Blog Archive

Thursday 17 March 2022

5 Minute Read - How can we scaffold resources to support SEND students?

In child development theory, psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed that, in order for a learner to learn a concept, it had to be within what he called the learner’s “zone of proximal development”. He described this zone as the distance between the child’s actual development level through independent problem solving and their potential level with the addition of adult guidance (or in collaboration with peers who were more capable). Vygotsky called the support that learners receive in order to learn “scaffolding.”

The EEF published a report into supporting SEND students with regards to scaffolding, within it highlighting the importance of four key principles:
1. Explicit Instruction through worked examples and modelling.
2. Cognitive strategies such as the use of memorisation techniques or chunking.
3. Flexible grouping so that some students may benefit from 'pre-teaching'.
4. Use of technology such as visualisers.

When we teach, often without knowing it, we trial, modify and adapt a range of 'Instructional Scaffolding' techniques. These techniques refer to the strategies we use to allow students to bridge a cognitive gap and to aid them in the mastery of tasks. For example, our use of I do, We do, You do. At Mangotsfield School this is now a concrete modelling tool, embedded into our everyday teaching. However, is it enough for SEND students? As a direct result of our whole school focus on SEND students, I have been exploring some alternative strategies within Geography. Here are my top three techniques:

1. Graphic Glossaries - I recently taught the Year 9 Nurture group the complexities of Hans Rosling's  bubble chart for world health. As part of a unit of work on the global development gap, students needed to understand how we measure development (indicators such as life expectancy, GDP, literacy rates etc) and how these vary across the world. The first challenge was the complexities of language. This is where the 'graphic glossary' comes in. Whilst there are many wonderful ways to introduce new vocabulary to our students, the Frayer Model being a great example, with this specific class it was apparent that visualisation was the key. I took the approach of attaching icons and symbols to key phrases and ideas in order to stimulate their thoughts. 

Dual Coding is long recognised as a the idea of using different types of stimuli to help learners encode information into their brains more effectively, enabling it to be more easily retrieved later on. That is exactly what this graphic glossary is and has helped to stimulate both the oracy and written responses of Year 9 nurture. When presented with Hans Rosling's bubble chart for the first time, it was a proud moment to overhear AW state 'So those that live in poverty are more likely to have a shorter life expectancy as they are more likely to catch diseases from a lack of sanitation systems'!

2. 'Make it better' - I first utilised this strategy during online learning but it has been one that has transitioned seamlessly into my classroom, and most specifically lessons that focus on exam technique at KS4. The profile of my Year 11 GCSE Geography class (like many of us) is incredibly mixed. 31 students, 6 of which are SEND K or E as well as an almost equal balance between LAPs, MAPs and HAPs. Make it better is a useful strategy when scaffolding the completion of exam questions when you want to provide that extra bit of support to some students. Following the usually modelling to the class, it may prove useful to assist SEND students further with a 'Here's one I started earlier, if you want to make it better'. As shown below, it sparks the start for the students, providing them with a very basic structure that they can enhance and improve and reduces the number of times you will hear 'but I don't know how to start'!

Of course, this is not to be relied on by students all the time and as they become more confident you can reduce the level of scaffolding.

3. Review and Rewrite - The final strategy is similar in a way to Elaborate and Extend by Kate Jones (shared in the January T&L briefing on Knowledge Organisers), but with an SEND twist on it! What I like most about this technique is that it has an excellent level of challenge with the right amount of support. You provide students with a series of statements, but they are all incorrect. Students have to highlight the part they think is wrong and then rewrite the statement correctly underneath. As you can see within the completed example below, it may be a single word or an extended phrase within the statement that needs correcting. Whilst the re-writing of the statement may seem repetitive, this is the part that truly supports SEND students as it is a retrieval strategy that encourages them to deliberately recall their learning (whilst not increasing cognitive load). 

Like with all strategies, it is often a case of trial and error but the goal with those shared above is to focus the instruction at a level just above what the students are capable of on their own without support. If you wish to do some further reading, this is a useful post on the role of adaptive teaching within supporting SEND students:  

Friday 21 January 2022

Taking our ‘Spotting VIP Words’ strategy to the next level.

Johnny Suttle writes: This term we have been focusing on the next two ‘in the moment of reading’ strategies to ensure our students are becoming active readers. These are ‘Spotting VIP words’ and ‘Use them to build meaning’.

How should we think about this strategy?

Reading can be a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. One jigsaw piece does not usually give enough information to tell what the big picture is going to be. To get the big picture you have to put several pieces together.

Reading is often like doing a jigsaw. When you read you have to be able to spot the important words or phrases and connect them together.

Keep thinking about the puzzle analogy as you consider the 'read aloud think aloud' strategy:
 - When you do a puzzle there will be certain pieces you will be on the lookout for (corners, edge pieces, certain colours).
 - There are certain parts of the text where you are likely to find VIP information to help you build meaning.

Fiction Text

Non-Fiction Text

  • Title

  • Specific descriptions of things

  • Start and ends of paragraphs

  • When a character says or thinks something

  • Titles

  • Sub headings

  • Glossaries

  • Fact Boxes

  • Specific descriptions

So what is 'Read aloud, think aloud'?

This is us essentially modelling what this strategy looks like in action. This is currently being used to excellent effect in mentoring. This is us showing the students what the strategy looks like. Teacher Actions that lead the Read Aloud Think Aloud include:

1. Look at a text you are going to read with a class - Find the key puzzle pieces:
2. What is the layout like? Are there titles? Subheadings?
3. Which words are vital to an understanding of the passage / question?
4. Script some questions to help your students spot the VIP words -they could annotate the text (see example below) to help keep these VIP words in view. Encourage them to use the strategy sentence starter “This word is important because…”
5. Script some questions to help them put these VIP puzzle pieces together - Get them to use the strategy sentence starter “This links back to….”
6. Read aloud the first paragraph and model picking out the VIP words or phrases and ask your scripted questions to help students put these words together.
7. Get students to bullet point in the margin the gist of that paragraph

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:

In this case the ‘Steps’ box is the equivalent of the ‘gist’. Students need to spot the key words in the problem using this scaffold - They then need to work out the steps they need to take to reach the goal based on the VIP words.

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?

For departments who teach problem based questions similar to the above, spend some time thinking about how you could adapt this scaffold to fit the problems that students are likely to encounter.

Monday 3 January 2022

What role do knowledge organisers play within our curriculum intent and implementation?

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.

2. Cold Calling/Show Me Boards - Consider providing students with the KO for a new topic 2-3 weeks before they are due to start it as part of your homework policy. Then during the first lesson of said new topic, use the cold calling techniques or show-me boards shared in Terms 1 and 2 to allow students to demonstrate what their preliminary knowledge is. This not only provides you as the teacher with the formative knowledge of what they do/do not already know but allows you to recognise and challenge any misconceptions early on.

3. Elaborate and Extend - In an adaptation of the retrieval strategy by Kate Jones, you take snippets of information from the knowledge organiser and ask them to elaborate and expand on them using their new, deeper knowledge from in class learning, using think-pair-share, as part of a retrieval task. The KO removes the barrier of 'what have I learnt' and allows students to focus on retrieving the deeper knowledge that has been built upon in lessons. This task can also be adapted as part of a spaced retrieval practice if you were to use a past topic KO. Don't forget, from the experiments from Ebbinghaus, we know that the rate we forget newly learnt information is rather quick!

4. Exit and Entrance Cards - Remember these, our old friends! Use the knowledge organisers as a bridge between the learning of one lesson to the next. Ask students (once they have answered the DQ for the lesson) to write three questions on small pieces of card to be handed in at the end. On their arrival, when you next teach them, hand out said cards and ask them as part of their do now to answer the peer written questions. Alternatively, use the Kagan structure Quiz, Quiz, Trade to encourage students to ask either other the questions. 

5. Visualise/Predict and Ask Questions 

Why not use the excellent literacy foci from the previous two terms to introduce the KO to students. Either, if your KO is particularly wordy, read a section to students and ask them to predict what they think the topic might be about/include OR draw an image of what they visualised as you read it to them.

6. Read, Cover, Write, Check - Via my own personal foray into teaching the nurture group this year, I was made more aware than ever that for some students KO's can be overwhelming. For disadvantaged students it can be useful to break the KO down into its component sections as an in class strategy before using it for homework. If, for example, Section A is being set for self-quizzing, ensure that you read it through with students in class, ask them to turn it over (cover) and then write out 5 key points they can remember from it. Finally, they turn it back over and amend their work using green pen. Simple but effective.

Final thought - if you wish to refresh your knowledge on the purpose and value of knowledge organisers beyond Mango Moments musings then can I recommend this article from the Chartered College - especially if you are an NQT or RQT.

Thursday 14 October 2021

How can we teach children to be active, in the moment readers?

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:

As adults teaching in secondary schools we take our ability to be active readers who comprehend what we are reading for granted. Even if you are someone who wouldn’t class yourself as a natural reader you would not have got to the point you are at today without the ability to be a highly skilled reader. The problem is you have probably never been taught the skills which you use on a daily basis when you read. You will instead have picked them up over a lifetime of reading and you now activate them so automatically when you read that they have become hidden from you. So how do we teach skills we don’t know we have in the first place?

Have you ever tried reading late at night when you’re really tired, or worse (and I’m sure no teacher at Mangotsfield will be able to empathise with this) have you ever tried reading when you’ve had a glass of wine too many? If you’ve ever been in either of these situations you may have found you have reached the end of the page and you’ve realised you have no idea what you have just been reading about, you’ve taken nothing in. In this scenario you have been decoding the words but none of the key strategies of ‘in the moment reading’ that you automatically use for comprehension have been activated.

Now put yourself in the place of the students in our classrooms. It’s period 5, you’ve just come in from break and you are tired as you spent most of the last night staying up playing video games or messaging your friends on snap chat. You are also not as skilled a reader as reading has never been a big priority at home and as such the key strategies to aid your ‘in the moment reading’ are not very secure at the best of times. So you sit there whilst your teacher and peers read through a page of writing, or you read a page yourself and the words wash over you, you take nothing in. To quote Shakespeare the ‘words fly up but your thoughts remain below’...and as I’m sure we can now all appreciate ‘words without thoughts, never to comprehension go’...sorry one for the English teachers there.

So, it is our job as teachers to ensure that when we are reading with our students we are teaching, modelling and unlocking their ability to comprehend texts in the moment of reading. So, what are the strategies effective readers use in the moment of reading? Effective readers:

1. Predict or ask questions and then read on to ‘find out’.
2. Visualise and use inference..
3. Use their background knowledge and make links with the text.
4. Notice meaning breakdown and use repair strategies to understand.
5. Notice very important words, phrases and ideas and put these together to build basic meaning.

Over the course of this year we will be focusing on one of these strategies each term until we are all confident in teaching these explicitly to our students. If students are not applying all these strategies then it is highly likely that they will miss meaning, it will also mean that they are unable to read and comprehend independently. We are probably all very strong at using questioning after reading a text to explore more complex meanings, but if we ignore the teaching of these strategies then our weaker students will not have even the basic understanding to build this deeper meaning on top of. To put it simply, just reading a text and then asking questions is like trying to build a skyscraper in a swap, there is not solid foundation to start building deeper understanding.

This term our main strategy has been the ‘predict and ask questions’ strategy. As discussed in the teaching and learning briefing all around the school I have seen excellent examples of us as practitioners modelling this through a ‘read aloud, think aloud’ approach. This is excellent at showing our students the strategy in action. Now we have to get them practicing it! It is not enough to simply show them we now need to turn this around and put the onus of the strategy onto them. The need to be asking the questions and making the predictions themselves. This turns them into ‘active readers’ who are employing an ‘in the moment of reading strategy’. Please see the tips for how to get students making and asking their own predictions and questions attached to this blog.

So to sum up. We use in the moment of reading strategies all the time as we read. We can explicitly teach these to students to ensure they are better comprehenders and as a result capable independent readers. Simply modelling these strategies is not enough. Students are never going to be active readers unless they employ these strategies themselves. So here's the challenge - get your students asking their own questions, get them writing these down, make the students do the work!

Thursday 30 September 2021

SEND - How can I communicate effectively with my TA to ensure clarity in their role?

I'm going to take you back to April 2004 - I was nearly at the end of a relatively uneventful NQT year and was attending a LA run session for new teachers on 'Strategies to support SEND'. I had been given the challenging timetable of multiple 'bottom sets' as they used to be known and was struggling with the compromise between effective scaffolding and allowing the students to access the curriculum. So I attended this session, along with approximately 20 other NQTs from across Buckinghamshire, with the hope that some light could be shone on where I could adapt my practice.

Still to this day, I recall a key quote from the session leader (a local headteacher) "If you are lucky enough to have a TA (as they are like gold dust) then you are blessed with absolute miracle workers". Now, I started my teaching career in a county where the selective school system thrived and I was lucky enough to teach in a Secondary Modern with those students who were not deemed academic enough to pass the 11 plus. Therefore, the school employed 14 TA's and they were such vital cogs in the learning machine that is a school. But, I had not received any training on how to use them, strategically, and realised I was missing a huge opportunity. So what did the session leader advise? This one simple idea:

Communicate effectively with your TA to ensure clarity in their role in your classroom. Who are they there to support? What strategies have you/they observed are effective for said student in your lesson? What level of support do you want your TA to provide? (Sometimes too much support can limit student progress). The graphic below from the EEF represents the level of input a TA can provide and the impacts this has on student independence.

Self-scaffolding: TA observes that the student is working independently and does not intervene.

Prompting: TA uses wait time (10 secs) to see if the student can get started, asks a prompt question such as ​‘Can you remember what Mr T said you need to do first?’, or gestures to a useful resource such as a model on an interactive white board or a word-bank on a table.

Clueing: TA uses a statement, ​‘The ruler will help you’, or question, ​‘How could the ruler help you?’ to give one piece of information at a time to support accessing the task. Several clues may be needed.

Modelling: TA demonstrates the next step the student needs to complete and then asks the child to take this step. ​‘I am using the word-bank to find a word to help me describe my character…’

Correcting: The TA provides answers and requires no independent thinking. Occasionally it is appropriate to do this, however, TAs should always aim instead to model and encourage pupils to apply new skills or knowledge first.

The EEF reported that ​‘Evidence suggests that TAs can have a positive impact on academic achievement’ as well as ​‘In some cases where teachers and TAs work together effectively, this can lead to increases in attainment’. Here is the link to their 2015 report on 'Making Best Use of a Teaching Assistant'.

The final thought for this micro-blog post is to consider the use of your MINT seating plans a vehicle towards the effective deployment of TAs. Whilst many are with us to support specific students, there may be opportunities to utilise their presence to work with a small group of other students. Providing them with an annotated copy of your seating plan will provide a clear reference point for whom in the class you have additionally noted as requiring support, as well as the strategies you use. Colour-tagging those with SEND K and E needs, alongside a separate colour-tag for LAPs or those with previous SEND needs that no longer provide support are a quick and universal method to alerting your TA to whom else they might be able to effectively prompt. Colour-tagging can be found under 'Classroom Tools' in the drop down menu. 

Fast forward to this academic year and I am lucky enough to teach the Year 9 nurture group for their Geography lessons. That one piece of advice still rings true - open and effective communication is the way forward. I have a print out of the lesson not only ready for the students, but for the TA, alongside access to my annotated seating plan. I highlight where in the lesson I would appreciate their intervention with students and where to hang back and, most importantly, I thank them! All this I owe to that session leader - so thank you Dad!

Thursday 16 September 2021

Questioning - is it the central mechanism to effective classroom talk?

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.

Last Friday, Tiff led an excellent session on the merits of cold-calling. It's a strategy named and hugely promoted again by Doug Lemov but has garnered a resurgence in favour most recently through its inclusion in the Tom Sherrington authored Teaching Walkthrus series (click on his name for an excellent video guide by the man himself). For cold-calling to work well it must be inclusive and invitational, where everyone's opinion is valued. Tiff took us through the ADAPT approach, as shown in the image below, but there are some other adaptations you may wish to consider:

1. Move then cold call - Students move within the classroom to show their opinion. After everyone is picked, they talk in their small groups about their choices and then you can 'cold call' one student from each group to feedback. The Kagan Structures of All Stand Consensus or Numbered Heads Together are excellent to support this approach.

2. Confer + cold call - Listen in to students as they are discussing and build their responses in groups. When you are happy with their understanding, ask if they will share with the class. This is similar to Tiff's 'pre-call' approach where students are given forewarning and the 'gotcha' fear is removed.

3. Quick write + cold call - Giving students 2-3 minutes to process their ideas with a 'quick write' means you can be more confident to pick the less confident students to feedback.

4. Turn and talk + cold call with options - "I want you to talk to your partner/the people at your table for two minutes about..... afterwards I will ask three people to report back".

Whilst the pre-call is superb for providing scaffolded support to students, it can sometimes eliminate the level of challenge and encourage students to disengage if their name is not picked. There are some class scenarios where the pre-call is essential, whilst relationships are being developed and to ensure less confident students are less daunted at the prospect of sharing their ideas. If we truly want to ensure that every student is engaged throughout cold calling we need to consider where within our questioning stems we place their name. For example:

"Jack - Can you identify two economic impacts of the Haiti Earthquake?" This of course has its merits to ensure that Jack is fully engaged and also provides him with some thinking time, however what about the rest of the class? Consider this:

"Can you identify two economic impacts of the Haiti Earthquake - Jack I will come to your first". Simple but effective - the whole class are listening to the question as they are unaware who will be picked. Of course it must then be partnered with thinking time as the 'first' implies you will follow up and ask someone else to develop the discussion. 

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

How can we engage SEND students with feedback that allows them to move forward?

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.

From the Education Endowment Foundation Guidance Review on Feedback, published this month, some intriguing points are raised about how little evidence there is concerning which methods of feedback are most effective within specific scenarios - until now. As feedback is defined as 'information given from a teacher to a student about their performance, and aims to improve learning', interpretation of such a widely generic statement can be the first barrier when considering the alternating audiences you are hoping to engage in this process. As shown in Figure 1 above, feedback can be for whole classes, specific groups of students or even an individual. Personalisation is key. Whole class feedback is wonderful but is only effective if students are equipped with the tools to recognise which feedback is directed at them - as is quoted in the report 'are we laying the foundations for effective feedback?' This was certainly a downfall of my recent approach with Year 10.

So how do I intend on supporting SEND students in particular with feedback moving forward? Simple routines are key:

1. Where are your SEND students sitting during feedback? 
Are they ready to receive said feedback? Directing them to sit closest to you so that you can instigate one on one discussions, check in with them first, and provide reassurances is important. Obviously, under the current covid risk assessment you would have to keep a note of any temporary seating changes, but the benefits of close proximity to you can often strengthen the message.

2. What exactly do you want each student to improve? 
Consider what exactly you want each student to improve and to what depth. SEND students require clear specifics i.e. "I can see you have used one piece of evidence to support your opinion, now I need you to add a second OR now I need you to add a contrasting opinion/quote/source". 

Verbal feedback is useful, when assessing students formatively, but when more depth is required this needs to be followed-up with a written set of instructions. When formatting your try now tasks, modelled answers are often useful. This being said, my Year 10 SEND students fed back recently that this can often distract them from thinking for themselves. One even noted "You've written everything Miss, there is nothing left for me to write!". Alternatively, provide 3 short and succinct bullet points with a clear list of either knowledge, vocab or evidence that you wish them to include.

3. Do students have the tools to be reflective learners? 
As Dylan Wiliam expertly wrote in 2018, 'we need to activate students as owners of their own learning'. We need to clarify and share the purpose of feedback so that students truly value its importance. We regularly discuss with students the deeper why surrounding our curriculum choices but do we send a shared, whole school message to students that feedback is imperative if you wish to make progress? The EEF report states that 'sharing the learning intentions of a task, provides a shared understanding of the concept of quality'.

This can also include sharing anonymous examples. Provide students with a range of examples (ideally not from their class to truly support qualitative discussions). As the EEF report details, this opportunity can be used to take students on a collaborative discussion of what does and does not make a good answer - they use the phrase 'what not to write'. 

You can use these ideas to produce with individual, peer or group rubrics of success criteria and then use I do, We do, and You do to produce modelled answers or show your expert production of an answer using a visualiser. Alternatively, there are a couple of Kagan structures that can be used in this scenario. Don't forget, Kagan works on the premise of collaborative discussion. All Write Round Robin would be my choice - all voices are heard regarding 'what should be included' and all feedback recorded and shared, adding value to the contributions from SEND students and as such their awareness of its value. 

4. How soon can I realistically provide feedback? 
If it needs to be in the moment, is verbal feedback sufficient? Will SEND students truly recall and retrieve feedback that is not recorded somewhere for them to revisit? If not, then a wish list for 'what makes a good answer' is ideal. Do not over-complicate, instead consider the mark scheme and what realistically is achievable by said student. This supports the EEF's advice that 'teachers should provide opportunities for students to use feedback, not just in the moment but at a later date'. The feedback provided should be applied independently by students in later lessons. 

In addition, have you built enough time into the lesson to ensure feedback is not regarded as an add-on. To be done well, it should not be rushed and for SEND students in particular this part is vital. Student motivation and receptiveness to feedback do directly affect its effectiveness. DIRT time done well can take a whole lesson if truly required. 

For our SEND students, many of these requirements take an extended period of time to build. Their comprehension of written feedback, ability to receive the advice you are giving and pressure from peers can all be barriers to learning. But with small, simple changes, providing them with the time and space to reflect and build, we can continue to close the gap for this core group of students.