Monthly Archives: March 2015

Embedding growth mind set into our community

Since we began to push our growth mind set initiative in September, I have explained in a series of blogs how we have tried to sow basic GM seeds via posters, assemblies and postcards home whilst encouraging and reporting back on classroom examples and our teachers developing their own very positive mind-sets so that the initiative begins to embed and have a discernible impact on learning.

http://www.meolscophighschool.co.uk/dep-blog/?cat=19

I did introduce year 7 parents to the main ideas in their September information evening.

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At subsequent year 8 and year 9 information evenings GM was mentioned briefly by Jen our maths subject leader to share her faculties expectation of parental support re maths.

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Many of our blogs have shared the impact GM has begun to make and have provided detailed student views so that we can take into account their views and amend our planning. Unfortunately our Easter Review Day surveys from last year, revealed that not many parents read the blogs so my dilemma in engaging our parental voice made me think of different approaches. Our bulletin, so the survey told me, is far more widely read so I advertised the blog again to see if I got any more viewers and have continued to use the bulletin to share GM ideas and have continued to explain aspects of GM and share GM Stars on it.

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=674

The GM Stars and Progress Stars are popular but do parents fully understand what GM is all about?

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I want our students to go home and talk about their learning and I know parents want to support their children. However education has changed so much that many parents feel out of touch with modern teaching ideas and the communication with their children can become 1 sided and thus frustrating. To help our parents understand the crucial aspects of GM and enable them to converse in a basic GM language, I’ve firstly asked them in one of the additional survey questions on Review Day about their perceptions of GM [and our new BSG assessment] and secondly created some new comments for the SLT to use on our year 7 and 8 reports to emphasise the skills we feel are important. These obviously go home to all parents and I want to drip-feed key GM learning attributes which I feel will make a big difference to learning as the students move through their years with us. If teachers, students and parents can begin to use the same language of learning, I might start to get very excited!

The questions on Review Day will include;

We have changed our assessment system [no national curriculum levels anymore] and our reporting system to provide information on our new Bronze, Silver, Gold approach-have you found the information informative/clear/understandable? Has your child mentioned anything positive/negative about BSG?

We have gradually introduced the idea of the positive aspects of developing a Growth Mind Set into our lessons, assemblies and reward systems. We would like our parents to support this initiative-we think that it will make a big difference to student learning- but wonder if you understand what GM involves/would like to know more. What do you think?

The SLT have always written their own comments on each report but this time we have gone for a uniform approach so that the main key messages are sent home by all of us. Here are some examples of our year 7 drop-down comments. What do you think?

A superb first Meols Cop High School report-name-. Very well done! All of your teachers have commented positively on your attitude and commitment towards your learning and I especially enjoyed reading the comments in-subject [s]-
Overall a good first Meols Cop High School report-name.-well done! You have worked hard in year 7 and I especially enjoyed reading the comments in-subject [s]-
A mixed first Meols Cop High School report-name-with some good positive comments. I enjoyed the comments in-subject [s],however you do need to pay particular attention to the advice given in-subject[s]
A disappointing first Meols Cop High School year report-name-. It was good to see that you can learn well in –subject[s]- but greater commitment towards your learning and consistent effort needs to be made in all of your subjects
Having settled so well into secondary school it is important that you maintain your good start and begin to take even more responsibility for constantly evaluating how well your learning is progressing and what you will need to do to make further progress. Focus on any areas of weaknesses or anything you don’t clearly understand and challenge yourself to use a marginal gains approach to master difficult skills. This positive learning mind set will really help you throughout school. Aim for the stars!
Having settled well into secondary school it is important that you maintain your good start and begin to learn how to take more responsibility for constantly evaluating how well your learning is progressing and what you will need to do to make further progress. Focus on any areas of weaknesses or anything you don’t clearly understand and challenge yourself to use a marginal gains approach to master difficult skills. This positive learning mind set will really help you throughout school. Remember the key word YET!
Having settled quite well into secondary school it is important that you learn how to work consistently and effectively in all of your subjects. Read the advice that your teachers have given you carefully and challenge yourself to master any areas of weakness. Always think hard yourself about what strategies you could use when faced with a difficult aspect of learning and seek and use feedback from your peers and teachers to help you further.
I know that you will want to be much more focused on your learning in year 8 so that you are able to take home an excellent report next year. Think about the lessons that you have been successful in. What is it about your learning in these lessons that makes you such a good learner in them? I believe that you can transfer those skills into every lesson, even if you find some lessons more challenging than others. Do be ready to listen to feedback and advice from your teachers and peers so that you can use their help and your own hard work to make progress.
I can see that you have already developed an excellent attitude towards home-learning and as you move through the school, practising hard at home will really help you to strengthen your classroom learning. Keep this up!
I can see that you have already developed a good attitude towards home-learning and as you move through the school, practising hard at home will really help you to strengthen your classroom learning. Keep this up!
Your home-learning record varied across your subjects. It is important that you develop a routine that works for you so that you are prepared for the more demanding home-learning tasks that will be expected of you as you move through school and beyond. If you are finding it difficult to plan when to do your home-learning and getting it in on time-ask your learning tutor for help and advice.
Your home-learning record worries me. It is important that you develop a routine that works for you so that you are prepared for the more demanding home-learning tasks that will be expected of you as you move through school and beyond. If you are finding it difficult to plan when to do your home-learning and getting it in on time-ask your learning tutor for help and advice

You can see that we are pushing hard work, purposeful practice, marginal gains, self and peer critique and feedback-all important GM attributes. Our year 8 students should be able to consolidate and develop their learning further again and this hopefully is reflected in their comments.

A superb report-name-. Very well done! All of your teachers have commented positively on your attitude and commitment towards your learning and I especially enjoyed reading the comments in-subject [s]-
Overall a good report-name.-well done! You have worked hard in year 8 and I especially enjoyed reading the comments in-subject [s]-
A mixed report-name-with some good positive comments. I enjoyed the comments in-subject [s],however you do need to pay particular attention to the advice given in-subject[s]
A disappointing year 8 report-name-. It was good to see that you can learn well in –subject[s]- but greater commitment towards your learning and consistent effort needs to be made in all of your subjects.
By working so well in year 8 you have given yourself the perfect learning foundation to begin your G.C.S.E. subjects in year 9. I know that you have begun to develop a resilient learning mind-set and seek excellence in all of your learning. Aim as high as you can next year!
By working so well in year 8 you have given yourself the perfect learning foundation to begin to make even more learning progress in year 9. I know that you have already begun to develop a resilient learning mind-set and seek excellence in all of your learning. Aim as high as you can next year!
Use the advice given by your teachers to ensure that you show a consistently positive approach towards every aspect of your learning in year 9. Seek feedback from your teachers and peers to help you meet your learning targets and work as hard as you can to achieve success next year.
Year 9 is a crucial year and you need to be fully prepared to develop a positive ‘can do’ mind-set in every subject. Your teachers will always support your learning but you need to be prepared to practice and work hard to meet your learning targets next year. If you work on the ‘marginal gains’ needed in each subject; you will find progress easier to achieve.
Working and practising hard at home really does help to consolidate your classroom learning and prepare you for the hard work and dedication needed to be successful with your G.C.S.E.s and beyond. It was good to see that you have shown great commitment to your home-learning.
Working and practising hard at home really does help to consolidate your classroom learning and prepare you for the hard work and dedication needed to be successful with your G.C.S.E.s and beyond. It was good to read that you have shown an overall good commitment to your home-learning.
Working and practising hard at home really does help to consolidate your classroom learning and prepare you for the hard work and dedication needed to be successful with your G.C.S.E.s and beyond. Please make sure that you show good commitment to your home-learning in every subject.

I don’t know how well the comments will be received or whether they may need adapting but I hope that all can see our purpose and can understand where we hope that the acquisition of GM attributes will take our students. Please let me know if you think that this is the right way forward.

 

 

 

MFL Lesson Study- Poems or Grammar?

Four of our MFL faculty have worked as lesson study pairs [with me as the 3rd man in the room] to plan together on 2 enquiry questions that reflect their concerns re the changing curriculum and G.C.S.E. demands.

Bronagh [Spanish subject leader] and Marion [French/EAL coordinator] worked together on their enquiry-Which methodology is most successful in retention and recalling verb conjugations? Helen H [MFL faculty leader] and Helen F planned and observed each other teach their enquiry question – Is the inclusion of literary based activities in the new KS3 curriculum a motivating tool compared to normal grammar/vocab based lessons?

These were brief introductions [2 lessons each] to more detailed follow up throughout summer as the faculty plans its next schemes of learning. The theme of learning retention ran through our last blog [Shuffle your Sums http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=1739 ] our current science lesson study and my ‘Quality of Teaching’ session for our NPQSL visitors last Friday.

Bronagh and Marion, without getting into the traditional v progressive teaching argument, planned their first lessons based on quite traditional pedagogical approaches before trying a more student led interactive approach [the one Ofsted deny they preferred!] They checked the impact of their teaching with short quizzes, before, during and after before leaving a gap to see if long term memories had captured the taught knowledge. Bronagh feeding back on Marion’s first lesson felt that 2 of the students had begun to improve their previous knowledge-conjugating etre.

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A is now fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. B is fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. C showed the potential to be able to form the verb etre and was previously really confident in his abilities and keen to share his answers. When he got distracted he lost his confidence and struggled to complete the other tasks as he would not get as good a mark as previous.

Marion used traditional style teacher led activities.

1.       Starter: Odd one out. Students will practice thinking skills to revise some previous vocabulary and introduce the focus of the lesson.
2.       Etre vs. To be: Students will need to match the French to the English using their knowledge of pronouns. 
3.       Nationalities: Students will need to translate the sentences which will check how much they have recalled. This will also test their thinking skills and practice dictionary work as this is not something they have previously learnt.
4.       Writing task: Students will need to recall all information from the lesson to write each sentence. Students will only have access to the nationalities- no other support! 

If you are reading this blog and haven’t seen the lesson study approach before-the teacher predicts how their teaching strategies will impact on student learning [3 chosen students] and the 2 observing colleagues [and sometimes the IRIS camera] check to see what actually happens. The discussion afterwards digs deeply into the reasons for any differences in predictions and reality with a big focus on learning [of the students] and the development of the teacher [and observer/coach] An example of one of the strategies, predictions and actual observed response is here;

1.       Nationalities: Students will need to translate the sentences which will check how much they have recalled. This will also test their thinking skills and practice dictionary work as this is not something they have previously learnt. All students will be able to translate all the sentences with no issues as reading is a strength for many students. A was able to translate all sentences independently and only struggled with her spelling of the nationalities. B also had no problem translating all the sentences. C struggled to translate all the sentences as he had got confused in the previous exercise but he did attempt to answer them using his knowledge of pronouns.

All of our lesson study shared examples can be found here;

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?cat=8

Bronagh and Marion then discussed how the learning had developed and made their first reflections before planning their second lessons.

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A is now fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. B is fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. C showed the potential to be able to form the verb etre and was previously really confident in his abilities and keen to share his answers. When he got distracted he lost his confidence and struggled to complete the other tasks as he would not get as good of a mark as previous.
Initial Thoughts From the results of this study it appears that the teacher led lesson in which students learning grammar in a rote fashion has proved to be a success. All students were fully engaged in the lesson and made progress and although it was rote learning MY still proved this could be done in a fun and engaging manner especially with the song! We will now complete a more student led lesson where they will need to learn a different grammar point independently and compare the results to see which method is best.

Bronagh adopted a similar approach for her first lesson-it was just the language which changed!

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They then changed tactics for the second round of lessons to introduce a carousel of activities which saw the students moving around the room to different bases. Prior knowledge was tested and then re-tested.

1.       Starter: Recall of the near future tensePupils will be shown the 6 phrases in Spanish and will need to recall the meaning in English.
2.       Carousel Activity 1: FlashcardsPupils will have 8 minutes to sit independently using the flashcards to practice and memorise the endings.
3.       Carousel Activity 2: LaptopsPupils will get the opportunity to practice the endings on an interactive exercise.
4.       Carousel Activity 3: Listening ExercisePupils will be able to listen to a recording of the endings to revise.
Plenary: Final check-Pupils will be shown the English phrases and will need to be able to recall the Spanish translations in the correct order without any notes.

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What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? All 3 students were able to conjugate the verb in the future tense by the end of the lesson. They appeared to react well to the continual testing at the end of each activity particularly A.
Initial Thoughts It will be interesting to assess how well the students retain what they have learnt at a later date. I think highlighting the importance of grammar early on will have a positive effect in the long run. Although the testing was repetitive, because the activities changed each time, all of the students seemed to enjoy the lesson. No one complained of it being boring.

Of course Marion is correct in her feedback-the key aspect to learning is can it be retained at a later date either through quizzes, assessments or highlighting usage when appropriate in future learning tasks. You can see Bronagh’s response to my question; -have you evidence that the learning from the lessons has stuck in their long term memory-how do you know/have you tested again?

“I tested them the week after the 1st lesson on the near future tense and none of them could recall all of the vocabulary. Out of the three students we were observing only A could recall one ending. However when they were reminded of them in lesson that week and again as a starter the following week they were are able to recall them fully on the 3rd attempt during your second observation.

For the future tense which we taught on the second lesson they were all able to recall it fully the following week but I haven’t tested them on that since. Even though this was the one that appeared to stick best to begin with I have noticed in their written work they always seem to use the first one they learnt. So even though it took them to be reminded 3 times it may have stuck more?!

I will test them both again in a few weeks to see if they can still remember and use it!”

Marion added,

“I have tested several times. Some have it firmly anchored now, others are improving their score each time I test them. I have realised that they need to have learnt the personal pronouns thoroughly before the verb conjugation and I will make sure I do this next year early on.   I will be giving them the 3 main verbs to revise again over the holidays using whatever method they choose.  I will report back in the summer.”

A couple of our blogs since Xmas have used student surveys to help us consider their needs and opinions to support our planning. Interestingly the recent paper from the Teaching School research and development network which began by offering their key messages about what makes great pedagogy [14 points] had the first 5 related to student voice. Each lesson study should provide an opportunity for either the 3 students observed or usually the whole class to respond.

Talk with pupils about their learning, listen carefully, and involve them

  1. The importance of taking account of pupil voice comes through consistently. It means that teachers go beyond thinking about what they are going to teach and how, to consulting with students about their experiences as learners.
  2. Taking account of pupil voice appears to enable teachers to change or adapt their pedagogic approach and create a virtuous cycle of improvement.
  3. Taking account of pupil voice appears to help develop positive relationships. The engagement and enjoyment of pupils appears to be a positive consequence of this.
  4. 4Talking with pupils about their learning appears to enable teachers to make links between teaching approaches and their impact on pupil progress and attainment.
  5. Involving pupils in the planning and teaching of their lessons can increase their enjoyment and engagement in learning.

Helen and Helen!

I’ll go backwards then and begin with the survey that Helen H used after her second lesson. This could have been carried out before to see how the students viewed their learning up to that point or as Helen has done, to find out what they felt about the experience so she can use their views to help her planning. The only problem, as Helen mentioned to me, is that 7 set 1 are very positive about their learning and life in general and may tell you what they think you want them to say!

Feedback from Year 7 NTEN Lesson Quiz

7 set 1 French with Helen Hallmark

Please answer the following questions honestly

28 students replied anonymously to this survey.

Think about the French poetry lesson last week. How does it compare to your usual French lessons?

7.1% 1 = Less interesting
25% 2 = The same
64.3% 3 = More interesting

3.6% = void

In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you learnt more or less French words than in usual French lessons?

14.3% 1 = I learnt less words
28.6% 2 = I learnt the same amount of words
53.6% 3 = I learnt more words

3.6% = void

In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you made more or less progress than in usual French lessons?

7.1% 1 = I made less progress
50% 2 = I made the same amount of progress
39.3% 3 = I made more progress

3.6% = void

Would you like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories?

14.3% 1 = I wouldn’t like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories
86% 2 = I would like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories

What is the best way to learn vocabulary for you?

I allowed multiple answers to this question and additional answers.

57.1% 1 = Through the teacher, listening, repeating and writing it down
21.4% 2 = Looking it up in a dictionary
39.3% 3 = Seeing and using it in a poem or story

3.6% said through activities and games

3.6% said by writing notes and revising at home on own

3.6% said visually.

The first 2 lessons from both Helens were traditional [ish] grammar lessons and traditional topics others may remember from their school days.

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Helen H used her prior data to see how the students would make initial short term progression.

Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
1.       Students should be able to correctly give the date and month of their birthday and understand the birthday dates of others.2.       They should be able to recite the days of the week in French and understand which days is which when not in a chronological order. A-SEN need =AR.  A has speech and language difficulties.On the first mini test, A scored 48/48 and achieved a Bronze level on his writing piece. B- has no additional needs.  I find her to be very good orally but rushes her written work. B is entitled to FSM.On the first mini test, B scored 45/48 and achieved a Bronze level on her writing piece. C- has no additional needs or pupil premium indicators.On the first mini test, C scored 47/48 and achieved a Silver level on her writing piece.

This was Helen’ F’s first attempt at lesson study and it was interesting for her as an NQT to work with Helen who has been teaching for nearly 30 years! As an ITT students she probably stuck rigidly to university style lesson plans and the prediction style LS plan aimed at thinking hard about learning can be tricky, especially if singing is involved!

SongPupils will listen to the alphabet song from YouTube all the way through first then for the second time they will sing along. A this will be too lively and energetic for A . He won’t join in singing and won’t dance or connect with the song in any wayB will be quite self-conscious at first about joining in and will probably need a bit of encouragement to start singing it.

C will sing and dance along with the song and will be enthusiastic and lively when singing along – he will probably request it again

You were correct.  A was not very enthusiastic and didn’t really engage with the song.  He did half-heartedly join in and mouth some of the letters. B joined in with singing along to the letters but didn’t maintain the momentum and gave up after a while. C joined in but didn’t look up at the song on the whiteboard he preferred to say his letters by looking at the sheet you gave them.

Helen then considered how the learning had developed and wondered how the introduction of literary elements, as required by the new curriculum, would impact on both the learning and her teaching.

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A was able to spell his name with support and encouragement from the teacher. Without that, as demonstrated in the plenary, he was not able to complete this alone and became frustrated B was able to spell her name and was able to recognise the letter sounds during the plenary. She attempted all tasks and got most of her answers correct in the plenary. C can confidently spell his name. He did this aloud for the class and demonstrated his knowledge well in the plenary.
Initial Thoughts A didn’t seem enthusiastic about this lesson. Perhaps he will be more engaged with the poetry lesson. B made good progress in the lesson and showed good Growth Mind Set by not giving up throughout and for asking for support. I think she will continue to show the same enthusiasm in the poetry lesson and will also ask for support where necessary. C made good progress in this lesson as he does in most Spanish lessons. It will be interesting to see how he copes with group work situations and with the different aspect of studying Spanish literature

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There was a lot of interaction and movement this time and quite challenging aspects of group work followed by the poetry writing. Helen F felt afterwards;

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A really struggled with this lesson after learning the initial vocabulary. He did try to contribute to his group but didn’t offer much. He did find the task of writing his own poem difficult despite support from the teacher. B was her usual enthusiastic self throughout the lesson and tried her best at every activity. She did require support for writing her own poem. She managed to fit words into her acrostic poem. C was able to recall the vocabulary well and contributed well to the group word, often becoming the group leader. He did overthink the acrostic poem task and did require support with this.
Initial Thoughts A’s responses to the questionnaire were mostly negative towards the poetry lesson. A does have literacy difficulties so the lesson didn’t appeal to his strengths which I believe to be the reason for this reaction. A will need more support for lessons like this in the future. I think she enjoyed this lesson. On her questionnaire B said she enjoyed the lesson but learnt the same amount of words and made the same amount of progress. C stated on his questionnaire that he learnt more words but wouldn’t like to do another literature based lesson again.

There was a mixed response from the students on the assessment of their own learning and this was useful in helping Helen consider how she might include poetry again. In an old style lesson observation it is doubtful whether or not this important developmental aspect of feedback and reflection would ever have happened. Equally important for Helen’s development was the opportunity now to observe her faculty leader introduce French poetry [written by a Belgian] into her lesson. The students in their above survey were quite positive about the experience but Helen H wasn’t quite sure before the lesson as to how her chosen 3 would react to her tactics.

1.       Students are given envelopes with a cut up poem and English translations.  They have 7 minutes to put in the translated sentences next to the original French. They are to work in pairs and can use their dictionaries. A is more able than his partner, but slower in dexterity.  I think they will complete some of the translations successfully but I don’t think this pair will finish the task in the time allowed. B will ask lots of questions and demand someone to one help but I don’t think she and her partner will complete the task if they get a bit of teacher guidance. I think Cand will complete this task successfully without any teacher input.
2.       Once they have had a chance to translate the poem, students will be asked to reassemble it into what they think is the correct order. I think A and partner might struggle to reassemble it and might lose some of their original translations in the process.  I think B will take over from partner in re-ordering the poem but she can be a little careless and I think she might lose some of their original translations in the process.  I think C and partner will be able to re-arrange the poem fairly successfully without losing too many translations in the process.

It was quite a different poem!

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What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A worked better in this lesson than I had predicted.  He and his partner achieved Gold in the assessed part of the lesson.  He also coped well with the acrostic poem and was able to put adjectives which agreed with the noun. B enjoyed this lesson.  She told me so.  She was keen to do all aspects of the work and didn’t totally dominate her quieter partner.  It seems she wasn’t as confident with the bi-lingual dictionary as partner.  B and partner also achieved Gold in the assessed part of the lesson C coped well with the translation work and dictionary work and she and her partner achieved Gold for the assessed part of the lesson.  They were less confident when asked to put the poem into its original order, however.  They probably would have benefited some guidance on thinking –skills. (Strategies such as reading the English translations, looking at the overall structure and pattern of the poem to see where the refrain went.)  C also struggled more with the acrostic poem than she needed to.  I went over to give her guidance but she was insistent on doing the acrostic poem ‘properly’ i.e. not intersecting words anywhere on the template but only using the letters of Ma Trousse as the start of her own words.  This made the poem much more complex than it needed to be.

Helen H’s reflection focused on how she might have supported the ‘thinking’ skills which some found tough and you can see her experienced mind ticking over and preparing her teaching strategies for ‘next time.’ To be the best teacher that we can be needs us to develop a mind-set of critical self-evaluation and support for each other with peer feedback-lesson study is a perfect vehicle for this approach to be encouraged in a non-judgmental fashion.

Helen informed me that her follow-up to check learning retention has begun;

“I actually really enjoyed putting a poem into my scheme of learning and this lesson study has encouraged me to think of doing more literature based lessons.  Some of the students asked for more on the bottom of the surveys they completed.

I have written some follow on questions to accompany this lessons to see if the class have retained the vocab in their long term memory.  See attached file [below].  I will get them to answer the questions in class and will feed back to you the responses.”

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I was pleased to see the TDT, who support NTEN lesson study becoming involved in a new CPD expert group aiming to share the most effective methods of professional development for teachers [and I hope all staff]. The Teaching School’s research and development network, mentioned earlier in the blog re great pedagogy, have also shared their findings re CPD based on the views of some forward thinking schools. I would argue that lesson study and our other collaborative CPD are at different stages in developing each and every one of these key messages. We aren’t there yet but I think that we have our ‘end in mind!’

Key messages about great professional development

Think about the pupils’ needs and the impact you want to have

  1. Great professional development starts ‘with the end in mind’ and is specific about the relationship between pupils’ learning needs and teachers’ beliefs, behaviours and practices.
  2. Starting with the end in mind also provides a clear structure for the professional development and its impact on teacher practices and outcomes for pupils.
  3. Effective professional development requires teachers to be forensically clear about their starting points in order to be able to evaluate impact – but to also be prepared for unexpected outcomes.
  4. Great professional development is rooted in the classroom and starts with an issue that is relevant for teachers and their pupils.
  5. Taking serious account of pupil voice helps teachers to genuinely understand the impact of new interventions / practices as a result of their professional learning.
  6. Enabling teachers to focus on the difference they want to make for their pupils is highly motivating and effective professional development.

Help colleagues to think seriously and differently about their practice

  1. Effective professional development requires teachers to challenge their existing practice and make connections between how they teach and how pupils learn.
  2. Great professional development requires teachers to truly look at their own practice and pre-conceptions about what they think students understand and what they actually do understand.
  3. The ‘conditions for challenge’ need to be in place e.g. trust, honesty and time for deep conversations.

Provide opportunities for colleagues to engage in deep collaborative learning

  1. Mentoring and coaching can be powerful when personalised, developmental and undertaken over time.
  2. Providing sufficient time for deep, high quality talk between teachers is beneficial for professional relationships and leads to deep learning.
  3. Working, planning, sharing and collaborating with colleagues is stimulating and enables teachers to engage in critical thinking about lessons and learning.

Ensure access to knowledge and skills from inside and outside

  1. Use internal and external expertise to maintain drive and momentum and provide support at different stages, as well as build new expertise and leadership.
  2. Co-create knowledge by bringing together knowledge from practice and knowledge from research.

Use collaborative enquiry to stimulate professional learning – but not as a quick fix

  1. Incorporate collaborative enquiry into professional development as a long term approach. It is not a ‘quick fix’ – it requires persistence.

Facilitate the practicalities to encourage a learning culture

  1. Make sure that senior leaders provide necessary conditions for effective professional development to take place e.g. Time, resources, to facilitate an open classroom culture.

I included 3 NQT views on lesson study and their CPD a previous blog and this time conclude with Helen Forest’s views-just check how many of the ‘key messages’ she mentions without realising it!

Q1 Why did you want to become involved in lesson study-I didn’t twist arms [on this occasion!]-what did you hope to get out of it?

I saw it as a good opportunity to work with someone else in my department and to gain more strategies about MFL teaching. Helen is an experienced teacher so I was grateful for the opportunity to observe two of her lessons and in turn improve my own teaching. We chose to do a lesson based on the new curriculum changes which are almost upon us. It gave us the opportunity to see what worked and what didn’t. It helped us to plan how to make Spanish/French poetry accessible for Year 7 pupils, who themselves have a limited vocabulary.

Q2 Has it fulfilled your expectations? What have been the main benefits?

The main benefits have been able to plan a lesson together, to share ideas and to learn from each other. It also means that when the new curriculum changes do come in both myself and Helen will be able to bring something to our department’s “ideas table” of how to go about it. It makes the, what at first seemed a very daunting task, easier to approach and plan for.

Q3 What are the drawbacks/concerns/pitfalls-any suggestions for changing the process/advice to others?

I don’t think there were any drawbacks. It was a great opportunity to work with a colleague and in fact therefore I thought it reduced to typical observation workload and stress of planning it all and coming up with the ideas. Two heads are definitely better than one. Because it is a lesson study and the highlighted pupils’ reactions are being watched, it made me feel like I wasn’t being observed, therefore reducing the standard observation anxiety.

Q4 It has only been a short study so far and you can continue in summer-where will you take it next? Explain your thinking and reasoning behind your decision and then tell me your ideas on how will you measure the impact on student learning?

The next place to go would be exploring different aspects of literature (e.g. short stories) and how to fit them into our topic areas. The poems that we picked were quite short and therefore could be studied in one lesson. It would be interesting to see, over a longer period of time, whether studying more literature improved the GCSE Reading paper scores for pupils, or just their foreign language reading skills in general. Vocabulary tests and their scores would be interesting to see if they can recall more words after a literature lesson than after a ‘normal’ language lesson.

Q5 It is very early days BUT CPD is only of any use if it directly has a measurable impact on learning-have you been able to use what you have developed already to make a measureable impact on student learning [a slight marginal gain perhaps!] with 1] your lesson study, 2] Your CPD so far

As a result of lesson observations the department is now using the dots scheme. Something which after using it for several months, I would like to adapt slightly to make it more pupil-friendly and to make it a more structured starter. The NQT CPD has been fantastic and what we have asked for has been covered. The peer-assessment for lower ability pupil’s session was especially useful. I feel that I support them much better now when giving feedback to their peers and learnt not to worry about the occasional lack of written feedback and that oral feedback is okay.

Q6 What else can we do to help your development at MCHS? I hate the statistics about teachers leaving the profession before they have taught for 5 years-be honest and tell me what have we done that works well for you, makes you feel valued, supported, developed etc. and what have you found doesn’t work or we need to re-think. You all tweet now and share your ideas [thank you!] and see ideas from all over the world-tell me some you’ve spotted that we should do to support NQTs.

I feel I have been extremely well supported within my department, by SLT and through the group of NQTs and within our regular NQT meetings. It’s the simple things like arranging for Ian or Sophie to support my Friday afternoon lessons with Year 11 when I had first started in September and they were hard work. Or when Alison stops me in the corridor to check how it is going with Year 11 and to talk about the new dot marking strategy. The NQT CPD has been useful to learn ideas and strategies from the member of staff delivering the information but also to share ideas amongst the other NQTs. The amount of time within departments during Tuesday’s meeting time has also been useful. It has helped me to become a bigger part of the department and allows us share ideas, for example the marking FOCUS meeting that we all participated in. The weekly “check-in” meetings with Mark and Bronagh have been great, just to check I’m doing the right thing or to raise any concerns or queries that I may have

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shuffle Your Sums! Growing Mathematical Mind-Sets.

Jen our subject leader for maths, sent me some pictures of her latest growth mind set ideas that she has been trialling with 3 of her classes. I was intrigued to find out more not just because  I’m keen to see how far GM is being embedded in our classrooms [and staffroom] but because maths was one of my weaker subjects at school and I’m fascinated to see the strategies my colleagues use to support mathematicians like me! Our maths faculty have been changing their pedagogical approaches quite rapidly over the last year in preparation for the challenges the new G.C.S.E. will bring [if it ever actually happens] with its emphasis on confidence, fluency, problem solving and reasoning. Some of our learners however, do find some of the problem solving style of questions tough and aren’t quite as resilient in their pursuit of mathematical glory as they might be. Jen has been working on supporting a more resilient approach beginning in year 8.

I mentioned her work and initial thoughts in a previous blog

“Jen, our subject leader for maths, sees a natural relationship between the teaching of maths and GM, especially as the curriculum/G.C.S.E. requirements are changing. In between the Learning Walk interviews she asked me to drop in on 2 different maths lessons where she was introducing new GM ideas and was saying that the year 10 students found it hard to think ‘YET’-when they are finding a topic hard they shout “I can’t do it” and they know the “YET” bit is coming but getting there seems a long way off! I suggested that she needs to help them to think about getting to YET by trying to consider different possible strategies-we have to teach them, and model,  how to think strategically when they get stuck-they can’t just tough it out and come up with something. Thinking of the mantra 3BME or similar, I suggested [being in maths!] a formula for them to consider of 3BY-3 ideas to try to get to YET-see how it goes!”

She has worked hard to encourage her most recalcitrant students to try to avoid not doing anything at all other than giving up in their First Attempt At Learning by offering hints after they have tried at least something with their FAIL. The skills to ‘grow’ your maths mind set need to be taught and nurtured-the students don’t just appear ready, willing and able to accept failure or to think of different coping strategies-and nor do we. The hints given have allowed the students to see Miss model mathematical thinking and the opportunity to bridge the gap between their FAIL and Second Attempt At Learning.

You can see the problem set below for low/middle ability year 9 students.

01 02

 

In their first attempts the student in the first photo worked out the number of flags but not the area of the triangle.

Hints are provided and the student moves on to their SAIL. If they get their FAIL correct, I suggested being given a NAIL-new attempt at learning so we could shout NAILed it-Jen is sleeping on selling that to her colleagues!

03 04

The year 8 students shared their FAILS with each other as they attempted a question devised by Clair.

05

Joe struggled with his FAIL, received some handy hints and got SAILing.

06

07 08

Jimmy’s FAIL could read the Venn but didn’t add any details.

Hints were given and the SAIL followed.

09 10

The hints may be in the form of reminding the students what they know already or reminding them of ‘stuck’ strategies they’ve used before. Sometimes Jen just re-emphasises the question to help the students re-read and think again-just as we encourage in their exams. Building up their confidence to cope with the ‘YET’ aspect of growth mind-set, which some of our younger students raised as a concern on our learning walk, http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=1712 will, I feel, be well worth the patient effort on our behalf. Jen filmed a couple of the lessons with IRIS and the faculty will be able to see the reaction of some of the students who struggled at first.

Beth has also been trialling the use of ‘hints’ and I went into her lesson to see the year 9 class working on advice a rugby coach might give based on maths to make a successful kick over the posts. You can see the FAILs, SAILs and final attempt in their books-Miss gave hints between each attempt. The use of coloured pens indicates when the students tackle their ‘challenge’ questions-these are rewarded with Growth Mind Set Star school bulletin nominations and postcards home.

11 12

It’s too early to find concrete data evidence to make comments about the impact of the idea. Jen’s year 10 class did achieve decent grades in last week’s internal exam but this may be due to other factors, although individual student success stories are beginning to build. Zoe told me that her very low ability year 11 class had responded well and they seemed to see the hints as giving them the chance to start afresh, rather than being simply wrong. If the approach can build their confidence and make them stop and think-“where have I met this problem before” rather than giving up-brilliant for their maths exam and a good lesson for life.

Being resilient and overcoming obstacles isn’t just an aspect of Meols Cop GM for students-the maths curriculum changes expect a lot of our teachers too. As teachers we sometimes think that our students will never be able to tackle tougher questions and I’m sure that the original consensus amongst the faculty might have been “OMG some of our kids will never cope with this problem solving stuff!” Always expecting excellence of your learning or teaching can be difficult when changes may make you less certain of your ability, skills and knowledge. The faculty are working extremely hard to support and encourage each other –I thanked them this morning but as mathematicians they want to see the data that will prove their ideas are working [or not] I also know that they are on their 3rd version of our new assessment system-it would be easy to run with their first idea but they want the system to work and are prepared to trial, possibly fail, adapt and go again until they get it where they know it will work best to support learning. It would be remiss of me not to also mention that in response to the curriculum changes, Jen had asked her colleagues to change their approach to the year 9 curriculum half-way through the year-faculty growth mind-set in action-thank you!

When schools, faculties or individual teachers have to take on change and introduce new ideas the levels of stress can have a negative effect on performance. All of our teachers work hard, but being asked to work or consider working in different ways can initially increase work load and anxiety and needs the support and encouragement of others from our middle and senior leaders. Jen is a young leader who began with us as an NQT and took on the role of subject leader in her 4th year of teaching. She probably didn’t expect that to happen so quickly, although as senior leaders we should always be looking for, and developing potential leaders, sometimes situations arise and unexpected leadership is thrust upon people! Jen was telling me that she wants to survey her faculty with a NPQML style 360 degrees questionnaire to get honest answers re her leadership and the path the faculty are moving along. Thriving on feedback is a brave move but ultimately we must ask our students, parents and colleagues their opinions and encourage honest FISH feedback across Meols Cop.

The role of middle leadership is absolutely crucial in defining and shaping the current and future success of our school and we have to get it right. I can remember when I first took on leadership roles and struggling to deal with the usual issues of awkward people often older and more experienced than me, trying to introduce much needed change, trying to monitor, sorting out behaviour for other classes whilst teaching a full timetable myself and being accountable for my own results and the humanities faculty. The professional expectations required of a middle leader are much greater now and the addition of seconds in faculty are a great help. Clair and Jen work well as a duo, each with different strengths and interests and the mixture of experience and youth in the faculty supports and excites the two leaders.

We tell the students to work hard and practice hard to develop their mind set and become better learners and during my conversation with Jen it became apparent that she too was purposefully practising her own teaching skills to try to deal with an issue that we have been discussing across the school-how do we get the students to learn effectively/make their learning stick?

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https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/cogsci/

The crucial cognitive structures of the mind are working memory, a bottleneck that is fixed, limited and easily overloaded, and long-term memory, a storehouse that is almost unlimited. If nothing has changed in long-term memory, nothing has been learned. Our teaching should minimise the overload of students’ working memories and maximise the retention in their long-term memories

@joe_kirby’s use of Willingham’s question should be posed in all of our classrooms and Jen wanted to find out more about how she could maximise retention in her math’s student’s long term memories.

Leon, our AHT, had sat down with Jen to discuss potential new approaches needed in the teaching of maths and sent her an American piece of research.

Shuffling Maths Problems

I know she has read it because I saw her notes! Along the same lines he shared this with Carmel [science subject leader]

Improving Students Learning

I had already shared an example of revision ideas building on quizzing and returning to older topics from an English school https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/supporting-learning-through-effective-revision-techniques/ by @shaun_allison with our staff and prepared a year 11 assembly to push the interleaving theme with the students and staff.

Asking our staff to engage with research to inform and improve their practice is relatively easy and pain free when it is very practical in nature [lesson study] and they can see immediate impact. Engaging with deeper research produced by non-teacher university colleagues can honestly be a tad hit and miss! Much as I try to provide CPD time, to really engage with some of the more detailed research does impinge on own time but the ideas gleaned and potential classroom impact can make it so worthwhile. You have to be quite resilient to cut through the language researchers use to seek the appropriate ideas that we could possibly use to help us get round learning barriers effecting our student’s learning. Jen has already borrowed ideas and began to formulate an approach of spacing out student learning by revisiting older topics to reinforce ‘stickablity’ of learning. 5 a day is a simple version already in use and proven to work-this new scheme that Jen is proposing trialling with control groups involved in year 9 and using lesson study to plan collaboratively, would see ‘quizzes’ on old topics included at the end of every modular test-not necessarily re teaching-just re-quizzing. If I have got it right it may work like this;

Topic 1 Topic 2 Topic 3 Topic 4 Topic 5
Assessmenttest on content Assessmenttest on T2 content

Quiz on T1

Assessment teston T3 content

Quiz on T1/2

Assessment test on content of T4Quiz on T1/2/3/ Assessment test on content of T5Quiz on T1/2/3/4

The 5 a day approach would continue each lesson to revisit both old and new learning. Our student voice tells us that they like this approach and that it helps them memorise their learning. By ‘shuffling’ the topics Jen hopes to see further improvements in the final G.C.S.E. grades and together with the faculty approach to growth mind-set, the students who have struggled should begin to feel far more confident in approaching the harder questions they face [previously perhaps for the first time in a school year] and have a change of learning attitude. I’ll feedback on the impact of the initiative on all students and different cohorts when it has had plenty of time to embed.

As you can see in the additional section below, it’s a piece of in-house and external research we need to follow carefully. A nice post I read last night shared the possibilities of spaced learning-from @Eddie Kayshun http://t.co/bwbkGxCgwo explains his approach to spacing learning in lessons and has other links to research information. Mike Bell’s Evidence Based Teaching Network yesterday put forward spaced learning in their ‘worth trying’ section. I’m not an expert on neuroscience but experience and gut feeling tells me there may be something in it!

There is a lot of evidence that practice is absolutely necessary to form long-term memories.  It’s entirely possible for a student to appear to have learned in the lesson – but to know nothing about it next week.  This is because the brain-cells have reset to zero because the pathway has not been exercised in time.

In the research there is a distinction between ‘massed-practice’ which happens at the end of the topic (after several lessons) and ‘spaced practice’ which happens at regular intervals after the first learning.  The classroom evidence is backed-up by the neuroscience – spaced practice is much more effective (ES 0.7 – high)

BEYOND MATHS-spreading news of the same issue

We have discussed current ideas that I had gathered at our subject leaders meeting and via our regular emailing of great ideas shared by other schools and educationalists on twitter. This opens up another potential blog of how social media can support CPD-if we are to be the best teachers/school that we can be-we need to bring the best possible practice and research into our school so we can take what is appropriate for our learners and teachers and adapt it for our use. Busy teachers and middle leaders don’t always have the time for this-it should be someone’s role-it isn’t acceptable for us to wait until we go on a course or a local pow-wow to bring the best local, national and international ideas into MCHS. Nor is it acceptable to ever be complacent and rest on our progress measures/Ofsted laurels-as a school we should have the mind-set of being inspired by the success of others. There are lots of like-minded people who will help and openly share their ideas with other schools. Before our meeting I read a super blog by Rachael Edgar @Dubai_Teachmeet in which she had collated her own work and other schools ideas on assessment and making learning stick

http://dubai-teachmeet.com/2015/02/22/assessment-after-levels-dont-reinvent-the-wheel-just-steal-the-hubcaps/

I shared some of her summaries of ‘making it stick’ and discussed Belmont Community School’s English scheme of learning which modelled interleaving and Swindon Academies assessment and teaching ideas to encourage the retention of learning. Our scientists immediately asked me if I knew of a similar approach in science and so I tweeted Dan Brinton @dan_brinton and David Didau @learningspy who had worked on Belmont’s example and Dan put me in touch with their science leader @Julie Ryder2. Julie kindly agreed to send us her scheme of learning which includes interleaving ideas. No questions asked, just generosity of spirit. @davidfawcett27 , having seen my tweet request then sent us his PE scheme of learning so one quick message resulted in quality school to school support. For wonderful collations of thoughts, research and practical school responses to GM and making learning stick, Ruth Powley-@powley_R, is the lady I turn to and borrow from.

http://www.lovelearningideas.com/blog-archive/2015/1/24/growing-gritty-learners

https://ruth-powley.squarespace.com/blog-archive/2015/2/27/velcro-learners

Face to face visits are equally thought provoking and fruitful ones provide the very best professional development. Eyes can be well and truly opened at what is happening elsewhere and needs to be happening here! Recent visitors have included South Wirral, Range, Holy Family, St Peters and St Pauls, St Augustines and KGV and we are really grateful to Wakefield City Academy for allowing in Hannah and Jen and for South Wirral [Tim, Sophie, Allan] on the 27th, Leon to Whalley Range on the same day, Wellington School for Carmel/Hannah, Flixton GS [Sam] and other arrangement talks have been opened with Lytham, Holmfirth, Crossley Heath and Poynton.

Despite the gloom that surrounds much of education, many teachers are trying to re-claim their profession and their CPD and as a consequence, shifting their own practice based on research and evidence, in a way I haven’t experienced before in my many years of teaching and leading. These are exciting times for those willing to develop their own mind set and engage. As leaders we have to set the right example by being prepared to model the traits of GM openly and explicitly-if we don’t, why should others follow?