Posting as part of specialism in Differentiation. Key implications for classroom teaching and learning and bold and red (my highlighting).
Extract from Guidance to Inspectors from January 2012 document (again, my highlighting):
Quality of teaching in the school
- When evaluating the quality of teaching in the school, inspectors consider:
- the extent to which teachers’ expectations, reflected in their teaching and planning, including curriculum planning, are sufficiently high to extend the previous knowledge, skills and understanding of all pupils in a range of lessons and activities over time
- how well teaching enables pupils to develop skills in reading, writing, communication and mathematics
- the extent to which well judged teaching strategies, including setting challenging tasks matched to pupils’ learning needs, successfully engage all pupils in their learning
- the extent to which teachers secure high quality learning by setting challenging tasks that are matched to pupils’ specific learning needs
- how well pupils understand how to improve their learning as a result of frequent, detailed and accurate feedback from teachers following assessment of their learning
- the extent to which teachers’ questioning and use of discussion promote learning
- the extent to which the pace and depth of learning are maximised as a result of teachers’ monitoring of learning during lessons and any consequent actions in response to pupils’ feedback
- the extent to which teachers enthuse, engage and motivate pupils to learn and foster their curiosity and enthusiasm for learning
- how well teachers use their expertise, including their subject knowledge, to develop pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding across a range of subjects and areas of learning
- the extent to which teachers enable pupils to develop the skills to learn for themselves, where appropriate, including setting appropriate homework to develop their understanding.
The most important role of teaching is to raise pupils’ achievement. Therefore, inspectors consider the planning and implementation of learning activities across the whole of the school’s curriculum, together with marking, assessment and feedback. Inspectors also evaluate activities both within and outside the classroom, such as support and intervention strategies, and the impact that teaching has in promoting the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
Marketplace, Teachers Toolkit page 122.
Students work in groups of three.
1) Show learning obectives for task
2) Each group prepares a summary poster containing max of 10 words from a text based resource. Each group covering one sub-topic.
3) One student stays behind to pass on information…can only answer questions asked by researchers. Other two students go around to collect info.
4) regroup and share information
Differentiationto allow appropriate challenge:
– One student ASD, will be given full content and asked to write the questions for the test (I will prepare some as well).
– Most able groups will be given more complex text to interpret and present.
My focus is on challenging students appropriately, and this requires differentiation. I am currently working on building a “Teachers Toolkit” of tasks with suggestions for how to differentiate. I am trying out various different activities in lessons, and will be posting here on how it goes, with videos and photos where appropriate.
First method, Discussion Carousel. The focus here was on challenging all students to use keywords. Students in two concentric circles, discussing a topic, moving on round the circle every minute or so. Decided to use in middle ability Year 11 class nearing the end of a topic (Enzymes). The topic includes lots of new words and concepts, which the students have to describe and explain in detail. They have understood the general principles well, but are not explaining using the correct terminology. So the challenge will be for the students to use keywords correctly in their discussion. In order to support the students, I will run the activity following the speed questions format, so the inner ring of students will have cards with open ended questions, with keyword prompts on. In order to assesss progress, I will set some exam style questions that require detailed explanation as homework to assess if keyword use has improved. I will also give the students a mini questionaire to see if they felt challenged, and whether they think they have made progress. In order to differentiate the activity, I gave the most challenging questions to the four most able students, so that they could support the other students appropriately. I also designated one of the students as”Official Observer”. Her task was to walk around and look for signs of challenge with me.
My student observer and I agreed on the following points:
Students appeared to find the task quite challenging. They were taking time to formulate answers, and using “ummm” fairly often. Lots of hand signals/gestures were spotted to reinforce explanations. We decided looking down to the ground or upwards (searching for answers) was a common sign of students trying to answer the questions. This was reflected in the students own reposnses to the questionaire. The average level of challenge given for the task was 4 on a scale of 1-5.
What did the students learn? What is the evidence for this?
1) Students increased their use of keywords. I could hear this as I walked around listening to conversations. Furthermore, in response to the question “How would you rate your ability (1-5) to use keywords before and after the activity?” only three students did not give themselves a higher score for after the activity.
2) Students became more confident in using the keywords. The questions contained some overlap, allowing students to improve their explanations. They were clearly becoming more familiar with the keywords as they progressed around the circle. In addition, 90% of students reported they felt more confident in using the keywords after the activity.
(Homework not collected yet).
1) All students engaged in the activity
2) Pace (as defined by learning/thinking events per unit time) high
3) Peer support
4) Students learn by verbalising answers as well as listening and correcting misconceptions
5) Good for kinaesthetic and auditory learners.
6) Encourages independent learning.
1) Quite difficult to differentiate
2) Took 5 minutes to set up the activity, and 1 or two minutes swap over time in the middle.
A new report on what really matters to students learning (11-14) from the DFE
As a relatively new member of staff at Chosen Hill, and the least experienced school teacher in the G2O group, I started the program with mixed feelings. I could see the impact the course was having on learning in my own lessons, and on my own professional development and understanding. However, what support could I, having only just completed my NQT year, possibly offer to such an experienced and successful team of education professionals? “Who is she?” I hear you ask.
Prior to teaching, I worked for many years as a research scientist. My studies involved investigating the genetics of the immune system, and I have worked in various government and academic institutes in the UK and Canada. As well as the day to day lab work, I was responsible for funding applications and presenting the results in journals and at international conferences. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job was the mentoring of undergraduate and postgraduate students on lab placements, and it was this experience that made me decide to change careers. I was concerned that students were not capable of asking good scientific questions; but more worryingly, even these most able of students seemed unable to grasp the impact that scientific development has in shaping our societies. One student told me they couldn’t think of a project because we knew everything about science already and there was nothing left to find out. It was this that pushed me to sign up on the PGCE course to try fixing this misconception and get kids excited in science.
I have enjoyed my time teaching so far immensely. Yes, it’s hard work; but it is actually incredibly rewarding to work with young people and see them progress in all sorts of ways. For me, I believe encouraging independent learners is one of the most crucial aspects of teaching (and therefore learning). To be independent learners, students need some motivation, some intrinsic desire to progress. With this is mind, I found the sessions on Challenge the most interesting part of the OTP program and it is this topic that I will be focusing on in the team.
So what can I offer? Well, a genuine interest in understanding how we can challenge our students to achieve the best that they can, and a willingness to seek out and try new approaches in my own lessons. I am happy to share my successes and failures, and you can follow these on the blog. I will post resources that I think may be useful, feel free to adapt as you wish. Most importantly, if you would like some support in trying out new ideas I can talk through lesson plans or activities, or even come into lessons. These would not be “observed” lessons with a judgement, just a chance for informal discussion with someone who was in the lesson.
My focus is now on exploring how we can appropriately challenge students in the classroom, with the goal of students making maximum progress and becoming more independent. As a starting point, I wanted a working definition of challenge. Looking at various dictionaries, it struck me that all the definitions included an element of reward or enjoyment in the task. I will go with this definition for now : “A test of ones abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking”, which will probably change over the year! The main areas I will be looking at are as follows:
- Making challenging tasks inherently rewarding and not just “difficult”
- Supporting students so they feel confident in tackling the challenge
- Encouraging students that if they are not successful in the challenging task this can still be a useful experience upon reflection.
- Making students aware of when they are being challenged.
- Defining “pace” as number of learning events per lesson rather than number of activities per lesson – this can mean less activities but encouraging a deeper level of understanding.
- Differentiating tasks so individual students are appropriately challenged – challenge is very personal.