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Challenging Pupils’ Thinking

Challenging Pupils’ Thinking. 3 aspects to today’s session – gathering evidence; sharing ideas and successes; reflecting on practice The Learning Walk What kinds of challenge might we observe? What evidence is readily available to us? What does this tell us about learning?

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Challenging Pupils’ Thinking

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  1. Challenging Pupils’ Thinking • 3 aspects to today’s session– gathering evidence; sharing ideas and successes; reflecting on practice • The Learning Walk • What kinds of challenge might we observe? • What evidence is readily available to us? • What does this tell us about learning? • The St George’s experience • What is going on that is good or great across the group? • What can we learn from each other? • Reflection, challenge and learning • What do we now understand better about learning? • What will we do with this new knowledge and understanding?

  2. The Main Thing The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing • Covey, S. 1989 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

  3. And the main thing is… Learning

  4. Now we are GOOD… • Will the strategies and policies that have enabled us to reach good and improve teaching be sufficient to help us move beyond good and promote learning?

  5. Understanding Learning • The better we understand learning the better able we are to facilitate it in others • Hughes, M. 2006 And the Main Thing is Learning

  6. And what we mean by learning is… • The profession has finally accepted that learning is an active process. Consequently, we find far more pupil activity during lessons than ever before. • The next step in the challenge to enhance learning in the classroom is to convince teachersthat reflection is a key ingredient in the learning process. • We must not let words like meta-cognitiondeter us; we simply need to make thinking conscious by regularly inviting children to consider both what and how they have learned. • The Joe example – What have you learned today? Joe (aged 8): I don’t know what you mean? Well, what I mean is… • The Natural History Museum example…(see photo slide show)

  7. Reflecting on learning • Teachers are always on the lookout for ideas to improve learning in their classroom. It appears some are searching for the Holy Grail - the answer is out there somewhere, if only they could find it. They attend courses, read books and buy products to this end. Yet there are no magic answers, no product or scheme,however well packaged or cleverly labeled, that will miraculously and dramatically improve learning. • Ironically, the more some teachers try to cram in, the more strategies they employ, the more they squeeze out a key ingredient (arguably, the key ingredient) - reflecting on learning. • Maybe reflecting on learning appears too mundane to be significant . Maybe the contrary is true, for when people start talking about meta-cognition there may be some teachers who dismiss it as yet more jargon, or another bit of theory that bears little resemblance to classroom life. • Yet whatever we call it, reflecting on learning - as opposed to reviewing information - is hugely significant. And it needn't be dramatic and overly time consuming. It simply means asking students the questions that will help them dwell on their experiences in a conscious way. If teachers did nothing else but ensure that they consistently asked the questions below as an integral part of the learning process, learning would improve. • What have you learned from this? • How did you reach this conclusion? • How did you go about it? • On reflection, was this the best way to approach it? • Would you do the same thing if you were faced with a similar task tomorrow? • How might this experience help you in a similar situation? • What advice would you give to others facing a similar task? • What do you take away from this experience?

  8. The main thing is learning In your school... • Is there a shared understanding of learning? • If you asked each teacher to write down a definition of the word 'learning', would they all write the same thing? • Are you totally confident that: • all teachers know what learning looks like? • all students know what learning looks like? • all parents know what learning looks like? • Do you have a written definition of the word 'learning' in your teaching and learning policy? • If not, what made you decide you didn't need one? • Is the school aligned - in terms of learning, do all teachers: • pull in the same direction? • pull in similar directions? • pull in different directions ? • How would other members of the institution respond to these questions? • To what extent would answers relate to the whole St George’s Group? • What do you take away from this exercise?

  9. Primary Maths Programmes of Study • 3 elements • 1. Fluency (maths knowledge, rapid recall of facts) • 2. Reasoning (discussing and explaining) • 3. Problem Solving (application of knowledge) • Activity – in pairs, match the 3 elements to the knowing/understanding diagram and look at Bloom’s Taxonomy to identify where the HOTS & LOTS might emerge

  10. Deep and surface learning • What is the difference between knowing and understanding? • How do we know when a student ‘understands’ or makes sense of the knowledge? Look at Bloom’s Taxonomy again

  11. Know what – so what? • Irrespective of differences in age, ability and subject, one general principle holds true: in order to make sense of information you must do more than simply receive and reproduce it - you have to do something to it.

  12. Indicators of learning • Learning - making meaning - is a bit like the wind; we can't see it, only evidence of it. • Because it is personal and goes on inside the head, it is not always easy to spot. Many things indicate that learning might be taking place - but it is not so easy to know for sure. For example, if we glance into a classroom and see children talking to each other it may indicate that learning is taking place - equally, they could be talking about last night's football! • Generating some indicators that learning might be taking place is helpful, not least for the discussions that the process will generate. Such a list might include the following: • Children are explaining something in their own words. Children are asking questions. • Children are making connections. • Children are re-creating (rather than reproducing) information. • Children are justifying their decisions. • Children are explaining their thinking. • Children are talking to each other. • Children are active - doing something with information. • Children are reflecting at a conscious level. • Children are offering analogies and metaphors of their own: Oh I get it - it's a bit like ... • Children are re-drafting, revising, re-thinking and so on. • Children are frowning (the penny is stuck) ...and then • smiling (as the penny drops).

  13. Things to do with information • David Perkins ' understanding performances (page 137) are a useful starting point. Perkins argues that the ability to do certain things with information indicates a movement from knowing to understanding. This ability, however, is more than just evidence that a student understands , as the process of demonstrating understanding will simultaneously help to develop it. Thus the list of understanding performances suggested on page 137 becomes a handy guide for effective activities to foster learning in the classroom. For example, while the ability to compare and contrast information indicates understanding, engaging students in the process helps to deepen it. • There are any number of things that you can do to information, and the precise nature of the strategies that are used in the classroom depends on variables such as age, current level of understanding and the nature of the subject area. However, one general principle holds true : in order to make sense of information you must do more than simply receive and reproduce it - you have to do something to it. • For example, you can: • reduce it • change it • assemble it • search for it • connect it • arrange it • enlarge it • simplify it • classify it • compare it • contrast it • de-construct • it apply it • prioritise it . . . • And so on. These actions - which can be used in combination - can be incorporated into concrete strategies, adapted to suit the particular circumstances of the students and subject area involved. • Reflect • Consider the list above. • What would you wish to add to it? • To what extent does the list reflect practice in your classroom?

  14. Being Outstanding • Read the extract from David Bell and • The handout ‘An almost indefinable quality’ about the teacher, Sarah. • Use the reflective questions from the previous slide/handout to respond to these pieces. • Discuss the other handouts that consider great teaching and learning and reflect on your practice and that of your teams. • Is there evidence of this kind of practice at your school? How and when do you see it, share it, implement it?

  15. There is an almost indefinable quality that characterises thevery best teaching ... You know it when you have seen it but it is hard to define precisely in advance.David Bell, then HMCI (from a speech at Gateshead, 27 June 2003) • The challenge for teachers is, and always will be, to develop. For, however well they are doing, there is still an imperative to improve. Yet the focus is changing • The challenge to eradicate poor teaching and ensure competence in our classrooms has largely been met. For the vast majority of schools, the issue now is how to turn good and even very good lessons into outstanding ones. In short, how do we move beyond good, from competence to widespread excellence? • David Bell may well be right (above); maybe the very best teaching defies precise definition. Yet the key word in his sentence, and the one that provides us with a glimmer of hope, is 'almost '. It may be difficult to pin it down , but we must try, for if we fail to capture precisely what these outstanding teachers are doing and articulate what the elite often do intuitively, the challenge to improve further on teaching that is already very good will ultimately prove a step too far. • It is worth acknowledging at this point a number of broad generalisations: • The greater the expertise and the higher the quality of the 'performance ', the harder it is to improve. This principle holds true for musicians, chefs, athletes and, of course, teachers. • Improving from an exceptionally high base involves fine-tuning - paying close attention to small detail. It also involves focusing upon specific aspects or components, rather than on the whole. Great golfers don't set out simply to improve their golf; rather, they work intensively on discrete elements of their game, such as their putting. Similarly, 'improving teaching ' is too vague; we need far greater precision. • Many high fliers, in whatever field, are naturally gifted and instinctive performers. In order to emulate their success we must articulate the intuitive, make explicit the implicit and convert what comes naturally to them into conscious practice and concrete strategies .

  16. An almost indefinable quality Sarah is a good teacher. Like so many of the profession, she is doing - given the context - a good job with most of the children, most of the time. One day, Sarah witnessed Tony - an exceptional and highly skilled colleague - calming down Joshua, who was throwing a tantrum. Sarah was incredibly impressed, as Joshua was infamous throughout the school for his regular and fierce tantrum throwing. Indeed, Sarah had first-hand experience of his behaviour - she had tried all she knew to calm the boy when he'd flown off the handle on a previous occasion, but to no avail. As far as she was concerned, Josh was uncontrollable. Sarah described the incident at the end of the day in tones of awe and wonderment. You should have seen Tony, she enthused He just calmed him down in a matter of seconds. When she was asked what Tony had done to bring about such a dramatic change in the boy's mood, she replied, Oh, it was awesome. He just kind of calmed him down. You should have seen it. Her questioner was persistent and once again asked her precisely what Tony had done. Oh you should have seen it, she repeated, It was fantastic. He just kind of . .. well, he sort of . .. well, he just kind of calmed him down. The questioner smiled and asked Sarah what she would now do differently if Joshua threw another tantrum. She paused for a moment, sighed as if the significance of the question had just hit home, and replied, I think I'd go and get Tony!

  17. EnticeEnthralExcite • Few would disagree that good teachers engage students in their learning. If this is true, what do great teachers do? • Playing on the alliteration, one might tentatively suggest that great teachers: • entice • enthral • excite.

  18. Challenge…curiosity…confusion • If that is accepted - and clearly some teachers have the ability to enthral and excite students - then the question that we must address is how do they do that? • We are not seeking a single, secret recipe, for there is rarely a one-size-fits­ all answer; rather, we want to identify some discrete ingredients that we can adapt and adopt in our own practice. • Working backwards, would you be enthralled and excited if: • there was no sense of challenge? • everything made perfect and immediate sense to you? • If the answer to these prompts is no, then we have some pointers as to what great teachers are doing in the classroom. •  For it would appear that people are enthralled and excited when: • there is a sense of challenge • they are curious • ... and people become curious, not to mention challenged, when things do not add up immediately - in other words, when they are puzzled or confused.

  19. Good to Great • Good teachers: • transfer information concisely and accurately • in easily digestible chunks • in a variety of ways • in a way that is easy to understand generate a sense of interest • engage students in activity review information • provide pictures • Great teachers do all this and more. • They excite, enthral and entice, by: • challenging students • generating a sense of curiosity • deliberately providing a puzzle and creating a sense of confusion • They optimise learning by: • recognising that students need to talk about their learning and verbalise their thinking • encouraging students to explore and extend their thinking by posing their own questions • including a strong sense of reflection in their lessons helping students join the dots themselves.

  20. saltash.net community schoolFour-Phase Learning Experience • Evidence • Teacher creates a relaxed yet purposeful atmosphere •  Lesson is linked to students' prior knowledge • Lesson is placed in a wider context - students are provided • with an overview • Specific learning objectives are shared with the students? • Do the students know what to look for during the lesson? •  Is there a sense of curiosity, challenge and expectation? • How quickly is the key learning point introduced? • Input • Is information delivered in easily digestible chunks?  • To what extent was the input multisensory - Multiple Intelligences, Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic? • As a rough guide the average concentration span of the students is about age + 2 mins • Process • Frequent teacher-student and student-student interaction • An emphasis on students re-creating rather than reproducing • information • Strategies were employed to develop understanding • Students given the opportunity to demonstrate understanding • Teacher was able to assess how much had been understood  • Tick if any of the following strategies were used. • 1. verbalising 2. reduction • 3. transformation 4. teaching something (didactic) • 5. sequencing 6. 'It's like..' • 7. predicting 8. classifying • 9. problem solving/investigations/enquiry • 10. creating learning maps 11. rank ordering • 12. higher-order questioning 13. thinking about thinking • 14. understanding the question 15. students asking questions •  What was the ratio of time students spent receiving information to the time spent making sense of it? • Reflect and Review • Was the review linked to the learning objectives? •  Were students actively involved in the review process? • Students encouraged to reflect on how they have learned

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