Category Archives: Pedagogy Picnic

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

 

Foldables

Foldables title slideThe final presentation at our lunchtime pedagogy picnic on Magic Monday 3 was by Suzanne Falconer from our Science department, who introduced us to foldables.

Foldables are essentially a type of graphic organiser that allow students to categorise information in lots of different ways.

They can be used to take notes, record questions, observations or findings and organise information.  They can be used to chunk information into smaller pieces or to consolidate topics into one package, for example when reviewing work prior to an assessment.

Foldables can be used in any subject and give students the opportunity to create something themselves that they can then refer back to.  As the foldable is created by the student, they have to think about how they will organise and present information themselves, as well as how concepts link together.

Foldables come in all shapes and sizes, although the most common types of fold are:

  • Accordion
  • Burrito
  • Hamburger
  • Hotdog
  • Mountain
  • Shutter
  • Taco

…which can be used to create all manner of foldables including:

  • layered books
  • door books
  • matchbooks
  • trifold books
  • envelopes
  • flip books
  • etc.

By letting students select which type to use themselves they get to organise the information in a way which makes sense to them.

Suzanne has been using them with her Year 11 students to review a GCSE unit of work on “chemicals of the natural environment”

Foldable 4

Foldable 1

You can use the template below if you want to have a go at making this type of foldable.

Foldable 5

Suzanne will be running a voluntary, hands on workshop for staff after school on the 31st of March.

A Pinterest  page on “foldables for the classroom” can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

http://www.pinterest.com/learningahoy/foldables-for-the-classroom/

Takeaway Homework

take away openThe second of our lunchtime presentations on Magic Monday 3 was by Sam Bulmer from our English department, who shared with us how she is using “Takeaway Homework” to help her students take more responsibility for their homework.

The original idea came from the “100 Ideas” book by Ross Morrison-McGill.

100 ideas, RMM

The concept is simple:

  • Provide your class with a takeaway menu full of homework tasks.
  • Each week students get to choose a different task to complete from the menu, to be handed in on a set day.

The takeaway menu can be further differentiated by dividing it into sections. Sam uses:

  • Appetisers (light bites)
  • Main meals (hearty appetites)
  • Desserts (creative and different)

Takeaway homework slide

Dividing your menu this way is also a useful way to increase the level of challenge, for example, you might insist that all students pick a more challenging ‘main meal’ but give them the choice of adding a starter or dessert.  The point is to encourage students to want to go the extra mile.

Sam also allocates nutritional points to each task, which students record in their points tracker before being signed off by their teacher.  The more difficult or time-consuming the task, the more points that are available for completion.

My Homework Tracking Sheet

A points leaderboard is then used to display the top points scorers, with prizes at the end of each term for the most points.

Homework leader board

Sam’s findings so far:

  • A reduction in the amount of homework handed in late or missed.
  • Increased enthusiasm from students about homework – especially the challenge and competitive element.
  • Time saved not having to explain homework every lesson.
  • Front loading the planning of homework tasks gives a return over subsequent weeks.

Twitter: powerful professional development

Slide1

I’ve had a personal Twitter account for a while now and used it mainly as a means of getting my daily dose of information on sports, news, bike stuff, politics and updates from the various hostelries and coffee shops I frequent when in the Lake District.

In October last year I made an “(In)decent proposal” to our staff that used a book as a hook and composed my first ever tweet in a professional capacity to Ross Morrison-McGill aka @TeacherToolkit using the @BelmontTeach account I’d set up for work purposes.

Tweet1

Tweet2

I was pleasantly surprised to receive not just a response, but also encouragement for what we were trying to achieve in school, retweets and even an #FF later!  With almost 50000 followers (100x more than me!) I can’t even begin to imagine how many notifications he must get every day – so thanks Ross – it was all the incentive I needed!

Fast forward….

Less than 6 months later I’m sat here writing the 21st post for a blog that is fast approaching 10000 views.  Three of them have views in the thousands with lots more in the hundreds.  Reading through all the comments and replies we have had about them other people seem to quite like them too!  I’m still struggling to get my head round just how far and wide our blog has travelled, with views from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, Africa, Asia, the Far East and most of Europe.  Not only that, but we now have a growing army of “homegrown” bloggers whose blogs have been enjoyed by many too.

Much of this we owe to that little blue bird named Twitter.

From these first tentative dipping of toes into the waters of the Twittersphere we’ve gone from trying many of the great ideas that have been shared, to sharing a fair few of our own – some of which have graced T+L noticeboards or similar in other schools.

We’ve gone from reading books that have been recommended by fellow tweeters to interacting with their authors as well as setting up our own T+L library.

We’ve gone from tweeting with colleagues in other schools to visiting them in their schools to see great practice first hand and then using this to inform our own practice in school.

We’ve participated in online TeachTweets that have encouraged and inspired us to try new ideas and start our own TeachMeets as well present at other schools across the North East.

We’ve participated in webinars with a range of educationists, attended National conferences at their schools and forged closer links with our local university to engage with educational research.

Thanks to colleagues on Twitter, we have been encouraged, supported and hopefully, been able to give a little back to others too.

The ripple effect….

True to “The 10 Stages of Twitter” shared by @syded06 many of our staff have been demonstrating clear stage 8 behaviour lately by waxing lyrical and spreading the word about Twitter to other colleagues in school.

Following feedback from our staff recently it became clear that those not currently signed up to Twitter wanted to hear more about it, so we decided to kick off Magic Monday 3 with a session on “Twitter: powerful professional development”.  Not one to look gift horses in the mouth and with a chance to tick stage 10 off the list I decided to ask my PLN for help.  As you can see, I didn’t have to wait very long…

Slide2

First up, I used @MrOCallaghanEdu’s blog “The network is more powerful than the node” to introduce the concept of Twitter.

Slide3

I then compared traditional CPD with using Twitter for CPD using @TeamTait’s blog “To tweet or not to tweet”

Slide4

To illustrate this further, I looked back through the last 7 days of my timeline and shared “my week on Twitter”, which was a fairly typical one during which I…

  • shared a wide range of resources, blogs, articles and links with a wide range of colleagues in our school, as well as from other schools.
  • had various conversations with a range of colleagues in our school, in other schools and from other organisations
  • obtained some bargain reading material (to add to the paper copy we already have in our T+L library)

Slide5

…although the icing on the cake had to be this offer from Mr “Teach Like a Champion” Doug Lemov (I’ll hold you to that when you are in England this year Doug!)

Beer with Doug!

We then took a look “live” at my timeline to show how, by careful tailoring and following, you could be accessing a constant stream of useful material (without the beans!).  I also had this example ready to share below.

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I then returned to @MrOCallaghanEdu’s blog to share his advice on getting started and how simple it is to create an account….

Slide7

…before going on to show how to build and tailor your PLN by choosing who to follow using a Mashable resource shared by @blamehound in a fantastic storify she had put together.

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A good starting point is to find out who else tweets for professional purposes in your own school if you’re not already aware, as it can be a quick and easy way of sharing resources, ideas and good practice in school.  We’ve got quite a few as you can see – all well worth a follow if you don’t already!

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@TweetingAcademy have also created lists of tweeters by subject for those looking for ideas in specific subjects or categories which is really useful.

Slide10

#FF Follow Friday’s are another good source of inspiration, where tweeters will recommend other tweeters to follow.  This usually happens on a Friday, as the name suggests, however, I’ve seen #FF recommendations being tweeted out on a Saturday (for the stragglers or forgetful) or late on Thursday evening (for the keen ones who like to get in first!)

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To finish with, I offered a final bit of guidance for those considering signing up as to some of the key terms and actions they can perform and what they mean, as well as a link to an alphabetical list of hashtags created by @TeachingTricks

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Thanks

A huge thanks to John Tait, Nicola Fitzpatrick, Mr O’Callaghan, Mark Anderson and The Tweeting Academy for helping me to create this presentation for our staff by sharing resources and links with me.  A great example of what Twitter is all about.

It goes without saying that should you wish to use or adapt any of my slides for your own purposes, feel free to do so.  Please make sure you credit any of the other tweeters whose resources I’ve used appropriately though, observing any conditions of sharing where they exist.