Is there a right way to teach?

2012-11-24T12:49:47+00:00November 24th, 2012|learning, planning|

It’s become a trite and hackneyed truism that if they’re not learning you’re just talking. We’re all clear that teaching only happens when the little tinkers manage to make some sort of progress – preferably that of the rapid and sustained variety. But this simple truth, like so many others, seems to have been systematically and catastrophically misunderstood by many school leaders and inspectors. Until recently it was universally accepted that the key to a good lesson observation was showing that pupils are making progress in the 25 minutes available to us, and that the only way we could demonstrate this [...]

Making feedback stick

2013-08-27T21:44:58+01:00July 16th, 2012|English, literacy, training|

There's really no argument about the fact that feedback is pretty important. It sits right at the top of the list of strategies which make the biggest impact on students' progress. If we're not giving students feedback on their learning then, frankly, what in God's good name are we doing? There is nothing else which should have a higher priority in your teaching. OK, with that off my chest, it's important to acknowledge that there a couple of problems to be aware of. All, sadly, is not rosy in the feedback garden. Firstly, most of the feedback students get comes from [...]

Are teacher observations a waste of time?

2013-08-24T15:18:16+01:00February 24th, 2012|assessment, training|

"I never allow teachers or school leaders to visit classrooms to observe teachers; I allow them to observe only students". John Hattie (2012) I've been mulling this statement over for the past few weeks and it seems to boil down to this: are we interested in how teachers teach, or how students learn? It's become a truism in recent times to say that just because a teacher is teaching there is no guarantee that students are learning anything. But, if you walk into a classroom it's hard not to look at the teacher. Especially if they're standing at the front delivering [...]

Feedback: it's better to receive than to give

2012-02-20T22:48:10+00:00February 20th, 2012|assessment, learning|

As every teacher ought to already know, feedback and formative assessment are the most powerful, most effective things you can be doing. This means we need to be taking every opportunity to let our students know, "where they are going, how they are going there and what they might go next." Obvious, isn't it? Well, maybe not. Here are a few interesting points I have gleaned about the effective use of feedback from Visible Learning for Teachers. Hattie says that feedback should be: 'just in time', 'just for me', 'just where I am in my learning process', and 'just what I [...]

Is it better to be told, or to discover a fact?

2012-01-22T15:39:39+00:00January 22nd, 2012|learning|

I've read a lot of blogosphere twaddle about why students don't learn effectively in groups and the only effective method for teaching is direct instruction. My view is there needs to balance in all things and using one teaching strategy to the exclusions of all others is a bad mistake. I think it's worth reproducing this fairly lengthy quote from, John Hattie in full: Various successful methods of teaching were identified in Visible Learning, but the book also identified the importance of not rushing to implement only the top strategies; rather it is important to understand the underlying reasons for the [...]

Should we be teaching knowledge or skills?

2011-11-02T20:31:31+00:00November 2nd, 2011|learning, SOLO|

It is a truth universally acknowledged that our education system isn’t quite up to snuff. And at that point virtually all agreement ceases. There are those on which we might loosely term the ‘right’ of the divide who point to PISA scores, claim that we’re in the middle of a crisis and suggest that a return to traditional values is the way forward. Oh, and Free Schools are good too. Then there are the proponents of the ‘left’ who think that the current emphasis of schools does not fit us for a future in which compliance will no longer be rewarded. [...]

Forget the answer, what's the question?

2011-09-24T16:37:17+01:00September 24th, 2011|learning|

We all know the value of effective questioning, but should it be the students rather than the teacher doing a bit more of the asking? After reading about Question Formulation Technique (getting students to think of their own questions rather than just answering mine) a few weeks ago I was really keen to give it a whirl. Tait Cole However, Dylan Wiliam's SSAT 2010 keynote is still ringing in my ears: we (teachers) should not waste time on self indulgent gimmicks if it causes us to move away from AfL and other proven high impact teaching & learning strategies. [...]

What's the point of homework?

2011-09-04T21:07:16+01:00September 4th, 2011|Featured|

Father: What's all those books then?Son: That's my homework dad.Father: You know what son, if they can't teach you all the stuff you need to know during the day, they can't be very good at their jobs can they? How To Teach p170 Homework. The word clangs with leaden dread, doesn't it? I hated it when I was a kid and I'm not too keen now I'm a teacher. Parents seem very keen on it and are quick to let schools know if an insufficient quantity of it is being sent home on a daily basis. Clearly, this is one potential [...]

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