Monday, 27 May 2019

My High Five

Ben Gordon on Twitter suggested this idea, and started off with his brilliant "Teach Innovate Reflect" blog. I am going to use the same format that Ben suggested, which can be seen below:


  • What you learnt
  • What was the source
  • Implications on your practice
I really love the idea of educators sharing a few key ideas from their professional learning. Sometimes it can seem really hard just to filter all of the great practice that comes across your timeline. This seems to me to be a great way of giving others a bitesize of the things that have made the biggest impact on them. So here are my 5 main things I have learnt this year:

1) That there are three levels of curriculum planning

What I learnt: The difference between the intended, implemented and enacted curriculum.

Source: Bauersfeld 1979, via Dylan Wiliam's paper on principled curriculum design.

Implications on my practice: I guess this really helped frame many of our conversations in department, particularly around developing material for our new scheme. What was really useful is having a language to discuss the separation between what we plan, what we teach and what kids learn. I wrote more about it in my article for TES here.

2) About the use of blocked practice

What I learnt: That blocked practice is useful in early concept development

Source: I honestly cannot remember

Implications on my practice: First of all, I am sure I am not the only person that reads/hears things, and has near perfect recall of what they read/heard but cannot at all remember where? But anyway, we have heard a lot in the last year or two about the importance of interleaved practice. What emerged from somewhere recently (although like I say I cannot say where) is the idea that when pupils are first developing a new idea, or applying it in a new way, that they need time to just focus on that idea. Later on, interleaved practice is really helpful in promoting far transfer, but this does need to wait otherwise the new concept/application becomes confused. In terms of my practice, this basically means we do a lot of back and forth stuff in class around the main idea, and it is only when the more independent work starts that interleaved practice comes in.

3) The best ways to use examples

What I learnt: How much backwards fading of examples improves learning.

Source: It wasn't the first place I read/heard it (again can't remember where that was), but most recently on Craig Barton's podcast with Mark McCourt.

Implications on my practice: Quite obvious really, I plan example sets rather than two or three full examples, and within those sets I gradually reduce the support until pupils can work through a few from beginning to end.

4) Some important things about Direct Instruction programmes

What I learnt: That DI programmes need to be under 15 pupils and that over 80% of each hour revisiting rather than teaching new material.

Source: Chloe Sanders (@Chloe_jo) courtesy of the @DITrainingHub at St Martins Catholic School, Stoke Golding.

Implication on my practice: We are trialling a small group intervention using Connecting Maths Concepts with a possible view to expand this a little next year. As part of our preparation for this I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit St Martins and see DI in action with the amazing Chloe Sanders. It was in discussion with Chloe that I found about these important rules for DI programmes. Admittedly we were going to use the same programmes, but just getting it straight early on, I think, has helped with the implementation and will help it have more impact when we choose to use it.

5) How great Frayer models are

What I learnt: That Frayer models exist, and how great they are for capturing mathematical concepts.

Source: Jo Gledhill (@JoLocke1) at #mathsconf18.

Implication on my practice: I have been openly critical of the use of knowledge organisers for mathematics teaching. Kris Boulton summed up a lot of the problems with them in his blog. However, when Jo showed a Frayer model (like the one below), I couldn't believe I had never seen them before. I immediately saw how useful they could be for summarising ideas in maths. Over this summer I am going to write them into our new scheme, although I do need to give a little more thought as to how.

Maybe one of these things is a new thing for you. Whether it is or it isn't, I hope you will consider sharing the 5 things you have learned this year, so others have the opportunity to learn from you (and make sure you tag me in!)

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