At this time of year, when there may be more mental space to reflect on the past few months and to plan for September, it is great so see so many blogs sharing suggestions and ideas to help learners. This post outlines the efforts of @SaysMiss to create a learning culture in her school. In partnership with local businesses and universities she has arranged a programme of visits and lectures for students that would be the envy of any school. She captures the spirit of generosity in which such work is shared when she concludes with an offer to support others interested in developing a similar programme. Her ethos is that her role is “to provide opportunities for students that they perhaps didn’t know existed.”
Following a fantastic talk by @Olicav at the recent ResearchEd Rugby event, I have become very interested in trying dual coding with students. Inspired by the same event, Paul G Moss has cracked on with it and created a wonderful resource for his English class. Although specifically focused on his coding of A Christmas Carol, Moss’s blog is not just of value to English teachers. He sets out the principles, explains how he used the resource, shares some of his students’ work and considers how he might use it to support their retrieval. This is a useful read for anyone interested in practical strategies, with helpful links to further reading for the more theoretically inclined.
In the true spirit of Responsive Teaching @HFletcherWood revisits some key ideas from his book and reflects on what he has learned since. This post provides a brief summary of how you might design and use exit tickets in class – a short task to show how well all students have understood the lesson’s key ideas. He offers practical advice on how to use them to respond to gaps in students’ knowledge without creating extensive workload through marking. He also updates the ideas laid out in Responsive Teaching and suggests the term “encapsulating task” – one that “offers an objective measure of students’ success, which provides a focus for planning, assessment and responsiveness”. It’s a strategy worth trying.
This is a challenge to change our thinking about tasks. It may prove harder to implement than some of the ideas mentioned above, but it is an important read. As Tom Sherrington puts it, “task completion is not a good proxy for learning … as humans, we are extraordinarily capable of doing things in the short-term without learning how to do them in the longer term”. This has important implications for our task design and assessment of learning in the classroom, which Sherrington outlines in his usual succinct manner. He considers how we may need to change our habits as observers as well as teachers, and acknowledges that this is not necessarily an easy shift. But his encouragement to self-reflect and his final resolution to “try harder to avoid the trap” of confusing tasks and learning is one that I shall take forward.
With curriculum review on most schools’ development plans, the question of where the national curriculum fits in is an important one. In this blog @johndavidblake summarises its history, including some of the aims, successes and failures. He argues that the national curriculum may be able to “answer some of the macro-curriculum questions”, but that schools have a lot of work to do in-house to bring “the promise of a curriculum entitlement for all children” to life.