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Teaching and Learning

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Teaching and Learning Agenda 2019/20

The summer term is often a time when people gather their thoughts for the year ahead.  The work I do with schools and colleges is largely driven by a medium term improvement agenda: combining some initial support –  establishing areas to improve in current practice, setting some goals for the next 12-18 months – and … Continue reading

Do students have agency or not?

agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. In debates about learning and behaviour, I often think that people in education are conflicted about the extent of student agency.  Do students have agency?  Should they have agency – it is a good thing?  Are we meant to … Continue reading

How self-aware are you? (Be the fly on your classroom wall…)

I use this slide in several of my talks – capturing some of the variables that I encounter working with teachers across the system.   Here, I want to focus on self awareness. With some teachers, you kick off a post-observation discussion with a simple question: (how do you think it’s going? ) and they … Continue reading

Setting Great Homework: The Mode A:Mode B approach.

I have explored issues with homework in various different posts.  In particular, the research into homework by John Hattie is covered in detail in this post: Homework: What does the Hattie research actually say? I’m a firm believer that homework has an important role to play in providing a great education and fostering independent learning, as … Continue reading

10 Techniques for Retrieval Practice

Image Credit: https://emptechgroup.com/the-internet-of-things/ I’ve written about retrieval practice several times in other posts but here I just want to make it easy to lay out various alternative methods for the process of reviewing your students’ knowledge and understanding.   Before doing that, I would suggest that there are some key principles: Involve everyone:  Good techniques involve … Continue reading

The case for mixing modes of teaching: a mathematical model.

Here’s the truth.  We struggle to define the strategies that we deploy in our classrooms and, when we undertake research to identify the most effective strategies, there’s an awful lot of noise, error and variation between the conditions we’re studying in one place compared to any other.  However, various attempts have been made and we … Continue reading

10 Steps for Reviewing Your KS3 Curriculum

Now that schools are getting into the swing of the new GCSEs and KS3 assessment continues to present various challenges, it’s natural that a lot more attention is being given to the curriculum content at KS3.  Of course some will say that Ofsted’s much-trailed renewed interest in curriculum is playing a part too – but I’ve … Continue reading

Curriculum Notes #2:  Big picture first: then zoom in.

#2 in a series. I’ve often found that students in lessons are wading through a foggy cloud of confusion about why they are learning what they are learning.  I’ve been in that cloud plenty of times myself.  If, as an expert in a subject, you make a selection of the elements of the curriculum for … Continue reading

Curriculum Notes #1: Start out real, concrete, authentic.

Here’s the first of some short blog posts about detailed aspects of curriculum thinking. I observed a science lesson recently where students were looking at cells and were asked to recall the differences between plant and animal cells.  A student I spoke gave me this response:  animal cells are round and plant cells are rectangles. … Continue reading

Eureka! Teaching for creativity. C = f (K, P, D)

  Over the years I’ve thought a lot about the question of teaching for creativity.  Back in 2012 I wrote this post where I made some reasonably sensible general statements: It is uncontroversial that for us to solve Humanity’s problems, to create the conditions for a sustainable future and also to maximise the cultural richness of … Continue reading

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