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A Marriage? Challenge Based Learning and Collaborative Group Learning
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When designing a Curriculum which,

fully activates the processes across the Socialised-Learning Continuum, supports the application of the principles within each process stage of the Socialised-Learning Continuum and facilitates the application of a Collaborative Group Learning Pedagogy,

it is my belief that, in both its structural and applied (pedagogy) forms, it must be Collaborative, Connected, Challenging, Authentic in nature and driven by Concepts and Problems. Above all the Curriculum must be learner-centric and a educational route towards a Liberated Learning capacity.

A number of Curriculum approaches exist globally. Many would fundamentally fail to achieve the goals outlined above either due to their structural constraints but more likely due to their underpinning philosophies being at odds with the philosophies of liberation inherent in the vision of education these articles collectively champion.  Many, with reorientation, offer tried and proven approaches which align well with the ultimate aims of Collaborative Group Learning. Such Curriculum are epitomised by the International Middle Years Curriculum, the International Baccalaureate, High Tech Highs Project Based Learning (being applied here in London at School21) and Expeditionary Learning (which I recently observed in action at XP School in Doncaster).

In this article I want to present and discuss Apple’s (yes as in the IT Giant) Challenge Based Learning (CBL) as a model for Curriculum which I feel could help engineer and facilitate the processes, goals and aims discussed in this collection of articles.

I have drawn extensively from the Challenge Based Learning community to construct this article. 


What is Challenge Based Learning?

Challenge Based Learning is a collaborative learning experience in which teachers and students work together to learn about compelling issues, propose solutions to real problems, and take action. The approach asks students to reflect on their learning and the impact of their actions and publish their solutions to a worldwide audience.

As is highlighted in this opening statement, CBL promotes a process and structure of learning in tune with those of CGL.

It is clear that CBL seeks to mirror the 21st century workplace and it does this by promoting a Curriculum which make sure participants:

  1. Work in collaborative groups
  2. Authentically use technology commonly found in the workplace
  3. Tackle real-world problems using a multidisciplinary approach
  4. Develop practical solutions to these problems
  5. Implement and evaluate the solutions in conjunction with authentic audiences

The promotion of collaborative groups naturally reflects something I hold dear. However the CBL community have no stedfast rules to how these collaborative groups are constructed and seem to allow groups to reform from Challenge to Challenge. I believe this approach limits the effectiveness of CBL and CBL would be enhanced by applying the principles of CGL outlined within these articles (6, sustained, heterogeneous).

A real-world problem can stimulate increased interest, heightens engagement and gives value to the learning. Above all it makes learning authentic taking it out of the silo of a classroom and giving the development of KUS practical application, which is of course the reality of the ‘adult world’. An authenticity which prepares todays learners for tomorrows demands on so many levels.

Multidisciplinary approaches, facilitated by the a real-world problem, again promotes authenticity. The ‘real world’ is not a closed system where we apply KUS from just one discipline to solve problems of life, it is an open system where the messy ‘real world’ requires a messy application of KUS from so many disciplines to traverse the obstacles of life in its broadest sense. As such a Curriculum should model this very real way of learning and application and only through such a multidisciplinary approach can this be truly achieved.

I really like how CBL furthers this by ensuring every student produces, applies and evaluates a solution to the posed problem. A number of Curriculum will feature 1,2,3 but not go as far as 4 and 5. The creation of a solution, again mirroring the ‘real world’, makes education more than just knowledge consumption and regurgitation. Knowledge generation, solutions of practical worth, gives increased value to this Curriculum. Blending CGL and CBL has the potential of creating diverse solutions from diverse thinking, thinking made stronger through the application of CGL principles of group construction.

The community draw attention to the need to

  1. Connect standards-based subject matter to 21st century content and skills; thus requiring considerate mapping of subject Knowledge, Understanding and Skills across the Curriculum.
  2. Recognise that the teacher’s role is that of project manager, mentor; and, as I see it ultimately a resource.
  3. Let students determine the direction of their research and solution; thus fostering a capacity for Liberated Learning. 
  4. Enable students to have the opportunity to act on their solutions; giving the overall endeavour authenticity and moving education from knowledge consumption to knowledge generation. 

As I have written in a previous article new Curriculum approaches and pedagogies which seek to facilitate Collaborative learning processes require teachers to think and work differently. The CBL community recognise this highlighting that the task of the teacher in this new capacity is to work with students to take multidisciplinary standards-based content, connect it to what is happening in the world today, and translate it into an experience in which students make a difference in their community; a community which I feel scales up from local through regional, national to the  global. Accomplishing this goal necessitates teachers to give students structure, support, checkpoints, and the right tools to get their work done successfully, while allowing them enough freedom to be self-directed, creative, and inspired. Naturally the extent of ‘freedom’ should increase over time and as learners develop in competence with power moving from teacher to the learner; liberation.

The CBL community reflect on the evolution of the teacher role: Early on—when you introduce Challenge Based Learning to your students and set up the challenge—you are actively guiding the process by making decisions, communicating information, teaching skills, and answering questions about how the process works and what is expected of your students. In the middle stages, students take charge of planning and researching their own work and you serve primarily as a mentor working alongside the students, helping them through the rough spots and keeping them on track. In the later stages, students are deeply engaged in their own work while you monitor the mastery of required knowledge and skills through appropriate assessments. Finally, you will transition into the role of product manager supporting the students as they implement, evaluate, and publish their solutions and results.

I have reflected on this evolution within my Socialised-Learning Continuum approach where the shifting role of teacher, power, control and self-regulation is facilitated at each process stage from the Group towards the Liberated.

What are the Procedural Processes of Challenge Based Learning?

Challenge Based Learning begins with a Big Idea and cascades to the following:

  • the essential question;
  • the challenge;
  • guiding questions, activities, and resources;
  • determining and articulating the solution;
  • implementing the solution;
  • evaluating the results;
  • publishing the solution and sharing it with the world.

The Big Idea exists at a Conceptual level, for example Resolution, Conflict, Justice, and is then explored via the negotiation of a relevant Challenge, which is presented initially as a Driving Question and a community focused problem to be investigated. Such a question needs to be complex, requiring Foundational and Non-foundational knowledge to be drawn upon alongside a synthesis of skills from a  diverse range of subject disciplines.

Reflection, documentation and informative-formative assessment are an important part of the process at every stage as they reinforce learning, an importantly inform next steps and provide evidence of learning (collected and recorded in some form of portfolio). Self, Peer and teacher assessment should be applied throughout to facilitate the above.

Due to the CBL emphasis on exploring topics from many angles and through the lens of multiple disciplines teachers from different disciplines should work together. This not only enhances multidisciplinary approaches, provides the right level of discipline expertise/support while respecting and modelling the CGL approach of working in groups. To facilitate this form of teacher collaboration it is not just the Challenge and problem which need to be multidisciplinary but also we need to recognise the need for physical multidisciplinarity. Timetabling of staff, the design of teaching spaces, the application of technology, providing time for collaborative planning, evaluation and assessment, all need to be planned to enable this important aspect of CBL. Any school wishing to implement something akin to CBL must recognise and tackle these challenges.

Throughout the challenge the students, collaboratively and individually, must be provided with the opportunity to create a variety of products or, as I prefer, artefacts, which include:

  • a challenge proposal video,
  • a set of guiding questions,
  • research plans and results,
  • solutions with beta testing plans and evaluation parameters,
  • a solution video,
  • student journals, and
  • individual reflection videos.

Such artefacts provide evidence of thinking and the means to formatively and summatively assess learning as a process and its outcome. Also through portfolios it provides the evidence of progress for all stakeholders. The quantity and depth of products will depend on where the students enter the process and the length of the challenge. I believe that it is important that at the beginning of the challenge, teachers and students should work together to define the products and determine how they will be assessed, co-creating criteria guided by existing standards. This potentially increases understanding of requirements, buy-in and authenticity, when defined as personalisation.

Assessment, which I believe should be as feedback and feedforward, should be scheduled and should be regular. While CBL puts much of the responsibility in the hands of students, this is one area where the role of teacher is vital; mentoring, monitoring and managing. Examples of some prompts the CBL community use during these checkpoints are:

  • What part of the process are you working on this week?
  • What new knowledge or skills have you acquired this week?
  • What has been your biggest success this week?
  • What has been your biggest challenge this week?
  • How is your group doing as a team?
  • What are your top priorities for next week?

Summative assessment should take a variety of forms to meet the needs of the particular situation. With CBL a summative ‘event’ is built in with the completion and implementation of the solution. The solution will be tested in the real world and students will receive immediate and direct feedback, not just from peers and teacher but also from the authentic audience of that solution.

The Solution, Implementation, Evaluation Stage of Challenge Based Learning.

Using the research findings, gathered throughout the activities of the Challenge, students identify and consider a range of supported solutions before selecting the one that will be implemented. This key element of CBL is what makes it unique to other zeitgeist Curriculum. The solution they choose may involve

informing and/or convincing family, peers, or community members about the need for change;

specific actions that can be taken to address their challenge on an ongoing basis;

school or community improvement projects;

and other activities.

I think it is important to encourage the students to be creative in designing and carrying out their solutions and to document their activities. Naturally the desired levels of complexity present within the solution would be increased with the development of a learners KUS competency.

After identifying their solutions, the students will implement them, measure outcomes, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and determine whether they made progress in addressing the challenge. When implementation is complete, students share their work with the rest of the world. I think this stage is a real strength of CBL. Quantitively and qualitatively evaluating the solution, ‘doing science’, with others gives the final outcome real value to the community while taking ‘real world’ learning to an increased level of complexity; a level most don’t experience until Postgraduate research.

Throughout the project students document their experience using audio, video, and photography. Near the culmination of the challenge, students build their solution video and record their reflections. The three-to-five minute solution video should include a description of the challenge, a brief description of the learning process, the solution, and the results of the implementation.

Students are encouraged to keep individual written, audio, or video journals throughout the process. As a culminating event, students can be provided a series of prompts for final reflections about what they learned about the subject matter and the process.

These solution videos, reflection videos, and any supporting documents should be shared with the world through web-based communities. It is also ideal to have a public event with all of the participants at the school or in the community to celebrate their efforts and thank those who have assisted. This could evolve into a Celebration of Learning, a wonderful learner-centric alternative to the stale Parents Evening.

The model of Curriculum presented here in the form of CBL aligns well with CGL and with minor tweaks, in particular the application of Collaborative Group construction, could be the basis of an exceptional Curriculum applied at a range of ‘academic levels’ here in the United Kingdom.

As ever keen to here peoples thoughts on this reflection.


Further information about Challenge Based Learning can be found here:

https://www.challengebasedlearning.org/pages/welcome

http://ali.apple.com/cbl/resources.shtml

https://www.challengebasedlearning.org/public/toolkit_resource/02/0e/0df4_af4e.pdf?c=f479

Framework


Cross-posted from COLLABORATIVE GROUP LEARNING

Eyes Down for Bingo!
June 18, 2015
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Using bingo cards is something I’ve done since I was an NQT and I’ve always found it to be a useful way to test pupil knowledge of characters or quotes. It’s simple enough to include a group of either on the cards and then call out a clue which the class have to decipher in order to cross off enough to get a line or full house. It’s fun and as a simple knowledge test, reliable but it can take up a lot of time both during the lesson and in the planning stages.

Recently I’ve been thinking about developing the quality of the content as well as making it more focused on pupils taking ownership of the game. Most recently with Year 9, I was hoping to embed their knowledge of the characters at the beginning of a unit on Romeo and Juliet (particularly now that they need to have a much greater depth of knowledge with the new GCSE assessment approach) and ensure that they were able to link these with key quotes in preparation for a scene analysis of theme.

Each board had a slightly different layout to ensure that the whole class didn’t match everything at once but in order to foster a more independent approach; the pupils worked in pairs with a set of coloured character cards each turning over the cards and matching them to an appropriate quote or analysis point. As you can see in the pictures, cards can be laminated and two coloured highlighters can be used too. Wipe clean and reusable!

This format is so versatile that it can be developed from Bingo to Connect Four according to the rules that you set as a teacher. It can be used as an indicator of gaps in knowledge or as a springboard to prompt further and more detailed discussion. Rather than having simply characters and quotes, the boards can be developed to include analytical statements about characters and events which pupils must discuss before ‘marking’ or blank squares can be left in order for pupils to add their own thoughts. Used as an individual or paired task, for a quick warm up, plenary or as a revision tool before the exam, it never gets old. Let’s face it, the novelty factors will always be there. After all, who doesn’t love a good game?

Cross-posted from The Ramblings of an Enthusiastic Teacher

Using a short, silent film to stimulate independent learning, discussion and writing
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I was really delighted to be asked by Pedagoo to explain how I would use this short film to enliven learning in my classroom. In this post I am mindful of how to harness the abilities of our visual learners. By using this visual text my aim is to generate extended thinking and learning and to encourage engagement with the writing process. I was inspired by David Didau’s hexagonal learning (Solo taxonomy) strategy to create genuine pupil-led independent learning and to find some evidence that this, often alchemical aspect of teaching has taken place.

Activity One
1.Watch this short film prior to showing it to your class. It lasts for 7 minutes.

2. In the classroom you might PAUSE the film mid-way when the little girl is resolute that she won’t accept the boy’s charity. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ?– cue class writing activity… Five minutes of writing

Join in with this activity teachers !

The whole class including you writes the story. Write frantically, announcing an amnesty on spelling (just for this activity). What really matters here is that ideas are being blasted onto paper. After a strict five minutes, (set a timer) everyone must stop. Then enjoy reading all of the weird and wonderful responses this writing generates. Don’t be precious, read yours out too and accept the fact your pupils may be a little ahem… underwhelmed !

Leave it there fizzing with potential for next time. Your pupils will love this unrestricted burst of writing. Deliberately don’t be too prescriptive about using certain vocabulary banks in advance, see what your students will try, what might flow.

3. Don’t forget to read lots out even if it’s only a paragraph or two – then watch the film to see who the future script writers might be in your class !

Activity Two
Hexagonal Learning – Independent Learning using this visible thinking strategy and discussion tool.

  1. In groups of 4-5 pupils list the narrative moments in the film on hexagonal post-it notes. One event/word per post-it note. Ideally you would use lots of different colours and link the colours to the content.
  2. The pupils then list some of the themes they think may be emerging in the film.
  3. Together the group joins the hexagons up and discusses why they are placing them in a particular order.
  4. The hexagons are photographed and then using Bluetooth or other alternatives are linked to the classroom white board for all to see. Two members from each group go to the board and explain the connections they have made collectively, their decisions and the group thinking to the rest of the class. See below for an example:

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Figure 1 Hexagonal Learning using Hexagonal Post-it Notes

This activity ensures that pupils, come up with ideas, lead the discussion and make decisions and links independently.

You could also use a template, depending on your class and the ability ranges, where you direct the learning and the pupils develop the initial ideas. I would use this sort of template below, which is a PowerPoint that can be tweaked according to whatever you are teaching. I would have at least 20 prompts on the hexagons. Print and cut the hexagons out, for longevity you may also wish to laminate them. (Do this while they are still in sheet form and use the school, paper guillotine for cutting out.)

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Figure 2 Hexagon Generator Pam Hook
pamhook.com/solo-apps/hexagon-generator

Education 4-18 #PedagooHampshire
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I think it is probably a truism to say that children grow up. They start from birth, entering their specific environment with their embedded genetic code, then begin the process of making sense of the world around them. Indeed, it can be some time before, as parents, we begin to understand the infant “communication”. We put the words into the child’s mouth, long before they can articulate anything for themselves, requiring only a physical acknowledgement. The child’s early education is often unstructured, (hopefully) led by very enthusiastic and encouraging amateurs (parents), opening their eyes and ears to what is around them. Some will have attempted to engender specific areas such as counting and introduction to books. Of course, there will be a significant number who will not have had those advantages.

Education, in its formal sense, can start in pre-school, or certainly from the start of the Early Years Foundation Stage, with more specified routes into learning and the what of content. This journey lasts, now, until the child is 18. There appears to be a logic appearing that every child will progress through the same journey, with many (formal) checks on the way. The language of checking and judgement can have a significant impact on subsequent attitude and effort, both essential to sustained progress.

As part of Pedagoo Local Hampshire, I have offered to run a learning conversation on the issue of education 4-18, seeking to identify potential barriers and explore how they could be overcome. I’ve come up with a few starter questions, but please feel free to add any others.

Are barriers created at transition and transfer points?

Does professional dialogue and understanding support/ease transition?

Is the expectation of “set points” at certain ages helpful to longer term effort and success? Should we have baseline expectations?

Is the same curricular route necessary for every child?

Do we have a clear definition of progress?

Do schools do enough to engage and support parents in the process of their child’s learning?

Does it matter which end of the educational telescope you look through?

I would invite comments from colleagues to help me to think on the subject over the next few months, to better inform the discussion. Please feel free to develop thoughts through the comment thread below, or tweet me on @ChrisChivers2.

Cross-posted from Chris Chivers Thinks

#PedagooLocal TakeOver
June 6, 2015
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What are you doing on Saturday 26th September? Not got any plans? Why not organise a #PedagooLocal for your area?

Earlier this year Ciara approached us with the idea of organising a Pedagoo-style event for her local area of Perth & Kinross. This isn’t something we’ve done for a long time so we’ve resurrected the name #PedagooLocal to make it happen. The idea is that teachers can organise a small-scale Pedagoo style-event for their local area with whatever support from Pedagoo that we can muster up. So, #PedagooPerth is on, and a few others have expressed an interest in organising their own #PedagooLocal event…such as #PedagooFife.

Ciara and her colleagues in Perth have opted to hold their event on Saturday 26th September, but here’s an idea. How about we try and have lots of #PedagooLocal events all over the country on the same date? I’ve floated this idea with the #PedagooFife team and they’re up for it – so the big question is, are you?

How do you organise a #PedagooLocal event?

First of all, you need to check out the small list of conditions we’ve come with for using the name and ensure that you’re happy that your event will work within these. This just involves ensuring that your event:

  • is free to the teachers attending.
  • takes a longer format approach to sharing (i.e. primarily 30/40 minute Learning Conversations/Workshops as opposed to all 7/2 minute presentations – we’ve got nothing against TeachMeets, we’re just trying to add a bit of diversity to the mix).
  • is open to teachers from anywhere, even if primarily aimed at one particular area/local authority.

But what will organising the event actually involve? Firstly, we’re more than happy to sort out stuff like a logo, a webpage and the signup forms as on the #PedagooPerth page.  You can do this stuff yourself if you want, but we’re happy to help with this. You will obviously also need to:

  • Find a venue in your local area that you can have for free. It’ll need to have enough spaces for folk to break up into smaller groups for the learning conversations. Don’t worry too much about A/V facilities, in my opinion some of the best learning conversations occur when there are no A/V facilities and folk are forced to just sit round in a circle and talk to each other. Good places are community centres, libraries or even schools. If you can’t have the space for free you could approach a sponsor (which could even be your Local Authority) to pay for the venue and we’ll pop their logo onto the logo for the event.
  • It’s great if you can have some sort of catering, but you don’t have to have it. As you can see from the Perth event they’re going for a half-day format so they don’t even need to think about lunch.
  • You’ll need to promote the event in your local area. We’ll do shout outs from the Pedagoo social media accounts, but nothing is more effective than directly contacting folk. You’ll need to encourage some teachers you know to lead learning conversations and you’ll need email all the teachers in your local area to let them know about the event. Your Local Authority might be able to help out with this.
  • Once everyone is signed up, you’ll need to prepare the learning conversations. This is the tricky bit, but it’s normally fine for teachers who tend to enjoy organising stuff like this.
  • You’ll need to email everyone in advance of the day to let them know the plans for the day. You’ll also need some way to let folk know which learning conversations they’re in and when.
  • On the day itself, you’ll need to welcome everyone, explain the format, get it going, then relax and enjoy.

See, it’s not so hard. How cool would it be if we had #PedagooLocal events all over the place on the same day…we’d break the internet! If you’re up for #PedagooLocal TakeOver please get in touch using the form on this page: pedagoo.org/local/takeover

EDIT

There’s been a fantastic response to this idea already! I’ve started tracking the possible events on this page: pedagoo.org/local/takeover

Visible Learning in Midlothian

What is Visible Learning?

John Hattie has spent 15 years researching what really makes a difference in learning. His research has used over 800 meta-analyses, over 50,000 studies and information about the learning of more than 240 million pupils. The findings from this research are summarised in his book Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement (2009).  John Hattie continues to add to his evidence base; every time research is published he incorporates it into his analysis.

Hattie examined six factors and assessed their respective contributions to achievement: the child; the home; the school; the teacher; the curriculum and the approaches to teaching. Teachers have the single largest effect size – “what teachers do matters” (Hattie, 2009).  The things that teachers do that makes the biggest difference are about making learning visible and explicit to pupils.  The key message from Hattie’s research is that ‘when teachers see learning through the eyes of the student and students see themselves as their own teachers we gain the biggest effects’.  Hattie’s second book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising impact on learning (2011) is written for teachers and explains how to apply the principles of visible learning in the classroom.  He summarises the most successful interventions and provides a step by step guide to implementing visible learning, visible teaching in the classroom.

Hattie uses effect size to create a continuum of influences on learning.  This allows us to see which factors have the greatest impact on learning. The most up to date list of influences contains 150 factors.  We know that most of what we do in the classroom has a positive effect on learning but using effect size allows us to identify to what extent this improves learning.  A typical effect size, the average progress we can expect in a year, is 0.40 – this has remained constant despite new research being added. Hattie argues that if this is the average progress we can expect in a year then we need to raise the bar and seek greater impact. We can use this evidence to reflect on existing practice and inform developments – are we using our time and resources in the right way? It’s the start of a conversation about learning and impact not the end. If we think about just implementing the top 10 things on the list then we miss the message about knowing your impact and being evaluative.

If we want to make best use of Hattie’s research we need to evaluate where we are now and identify what we can do to improve this, using his evidence base to guide us.  Each of the influences listed needs to be understood in context and in his books Hattie explains what each of these need to look like in order to achieve the highest effect.  If we take homework as an example; the average effect size is 0.29, the effect size of homework in primary schools is 0.01 and 0.59 in secondary schools.  This does not mean we should stop homework in primary schools but perhaps leads us to think about what makes it effective (i.e. short, consolidates learning and is marked) and what we can change to improve the impact it has in our context.

Hattie’s research raises many questions for us to consider, including

  • Are we focussing on the right things?
  • What is already working?
  • To what extent does data / evidence drive improvement?
  • What is the quality of the feedback our pupils receive?
  • Do we ensure that our pupils have high expectations?
  • Do all teachers evaluate the impact of their teaching? If so, how?

Visible Learning in Midlothian

In May 2014 a conversation about Visible Learning started with Education leaders across Midlothian. Many had read some of John Hattie’s books, had seen the list of effects but had got a bit stuck with how to use this – the challenge was in translating this into practice. Having attended the Visible Learning Foundation Day I was able to introduce leaders to the Visible Learning approach. The approach consists of 5 strands – Visible Learners (or Assessment Capable Learners), Effective Feedback, Know Thy Impact, Inspired and Passionate Teachers and the Visible Learning School. The 5 strands offer the ‘how’ and immediately made sense to school leaders who could see how the evidence and research then translates into leadership, school improvement, career long professional learning and learning and teaching. The image below highlights some key messages about the Visible Learning approach;

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The Educational Psychology Service (EPS) is driving the delivery of Visible Learning in Midlothian and this reflects our aim of supporting the learning of all children and young people and future proofing the service. This approach has enabled us to make best use of our knowledge of how children learn, how organisations and systems work and our understanding of change. We have had a key role in supporting the process of self-evaluation and translating knowledge into action.

During this academic session (2014-15) we have had a number of strands of activity which have worked together to build our capacity to deliver Visible Learning:

  • The core NQT programme has had Hattie’s research at the heart of it.  The focus was the translation of knowledge into action and evaluating the impact of their teaching. This has been positively evaluated by NQTs, Head Teachers and supporters as having an impact on the practice of NQTs and therefore learners.
  • In October we held a leadership conference at which Craig Parkinson (Lead Consultant, Visible Learning, Osiris), Craig Biddick (Tobermory High School) and Laura Kearney (Hodgehill Primary School, Birmingham) offered an overview of the visible learning approach and workshops in which they shared examples of the approach in action.
  • Leaders from across Midlothian engaged in a series of workshops which supported leaders to translate their learning and Hattie’s evidence base into action to have a positive impact on the outcomes for learners. There is no single way to implement visible learning therefore the focus was on helping leaders to answer the questions:
  1. ‘Where do I start?’
  2. ‘What does visible learning look like in my school?’
  3. ‘How do I know we are having a significant impact on all our learners?’

Our approach to CLPL was designed to work with the developing quality improvement framework and self-improving school systems.

  • The EPS has co-facilitated with two teachers a series of practitioner enquiry workshops with a Visible Learning theme.
  • One of the questions we needed to explore was ‘how do we engage all practitioners in Visible Learning?’ We have tapped into the skills, knowledge and experience our teachers to helps us identify the challenges and potential barriers and most importantly how we overcome these.

So what impact is this having?

Our focus this session has primarily been on raising awareness of Hattie’s research and what it means for us in Midlothian, in doing this we have build a strong foundation for delivery. There is clear evidence that the language of Visible Learning is being used when teachers talk about their classrooms. There has also been a shift in language from talking about teaching to a focus on learning and learners. The approach has also helped teachers to think more clearly about their impact and become more evaluative in their approaches. Having an authority approach to this has also had a positive effect on the culture of professional learning and dialogue – we are sharing practice more and breaking down barriers between classrooms and schools. The evidence gathering that schools are engaging in at the beginning of the process allows them to review progress and impact for example; schools are identifying a shift in the language of learning and therefore learners’ ability to talk about their learning.

What is working for Midlothian?

Reflecting on our progress this year we have identified the following features that are making a difference for us:

  • Focus on the learner and learner voice
  • Sharing practice and professional dialogue
  • Gentle pressure relentlessly applied
  • Repeating and modelling key messages
  • EPS research spotlights (making research more accessible)
  • Making connections explicit
  • There is no working group – our plans are messy and change constantly according to need and impact
  • Use of evidence to review progress and impact
  • External input mixed with internal CLPL and support
  • Leadership

These features are not unique to the Visible Learning approach but are considered to be key to achieving better outcomes for children and young people in Midlothian through a Visible Learning approach. We were lucky enough to share our work at the national Visible Learning conference in London last month and meet John Hattie himself. This really highlighted the strength of our community approach to Visible Learning, no school is working in isolation and the strength of sharing practice and professional dialogue is quite unique.   We are also unique in the role that the EPS has taken in leading Visible Learning.

What next?

We have lots of CLPL planned for next session and our main focus will be on closing the gap and ensuring that all schools have started to gather evidence to inform their Visible Learning approach. A teacher conference in August is an important feature of this. We have a solid foundation, a good understanding of the challenges we may face and how we can overcome them and a growing coalition of engaged and inspired teachers who will increase the pace of change over the coming session. Our aim is to develop, in Michael Barber’s words ‘an irreversible delivery culture’ and the EPS will continue to sustain capacity and work with others to build momentum to ensure this (Deliverology 101).

Should I stay or should I Glow?
June 2, 2015
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If you are a teacher in Scotland you have no doubt already heard or experienced “Glow” first hand. If not, then a quick google will probably tell you all you would ever want to know about where it has come from and feelings towards it.

I was fortunate enough to attend the “Learning Through Technology” conference recently and one of the key messages I took away from that was “people’s views of IT and Technology are very different from the reality of what it is today”. This view seemed to be applauded and a genuine consensus that people’s viewpoints and feelings needed to be challenged and changed.

For whatever reasons, this was not allowed to be the case when it came to Glow. It seemed completely unacceptable to disengage Glow with where it has came from and its past.

This year I’ve been shocked by even Newly Qualified Teachers coming out of our system with the deep ingrained belief that Glow is useless and that they didn’t need to engage in it. Teacher discourses are fascinating things.

I now ask you to watch at least some of the video below that I have created to give just a taste of what Glow has to offer. Do so with an open mind and make your decision on what “Glow” currently is and what it can offer.
 

 

 

Reciprocal Reading in History
Image by flickr.com/photos/ufvImage by flickr.com/photos/ufv

As Head of History I often find that when presented with text heavy sources our students are unwilling to spend the time reading them. This then impacts on their understanding and results in answers that lack detail.  For me to read aloud to the class meant that far too many students just sat back and switched off, having individual students read aloud resulted in much of the same.  I began to look for ways to encourage them to read while gain a deeper understanding of complex text. I also wanted them to take ownership of their own learning. It was for this reason that I decided to implement the reciprocal reading strategy. What is reciprocal reading?

  • Reciprocal teaching refers to an instructional activity in which students become the teacher in small group reading sessions.
  • Teachers model, then help students learn to guide group discussions using four strategies: summarising, question generating, clarifying, and predicting.

Once students have learned the strategies, they take turns assuming the role of teacher in leading a dialogue about what has been read.

Why use reciprocal reading?

  • It encourages students to think about their own thought process during reading.
  • It helps students learn to be actively involved and monitor their comprehension as they read.
  • It teaches students to ask questions during reading and helps make the text more comprehensible.

Roles of Students

Students are placed into groups of four or five and allocated roles. The roles are:

A predictor. Predicting involves previewing the text to anticipate what may happen next. Readers can use the information from the text and their prior knowledge to make logical predictions before and during reading. Prediction can also be linked to text type.

A clarifier. Although students can be taught to identify difficult words and work through them, it is much more difficult for some to recognise unclear sentences, passages, chapters or ideas. Clarifying helps students to monitor their own understanding and identify any problems in comprehending portions of text.

A questioner. Good readers ask questions throughout the reading process but formulating questions is a difficult and complex task. In reciprocal reading students learn to generate questions about a text’s main ideas, important details and about textual inferences.

A summariser. To summarise effectively students must recall and arrange in order only the important events in a text. Summarising helps readers to construct an overall understanding of a text, story, chapter or paragraph.

There can also be a group leader if required. The group leader will be responsible for ensuring that everyone participates and that the text is fully understood. Each member of the group is given a laminated role card. The cards contain prompts for the students to think about during their reading of the text.

reciprocal reading roles Use of reciprocal reading in History.

Students are presented with information relating to the reign of Mary I. Taking it in turns each student reads aloud one paragraph at a time. At the end of every paragraph, everyone completes their role. Included in this information are the two sources that students will be expected to make inferences from in an assessed piece of writing. The sources are:

Source 2 - The execution of Latimer and Ridley, two Protestant bishops who refused to become Catholics.

Source 2 – The execution of Latimer and Ridley, two Protestant bishops who refused to become Catholics.

 

Source 3 – From John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs”, about the burning of Latimer and Ridley.

“So they came to the stake. Dr Ridley, entering the place first, looked towards Heaven. Then, seeing Mr Latimer, with a cheerful look he ran and embraced him, saying, “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either ease the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to endure it”.He then went to the stake and, kneeling down, prayed with great fervour, while Mr Latimer following, kneeled down and prayed also. Dr Ridley gave presents of small things to men standing near, many of whom were weeping strongly. Happy was he who could get the smallest rag to remember this good man by. Then the blacksmith took a chain of iron and placed it about both their waists and then knocked in the staple.Dr Ridley’s brother brought him a bag of gunpowder and tied it about his neck. His brother did the same to Mr Latimer.They then brought a lighted faggot and laid it at Dr Ridley’s feet. Upon which Mr Latimer said “Be of good comfort, Mr Ridley, we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out”.

 

Student Activity

  • Summarise the main points of Source 3 in no more than 100 words.
  •  Do you think that Source 2 shows the same event as that described in Source 3? Explain your answer in detail.
  •  Answer this question using inferences:

 What can you infer from the sources about Queen Mary’s attitude towards the Catholic religion? 

Benefits of reciprocal reading

Learners can gain an improved understanding of complex text in content areas. This leads to:

  •  Greater knowledge of the topic.
  •  Improved skills.
  •  More positive attitudes when extracting, organising, and recording information.
  •  More self-confidence and motivation to read.
  •  Improved leadership skills.
  •  Increased co-operation and greater initiative.

My lessons have shown that when Reciprocal Reading is implemented, learners make substantial gains in understanding what they read. This then impacts on the progress that they make.

Using Thinglink to extend model making activities
Step 3 - Adding tags

I first came across Thinglink when introduced by a colleague who teaches MFL (@ProfeScammell), she said it would be excellent to extend the model making activities we do in Geography and she was correct! I began by having a play around with Thinglink myself by signing up and creating a couple of Thinglink pictures myself. I did this so I could create some instructions for the students and be able to help them in case they happened to get stuck. Luckily, for an ICT novice such as myself it was relatively straightforward.

The first use was after creating our own sustainable houses. The time it took to make them meant that we didn’t have time to assess them within the lesson so it was a perfect opportunity to try something new. At the end of the lesson I got them all to write their name on a post it and place it by their house so I could take a photo on my phone to upload to our shared drive.

I booked the IT facilities for the lesson after and made sure I had uploaded all of the photos to a communal area for all to access. It took about 10 minutes for all of the students to create their own account using their school email and me to resolve any issues. Note to self – make sure students write down their passwords for future use! They then began by finding and uploading their image and began to “tag”. Part of the success criteria was to try a variety of tags – highlighting key terminology, incorporating images from the internet and adding YouTube videos. Students were engaged and enjoyed figuring out the features on offer. Out of 28 students only one had heard of it. I think this added to the engagement as it was something new and different. They had the remainder of the lesson to finish their Thinglink ready to be peer assessed next lesson. The final lesson we logged into Thinglink again and students searched for their partner’s houses. They wrote a WWW & EBI comment online and published it.

 

Step 1 - Creating an account

Step 1 – Creating an account

Step 2 - Uploading images

Step 2 – Uploading images

Step 3 - Adding tags

Step 3 – Adding tags

Adding images into tags

Adding images into tags

Peer Assessment Criteria

Peer Assessment Criteria

All in all I think a very enjoyable two and a half lessons. I felt it added more purpose to the task of creating the houses, especially when some question the value of model making. It was a more engaging and interactive format than merely adding post its as labels.

Next time? I am definitely going to use Thinglink again – it’s use is infinite and across the key stages, it could be invaluable as a revision tool for GCSE and A level students especially due to its sharing and searching capabilities. Teachers and students can also create their own channels.  I’d get the students to write down their passwords! I’d also spend some time getting the students to look and search for other Thinglinks available on the topics we are studying for some alternative ideas. For myself as a teacher I am going to investigate and follow other Thinglink users for teaching and also subject ideas in addition to creating my own channel where I can create and upload images but students can also add theirs to a communal area.

Geography Revision Goodie Bags

I wanted to give my students a little something to remind them of their exam dates and to also equip them with various bits of stationary and revision aid resources.

I noticed on Twitter that a variety of different teachers across the country had received packs as part of their teacher wellbeing. I then started to notice others appearing for students in particular subjects. I first saw the idea from @Laura_Oleary who gave her students a brown bag with a number of different revision guides in.

I knew I didn’t have time to organise larger bags so decided to get coloured sweet bags for my students. In each pack there was; a black/coloured pen, a pencil, a highlighter, cue cards, chocolate bar, lollipop and a laminated mat to identify the important diagrams for the physical paper.

All ready to go!

In Geography students are required to answer three sections in the Physical paper and three in the Human paper. To remind the students about this I identified the date of their exam as well as the sections they needed to answer. The students were delighted to receive their packs, especially the boys with many of them asking if I had more cue cards to help with their revision. Another positive has been comments from parents who have said how happy their child was to receive something that had come from the teacher and would help them with their learning.

Thank you to all those fantastic teachers who are already doing this in their subject and sharing this with their students and others.