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Rehearsal first; retrieval practice later – an important distinction.

In December, Efrat Furst delivered a superb masterclass as part of our In Action series where she explained the stages of learning using the models used in her brilliant blog posts such as https://sites.google.com/view/efratfurst/understanding-understanding. Within the context of her model, Efrat made a distinction between rehearsal and retrieval practice that resonated strongly with what I … Continue reading

Mastery and Maturation.. looking back down the mountain.

One of the great challenges in teaching is working out how far you need to go in any given unit of work to secure mastery of the content here and now – versus the extent to which you can move on, trusting that, over time, a deeper understanding will emerge. I’ve heard Mark McCourt explore … Continue reading

Five Years On.

This post is just a short personal reflection on the fact that it’s now five years since I left my last school. January 2017, my personal lowest point. Nobody had died – it wasn’t *that* bad – but the whole nightmare inspection scenario with all that comes before, during and after is so distorting; perspective … Continue reading

Shifting the curve – what will it take?

(Before reading this, you might also want to read this excellent post by Ben Newmark: https://bennewmark.wordpress.com/2021/12/29/learning-vs-exams/ which covers some similar issues) I’ve written a lot in the past about the bell-curve and why it’s an inherent feature of assessment thinking. It’s not a conspiracy; there will always be a distribution of performance and some students … Continue reading

Five Ways To: Enrich learning for everyone, not the few.

There are lots of situations in teaching where teachers enjoy extending and enriching their repertoire and succeed in engaging a proportion of a class quite successfully. However, all too often these teaching modes can feel rewarding to do but still allow some students to fall behind, not to participate, to disengage or to rely very … Continue reading

Falling through the cracks. Karim and the Bus Stop Method.

Earlier this week I observed some Functional Skills maths lessons in a college. Here we have students with low or no grades at GCSE aiming for a maths qualification that will hopefully give some sense of achievement. Most of the students were taking Level 2 courses in Digital/Media areas but are required to continue their … Continue reading

Five ways to: Sustain Student Attention

Five Ways. A series of short posts summarising some everyday classroom practices. In order to learn new conceptual ideas and new skills, we need to focus our attention -our conscious thinking – on the material we’re trying to learn. There’s a place for some intentional ‘attention-grabbing’ – something that breaks the rhythm of an exchange; … Continue reading

Five Ways to: Build Fluency

Five Ways. A series of short posts summarising some everyday classroom practices. Fluency is a concept in learning that suggests recall from memory with minimal effort and a level of automaticity.  Where we can do and say things fluently, recalling with relative ease, we have more capacity to engage with newer knowledge and unfamiliar situations. Where we … Continue reading

Five Ways to: Do Daily Review

Five Ways. A series of short posts summarising some everyday classroom practices. It’s now very common practice for teachers to begin a lesson with some form of retrieval practice activity. This is a good, common sense idea – there’s good reason to begin a lesson by reviewing what was covered in the last lesson so … Continue reading

Five Ways to: Check for Understanding

Five Ways. A series of short posts summarising some everyday classroom practices. In Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, he stresses the vital importance of Checking for Understanding. I explore this in some detail in this post: Check for Understanding… why it matters and how to do it. In Volume 1 of Walkthrus we cover the general … Continue reading

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