped together e.g. Solar, nuclear, tidal; Introduction 'Generic Forms of Energy': each pair has an energy convertor and key points to be described to a visitor of the object: say what it is, describe what is happening, use the correct words for the forms of energy. Things to consider: the useful energy change, energy chains, is there more than one form of energy output? The conversations bring up difficulties in understanding, highlight areas for clarification. Next Step: 'Speed Dating' listener stays put and teacher moves on one posits to be taught by the next person. Usually max 5 -7 mins. Summing up: which was the best example, most interesting, correct use of scientific terminology etc.
“By engaging in genuine dialogue with others individuals will make progress.”
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
‘Talk for Learning’ @ AVS cont’d MFL: Group Talk (S Wooliams)
staff went to join up with someone who was new to the school or not known very well. Roles reversed. Moving on, swapping pairs imparting information about the new person to another colleague. Following this, discussion about roles in the team work: who is best listener, who is best questioner, etc.
Introduction with video: students discussing pictures using German using opinions negatives/positives Developing opinion phrases in French: key phrases scaffolded using PowerPoint and syptances taken on a topic: for example 'Smoking' Working in Groups of 4: 'The Haunted House' building a convincing argument: Person 1 describes the environment, Person 2 describes the garden, Person 3 describes the outside of the house, Person 4 describes the hall. Aiming for as much variety as possible in the language they use (including sentence structure and vocabulary) Aim to include: Descriptions with senses, variety of sentence starters, lists of three, use variety of adjectives/adverbs. Key point is the material that is provided helps to prepare and scaffold the activity.
RE: Targeting Team Work and Talk for Learning (Sue Pine)
Splitting into pairs 'A' and 'B' to discuss/ introductions to a new member of staff - the
Humanities: 'VCOP' (Bradley Thompson)
Introduced Ros Wilson's work on 'VCOP' and developing ideas about better communication in extended writing. Further developed and adapted from 'P' being 'points' for KS4, rather than 'Punctuation' Initially used as a 4 sided pyramid in primary schools. Developed for the subject, to a planning grid on a 'learning map' type approach. Used as a bank of ideas, as a reviewing tool, as a revision tool (writing a VCOP For a topic area) Experience is that it is a very practical resource and enables students to become engaged very quickly. It has empowered the students. With further use,
competency has improved. Enables excellent support for differentiation for different levels KS3 students are well aware of issues since used widely in primary schools. The Humanities have produced a poster called 'VCOP' that is a reminder of its use.
A4A Volume 1: Autumn Issue 3 - 2012
AND FINALLY...... IPAD - TOP 10 APPS FOR EDUCATION Pages: The basic word processing package that is really essential for any and all types of writing. Easily transportable by email to Dropbox etc. with the capacity to convert to Microsoft Word if required.
If you wish to contribute, please email: ericwareham @btinternet.com
OR Tweet: @EricWareham
Safari: The essential internet browser for the iPad for all required research essential to presentations etc. Dropbox: The best Cloud app to save work and create an accessible area to share work, ideas etc. Lots of free storage and a secure password system make Dropbox an ideal support for any department to share with students and fellow teachers. iBooks: The essential e-reader and book library for the iPad. Save a range of classics for free and store other purchased class texts. With added annotation/ highlighting capacity, Apple is constantly updating the app to allow students and teachers to actively engage with texts. With iBooksAuthor you can even create real texts and upload them into iBooks – the ultimate ‘real writing’ experience. ExplainEverything: A brilliant app for individual or group presentations. Students can upload images, video and text to the app template, whilst recording a voice-over to create fantastic presentations that harness a complex range of skills in an active way – allowing students to explain everything! iFPoems: A fantastic anthology of poems is available on the app. The best features are great poetry readings, from the likes of Bill Nighy and Helena Bonham Carter. It also allows for the saving of favourites and the capacity for students to record their own readings of the poems. iMovie: A smooth and easy app that allows students to create films instantly, with an array of editing facilities. Reliable and effective, it is very simple but it can produce films of a very good standard. Penultimate: One of the many handwriting apps on the iPad. This app is easy to use and excellent for writing notes, mapping ideas etc. Any notes can be easily emailed and saved to a Dropbox account. iTunes U: This app provides an exhaustive library of free resources: from audiobooks to top quality lectures and instruction on a vast range of topics. Resources such as famous speeches to summaries of Shakespeare plays are free to use iDoceo is a new powerful and easy to use mark book for the iPad. Its spreadsheet engine will calculate averages in real time as you put information in. No internet connection is required to use it. You can insert any kind information for each class, student and term visually, no more boring spreadsheets. Scroll , expand, filter, export, import and view your information at any time. With thanks to @huntingeglish for his suggestions