Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Research for Learning (RfL) - Part 1

Image courtesy of Dragonfly Training

This was the CPD course that I won at #TMLondonBus and was of great excitement for me as its the kind of course I would never normally get the opportunity to attend. Due to 'rarely cover', the majority of CPD courses at my school can only be exam board courses. However as this prize was non-transferable, I got to go!

Research in education is big, it is hard to ignore the impact of conferences such ResearchEd, Ben Goldace's work with the DfE, 'Building Evidence Into Education' as well as the impact of John Hattie's Visible Learning and The Sutton Trust/Education Endowment Foundation's Toolkit.

This course was a teaching and learning day that focused on what was labelled 'The Magnificent 7'. These are the seven most powerful ‘impactful’ interventions to improve learning based on Hattie and the EEF Toolkit combined.

The background to this is that there has been a shift from the 1970's uninformed free practice, to a National Curriculum in 1998 that introduced uninformed prescription, before in 1997 there began informed prescription. Potentially (and hopefully!) there will now be a move to a future of informed professionalsim.

Watch the course promo video

The Magnificent 7

Image courtesy of Paperblog

The terminology was not lost on me, as a big Western fan. The film's tagline, "They fought like seven hundred" indicating their effectiveness and impact. The Magnificent 7 here were:

1) Piagetian Programs
2) Direct Instruction
3) Collaborative Learning
4) Peer Tutoring
5) Digital Technology
6) Metacognition
7) Feedback

1) Piagetian Programs
Hattie put this at 2/138 so it is worth investigating! SOLO taxonomy was touted as being a bridge between Piaget and practice/pedagogy. It gives a clear hierarchy of learning, including differentiation and can help inform lesson objectives.

Higher Res <here>

For the majority of lessons, it was suggested you need one multi-structural and one relational verb in the objective. Additionally this will help differentiate lesson objectives:
  • Multi-Structural - All
  • Relational - Most
  • Extended Extract - Some

These SOLO terms are from a taxonomy that is lesser used than Bloom's, but as many are now suggesting that as they are linked to Piaget, it is quite possible better. The teacher sees what level they are at, and then actively pushes it on. Students recognise the associated shape and realise they need to move forward:

See <here> for more on this

To try the relational stage we used hexagons in a short exercise. This is the point from where students make progress in bringing together ideas... where they explain and analyse. Justifying the positioning of the hexagons allows this thinking to take place.

This has encouraged me to think about using SOLO in my lessons. I know Sam Betts has been using in A-Level RE and I will revisit some of his resources. We worked together on a grid (see <here>) for students to map their progress and he added SOLO logos. I took them off as I hadn't used this approach before but now think I may readd! A friend of mine, Andy Knill, is passionate about SOLO and runs the GlobalSOLO network which may also be of use.

I think it may also work very well as a consolidation, revision technique. It's important the students know the facts, but often it is then joining them up (relational) and hypothesize (extended abstract). I also don't think this is necessarily changing my teaching, but thinking with greater clarity about where I am headed and how I can help my students realise that too. For any topic, ideally they would get to the 'extended abstract' stage... and if they simply stayed at the prestructual we'd all be in trouble!

2) Direct Instruction
This was called 'the meat and potatoes', or the basis of most of our lessons! The 7 steps to this are as follows:

Step 1 - Decide Topic & Objective
Step 2 - Provide Input (Video/Text)
Step 3 - Give 3 bullet points of what happened on mini-white boards - pupils reflect/respond to the objective on the white board - the teacher gets feedback from this
Step 4 - Decision (based on the feedback) - 3 options -> push on, identify some that need extra support or reteach
Step 5 - Decide a task to meet that objective directly - e.g. write a paragraph with success criteria (see below)
Step 6 - Marking - Teacher, pupil to pupil
Step 7 - Practise, practise, practise - input -> success criteria -> paragraph -> mark -> feedback -> repeat/practise!

Possible criteria for a quality paragraph

A- Punctuation - capitals, full stops etc.
B- 1 complete idea
C- Necessary detail - Who/What/When/Where
D- Discourse markers i.e. ‘furthermore’
E- Topic sentence

This was a really handy reminder of the basics and what they need to be. It's also 4/138 from Hattie, and if done well can produce regular, good solid lessons. It is important to factor in Step 4 (the most important step I think) and be flexible within lessons. I know I am going to ensure more success criteria are given even for shorter class-based activities and not just assessments.

Part 2: <here>

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