Month: December 2015

Feedback – how are you using it?

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During feedback for a recent observation, my observer and I discussed (in true coaching form) the way in which students use feedback in my lessons. Although students in my classroom do make good use of DIRT/green pen marking and other such AfL techniques, the point was that after an activity, what are students doing with the information that they  got 6/10 in a listening test, for example? How helpful is that information to me but most importantly to them? I have always just thought that because most of the class got most of the answers correct then it is fine to move on as ‘they’ve more or less got it’.But…what are they doing with the three or four answers that were incorrect? How are they closing that gap?

In response to this, I have come up with the following vocabulary sheet. This is specific to one situation but can be adapted; I think it would work well for listening activities.

How it is used:

  • Students fill in the test from English to TL, in silence without help.
  • If students finish before the allotted time, they can go through their test with a green pen and fill in the gaps using their books.
  • When students finish mark in green pen (so that they can see visually the words that the knew and those that they didn’t).
  • Ask students to complete a SMART target at the bottom that will be used as part of their homework e.g. “I will create a Quizlet.com set of flash cards that includes the green words from my test and revise them as part of my homework by the next lesson”.
  • N.B. I have included a list of vocabulary from throughout the whole topic which reinforces the spiral nature of learning.

Variations:

  • Include the common unknown words into your lesson planning.
  • Customise a test for each student on their unknown words in the next lesson.
  • Create a whole class resource (e.g. Quizlet) that students could use for homework and upload it to Firefly).
  • Ask students to write their words into a glossary in the back of the book, which they could use to ‘look, say, cover, write and repeat’.
  • Create a bank of common misconceptions that occur and use this to inform your scheme of work.

Below is the first version that I have created, please feel free to give feedback where you think it is appropriate e.g. examples of SMART style targets to guide students.

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Download a blank copy Vocab Evaluation Sheet. Please feel free to adapt and change it.

 

Student character – do students have a stake in the ‘how’ of their own learning process?

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It has been a long held view in my school that learning is a process in which students take part; it is not something that is done to them. Not only should students know what they are learning and why they are learning it, but  how they are learning. Once they are able to hold a stake in this discussion, they are then able learn ‘it’ better.

Essentially, students should be able to self-regulate and plan accordingly. They know best their process of learning and if they are finding a task ‘too difficult’, and then what their natural response is to this situation (e.g. poor behaviour, avoidance or procrastiantion to name but a few responses). Our task is to help students to intervene at this point, so that they manage their own effort levels and approach through meta cognitive strategies. There a number of ways in which students can do this and in future posts I will share some (most of which I have ripped off and adapted from other sources, and will credit accordingly where possible).

Some of our students work hard, very hard, but there is always a way to improve, to work harder and to challenge themselves. Particular texts that deal with this concept are Phil Beadle’s ‘The Book of Plenary‘ (the latter section which talks about meta-cognitive strategies students can use to plan their won learning) and the ‘Growth Mindset Pocketbook‘ by Barry Hymer. The former for its ideas that students should plan for how they learn i.e. if they are to go off task, why is this and what is their plan to be back on task. The latter as I feel that all far too often students are not resilient to failure and miss the opportunity to turn a fail into a First Attempt in Learning.

I feel that, from what I have observed, that often students lack independence and qualities such as grit and resilience; as soon as something is too hard or challenging, that they resort to off task behaviour and then there is lost learning time. There is a host of material which covers this very concept; from a recent Educators Podcast (click here) about the KIPP school in the USA, which teaches character (grit, determination, empathy etc) to Angela Duckworth’s Ted talk “The key to success? Grit” (click here).

In summary, I am starting to drip feed in to my lessons more resources which will allow students the opportunity to manage and regulate their own learning, which in turn will give them the opportunity to develop those key characteristics of grit: growth, resilience, integrity and tenacity. I will make these resources available for all to use, reinvent or ignore and please do feel free to leave any feedback in how they could be work even better!

In this post, I will start with the Effort Level Regulation Sheet that I have produced for KS3 Spanish lessons, which was developed from something which a colleague handed to me (which in turn means it was taken from somewhere else and I therefore do in no way present this resource as entirely my own work). The idea is that they read the effort descriptors and decide at which level they currently are. They write a next step into the box, to which I have responded in a red pen to make sure that targets set are SMART as well as to maintain a student-teacher dialogue. We will then review this at a later date (I did it at the beginning of this half term and will revisit it just before the Christmas holidays to see if students feel there has been a shift in their effort levels).  Click Effort Level Reflection Sheet Spanish to download.

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