Blog Archive

Monday 26 November 2018

Questioning to Embed Understanding - Tom Sherrington

Check out this fantastic blog post above by Tom Sherrington on the use of questioning to promote memory recall and deepen students understanding. 

In a nutshell, Tom discussed the vices surrounding students ability to 'know' new information, commenting that "We're not just throwing stuff into the room and hoping it lands. 'Making it stick' isn't something you hope for; its something you plan for and drive through. And 'know' means - recall, use, apply, explain - also known as "understand"."

He advises the following steps; Specify, Check, Apply.

1. Specify the knowledge even more precisely - what exactly do you want students to know before the end of the lesson, what are you learning intentions (not tasks).  Build in multiple occasions where you recap and consolidate. This is where good knowledge organisers can come in.

2. Check for understanding even more, in varied ways - Use no hands up questioning, Kagan Structures and hinge questions to ensure students are able to run through and reflect back on what has been learned. 

3. Apply the knowledge in more ways - more examples, more independent practice and more synoptic practice. Students need to be able to do things by themselves to gain confidence and fluency in their thoughts.

Using Authentic Texts - An MFL Approach

Yann Deplechin writes:

Using authentic texts raises the linguistic expectations of students, appeals to all sorts of cognitive functions, and it motivates and engages. I always introduce the texts in this way: "this is not a text aimed at students studying French, this is a text from a real French magazine, aimed at people who already speak French. There is no way you will understand everything. But you will, with knowledge and intelligence, manage to translate a fair few words, maybe a few sentences, and possibly find out what the text is all about"
These words are chosen to raise their interest, and to emulate them (in brief, I appeal to their pride, which makes most or all of them want to engage). Introducing the text like that is, I think, is vitally important. Also,  there is a theory, which I find to be true, that students will better memorise new information (or here, a word or expression) that they "catch" themselves, rather than one that is delivered to them by their teacher.

When approaching this in class, the text is displayed uninterrupted on the screen and each line is numbered with the interactive pen. Students are then randomly selected to define meanings of specific highlighted words.

Students engagement and effort is then rewarded with a house point in the following ways:
1. A single house point for a word which they have studied in school.
2. Two house points for a word which students have had to guess.
3. Three points if students add the conjuncture "this one is a verb, and it is in past / present / future tense, or three points if a whole sentence is translated. 

After 5 minutes the following questions is posed:  "What will be on the photo when the text is zoomed back out". Finally, the whole text is translated into English, in front of them, following each word of the text with step by step.

Monday 19 November 2018

Kagan Structures - Active Engagement

Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies embed structured group work alongside long term learning to make classrooms more effective spaces. These structures are instructional and designed to promote collaboration and communication in the classroom, boost students confidence and retain classroom interaction. At Mangotsfield School, they have been in operation for a few years but it is always useful to have a refresher!

Following Hetty's excellent session on the necessity of Hinge Questioning during our Term 2 INSET, we felt it useful to share examples of Kagan Structures that can be applied to multiple classroom scenarios but most importantly as strategies that can be used to demonstrate the degree of students understanding before lessons are moved on. There are multiple strategies but the first five are outlined below. For further information remember to contact CIG for guidance or attend our Teachmeets.

1. Timed Pair Share - superb for debate and discussion themed learning and ensuring all students are accountable for sharing their views.

2. Timed RoundRobin - encourages the depth of discussion that is not always possible in paired work, in a structured manner.

3. All Write RoundRobin - great for decoding subject specific vocabulary, exam questions or key themes/concepts in a supportive mixed ability environment.

4. Rally Coach - vital when embedding collaboration or supporting peer assessment into lessons.
5. Stand-N-Share - perfect for that 'hinge' point when you want all students to demonstrate their understanding whilst ensuring collaboration.

For further information regarding Kagan visit or speak to a member of CIG to borrow the books from the T&L Library.

Memory Recall - Cognitive Load Theory.

If you recall (!!) Dylan Williams tweeted that 'Weller's Cognitive Load Theory' was the single most important theory that all teachers should know. 

During the CSET Conference sessions at the end of Term 1, a session was delivered that explored the complexities of this theory - notably what techniques we need to consider employing with our own students to ensure that knowledge that is committed to their long-term memory is routinely recalled into their working memories. Sweller outlines three types of load that we put on our brains:

1. Intrinsic cognitive load, which is basically how hard the work is to understand.
2. Extrinsic cognitive load, which considers how the information is presented: what does your PowerPoint look like? How many sheets of paper are you asking students to look at? What other distractions are there in the classroom environment?
3. Germanic cognitive load - this is the ‘thinking’ involved in the learning. Essentially we want students thinking about the LEARNING, not the task. 

So as teachers our aim needs to be to adapt the tasks to manage the difficulties of the task. Manage the intrinsic load, minimise the extrinsic and maximise the germanic. Highest impact tasks include:
1. Lagged homework's - or known as spaced practice is the concept of encouraging students to recall knowledge from previous learning with a time delay between learning in class and the completion of homework tasks.
2. Distributed Practice - when learning is broken up into a number of smaller sessions over a longer period of time.
3. Retrieval Practice - practice bringing knowledge from long-term memory into working memory with frequent low stake quizzes.

Linda Ferris has very kindly sent all colleagues through a link to a followup guide on the use of the theory. Please find the link below, also accessible via GoogleClassrooms.

Sunday 18 November 2018

WOW Wall - Engagement

Ever considered how to engage students in structured and challenging assessment, whilst embracing the house competition ethos? Consider a 'Wow Wall' to transform your classroom displays and celebrate success.
A simple adjustment during group, assessed or independent learning tasks will engage students whilst stimulating their competitive edge. All they need to be provided with is the opportunity to work on the coloured paper/card of their house, alongside the motivation of reward and praise. 

Year 7 and 8 students in Geography have been experiencing the 'Wow Wall' for a series of terms and commented: 'What I enjoy the most is the chance to represent my house whilst also hoping my work will be displayed, I love it when I see a piece of my work on a classroom wall'. 
To extend this task for HAP students consider providing students with a more open ended outcome that allows them to direct their own learning. Students are awarded for content, presentation and level of engagement as well as consolidating their understanding of content learned in class.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

GoogleDocs and GoogleClassroom Tutorial Links

Thank you to all who attended our first TeachMeet of the new academic year. Members of CIG used part of the session to deliver a guide to using GoogleDocs and GoogleClassroom. Links can be found below to useful tutorials, however do not hesitate to contact CIG members should you require further guidance.


Higher Ability Pupils - An Enquiry

Zoe Hyde writes: The notion of differentiation has been key in developing students learning. However, through my experiences of teaching higher ability students, they struggle to be challenged in some areas of our teaching. Games based learning, can be a strong way to engage and motivate our students. As they aim to engage and motivate learners and promote their enjoyment of History. I have focused on ideas such as the Medieval life – Barter game (Year 7), Dragons Den inventor’s project (Year 8) and Active Trench Warfare (Year 9). As the literature surrounding this topic suggests, ‘games ‘typically embody active and constructivist pedagogies’ for example: experimental learning, problem based learning and collaborative learning. Secondly, they produce ‘mechanisms that can motivate and engage some learners’, this can be achieved through the structure of rules, goals and rewards. 

From carrying out student voice it showed that students felt the most challenged ‘when they were not given a structured plan and where teachers trusted them to move away from what they know’. They also expressed an interest in further master-classes which could be run on a regular basis. Following this I led the History HAPs masterclass day on the 13th July, encouraging the students to get a better understanding of parliament, the House of Lords and elections. During the day, the students engaged in the government run session #LordsLive

Developing challenge in the classroom is vital if we are to encourage higher ability pupils to strive and be able to access a variety of different opportunities. However it is important that students are recognised for their different abilities in different subjects, and HAPs is not used as a blanket term for some students. Linking to Whitton’s research it is clear that each individual student learns in a unique way, which became clear from the student voice activities. To develop this study, HAPs could be built into individual curriculum's, especially linked with assessment, and good practice shared across the trust.

Monday 8 October 2018

Teaching and Learning Blogs

So of course this will be your number one blog from now on- but as we know learning never ends, what other Teaching and Learning blogs are out there? Let us do the searching for you and please find below some useful links.

1. Teachers Toolkit - 
Regarded as one of the most influential blogs discussing the state of education in the UK, Te@cher Toolkit is a must visit for any education professional. Run and authored by Ross McGill – an experienced deputy headteacher, the site’s a leading authority in the field and offers a tonne of actionable tips and advice. 

2. We are Teachers -
This site is ‘an online community for educators committed to one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs out there’. Their content helps inspire teachers with classroom ideas, resources, and comments on what’s going on in the industry. 

3. Teacherhead-
Tom Sherrington is education consultant with 29 years’ of teaching and headteaching experience behind him. His blog, Teacherhead, acts as the home for all of Tom’s advice, which crosses a wide span of topics including books you should read as a teacher to common pitfalls.

Welcome to Mangotsfield Moments!

So Mangotsfield Colleagues - want to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to Teaching and Learning? Then this is the first place you will want to look! Welcome to our blog - written, created and designed entirely by Mangotsfield Teachers for Mangotsfield Teachers because we know what our students need to make lessons engaging and fun. Follow closely, using either the link on the school website or save to your favourites.

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