Thursday 17 March 2022
Friday 21 January 2022
So what are examples of scripted questions?
a. Why has the writer used the word….
b. Why does the writer want us to think about…..
c. Which word tells us…..
d. How can you link that VIP word to the earlier one that Jimmy identified?
How can we apply this strategy to an exam ‘problem’ based question?
A text does not have to be long to benefit from this strategy. Take a look at the exam question below:
So over to you:
1. Try to spot the key words based on this scaffold
2. What questions would you ask to help students use this VIP information to come up with steps to answer the problem?
Monday 3 January 2022
It was this blogpost by Joe Kirby, written in 2015, that first alerted me to the concept of Knowledge Organisers (I was so relieved when I found it again for this blogpost!). A brief synopsis of his thoughts can be provided in this single quote "A knowledge organiser sets out the important, useful and powerful knowledge on a topic on a single page (Kirby, 2015)". Important, useful and powerful - three superlatives that truly emphasise the impact knowledge organisers can have when used correctly and when students are trained in the how, what and why. When we create them it ensures that we think carefully about what it is we want our students to learn. When students use them it provides them with the 'bigger picture' as well as being an inclusive tool for our disadvantaged students.Powerful knowledge is a concept that has been discussed increasingly over the last few years as we found ourselves designing our curriculum intents. In recent years the emphasis has shifted away from a focus on pedagogy (the how of teaching) and towards curriculum (the what of teaching). Ofsted’s revised inspection framework reflects this shift. So what role do knowledge organisers play within this mindset shift and what, at Mangotsfield School, are impactful strategies as we move into 2022?
When first introduced in 2018, thanks to some expert training by Hetty and Caroline, students were guided through the art of self-quizzing and knowledge organisers formed the backbone of our homework policy. Then the 'covid era' arose and their role shifted online, providing students with valuable access to the core content from 'afar' as well as useful introductions to topics yet to come. Now we are (hopefully) entering a more settled phase in students learning journeys, it is vitally important that we shine a light on their use in our classrooms day to day and provide effective strategies for how this can be done. Below are some examples from across various departments that it is useful to start 2022 reminding ourselves of.
1. Do Now Tasks - As part of our Mangotsfield Way students are provided with a do now task on their immediate arrival to our classrooms. There are many subject formats for this, each tailored specifically to your department curriculums, many of us using 1-5 retrieval questions for example. The RS department have consistently built the use of knowledge organisers into this activity. Instead of the teacher producing the five questions, students are asked to examine a part of the KO and write the questions themselves. Similarly to self-quizzing, they can then either answer the questions and mark with green pen OR alternatively, consider the use of a Kagan structure such as all write round robin to encourage students to answer each others questions.
Thursday 14 October 2021
Teaching students how to dissect text through this terms focus of 'Predict and Ask Questions' has been an eye-opening experience in my honest opinion. From a non-English teacher perspective, it has been interesting to observe what our students know and what they don't - often challenging my own preconceived ideas that they have sufficient background knowledge to be able to decode a key piece of text. Our students need multiple layers of knowledge in order to better understand the text; subject specific language; disciplinary knowledge and an awareness of the world around them (just to name a few). On top of this some of our students find reading complex and unnatural as 'learning to read demands that we use brain areas that have evolved for other purposes such as language, vision and attention' (Reading Fluency, Norton and Wolf).
However, as Johnny and Kat have expertly supported us through this term, it is an area we can develop our students understanding in. Johnny is our guest blogger for this week so over to him:
Thursday 30 September 2021
Thursday 16 September 2021
There is a long-held consensus amongst educators that Questioning, when effectively delivered and strategically planned, encourages students to activate 'hard thinking' as well as provide an irrefutable insight to what our students do and do not know. Mango Moments has previously discussed the use of Hinge Questioning, through Kagan Structures and strategies such as cold-calling and 'say it again, say it better'. So what can this new blog post offer you I hear you ask? Now the new term is in full swing, we often find ourselves with limited time to indulge in the evidence-based research surrounding our T&L priorities. This article hopes to provide you with a synopsis of the rationale behind key questioning strategies as well as links to other blogs/research that you may find useful.
Doug Lemov (Teach like a Champion) states that "The kind of talk that happens in a classroom largely determines the type of learning that takes place and developing an armoury of tools to facilitate that talk should be at the top of every teacher's list". If you wish to read more, this archived post from 2014 provides an excellent guide to evidence based questioning.
To mirror this belief is the EEF Great Teaching Toolkit whose recent evidence review states that 'asking a lot of questions is not a marker of quality; it's about the types of questions, the time allowed for, and depth of student thinking they promote and elicit'. So how does this work at Mangotsfield?
Throughout this academic year, Questioning is a key priority. Revisiting the concepts of SOLO taxonomy on INSET day provided many of us with the reassurances that spending time planning multi-structural and relational questions in advance allows us time to focus on our interactions with students and their responses within the lesson. Therefore consider planning and asking questions that allow students to:
1. Show how well they have learned the material.
2. Challenge them to think about how they learned that material (metacognition).
3. Highlight if all/some/individual students require further instruction - the value of a hinge question is unmeasured here.
4. Help students to connect new information and material to their prior learning (Barak Rosenshine Sixth Principle of Instruction).
I appreciate that for some colleagues, planning questions in advance may raise concerns as it removes the responsive and reactive nature of class discussions, and of course we can not stick to a script that limits students discourse. However engaging in the practice of planning our questions ensures we have fully thought through not just what we want the students to know, but also how. Below is an excellent question formation grid as produced by Impact Wales - I have referred to this numerous times when creating for example challenge grids, similar to our English Department colleagues with Solo Taxonomy.
One final thought, ensure that the questions you do ask are a fine balance between retrieval and new knowledge. We often naturally prioritise ensuring that students understand the new content delivered, before we feel safely capable of moving the class forward. With our knowledge-rich curriculums it is however of equal importance to spend time questioning past learning to ensure students have succinct opportunities to retrieve.
Friday 18 June 2021
At present much is being written in the education world about providing students with meaningful feedback (that moves students forward). It is a key component of our Mangotsfield Way after all and an integral tool in instigating student progress. Numerous articles, educational research and books have been published - but how do you know which strategies will be effective for you and your classes? At present many of us are completing KS3 and KS4 summative assessments. Have there been departmental discussions or individual reflections concerning effective approaches to the feedback stage, especially to support and engage SEND students?
On a personal level, feedback is an area I have heavily invested research time into recently. Why? It's an area I feel I still do not get quite right all the time. Throughout my teaching career I have engaged with a plethora of feedback strategies - traffic light systems, personalised comments, triple impact marking (never again!) and more recently verbal feedback, try now's and whole class feedback. Why do I feel like this is still an area for development? Observing the engagement levels of my Year 10 GCSE class last term with their try now task, I couldn't help but feel they 'went through the motions'. I was still doing more work than them for a start! Producing personalised try now tasks complete with sentence starters, modelled answers matching specific AO's, and a detailed whole class feedback grid concerning misconceptions. This was hours worth of work. Whilst some relished the opportunity to better their work, it was evident that LAPs and SEND students in particular were hugely overwhelmed. In all honesty, the approach I took was overkill.
But what compelled me to produce so much? Again, a moment for honesty - my concerns over their learning gaps and the quality of their exam answers. With 6 SEND K students, another 7 LAPs and 5 HAPs (out of a class of 30) - it is the true definition of a mixed ability class. My response was not the right one and so, as always, it prompted me to research options for change.