Category Archives: Magic Monday

Motivation

The first of our after-school ‘Workshops of Wonder’ on Magic Monday 4 was delivered by Mark Nesbitt – Assistant Curriculum Team Leader for Science, who shared his thoughts on motivation with us. Here is Mark’s summary on how we can use praise and rewards as tools to promote student achievement.

going for the summit

Reasons we use praise and rewards

Education literature on rewards and praise spans over 60 years and at times can be conflicting. Hopefully I can generalise the common positive findings from studies and make some suggestions on how you could maximise their effectiveness in your practice.

I’m going to start with a few reasons why we praise and reward students. These include:

  • As an incentive for students to complete a task
  • To praise a certain behaviour
  • To help raise expectations
  • To promote effort when carrying out an instruction
  • To motivate students to complete their work

Motivation

“If you are motivated to achieve to do something you will be moved to achieve, you will be activated in achieving a certain goal” (Murphy and Alexander, 2000)

Motivation is a concept in many theories, but we all know that when a failure to succeed occurs, a lack of motivation is often blamed. In the classroom the failing student will often be seen as having “poor motivation”, whilst we all know that some parents would claim that poor student performance is because of bad teaching and that a good teacher would be able to motivate and engage their child.

I don’t have any miracle answers to that but what I can share is how we can attempt to promote intrinsic motivation through well-timed praise to motivate and engage students (Ball, 1977).

There are different types of motivation. The one we all hope to instil in our students is intrinsic motivation.  Intrinsic motivation is the idea that students will engage in tasks for the experience and sense of fulfilment in completing them in their own right.

Most educators see intrinsic motivation as an imperative concept for students to have, its seen to lead to high quality learning and is probably best characterised as a source of achieving through learning from a driving force from within as opposed to external influences (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

We all want our students to arrive fully engaged and eager to learn because they find the work interesting and fulfilling, not because they fear a sanction or will get a reward at the end of it. This is the ideal but I don’t think it is at all easy to achieve.

motivation carrot

Rewards and intrinsic motivation

After I qualified as a teacher I continued my studies in education research. One thing that I looked at was how we can use praise with students to make the biggest impact. I carried out a short study into the ways in which praise and rewards could be administered, their effect and what peoples’ findings suggested.

I looked at 188 students in year 7, with the idea being to see if I could shift student motivation from extrinsic types (the sort of behaviour that is influenced by praise, punishment, success and so on) towards intrinsic motivation.

In all cases students were asked to complete a series of questions to assess their view of their progress and attitudes towards the subject. This was coupled with an analysis of student performance in unit assessments so I could be sure they weren’t just thinking they were doing better, but were actually performing better.

Half the year group underwent Science lessons whereby praise was administered as it normally would be, whilst the other half were part of a rewards based system for around 12 weeks. The system was fairly straightforward: students had basic criteria, almost like school expectations to follow but any effort above and beyond this saw students rewarded with an “extra mile”. This was a reward in a passport that they could cash in once they had acquired a sufficient number of miles. Some staff were introduced to the benefits of timely praise and I set up a number of different classes to look at a range of effects.

The Extra Mile Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

What I set up to compare were differences in:

  • Tangible and verbal rewards
  • Expected rewards and unexpected rewards
  • Single bouts of rewarding against reiteration

Findings

I found that there wasn’t much difference between groups. Effect sizes were often too small to make any solid conclusions and those that were significantly different, often involved staff absences or different content being delivered.

Where there was validity I found that:

  • Student performance was always better when they didn’t expect the reward at the end of any task, where they were completely unaware they were being rewarded
  • Verbal praise was more successful than any tangible reward

My results did correspond with a lot of other people’s findings so I wasn’t too disappointed. However, a quick literature review would tell you it’s a minefield of conflicting information so here are some summary points to share from what I have discovered.

  • Verbal praise is always a winner! If it’s meaningful and enthusiastic you can’t go wrong!
  • Don’t say “if you do this I’ll reward you” (I still do that now sometimes), try not to mention any tangible reward before a task or activity (Cameron and Pierce, 1994)
  • Tangible rewards are useful but more so when unexpected.
  • If you give tangible rewards like Vivos try to supplement them with a positive statement to help reinforce your thoughts.
  • Praise attitudes and efforts, not final products and outcomes. In places such as Scandinavia where students repeatedly outperform other global regions it’s been recorded that most praise is directed to promoting effort and attitude and not achievement. This helps students build intrinsic motivation across the curriculum as oppose to just one task in one subject area (Cameron and Pierce, 1994).
  • Reinforce praise, show students that you didn’t just praise them because you were in a good mood that day. Many behavioural psychologists claim that reinforcement is an event that increases the frequency of a certain behaviour (Cameron, Banko and Pierce, 2001).

magic-bullet-300x195

There are no magic bullets, however, and there are occasions when verbal praise and rewarding students has no effect.  It has also been suggested that socialisation issues and the concept of “fear motivation” from peer groups can damage and significantly reduce the effects of praise and rewards. Peer culture is often scornful of academic excellence and we will need to try to overcome these attitudes by providing a safe learning environment in which all students can learn (Elliot and Dweck, 2005).

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Fast Feedback 2.0

The final presentation at our lunchtime pedagogy picnic on Magic Monday 4 was by our Curriculum Team Leader for Performing Arts, Laura Jackson. Here, Laura explains how she has been developing some of the Fast Feedback ideas I shared at our first Magic Monday, as well as some new ones she’s discovered since.  Over to Laura……….

Colour coding is used widely in schools – even our student planners have red, amber and green pages for them to show understanding or communicate messages to staff. It is an excellent way to give visual indications and clear action points immediately.

What is RAG?

RAG just stands for Red, Amber and Green.

How can it help me?

There are many ways you can incorporate RAG into your daily schedule to save you time, without compromising on quality.

I have used colour coding in several different ways in all of my lessons to try to see which ideas work best and how.

My BTEC Music students have been using colours to show how far through the task they are and also their level of understanding of each task:

  • Red was still unsure
  • Amber was a good understanding
  • Green was confident enough to explain the concept to someone else

The benefits have been:

  • Fast
  • Visual
  • Easy and clear to understand
  • Student and teacher friendly
  • Minimal cost

RAG1

Dots, boxes and stars

I developed the use of dots from Dan’s “Fast Feedback” blog post from the first Magic Monday. I have been developing student led critique in my classrooms and I thought this may save me even taking the books home to formally mark.

The majority of my “marking” is listening work: Performances and composition work are critiqued as part of the development process and performed when complete. Dots can be used as indicators for students when they are doing a task, without talking or interrupting the flow or their concentration. By giving the work a quick visual check I can quickly judge a student’s understanding and give feedback. It also allows me to correct misconceptions or obvious errors before a task is completed, giving my students a chance to improve instantly.

I have used larger box shapes for my BTEC/ KS4 classes so they can write inside the boxes. It has been successful with units where facts and roles need to be learnt, allowing students to write about areas of strength and security, as well as weaknesses or areas to be developed.

I have also used gold stars to highlight examples of excellence – work to display and show others to aid the critique process by getting students to discuss what great work looks like.

#RAG123

I discovered Kev Lister’s #rag123 on Twitter and instantly saw how I could develop my current system into a more formal marking process. I contacted him and he sent me his marking guide, which I adapted slightly to fit my own needs. Kev writes “R2/ G2” but as I already had the dot stickers I thought I could pre-populate them and just stick them on the work.

The process is simple:

  • Decide on criteria – classroom/ subject/ department
  • Perform a quick visual check
  • Grade using RAG123 criteria
  • Students then respond/ critique / improve

LJA RAG marking guide

I also liked the fact that students had the opportunity to rate themselves which provided quick self assessment opportunities which didn’t have to be formalised.

My findings

  • Marking smarter doesn’t result in a lower quality response

I found that the level of response from students was better than the feedback tickets I had been using previously. It also put the work back in the hands of the student as when I used the code, they had to think about why they had been given that code. More often than not they actually knew, especially if we did class critique. If they didn’t know then it gave them the opportunity to peer critique their partner or neighbour’s book and again, it meant that it was giving the students the power to manage their own learning. It also meant I could then spend time working with students who were “code red” and may need extra support in that particular task.

  • Marking smarter means I have more time to develop other ideas

It is a fast system – you can do a quick visual check and correct spellings if necessary – very quickly without compromising on the quality of the marking.

  • Marking smarter can improve student motivation and quality of work

After 2/3 weeks, students were much more motivated in tasks to complete work with higher quality answers first time as they did not want red on their books. This is something I hadn’t anticipated at all and meant a rise in the quality of all work.

  • Marking smarter can improve the quality of peer and self assessment

The students were brutally honest in peer and self evaluations and I found this refreshing as they were not just rating themselves “green 1” just because it was good.

It is definitely something I will be continuing to develop in my lessons and with my groups, and hopefully implement throughout the whole department.

Stick Pick

The second of our lunchtime presentations on Magic Monday 4, was by Nicola Roberts, Curriculum Team Leader of our PE department, who has been experimenting with the Stick Pick app. Here, Nicola shares how she has been using it as a questioning tool in her lessons.

Stick Pick

  • “Do I ask all my students questions?”
  • “Do I differentiate these questions?”
  • “Do I track my students’ knowledge and understanding?”
  • “Is there a resource or tool out there to help?”

These were some of the key questions I was starting to ask following the first Magic Monday. Was there more I could do for the benefit of my students? I turned to twitter and PE Geeks came to the rescue in a blog where the Stick Pick app was mentioned.

How does it work?

The first step is set up the classes which can be a little time-consuming as there is currently no feature to direct import this from a CSV file as in some other assessment apps. You then have to do a bit of work to set up the best type of question for each student but after that you are good to go.

Slide3

The app creates a virtual lolly stick for each student in the class. When you want to build in some question time the can is shaken and a lolly stick is picked. Students can be asked a question using the question stem on the screen which is then answered by the student. Sometimes the answer may not be known, in this case a strategy like Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce could be used to send the question to another student either at the same level or for whom this would be an extension of the type of question you usually ask them. The student who shook the can could also devise the question, which works well for revision. When they answer the question they are prompted to assess the answer given. This will vary depending on which question mode you select at the set up stage.

Slide4

Features

When you have used the app for a while you might want to review students’ progress and use this for feedback. You can look at a student in detail on the profile and send this to an email address, so you can use this data with greater ease. To avoid asking the same person, you can mark a stick as used which means that they stay out of the can for any subsequent questions.

Slide5

In summary, Stick Pick is a handy app to question at levels appropriate to each student, as well as tracking their progress and the clarity of their responses. All in all, it’s a useful questioning tool that is a reasonable price for £2.00.

Corners

We were delighted to kick off our 4th Magic Monday with a Pedagogy Picnic presentation by one of our student teachers, Amanda Spenceley.  Here, Amanda shares how she has used “Corners” as a simple recap activity at the start of her lessons.

4corners

Corners is a game that works particularly well with smaller groups.  I have, however, played this game with my larger classes and overall it has been a huge success and all students are engaged throughout.

The game requires students to recall information that is already stored in their long-term memory and bring it forward to their working memory. It is for this reason that the game is a useful starter activity if you are planning on expanding upon information that the students were first introduced to 4-5 lessons ago, as it will refresh their memories of what they learned previously.

 How to play

  1. Choose four volunteers to stand at each corner of the room.
  2. Ask all four students your question. Whoever puts their hand up first is selected.
  3. If they answer incorrectly, choose the pupil who put their hand up second. If they answer correctly, they move in a clockwise direction to the next corner of the room, knocking out the student whose place they are taking.
  4. Choose another student from the middle of the classroom to fill the empty space. A good tip is to ask those sat in the middle a question and the first person to answer correctly receives the opportunity to come up and fill the empty space. This ensures that everyone is involved.
  5. Repeat the above steps. The first person to travel around all four corners to arrive back in their original corner wins!

winner_sign

The Spy Who Loved Us – Part 2: A very special Pedagogy Picnic

DD ped picnic wed 2nd april

In The Spy Who Loved Us – Part 1: “The name’s Beyond…..” I shared how our English Department worked with David Didau to create a new curriculum and post-levels assessment system from scratch.  I also shared some of the important ideas that underpinned their design.

Not known for looking proverbial gift horses in the mouth and spurred on by that most famous of North East colloquialisms “shy bairns get nowt” I was delighted when David also agreed to reprise his Pedagoo London 2014 presentation especially for us at a very special, one-off lunchtime Pedagogy Picnic.

You are wrong!

First we were introduced to the work of Kathryn Schulz and “The Illusion of Naive Realism” from her book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

Squares A and B can’t possibly be the same colour can they?

Slide3

Wrong!

Slide4

It feels great to be right, however we aren’t very good at thinking we could be mistaken.  In this way, if someone sees things differently to us or disagrees with us then it must be the result of their bias or shortcomings.  This poor attitude to error can have a strong influence on our actions.  Illusions can help us to accept that it is possible for us to be wrong, even when we are convinced we are right.

The problem with intuition

Still not convinced?  Next we were shown this video clip based on Daniel Simons & Christopher Chabris’ research into the phenomenon known as “inattentional blindness”:

People often fail to notice the unexpected (like someone dressed up in a gorilla suit wandering into full view and beating their chest before wandering off again) when focused on something else.  Even for events as dramatic as the one above, the vast majority of people are convinced that they would notice.  In reality, though, many people do not.  Although 90% of people are convinced they would notice the gorilla, only 50% actually do.  Intuition says we would, the reality is we don’t.  Our intuition can be wrong!

We naturally protect ourselves from being wrong!

We were then introduced to some of David McRaney’s insights from You Are Not So Smart, who points out that accepting we can be wrong and spotting when we might be wrong is generally more difficult than we think.

“Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.”

“The other side just doesn’t get your point of view, and if they could only see things with your clarity, they would understand and fall naturally in line with what you believe. They must not understand, because if they did they wouldn’t think the things they think. By contrast, you believe you totally get their point of view and you reject it. You see it in all its detail and understand it for what it is – stupid.”

When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.

Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.”

Your first perception lingers in your mind, affecting later perceptions and decisions.”

With blindfolds urgently being tossed aside amidst the noise of cognitive shackles breaking all around, we were finally ready to re-examine some of the things we had been told were true.

Slide8

Mr Didau introduces the case for the prosecution

Wrong! Learning is invisible.  Learning and performance are different.  To paraphrase Bjork: We can only infer learning from performance.  Performance is easy to measure, but learning is not.

For example:

Teacher: “Warsaw is the capital of Poland”……”What is the capital of Poland?”

Student: “Warsaw”

Teacher: “Excellent progress!”

Performance is a very poor indicator of learning.

What we teach, students learn (the input/output myth)…..wrong!  According to Nuthall, over half of what we teach is not learned by most of our students.  We shouldn’t fool ourselves that the performance we see equates to what our students have learned……..or as Professor Robert Coe put’s it:

Slide11

As well as being clear about the difference between performance and learning, we heard how the introduction of what psychologist Robert Bjork terms “desirable difficulties” may help.  Although it feels counter-intuitive, making it more difficult for students to learn may actually improve retention and transfer in the long term, despite slowing down performance in the short term.

Why?  According to Bjork, each item we commit to memory has a storage strength and a retrieval strength, for example:

Slide13

Bjork’s New Theory of Disuse describes how making learning easier increases retrieval strength and leads to better performance in the short term.  However, without the deeper processing that encourages long term retention, this retrieval strength quickly diminishes.  Instead, we want students to make mistakes and forget, as re-learning forgotten information takes less time each time it is revisited.  In other words – increasing storage strength depends on the power of forgetting.

We can achieve this by spacing learning out.

Slide15

With careful curriculum design, interleaving multiple topics allows us to space them out, rather than blocking them together (massed presentation) and gives us an opportunity to revisit and build on prior learning.  Whereas blocking “feels right” and may increase performance in the short term, interleaving is thought to lead to deeper learning in the long term.

Slide16

David also urged us to introduce as much variability as possible into our teaching.  Changing teaching rooms, changing the displays students looked at, changing seating were all strategies that supported desirable difficulty, which again ran counter to many of our pre-conceived notions.

Another difficulty that challenged many of us in our thinking was testing.  We were posed the following question:

Slide18

You may be surprised to know that 4. is the most effective study pattern – many of us certainly were.  We do need, however, to rethink our definition of ‘tests’ as large, summative assessments to incorporate higher frequency, lower stakes testing, for example quizzes, multiple choice questions etc.

Wrong!  There’s no such thing as an outstanding lesson.  There is such a thing as outstanding teaching however, where students achieve consistently outstanding results and really learn.

David then reminded us of Ofsted’s criteria for outstanding teaching and learning (how could we forget!)….

Slide19

….before systematically unpicking and re-examining each statement:

Sustained and rapid progress?  Wrong!  Sustained AND rapid  progress are an oxymoron.  Slowing performance and increasing error increases retention and transfer (see previous).

Systematic, accurate assessment?  Wrong!  Very little assessment is systematic and accurate in the right way.  Mark schemes can be highly subjective.

Well judged, imaginative teaching strategies?  Wrong!  If based on judging performance rather than learning.

Sharply focused and timely support?  Wrong!  Struggle is good – it supports transfer from working to long term memory and avoids learned helplessness.

Enthusiasm, participation and commitment?  Wrong!  They are poor proxies for learning.

Resilience, confidence and independence?  Wrong!  Independent learning doesn’t result in independence, it can create dependence.

Frequent and consistently high quality feedback?  Wrong!  What do we mean by ‘high quality feedback’?  Feedback that supports performance in the short term or learning in the long term? Frequent and immediate feedback can degrade learning.

Engagement, courtesy, collaboration and cooperation?  Wrong!  Politeness is desirable but has little impact on learning.  There is a time and a place for group work.

Despite all the evidence that suggests ‘Feedback is King’ we were encouraged to adopt a more critical stance.

Slide22

To further illustrate this, David shared this table from Dylan Wiliam, which shows how easy it is for our feedback to have unintended consequences when students can exert less effort, reduce their aspiration or ignore it altogether!

Slide21

The point being – a theme that this presentation had as its very core – was for us all to beware silver bullets and anything that we are told is “the answer”.

In summing up David shared this final slide:

Slide25

The one that stuck most for me?  After nearly 20 years in teaching it has to be the Arthur Quiller-Couch quote about being prepared to ‘murder your darlings’ and acknowledging the fact that, over the years, maybe I just might have got a few things wrong….

“I reached the wrong ends

By the wrong means

It was the wrong plan

In the wrong hands

The wrong theory for the wrong man

The wrong eyes

On the wrong prize

The wrong questions with the wrong replies

Wrong”

Depeche Mode: Wrong

With many thanks to David who, in only a short time had such a tremendous and long lasting impact, not only on my own professional development, but also on our English department who “haven’t been this excited in years” as well as our teaching and learning support staff who now question absolutely everything (thanks David!)

You can read David’s original post following Pedagoo London 2014 here.  I’ve also included links within this post to lots of other posts David has written that are relevant to this one.  Do take the time to read them (although be prepared for your head to hurt……a lot!)

IMG_2688

 

Magic Monday 3

Easter came slightly earlier this year when we held our third Magic Monday on the 3rd of March. MM3 invite We were delighted once again to have a full house at our voluntary lunchtime presentations and after school workshops.  The commitment of our staff in wanting to support their colleagues and develop their pedagogy further this year has been fantastic. As usual, attendees were treated to goodie-bags brimming with ready-made resources (and the odd small treat) to take away, while the staff room and Learning Resource Centre were once again transformed by our team of willing helpers.  All this plus the usual high quality fayre meant that the atmosphere at both events was buzzing!  Thanks to everyone for making Magic Monday 3 such a success.  It was another great team effort. MM3Blog posts on all of the individual presentations and workshops can be accessed by clicking on each of the links below:

Lunchtime Pedagogy Picnic presentations

After school Workshops Of Wonder

The feedback from the day was once again very positive, with lots of helpful, specific suggestions. MM3 feedback sheets

What was Good & Why:

Lunchtime Pedagogy Picnic

  • The variety of activities and ideas that are practical, helpful and can be implemented straight away
  • Sharing of adaptable resources
  • Quality of presentations
  • How Twitter could be used as a CPD tool / encouraging more staff to use it
  • Foldables, especially Maths specific examples and how they can be used to support revision
  • Having a bank of ‘takeaway homework’ ideas to use / the points idea
  • Lunch provided

After school Workshops Of Wonder

  • Variety of ideas that are easily set up
  • Great tips that could definitely be used
  • Non “ICT-geeks” delivering workshops that used ICT give us the confidence to try ideas shared
  • Clearly explained, succinctly delivered workshops
  • Variety of departments represented
  • Linked ideas (creating movies and flipping your classroom) that had a theme
  • Seeing first hand how our students are supported
  • Flipped classrooms and the idea of starting learning before the lesson
  • Seeing how Edmodo could support students to learn at their own pace and teachers to monitor work completed out of lessons
  • Contributions, enthusiasm and bravery of staff delivering workshops
  • Superb atmosphere
  • Food and drink provided

Even Better If:

Lunchtime Pedagogy Picnic

  • Consider meeting in the staff room, then offering a choice of presentations: one in staff room, one in meeting room
  • Longer sessions
  • Follow up Twitter masterclass
  • Some pre-folded foldables / a foldables workshop
  • More of the same!

After school Workshops Of Wonder

  • Consider a “Magic Morning” with presentations and workshops in the morning, followed by time in the afternoon for follow-up work
  • Allow more time for notes, Q+A, reflection
  • Have a choice of workshops running at the same time in different venues
  • Have extended workshops on Edmodo / step-by-step guide
  • CTLs to create follow-up time in department meetings to look at how ideas can be embedded in specific subjects
  • Have “special interest groups” to take ideas further
  • Have a guest speaker
  • Have more bookable ICT resources, e.g. tablets, cameras, video cameras etc. and share ways to support students without access

We really do appreciate your feedback and will be looking at your suggestions closely as always.  Since Magic Monday 3, we have already held a series of individual, hands-on, follow-up workshops on getting started with Twitter, creating foldables and using Edmodo for all staff who requested these.  Thanks to our presenters for volunteering to support colleagues by doing this, as well as all those who attended the additional workshops.

Look forward to seeing you all again at Magic Monday 4 in May!

MM3 workshop