Every teacher at KEGS is involved in a teaching and learning group called a ‘workshop’. We meet several times across the year to explore a particular aspect of pedagogy. Teachers select who to work with and what to work on. In May each year we have a non-pupil day that we call a ‘Leading Edge’ day where we run a 90 minute marketplace-style showcase of the work we’ve all been doing in our groups.
This year, the workshops covered a wide range of ideas although, interestingly, they were clumped around some common ideas:
- Learning texts by heart and reading aloud
- Testing and feedback from tests
- Using Edmodo as a platform for exchanging ideas and information beyond the classroom
- Deepening teachers’ subject-specific knowledge
- Lesson Study and IRIS as tools for self-reflection
Following some input in October, the workshops this year have had a stronger research emphasis with much more evidence gathering beyond teacher reflection. There has been greater use of assessment data and student surveys to evaluate the impact of the work. There is also a stronger tendency for people to express doubts about whether something has worked. Increasingly, people are referencing ideas brought in via a research-engaged outlook. It’s good to see Hattie and Willingham references in some of the reports. The refreshed KEGS CPD Library was given a big plug during the event and hopefully these ideas will continue to influence people’s thinking.
As always, the displays and examples of work were impressive but it was the discussions during and after the carousel (as it is known) that everyone valued the most. Sharing ideas in this way is a powerful way to energise people as we look ahead. There is so much enthusiasm across the staff for talking about our work; we just don’t get enough time to do it. The final element in the process is for everyone to produce an A4 summary of their project: the aims, methodology, conclusions and next steps. These will be compiled and shared before the end of term in an attempt to capture the essence of what we’ve learned, before we go round again next year.
The 2014 CPD Marketplace included:
An innovative RE syllabus – developing an introductory Y7 syllabus exploring early religions in Britain from Stonehenge to Celtic and Norse Anglo-Saxons a way to explore general concepts in religion.
Economics AS Lesson Study – a report from a group who had undertaken two cycles of lesson study following the NTEN guidelines, working on using exemplar essays to support writing 18 mark essays. A great process and outcome. A more detailed post is here.
Maths A Level Teacher knowledge and confidence. This was a superb example of teacher-led CPD. Across the Maths department the teachers have different strengths in the content of the Further Maths modules. They identified their weaker areas and followed a process of teaching each other, preparing lessons and resources and testing their improved knowledge in the classroom supported by peer observation. Some said it was the best CPD they’d ever done, building confidence and having real impact. They ran a superbly interactive stall too, with puzzles to solve.
Edmodo: In science, geography, drama, DT/electronics, French and politics different teachers have been exploring how Edmodo can be exploited to enhance the learning process in their areas. The different approaches covered resource sharing, coursework tracking, assessment, online debates, pre-reading of material and a superb AS French exchange of ideas with students from our partner school in Lyon.
In this example from politics students engage in a debate about the significance of source material, prior to the lesson, accelerating the process of exploring the issues in the lesson. All students can see the comments but the Edmodo environment provides all the teacher controls needed.
In geography, the teacher is using Edmodo as the basis of an MA study. She has evaluated numerous aspects of the platform and is able to provide a critical analysis – as well as a demonstration of how it works.
Skill development in Hockey: An exploration of a particular set of techniques of drills and feedback to improve skills in a sport that is not a key strength for many in the department.
Using an iPad in Art to document the creative process. A simple application of photos made into slide shows provided a powerful means of illustrating the artistic process creating exemplars for the future as well as a record for the artists.
Making videos for flipped learning in Maths: The Head of Maths had worked on this the previous year and found that, whilst there were plenty of drawbacks, the use of videos did have an impact in certain situations. This year he’d refined the process, using a more streamlined production technique – making and publishing a video within one free lesson – and found that on average students scored 70% on a test based on material they’d only learned via the video. His presentation is highly evaluative – eg what about those that only got 10% on the test? – but he’s found a niche where these videos are worth making to allow some acceleration through the content covered in lessons.
Improving behaviour using IRIS as a tool for self-reflection. Here a couple of teachers used IRIS videos of their lessons to evaluate their skills in relation to behaviour management, identifying their verbal and physical mannerisms as key factors – more than their use of the formal sanctions systems. Very interesting work eg: “It’s about HOW you consciously develop a postural, gestural repertoire which can have a multiplier effect on instructions and interventions”
Introducing 1:1 interviews as part of teaching AS Biology units. A group of biology teachers had explored the value of conducting individual interviews with students as a built-in part of the teaching process. It was obviously time intensive but they found that it has some very positive gains in terms of getting to know students and setting standards.
Geography Lesson Study: Y9 Redevelopment. The geography department used the lesson study process to develop a unit of work on the topic of redevelopment. They presented some of the student responses – with some more successful than others. The process was reported with clear positives and negatives identified for future development.
Year 8 Reading Aloud Project. This was undertaken by the Head of Year 8 and his team. Students were encouraged to read aloud in tutor time and were involved in a survey of their experience of reading aloud at home. This fed into work in other departments. Confidence and enjoyment were clearly linked as you might expect but this highlighted the need to give students opportunities to develop confidence in this area.
Chemistry tests: Giving more effective test feedback. The Chemistry workshop explored the structure and sequence of their tests alongside the feedback process. They felt that they hadn’t been getting enough formative mileage from the testing process and sought to address this. The results were generally positive showing that their new approach could be pursued further.
Physics: Impact of re-testing to secure knowledge and recall. Previously A level Physics topic tests have been mainly: test, go through the answers and then move on. We felt that introducing systematic re-testing might have long-term benefits to lock in the learning. Using identical tests we re-tested a sub-group of students and our data analysis showed that they did improve overall- although not as much as you might hope in some cases. It remains to be seen whether this has a long-term impact. Logistical complications did arise and, in future, we feel that setting shorter mini repeat tests will be more time efficient all round, instead of re-running full hour-long tests.
English, Latin and French: Poetry by Heart: This workshop group was responsible for the superb document highlighted in the Learning by Heart post. Their presentation provided an opportunity to listen to some of the recitals in Latin, French and English, mixing individual and choral samples. It’s a magnificent piece of work.
Beginner German Poetry by Heart followed the example of the Latin/English/French work above. Students had used a German literary text as a stimulus to create their own poems (translating from English to German) and to recite them in German by heart. Student responses were only display – astonishing work from Year 7 students.
Using Thinking Hats to improve Y13 essay writing in French. Interestingly, students find the open-ended discursive essay tasks demanding, not because of their French skills but because of their difficulty in thinking of enough things to say off the cuff, in response to a contemporary theme or topic. The thinking hats, taken from De Bono, were used to provide a simple framework for generating multiple responses from different perspectives. (It’s merely used as a device, not elevated to some kind of theory of thinking.) The outcomes on display showed how successful this had been.
Open-ended projects for PE GCSE and A level: The teachers in this group were looking to see where our ‘personal learning journey’ theme from our teaching and learning statement could be developed in practice. By setting students open-ended research and presentation tasks they generated a range of interesting responses. The GCSE students had taken to this slightly more positively than the A level students (on average) – but the students recognised the value in preparing them for their assessments. As a project, it yielded some interesting pointers to support and improve this approach in future.
Feedback loops in German: A German teacher examined the effectiveness of his marking with his AS groups, developing the use of feedback dialogues whereby students asked questions in response to the marking leading to short exchanges. This ensured engagement with the feedback as well as helping students to clarify their understanding.
Examination of role of direct teaching in Music and English. We all know that direct teacher instruction is powerful -right? But we’ve all also had the experience of being frustrated or even bored to death by a teacher when we just wanted to get on with the work ourselves. – Yes? In this workshop the role of teacher instruction was explored with detailed students surveys about the value of the teacher’s input. They explored the area of differentiating teacher input for students of different abilities and the interesting difference in teacher and student perceptions. Fascinating work – probably highly significant for all of us.
The research groups are not exclusively focused on teaching. The mentoring systems used by the pastoral team were evaluated using a mixture of data and teacher/student feedback. The cost benefit analysis in terms of time to outcomes was discussed alongside the issue of which students to target. Given the energy we put into this, it’s great to ask questions about what we do. A form tutor had looked at the use of tutor time and had tried running a weekly Newsday activity with some fabulous outcomes captured on video.
Overall, the event was brilliant. There is nothing quite like the enthusiasm of professional people discussing their work. The spirit of the event matters as much as the content in many ways. It works superbly well as a celebration of our research-engaged culture; it’s not just about one morning on an INSET day. These are the conversations that we have every week – when we can find the time. We’re all trying to find out what works and how to improve what we do. We’re also creating a collaborative culture that supports us as individuals as we go about our business. We’re in this together and events like this allow us to express that explicitly. It’s a wonderful thing.