Learning Walk – March 2016 – Years 7-9
1. We have added an extra growth mind-set grade to the progress reports this year. What do you need to work on in this subject to achieve GOLD in this area?
Students across KS3 were confident in their understanding of growth mindset and could both talk and write about what they thought growth mindset meant in the subjects they had come from. For example, in PE students referred to leadership and teamwork as well as persevering with skills they found difficult. A number of students talked about the role of motivation in their growth mindset and how it was easier to be resilient in subjects that they enjoyed. Many students discussed the way in which their teachers are constantly challenging them to improve and putting them in situations that take them out of their comfort zone. In Maths Year 8 students talked about challenging themselves with problem solving questions and learning from mistakes. Some students also commented on the fact that they needed to use other resources to support their progress before instantly going to their teacher.
Many students also commented on the need to “aim high” and to “ask for feedback” from their teacher so they know how to improve. In Spanish students referenced the fact that they need to practice their weakest of the four areas; speaking, reading, listening and writing so that they come out of their comfort zone as well as ensuring that they spend quality time revising their vocabulary for the weekly recall tests. In English some students made references to the way they approach tasks; “I need to work on the way I think about the work, instead of going in and thinking I can’t do this I should go in and think I might struggle but I should still try,” as well as stating that they “should keep calm and not get cross” when they can’t do a task. In DT students were able to recall specific skills they need to work on and not shy away from. For example, “if I am good at isometric drawing I should challenge myself to do it in 2D design.”
For those science students who have been using the iPads they commented on how they find it easier to persevere and show resilience when completing a task on the iPad as further support is readily available and you are able to pick up tasks much more easily at home through the showbie app. They also commented on the immediacy of the feedback which allows them to address mistakes quickly.
Few students could differentiate what a gold growth mindset would look like compared to a silver or a bronze. As this is a new aspect of the reporting system it is something that as a school we need to address and raise the profile of the growth mindset grade to ensure that all students are “going fo gold” with this. In order to address this we need to work on visually raising the profile of the gold growth mindset with posters that can be displayed in classrooms for students to refer to and for teachers to integrate into their lesson delivery. In addition to this there is scope to unpick the characteristics of a gold growth mindset in tutor time.
2. Which bit of the GM criteria do you find the toughest barrier to consistently achieve in this subject? Is there anything your teacher can do to support you?
With regards to barriers the students showed that they could identify the areas that they felt prevented them from always having a growth mindset attitude. At times they were quite specific about the areas within certain subjects, for example in PE they talked about how growth mindset becomes particularly difficult in bad weather! A number of students showed some really maturity in discussing how they find it difficult to always stay positive when they find something challenging. Similarly, several students also commented on how hard it is to “constantly have a desire to conquer the toughest parts of your learning.”
Students across the subjects were able to pinpoint a specific topic or skill that they were struggling with from bearings in Maths to vocabulary in MFL to SPaG in English. There was a real clear sense that they were very aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
Some suggestions that came across in terms of teacher support:
• Challenge time
• Continuing to break down questions into small chunks
• There was even a call for “random tests” to “keep me on my toes”
• Personalised homeworks
• Spelling books for subjects with lots of key terms to remember
• More training in using dictionaries and thesaurus
3. Which areas of literacy do you have the most difficulty with in this subject? Which of your teacher’s literacy strategies have helped you most? Can you provide me with evidence to prove that their help was successful?
Across all responses students referenced focus on the learning of key terms and SPaG as their areas of difficulty. Students all appreciated the way in which their work is tightly marked for SPaG and the codes that are used within subjects. Many students made references to spelling tests for key terms, for example in History and in English and they said that they felt this helped them to focus more on spelling key terms correctly in all work. History students also made reference to the use of stickers for literacy errors so that they know there is a spelling or grammar error within a paragraph and they then have to find this for themselves. Similarly, French students referenced the dot marking as a way for them to pick out their own mistakes.
Strategies that the students liked for helping them with literacy:
• Visual aids to remember key terms
• Repetition of key terms so they “stick”
• Breaking the questions down to unpick what each word means
• The use of mnemonics to break down components of a piece of work, for example ACCESS FM in DT
• Key term bookmarks
• A running glossary within exercise books to add key terms to as they come up
• Highlighting all key terms within a piece of work
• Highlighting command words, names of people and places within an exam question
Literacy is an area we will continue to work on and with three learning hubs focusing on this there are a number of things being trialled. Perhaps a consistent set of codes used across all departments for SPaG could be an area to explore?
4. It is always difficult trying to remember all of the knowledge that you have to for your assessments and exams. Your teachers have been trying lots of different strategies to make your learning stick in your memory. In this subject which tactics have worked best for you-prove it with evidence please
Students were able to identify a wealth of strategies being used that was helping their memory recall and this was evident across all subjects. A selection are listed below:
• 5 a day
• Repetition of key terms
• Personalised homework
• Mini tests –
• Annotating model answers
• STAR questions
• Rally coach
• Mind mapping
• DIDY 5 a day
• Weekly recall tests
• DIRT questions
• 20 word vocab tests
• You tube videos linked to the VLE
• Flash cards
• Re-drafting work
• Revision O’clock