A year ago we changed the way we offered staff development by launching an Enquiry Hub model. The thinking behind this project was to open up the thinking in our school beyond the questions that we usually pose our teachers and let them set the agenda for their learning. This was the most exciting thing about the whole venture: unlike traditional CPD, we weren’t sure what the answers would be, or even what questions would be asked.
Enquiry question: ‘Which tools and strategies, both teacher-led and independent, effectively support and engage KS4 learners in climbing out of the “learning pit”?’
My enquiry question was built from extensive academic research that discuss the dangers of pitching lessons too low – essentially ‘spoon-feeding’ information to pupils – in the belief that this is ‘learning’. An intriguing opposition to this form of teaching is James Nottingham’s concept of the “learning pit”; in short, that pupils must be cognitively challenged, leading to confusion, but with the right tools, strategies and support, they “climb out of the learning pit”, and consequently have a fuller understanding of the concept. In my reading, I have discovered that this teaching strategy is commonly applied to primary teaching and mathematics, but there is little evidence of its application in Modern Language teaching. Could it be applied effectively to MFL teaching? Continue Reading
Time effective strategies to make sure that feedback always leads to learning
I ran an inset today with a colleague about giving ‘Feedback with Impact’. We deliberately avoided the word ‘marking’ because there are so many ways to communicate with pupils about their learning. We wanted to focus on ‘Impact’ because feedback is only worthwhile if it leads to learning. Continue Reading
“Memory is the residue of thought.”–Daniel Willingham
When considering the factors leading to pupil progress, it is tempting to over complicate the issue. Whilst teaching is doubtless a complex art (or is it a science?), can learning really be attributed to one crucial variable: the amount of time that pupils spend ‘thinking hard’? Continue Reading
As human beings we are bombarded with messages that shape our understanding of our environment on a daily basis. As a member of staff at Kennet School we can associate a pupil with belonging to a particular house in a split second, just by a colour. In our home life, through our exposure to media advertising, it is possible to associate a single letter from a logo to a particular brand or product. In an effort to increase sales, companies invest millions of pounds in product placement to get their new accessory to be associated with a high profile film. With Christmas around the corner, we associate Santa Claus as being a plump man with rosy cheeks and a bushy white beard. The key to all of these examples is the association. We see something and we associate it with something else. It is a natural part of human behaviour; however these associations can also shape our beliefs in either a positive or negative way.
At our inset day on 23rd October I spoke about each of us creating a professional development question to provide a framework for our thinking and development over the coming months (in one defined area at least). The rationale behind this is to try and make our CPD more effective by bringing it into the classroom and therefore closer to our daily practice.
Kennet Festival of Learning
Last week we hosted a fantastic inset event which we named ‘The Kennet Festival of Learning’. The aim was to share ideas and discuss the topics which matter most to us as a school. We chose three key priorities—literacy, assessment and mindset—which were the focus for the seminars and keynote talks throughout the day.
The quality of the different morning sessions on offer was excellent and I am hugely grateful to those who contributed their ideas and shared their hard work. Whilst the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, the impact was also evident in the way these ideas spilled over into conversations during coffee and lunch.