A weekly update is proving demanding. Because teaching is demanding (and equally rewarding.)
This week I planned, taught, read around the authors of the text I teaching, compiled Youtube Playlists, attended a school Research Group forum on Retrieval Practice (in recognition of the kind support of the Session Lead and partly because I am interested in the topic of retrieval practice*). Thank you. And attended parents evening, as a parent. Always interesting.
I am interested in ‘
retrieval practice‘ ‘ assessing‘ ‘quizzing’ for far much more than retrieval. In fact, it is a fundamental strategy for my out bound teaching, as much as it is for consolidation of learning. In much the same way that Dylan Wiliam’s often cites it was a big mistake to call ‘formative assessment,’ – ‘formative assessment’ rather than something like ‘responsive teaching.’
I think that it was a mistake to call ‘retrieval practice’ – ‘retrieval practice,’ rather than something like low-stakes quizzing or teaching. I am arguing for the planned and routined use of low-stakes quizzing for pre-teaching (priming), for learning, for consolidation, re-learning and for revision with AnkiApp.
This week, I introduced my Y9 all-boy group to WebAnkiApp. Prior to the lesson, I had emailed the students a ‘Deck’ link. ‘My lesson before the lesson students’ getting us ready. 8 mins for unpacking, booting up and logging the laptops. Directed to their email, the boys picked up their invite and via a link they were directed to the AnkiApp website. Accounts created with school emails, the Deck was waiting for them in their “Web-based AnkiApp shared folder.” It was noisy and productive. Lots of personal and enquiring questions on getting set up – which was expected. A few boys had typed in the wrong email when creating accounts and hence were the missing Deck! PEBCAK – pilot error. This was not expected and slowed things down, now known
I offered minimal instruction. Just “play” / review. A deliberate and misleading instruction,albeit ‘Reviewing’ is very low stakes and feels like you are ‘playing,’ – especially when you get grade/ score. I briefly outlined the self-assessment card grading “Easy. Good. Hard. Fail.” Then the keyboard shortcuts. That was about it.
Still noisy… the boys were helping one another, sharing answers, a bit of “Settings” exploring… and then the first feedback/grades came in… and then it quieten. About 18 minutes into the lesson.
I set an arbitrary target of a grade C. On average, the students managed 250 plus reviews after 30 minutes focused, personalised practice. That is a lot of reading and a lot of thinking and 250 questions answered! More importantly, I wonder how many downloaded the Anki onto their mobile devices and practiced? Will this impact upon their confidence in class? Will it inform their writing? Their assessment performance? The motivation for English?
Making more of Houses
Borrowed from Twitter: Every year group has a different colour logo on their uniform. Every student has a house badge. So if a student you don’t know is disruptive [or brilliant] in corridors, you can narrow down who they are to 30 students. Pretty smart.
More different than alike? Teaching cycles
I am spending a lot of my morning run thinking about teaching cycles / sequences. Both macro (Curriculum long-term plans, coherence, spiralling, ambition, accessibility), but mainly meso (Topics- for English, I follow a 10 lesson cycle, 7 taught, preparing for assessment, controlled conditions assessment, feedback actions), less so micro or lessons.
The curriculum (select/non-selection of content), teaching cycles / routines / sequences, minimum substantive knowledge requirements, disciplinary knowledge,
skills, the role of homework /automation and AI. More than anything, conversations with Art, Geography and RE colleagues – reminded me of the significant differences between the allocation core and foundational subjects and the consequences on delivery. The difference in seeing four or five classes, of thirty students, four or five times a week compared to ten or more classes, twice or three times a week? That simple difference influencing every single one of the variable / decisions meso decisions. To what extent can we have whole school policy?