Blog Archive

Sunday 31 May 2020

How does the brain develop: An overview by Esther P-K

Esther fascinatingly writes:
Brain development continues from infancy to adulthood, but many parents underestimate how much a child’s brain changes from year to year, and how those changes can influence behaviour. Decades of scientific studies have shown even an immature brain is capable of extraordinary feats. Yet a fully developed brain is necessary for actions that adults take for granted, such as risk assessment and self-control. According to developmental psychologists, parents who better understand the stages along the way can help guide their child over the hurdles.
Babies, for example, are surprisingly good at communicating. They are looking, listening and imitating from the time they are born. Stick your tongue out at a baby, even an infant just hours old, and he or she may do the same back at you. Rachel Makepeace have a go with you new little bundle of joy!
Yet many parents don’t realise how quickly infants begin to develop social and emotional awareness. Parents underestimate how sensitive a child is to their emotions. As early as six months old, a child can be affected by a parent’s depression or anxiety, and by marital squabbles. Babies also look to their parents for guidance in uncertain situations. e.g. if you’re in a shop and start interacting with a little in a buggy one next to you, the baby may turn to the parent to see how to respond to you. This process is called “social cognition” or “social referencing”, and it is not so different from when adults at a party wait to respond to a joke when they’re unsure whether others will find it funny or offensive.
To help infants learn, parents should frequently look at what they’re talking about, and change their gaze slowly. This important social cue helps with language development; babies who follow gazes closely having a more diverse vocabulary by the time they’re two.
All languages sound the same initially to a newborn, and then a tuning process begins. By about 10 months, babies start to specialise in the language they are used to hearing. (Rachel, make sure you talk to your baby in French or German!). It is vitally important parents talk to their child during the first year.
While we typically underestimate babies’ ability to understand and communicate before they begin speaking, we tend to overestimate the brain power of walking, talking toddlers. Toddlers are seemingly mentally incapable of sharing and self-control. In a survey conducted in 2015, nearly half of parents believed their children could learn to share by the time they are two. But according to the cognitive psychologists, this skill does not typically develop until a child is three or four. That may be because they have not yet developed what is known as “theory of mind”.
Theory of mind is the ability to differentiate one’s own perspective and preferences from someone else. A classic experiment in theory of mind is known as the “Sally-Anne test”. A child is told Sally has a basket and Anne has a box. Sally puts an object in her basket, then leaves. While Sally is gone, Anne moves the object to the box. The child is then asked where Sally will look for the object when she returns. Correctly answering that Sally will look in her basket signals the child understands they have a perspective that is different from Sally’s.
Theory of mind is important for developing empathy, making friends and even doing well academically. Parents can help their children develop perspective by talking them through scenarios like the Sally-Anne test, or reading books that help them to build cognitive parallels. For example, in a book where a character goes to a doctor, they can compare the situation to when the child went to the doctor and discuss how the experiences were similar or different.
According to that 2015 survey, the majority of parents also believed two-year-olds can control their emotions and impulses. Yet children have very limited self-control abilities until they are about four. When toddlers won’t stop throwing a fit, do something forbidden or refuse to share, the are not being willfully obstinate.
We can help young children with self-control – for example, by distracting them with a favourite toy while sweeties by the supermarket checkout. And when dealing with a tantrum, acknowledge a child’s feelings by putting them into words. A lot of their frustration is the feeling of being misunderstood.
It helps giving the child the impression that they have some control. In my own case, when my grandchildren stay over and don’t want to go to bed, I will ask them whether they want to play for a few more minutes and then go to bed. Parents or grandparents in my case, who understand how their toddlers’ brains work (or don’t work) will find it fairly easy to outsmart them. It’s good to tell a child “no” because they’re learning language, but you can’t expect them to change their behaviours.
Teenagers do not think with the same parts of their brain as adults. For some parents, a seemingly erratic teenager can make those long-ago toddler days seem like a walk in the park. Understanding how teens think can improve the experience for both sides. 

Connections in our brain develop from the back to the front, and those important for higher-order thinking continue to form and strengthen into a person’s twenties. Teenagers have good connectivity up to about their ears. And at this age, the midbrain – important for emotion – sexual function, learning and memory, is hyperactive.
As teens transition into adulthood, connections in the front of their brain are strengthened, while those in the other regions are pruned. A fully developed frontal lobe is essential for planning, decision-making, impulse control and risk avoidance.
These stages of development showed up in a 2006 imaging experiment. Researchers discovered adults trying to identify fearful facial expressions used more of the front of their brain, while teens used the emotional centres in the midbrain – meaning teens literally think using different parts of their brain.
The finding might explain why some teen behaviours surprise adults. Teenagers are actually more susceptible to stress. If a teeneger comes home distraught because someone made fun of their hair, you might be tempted to say it’s no big deal. But the activity in their brain likely resembles an adult brain’s response to news of a major international incident.
The plasticity of teen brains – their ability to lose, form and strengthen connections – also makes adolescents especially susceptible to addiction, to everything from video games to cocaine. Activities such as binge drinking and chronic weed use can be especially damaging at this age.
It is  good to give teenagers a “frontal-lobe assist” by helping them to plan, prepare and even rehearse for situations that require higher judgement. Help them develop and learn phrases to use as excuses to avoid making a bad decision amid social pressure, for example. And if they do make a bad decision, we could use the situation as a teachable moment instead of lecturing or alienating them. Throughout a child’s life, parents who understand some basics of brain development can adjust their expectations, and better come up with strategies to prevent frustration for everyone.
Children growing up in a household where parents are not interested. Where there is violence (verbally or physically) will not be prepared to rationalise age related expectations.   Children who suffer trauma (neglect or abuse in any form)  during early childhood will suffer later on in life.  A child only needs to experience a combination of three triggers from their early childhood abusive period, to have a full blown melt down or simply put up a barrier to progression.
Eg if a child lived in a household where someone had brightly dyed hair, always wore overalls, smelt of cigarettes, used a particular vocabulary and had a high pitched shrieking voice and they are in a situation where only three of these triggers are witness together, they can suddenly go into fight or flight mode and create an almighty scene. In a classroom situation, when one of our pupils suddenly loses the plot, we would be wise to ask ourselves what happened to create this meltdown. 
In other words, a little understanding goes a long way.  Consequently, I think I am a much better grandparent than I was as a parent. And being the head of specialist provision for young people in Swindon, many of whom will end up in prison and previously managing the 600 young people set up for Kids Company in Bristol, has taught me to be so much more tolerant than I was as a newly qualified teacher many moons ago!

Friday 22 May 2020

How can we quiz to support home learning? - and my thanks for this term!

So, if like me, you have been exhausting SMHW quizzes this term as a way to check students knowledge, encourage retrieval and monitor engagement with home learning, you will welcome this excellent link from Caroline Bates that she has kindly shared from the Teacher Tapp blog (

As Caroline rightly points out 'It looks at how to build really worthwhile multiple choice quizzes, something I know we are all working with and on at the moment'. Please do take a few moments to read the article she has signposted:

My biggest take away from it are the discussions around the merits of such testing for retrieval practice (something you know I am passionate about) as well as providing feedback on misconceptions. If we are not with our students right now and not able to do hinge questioning to consider who has understand the new learning, then these are a vital tool to gain awareness over their clarity before we move forward. 

The issues around SMHW include that students can attempt the tests three times, amending their answers to ensure they get as close to 100% as possible. So are there alternatives? Following discussions with colleagues this week, GoogleClassrooms can offer an alternative. I have found this video great to watch as a starting point: It is from the following Google Teacher Center guidance:

There is a great deal more we could discuss here, but as half term is upon us, we will revisit these ideas, alongside wider CPD discussion over Assessment after half term. THANK YOU to all staff who have contributed to the T&L blog this term. I have been overwhelmed by the willingness of many to share their findings, tips, thoughts and generous time to allow us to keep our culture of discussion and CPD ticking over from afar. 

'When the adults change, everything changes' - let's revisit and retrieve!

Isn't it wonderful when a plan comes together? When posts that have been written, prompt further discussion, questioning and research. This week, Gemma Gilpin has taken up the baton (had to include a PE teacher metaphor somewhere) and has offered further insight into this wonderful book by Paul Dix, that Tiff Partridge kindly reviewed for us two weeks ago. This spiraling and revisiting of knowledge and discussing is retrieval practice at its best! Look at Mangotsfield go!

Gemma expertly writes:
“If you want to create an inclusive school where children’s behaviour is not only managed but it is changed as well, then you should not miss out on reading this book.” Sue Crowley, Teacher and Education Author. This quote alone sums up the reasons why I chose to read When the adults change everything changes: Seismic shifts in school behaviour by Paul Dix. Published 2017. The book consists of 11 easy to read chapters each including a ‘watch out for’ ‘testing’ and ‘Nuggets’ section.  Which gives an easy reference of things to be aware of and things to try out in your own classes.

I selected this book to read as it interested me to read about how our behaviours (as teachers and parents)impact upon the behaviours of our children in our presence. This is because I believe the relationship you have with students is key to unlocking their full potential and empowering them with the confidence to create and then chase their dreams.

Very well put Gemma! Gemma has then provided very useful chapter summaries. I particularly enjoy her approach to providing this synopsis as for me it allows a quick identification of which chapters might be most applicable to my CPD right now.

Gemma summarises:
  1. Chapter 1 looks at challenging the thinking that respect for teachers should be given rather than earned.  It examines the importance of meet and greet and how consistency from all members of staff is key in maintaining expected behaviours that demonstrate respect for others as well as property/surroundings. 
  2. Chapter 2 investigates behaviour sanctions and rewards and explores the benefits that can be achieved from having a single behaviour based goal for the class.
  3. Chapter 3 questions the value of an electronic reward token compared with deliberate effort such as a thoughtful remark.  It advocates the use of positive notes to recognise behaviour that is above and beyond, and how sharing this with parents and other key adults (HOD/HOH/SLT) can maximise their impact. 
  4. Chapter 4 surmises that the good behaviour seen in the classrooms of the teachers that make it look easy is gained as a result of students knowing that good behaviour over and above will be noticed and rewarded and that poor behaviour will be addressed with a non-emotional and appropriate response.
  5. Chapter 5 recommends the combination of classroom routines and use of positive encouragement is key to behaviour management.  Stating that in fact those teachers who seem to have something you don’t, that can magically improve a class's behaviour have actually spent time on having clear routines.
  6. Chapter 6 outlines the benefits of having a script when dealing with students that are being especially challenging/digging their heels in.  The writer concludes that having scripts keeps conversations short, not allowing the student to take more time from learners and helps you remain calm and avoid outburst which undermine your efforts.
  7. Chapter 7 explores sanctions and the punishment system.  It encourages teachers to avoid ‘chasing secondary behaviours’ and this either escalates the initial issue or allows the student to avoid being accountable for the first behaviour. The writer challenges the reader to remove lengthy detentions with restorative meetings instead (
  8. Chapter 8 gives champions the benefit of restorative conversations adding a walk and talk can be as powerful/beneficial as holding it in a more formal setting.  It highlights that the focus should not be on gaining an apology.
  9. Chapter 9 proposes that kindness is sometimes the best way to deal with angry learners (and parents). Reminding the reader of some of the trauma suffered by students and how that links to their behaviour.
  10. Chapter 10 maintains the need for everyone to know the rules and concludes this is achieved by them living every day in conversations between the adults and learners rather than being on posters.  It recommends having 3 simple rules that are interwoven with the school values and emphasises that the key to the chosen rules are that they have been formed through sincere collaboration with all stakeholders.
  11. Chapter 11 invites the reader to make a 30 day pledge and that sharing these pledges with others will make them easier to achieve.
Thank you so much Gemma for taking the time to provide such a clear synopsis. I particularly took time to reflect on the 30 day pledge and considered what it might involve for me. Following a particularly difficult conversation with my six year old yesterday, whose facing home learning burn-out, my pledge is to 'Consider his frustrations at the monotony of the situation and to provide variety and creativity in his days to ensure the main focus is fun and happiness'. By sharing it with you all, you can hold me accountable! This is a great 3 minute read on what your 30 day pledge could be if you wish for further reading over half term:

Friday 15 May 2020

What are our lesson design principles to reduce cognitive load?

Whilst we're deep in the midst's of our curriculum reviews, in my latest blog post I wish to shine a light on 'lesson design principles' as many of us our progressing on from conceptual links we want to make across year groups and key stages, towards the planning stages of any new schemes of work. This is not a blog post about what colours or fonts our lesson materials should be, but rather the principles of how we coherently map the learning pathways in our everyday lessons.

What is my reasoning for this? It stems from an email communication I have had with a Year 10 parent this week. Her child is dyslexic and before home learning commenced, as a parent she knew very little about the format and layout of the resources that her child was given in school. Her first comment was 'May I thank you for the clarity of the resources you have been uploading, my child is able to work out exactly what is expected of him as you have not overloaded the instructions'. Mike Marsh will be proud!! 

I stumbled across this old twitter post from Oliver Caviglioli during my research: 
Yes, I appreciate that the message is a relatively obvious one but its the 'interaction to reduce the cognitive load for the user' part that grabbed my attention. Why do we focus so much on cognitive load? Because we have a duty to reduce the demands on our students working memories so that they can learn more effectively. Let's remind ourselves of this concept in which it is essential that we provide adequate opportunities for our students to retrieve knowledge they have learned, but that their initial introduction to this new knowledge must be carefully planned so as not to overwhelm their senses. For further reading on this, can I recommend this 2 minute read from Teacher Toolkit:

So how does this relate to 'lesson design principles'. As we consider our curriculums moving forward, and our desire to make them ambitious, knowledge rich and culturally broad, we must assign time to consider how we present these lessons to our students. Within 'Teaching Walkthrus' by Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli, the following principles are encouraged, especially in relation to the learning of new knowledge: 
1. Use tables with columns of related information.
2. Bullet point lists of key words and ideas that you deem the most important aspects students should know.
3. Show sequence in your lesson or knowledge pathway with natural flows on your resources.
4. Ensure that diagrams are clearly labelled and avoid the use of extended prose - save that for when time is not so overwhelmed and knowledge has been retrieved and not learned for the first time.

How do we then build on this to ensure our learning pathway is challenging and progressive? Well we then provide supports at what the authors call an 'overview level'. These whole-task scaffolds we may wish to plan in can include:

1. Essay structure strips - guidelines for a series of paragraphs.
2. Partially completed examples - started off but not finished.
3. Checklists of success criteria
4. Checking prompts i.e. have to ensured your point is backed up with evidence?
5. Examples of completed tasks that students can assess.

Finally, it is important that we 'take the scaffolding down too'! I love this phrase! During my PGCE back in 2003, scaffolding was the absolute buzz word. To be told to take it down is provocative, if a little scary. However, if all other lesson design principles are followed then this part of the lesson can be easily achieved with a Mangotsfield favourite - I do it, We do it, You do it - I, WE, YOU! Its vital we give students the chance to show what they are capable of unsupported. Choosing when we remove the scaffolding is our own professional decision but one we should grasp the opportunity to do with both hands. I for one will be building these principles into the new lessons I am currently planning for the re-energised Geography KS3 curriculum.

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Visible Learning for Literacy - a review by John Bowyer.

As part of our ongoing 'self CPD' John Bowyer chose to read 'Visible Learning for Literacy'
by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Hattie'. His reasoning for choosing this book focuses on the fact that for several years, arguments have been raging in education over whether or not collaborative learning or a more teacher directed, didactic approach get the best results. He summarises that this book argues that both are necessary - the important thing is when you use them. 
John kindly explains: The writers argue that the teaching of new content should come in three phases, as outlined below. 
1.Before teaching: It is paramount to build positive relationships, as it assumes that many students are not bothered about whether or not they get into trouble so we need to build an atmosphere where students do not want to disappoint us. 2. Scheme of Learning: start with a thorough pre-assessment - what knowledge, understanding and skills do the students already have?
Phases of Learning
What this means
Most appropriate teaching approach
Formative Assessment
One: Surface Learning - what is
Basic knowledge and facts around  a concept
Direct instruction, annotation, Cornell note taking; summary writing.
Quizzes, asking students to write summaries of what they understand
Two: Deeper Understanding - how to use it
Understanding how and why 
Concept mapping, repeated reading, discussion, self testing
How and why questions; listening to student discussions
Three: Transfer Knowledge - when to use it
Understanding how and when to apply new learning
Discussion based tasks, more open ended work, students produce extended work
Feedback and drafting - students held accountable for producing something.
3. Work out your impact as a teaching with a post assessment. Subtract the mean post assessment score from the mean pre assessment score and divide by the average standard deviation for the class (yes really!!). The authors regard this step as essential. It’s quite easy to work out. You end up with one of the famous John Hattie effect sizes:
This has certainly given me a lot to think about and I think the main thing that I will try to change is to balance my efforts more towards planning over a term rather than concentrating so much on trying to teach good individual lessons.
Thank you so much John for this clear and diligent summary of your key takings from this text. As we continue to share our main findings we are able to eliminate the workload for each other. This homebred style of CPD is paramount to building our culture for Teaching and Learning discussion so please do continue to forward your book synopses as and when you have the time. If you wish to read more about John Hatties effect sizes, can I recommend this blog post:

Friday 8 May 2020

Love of Learning Book Reviews - Outstanding Teaching, Engaging Learners

Laura Markwell kindly writes:

Over this period of time where we have had extra hours in our day (if we are lucky enough) I have been reading ‘Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners’ by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns (published in 2012). The main theme that the book covers includes redressing the balance in the classroom so that students take more responsibility for their learning, as a class can be skilled and motivated to learn without a teacher always having to lead. Engaging learners in this way unpicks intrinsic motivation, the foundation that underpins a productive learning environment.

The love of learning strand of the Mangotsfield Way is exactly what this book links to, as it provides an array of different strategies to use in the classroom to engage learners. The book provides many examples of how one engagement strategy could be used in multiple different subject types, making it easy to put into practice immediately.

As part of the Love Learning Group I chose to make my research topic based around engagement of pupils, therefore my research area complemented this book title. For me, the main reason I wanted to focus on this area for my professional development was linked to how I felt my classroom environments displayed themselves. I often feel that I have 50/50 engagement in my lessons, with half the class being fully engaged, however half the class is only ever partly engaged and that is due to teacher persistence. Therefore I was intrigued as to how to master the art of gaining whole class engagement in a lesson, without having to work harder than the students and undermine what the students have the ability to achieve.

My top three strategies from this text include:

1. Learning grids (see image) – Learning grids require a class set of dice.  Students will roll the dice twice – to give them a number they can use for the horizontal and vertical line (for example 2 across and 4 down). Within it could include key words and topics, therefore when a student lands on a grid square containing a key word they must provide the definition and when a student lands on a grid square containing a topic they must provide a short explanation.

2. Snowballs – Each student receives a piece of paper on which they write their name. On the same piece of paper each student writes a question based on either a current or previously learnt topic. The students screw their piece of paper into a ‘snowball’ and throw it in the air. Each student then has to find another snowball, unwrap it and add to the questions. This can be done a number of times before each paper is returned to its ‘owner’. The students then answer the questions created on their original ‘snowball’. 

3. Connect Four – This will look similar to the learning grid, however each grid square could contain a question. Students would work in pairs to answer the questions, allocating themselves a colour each. If a student gets a question correct they would colour the grid square (or use a counter). The aim is to achieve four grid squares in a row of the students colour (exactly like the game Connect Four).

My next research venture is to look at ‘Love to Teach: Research and Resources for Every Classroom’ by Kate Jones, to discover more creative and engaging strategies to use in the classroom.

Love of Learning Group - 'When the Adults Change Everything Changes'

Tiff Partridge kindly writes: 

I have been reading, ‘When the Adults Change Everything Changes’ by Paul Dix ( The book first came to my attention through my children’s primary school. The head teacher there had introduced some changes to whole school policy as a direct result of reading the book. My children came home excited about ‘fantastic walking’ (one of Dix’s strategies), and so my interest was spiked.

The main premise of the book is that if you want to improve the culture of a school you need to first look at the adults in the school - their behaviour is the only thing over which we have absolute control. It’s an entertaining read which is easy to follow and has many strategies that you can take away and use in the classroom. 
The book focuses on behaviour management but by doing so it provides readers with tried and tested approaches to engage learners in the classroom. It makes the link that once learners feel safe, respected and understand the boundaries set out by adults they can truly begin to develop their love of learning.

This book appeals to me because it takes an issue that is relevant to every teacher and every school. I often work with teachers in a coaching capacity and this book shares best practice in a way that is positive, non-judgemental and insightful. The book gives a real insight into how developing a positive ethos and culture across the school, whereby adults treat behaviour with consistency and kindness, can have huge impacts on the quality of learning that takes place. 
  1. Visible Consistency, Visible Kindness: In summary the idea that what every teacher/adult in the school does matters. In order for shifts in school behaviour to take place, everyone has to play their part in a consistent approach.
  2. A recognition board: Choosing the behaviour you want to focus on in the lesson. When you see the student using that behaviour you write their name on the board. The aim is to have everyone’s name on the board at the end of the lesson. No prize, over recognition - just a realisation that the class are a team where everyone’s behaviour matters.
  3. Parent on the shoulder: I loved this expression that was given as an anecdote in the book from a deputy head teacher, it went...if you want to regulate your response to poor behaviour from the students then just imagine the child’s parent on your shoulder and you won’t go far wrong. This was in relation to a chapter that focused on the way adults speak to children and a reminder that as adults we need to not get over emotional! 

What have you been reading? Further CPD findings and musings....

First and foremost, I wish to extend my thanks to the Love of Learning group this week who have taken the time to provide some very detailed synopses of their CPD reading. Below I will share with you the findings from Ryan Smith's chosen text 'How to Teach: English' by Chris Curtis.

Ryan kindly writes:

I chose to read 'How to Teach: English by Chris Curtis'. The depth and range of ideas supplied in this book will hopefully add to a love of learning for my students and the fact that they are all English-focused will allow a higher proportion of them to be usable for me as opposed to a more generic text.

The vast majority of CPD books or articles I have read have not been subject-specific. I know that as a result of this I will choose ideas that are similar to those I already use or that easily fit within my teaching style. My theory is that by having a book that is focused towards my subject I might feel more willing to try things that are more outside of my pedagogical comfort zone.

When considering 'what is my greatest take away or strategy learned from this text' then it has to be the really good ideas on trying to create ‘formulas’ for writing. I do something like this in text analysis, but haven’t got round to trying to make it work for creative writing. I like this because it seems like a more useful alternative to sentence starters, while giving students enough structure to feel like they have help. As they’re formulas, you can practice them in class too,

so they will have a sense of familiarity to students, even when applied in new contexts. I feel this would be particularly beneficial to my current year 10 class of boys.

The second idea I liked was to start discussions from a ‘negative’ stand point, giving students a sense of having to defend themselves or someone / something they like.

Finally, I wish to highlight this strategy centred around having students write about a specific object or idea, but write trying to create different feelings in the reader. This forces students to consider how their writing is making their readers feel and to really consider the effect of their writing and teaches them flexibility in their writing. This avoids me giving students a topic that lends itself to the feeling I want to create, which is the easier and usually chosen option.

The first thing I will be doing is creating knowledge organiser type documents using some of the formulas for creative writing to act as ‘learning mats’ for the students. Again, this would be aiming to bridge the gap between no help and sentence starters. I’d want to add some of my own to this too.

Friday 1 May 2020

Curriculum Development - it's forever, but not how you think!

All departments are heavily in the midst's of curriculum reviews to ensure we have departmental curriculums that are framed around our whole school principles. These are aimed at ensuring our curriculum is ambitious, knowledge rich, culturally broad and inline with National Curriculum principles. 

The strongest curriculums are born from a process or 'discussion and disagreement' where 'discourse leads to distinction' (Rosalind Walker 2020). I stumbled across this wonderful blog post, after Mark Enser (a leading light in the Geography teacher world) shared it on twitter. For me, it summed up superbly the reasons and rationale behind curriculum reviews and redesign. Never should we say our curriculum is complete, it is always a work in progress as we should be debating and discussing with one another how it should grow and evolve. 

As Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli's recent research states 'Knowledge is empowering, unlocking doors, providing a foundation for achieving success. The more students know, the more they can learn' (Teaching Walkthrus 2020). This ties so specifically with our Mangotsfield aims to develop a knowledge rich curriculum - but how can this be done? I would like to refer back to this post from a year ago by Alex Quigley ( He summarises that we must first:
1. Identify the invaluable knowledge we want students to know - if we strip away time from our subjects, what are the immoveable pieces of knowledge they have to know?
2. Consider how we are sequencing the learning of this new knowledge - i.e. spaced learning and retrieval practice.
3. Make sure that time is given to developing 'networks' between the powerful knowledge -  considering how we think and how we use that knowledge to commit it to long term memory.

In a nutshell, whilst we're deep in our curriculum reviews, let's not lose sight of the discussion elements that will make our curriculums more robust. Don't be afraid to debate, disagree and argue - this professional discussions build stronger curriculums in the long run.

If you would like to read the fantastic article that inspired this post further then please click on this link. A summary by myself does not do justice to the eloquence of this article:

Retrieval Practice Revisited!

Huge thanks to Caroline Bates for this addition to my earlier post on Retrieval Practice. By chance, Caroline had chosen to read the same book as me (Retrieval Practice by Kate Jones) and wished to share one of her key findings from the book. She has already produced her own version of this specific strategy which she is kindly allowing me to share with you all.

The strategy is called the 'Retrieval Practice Revision Menu'. Many of our students neglect the science behind revision, the need to mix up tasks, challenge their short and long-term retrieval of information and layer their revision over spaced time. 

It is important that all students are familiar with all of the tasks on the menu, it is worthwhile therefore using them in a lesson to ensure they have the tools to be able to complete them at home independently. This is Caroline's RS version:

The other element of the book that is worth sharing with regards to this revision menu is Kate Jones mantra for READ, RETRIEVE, REVIEW, REPEAT. This four step plan can be embedded into any lesson with the following stages: 

1. What keywords are connected to the topic? 'List it' is great to use here as well as a 'brain dump' where students must purge every last piece of knowledge they can recall from their memories.
2. Explain what the keywords mean in your own words? 
The Kagan structures of Quiz, Quiz Trade or All Write Round Robin are useful to support LAPs with this stage.
3. Can you list the main concepts or pieces of knowledge that are connected to this unit?
Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday are great ideas for this stage - if you are lucky enough to teach your classes on these alliteration inspired days! At the end of the week, ask students to write ten facts they have learned from your lessons that week and build this knowledge bank overtime.
4. Apply this knowledge to an exam question on this topic. 
Fairly self explanatory but all formative assessment must lead to summative in time.

Once again, thank you to Caroline for taking the time to share her key strategy and to encourage me to revisit the 4R's this book delivers on. Please do continue to send me the highlights of any books/chapters/ blogs that you have been exploring. The more we share, the more time we have to spare!