In case you are not an aficionado of the @staffrm project, have a look, but be prepared to spend a ling time. There's a lot of us contributing.
This collection is my attempt to collate my ideas in one place.
We’re going on a writing hunt, going to write a story starter; it’s a lovely day.
We’re not scared, we’ve got ideas and lots of words too.
We’ve got to make a storyboard, images first, joining up ideas.
First we’ve got to talk it, saying it out loud, to a listening partner.
Now we’ve got to write it, trying to write about five sentences.
How shall I start?
Nervously… Timidly… Excitedly… Obviously…
Next I need an adjective,
Big, small, huge, minute, enormous, microscopic?
Then an interesting verb,
Creeping, sneaking, crawling, slithering?
I started with an adverb, so maybe don’t need another?
How to complete the sentence, because I have to have a complete sentence?
Silently, a little egg lay on a leaf. There, that’s the first.
What will happen next?
The egg lay quietly, undisturbed for a week, soaking up the warm sun.
Within the egg, unseen, massive changes were happening;
Cells were altering, shifting, taking on specific shapes and moving so that a clear outline was developing.
One fine day, the egg case started to break and out came a small, but beautifully formed caterpillar.
It’s playtime, so it is time to stop for today.
Hope I’ve done enough and that it is good enough for Miss.
She’ll take it and mark it and then tell me what to make better, which I’ll do tomorrow.
Then I’ll do the next chapter.
I like writing; it is something that I can do and Miss helps us.
We have pictures or storyboards or story maps to help us to plan and organise our ideas.
We have time to find interesting words to make our writing more interesting.
We talk with a partner to make sure that our story makes sense,
Then we write it,
But although we might make mistakes, we get help to make them right.
We have time to think, and
Miss encourages us to use the more difficult ideas we learn in other lessons.
I do my best in writing and always try to make the next one better,
Perhaps by using more interesting words or more creative sentences.
I may not be a writer one day, but I do enjoy writing.
I’m glad we went on writing hunts.
ps. I’m even more glad that Miss reads and tells us lots of stories
and makes sure that we read a lot too.
That’s where a lot of my ideas come from.
pps Miss uses this two page approach to our writing, which helps too.
I was surprised to discover that the National Writing Project, 1985-88, which played a very large part in my classroom career, took place nearly thirty years ago. The project coincided with Deputy Headship and taking a Postgraduate diploma in language and reading development, so allowed a level of immersion and reflection which then had an impact on the English curriculum approaches when I took up my headship. An articulation of the writing approach adopted is the subject of an earlier post on a two page, process based approach to writing.
It is amazing to think that, after thirty years, we are still looking for an approach that “works” to ensure that children become writers. There are only so many ideas within writing; we should be capable of putting them together in a coherent whole.The CfBT education Trust wrote a pamphlet in 2008 to describe the need for a revamped UK National Writing Project along the lines of the USA, where the government had continued to pursue the process, whereas in the UK, the NWP stopped in 1988, at a point where it was argued that the National Curriculum embedded many of the aspects of the project.
The NWP in the USA started in California (Bay Area Writing Project) in 1974 in response to concerns over the level of children’s writing. After a few years this went national and has remained so since.
Basic tenets of the National Writing Project (USA) approach
The basic tenets of the National Writing Project were that:
1. to teach writing, you need to be able to write
2. students should respond to each other’s writing
3. the teacher should act as writer alongside the students, and be prepared to undertake the same assignments as the students
4. there is research about the teaching of writing that needs to be considered and applied, where appropriate, in the classroom
5. teachers can be their own researchers in the classroom
6. the best teacher of writing teachers is another writing teacher
7. various stages of the writing process need to be mapped and practised: these include pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, conferencing (see no 2 above) and publishing.
A fuller account of the way in which the National Writing Project (USA) works to support teachers is contained in Wood and Lieberman (2000), cited below.
The remainder of this article can be viewed on this extended blog
The basic question is whether we need a national conversation about how best to ensure children grow up able to write as well as possible.
Progress and Outcomes are phrases on most lips of people involved in education in any form, teachers, SLT, Governors, teacher trainers, each of who is seeking to make sense of them in a “post levels world”.
Where there are now multiple systems for supposedly assessing children’s outcomes, with ladders or phases being two local examples, every school then puts their own spin on these, so no two schools are alike. This can make for interesting misunderstandings when visiting a range of schools. The change was supposed to make sharing progress information within schools and with parents more easily understood. I am yet to meet anyone during my school visits who really believes this.
The richness of the Primary curriculum available in Hampshire in 1987 was made clear, when the first NC came about, as most schools didn’t have a lot of rejigging to do to accommodate the change. Equally, when adjustments were made, these only required some topics moving up or down a year. Teaching remained largely the same. The biggest difference was in the level of discussion within the schools about outcomes, with clarity in assessment language enabling high quality moderation between teachers and between schools. As a result, outcomes rose significantly over a relatively short time.
Sub-levels and APP recording had the opposite effect, in that the curriculum began to become less rich, as people started to plan for supposedly minute levels of progress. The activities often were “stand alone”, as “assessment tasks”, with little impact beyond ticking a box.
It is right that we should seek to ensure the richest possible curriculum is available to children, but the loss of a common language between schools may well stifle learning conversations, or make them more difficult. Transitions in school may well include moderation meetings between teachers, but this is less likely at transfer, with Secondaries preferring to test all the new entrants on one scale, rather than seek to equate the different records from a wide number of schools.
As for discussions with parents and individual children, it is becoming clear that curriculum delivery is uppermost in minds, as non-completion of the SoW for the yeargroup will mean that those children cannot be at Age Related Expectation. What this then means for higher or lower achieving children is still to be seen. I am still waiting to hear what really constitutes a “deeper” curriculum in a year group.
All this, significant, change has been occasioned because the argument was made that more children should enter Secondary education at a “secure level 4”, in order to achieve 5 A*-C grades at 16. If 4b was the target at KS2 (and 2b at KS1), it didn’t need an earthquake and a tsunami curriculum change. It needed a few tweaks, a richer curriculum and a lot of moderation discussion between schools.
That way, everyone would have moved on, and developed, together, through high quality internal CPD.
Linked (extended) blog
If you were allowed to suggest a possible solution to education issues, what would you choose? Here's mine.
Allow teachers to think (creatively), it is their job. Creating quality learning challenge demands drive and commitment. One size does not fit all and children have different learning needs.
Teacher mantra: - analyse, plan, do, review, record.Know your children well, analyse their needs.
Plan engaging challenges for all abilities, in class and at home.
Do, teach them well, choosing the best ways to get ideas across.
Review and adapt within the lesson, then reflect and evaluate after to decide the best way forward.
Record what you need to keep as an aide memoire. Clear reports to parents.
The whole of this idea is based on getting to know the learners in your class as well as possible.
#assessmenttip 1 Watch what children are doing. Spot the difference between today and yesterday/last week/month. Identify and celebrate.
#assessmenttip 2 Get children to talk about what they are doing. Ask Qs to clarify and explore their thinking. Ask Qs to challenge.
#assessmenttip 3 Engage in what they are producing, both in terms of appropriate skill and also the detail of the outcome. Check, advise...
#assessmenttip 4 Keep records, be aware of outcomes that can show developing patterns that might require deeper engagement.
#assessmenttip 5 Ask questions that need answers to show clearly what a child "knows" (at the point of testing)
#assessmenttip 6 If in doubt, work closely with individuals, observe, talk, question, clarify, reflect, repeat as necessary.
#assessmenttip 7 Broaden your understanding of children's outcomes to balance your judgement, especially at the upper/lower margins.
#assessmenttip 8 Create learning challenge that enables children to demonstrate looked for skills and knowledge.
#assessmenttip 9 Know chn, plan challenge, engage learners, advise, adjust to need, check outcomes, know chn better. Refine next challenges.
#assessmenttip 10 Sit down, think of a child, sum up what you know about him/her and what you need to know next. Repeat for class.
#assessmenttip 10a In September, write a classlist; who gets forgotten?
#assessmenttip 11 Write down essential information, to collate over time, to determine patterns. You can't remember everything.
#assessmenttip 12 Recognise limits of your own skill. Use skill, knowledge and experience of others to extend/enhance, to benefit learners.
#assessmenttip 13 If you can’t remember all the targets and the details of what you want from each and every child, tweak your work books, so that they become personal learning organisers.
For a fuller exploration of each of these topics, see the full blog.
Policy; make sure that the school policy for Inclusion is written in such a way that it is easily understood by the wider audience, has the potential to impact on the overall school ethos and can be tracked and evaluated regularly. Reference is likely to be made to associated policies, such as behaviour, safeguarding, parents and teaching and learning (all abilities).
Policy; Interpret the broader policy into a shortened series of memorable statements. Translate as needed for any significant heritage groups. Display expectations clearly around the school and refer to them regularly, in class or in assemblies.
Clear lines of responsibility are essential. Good record keeping at all stages is a hallmark of effective, supportive practice. Record keeping should be streamlined, but be easy for staff, parents and external expertise to effect and be seen to have impact in supporting the school's ability to support the children.
Communication in all its forms is the bedrock of successful inclusion, between all parties. Ease of access for parents to key teaching staff can limit the impact of potential issues. Reduce the time for parents to brood on a possible problem. Parents can be the key to successful Inclusion; it is essential that children see the school and parents working together with a common purpose.
Know your children really well, the identified vulnerable ones, but also knowing what to look out for, so that none slip through the net. Know their personal situations as well as their academic achievements. Ensure that this information is known by those with a need to know, classroom teachers as well as mentor staff.
Plan for individual personal support. Allocate a specific member of staff to be the front line mentor and support. Where there are a number of vulnerable children, ensure that each mentor has a manageable number to monitor.
Teachers differentiate appropriately in academic situations. This can take a variety of forms, but should provide challenge, as well as opportunities to succeed, to all abilities. Descriptions of different differentiation approaches are described in this article. chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/...
Personalise teacher response to children's needs in learning situations.This can be seen in:-Inputs which allow for the breadth of ability, through careful vocabulary selection, use of appropriate resources, use of metaphor or reference to prior learning.
Questioning quality, initial and scaffolded subsidiary questions.
Oral feedback, within the lesson should provide support and guidance to the next learning steps.
Marking which adds value to subsequent learning and which is enacted quickly to have impact.
Evaluating and reflecting on the system regularly, from individual examples to corporate level, to quality assure the whole system, seeking and utilising feedback from everyone concerned.
Inclusion is embedded in all the Teaching Standards 2012.
Inclusion is, in reality, doing your job, really well, for each and every child for whom you are responsible. Know the standards.
Where an argument has grown up that you can’t “see” learning in a lesson while in the hands of an experienced, effective teacher this can still mean a “bells and whistles” lesson, in novice hands, it can mean that “activity” becomes the main element.
Where there is a difference, I would suggest, is the quality of thinking that the lesson requires and this is a methodology that refines with experience. So what contributes to this development?
There is a likelihood that the lesson is premised on a (challenging) question, with learners seeking to explore an idea, with the teacher; it is a collaborative, thinking journey.
The teacher will ensure that the essential information is shared in ways that all learners have a solid base which provides the basis for thinking within the challenge. This may well through high quality Direct Instruction, but, equally may be supported by an exploration of an image, or a video clip, to provide both the imagery and the emotionally engaging “hook” that sustains learner interest. It will depend on the teacher ability to “conjure” the images through words.
The quality of teacher questions and the learner answers. The follow up questions to elicit further information, to understand how a learner has thought through an idea are key to progress, to ensure that misconceptions are identified and addressed.
Learner activities should embed appropriate challenge through questions that extract essential information, but also enable the learners to use the information to seek solutions.
Teacher awareness and responses to classroom nuances, such as “off task” behaviours keep the whole “ticking over”. This is embedded in teaching standards 6&5; thinking on your feed, making instant assessment of situations and adjusting to need.
Spotting the child who is easily fulfilling the task, is as important as seeing the child who may be struggling. Each will need some kind of interaction/intervention, to adjust or add to the task difficulty.
Unpicking solutions, within or at the end of the lesson, is important, to enable peers to explain their thinking to others, in so doing providing insights into effective thinking. The peer model can be powerful.
Celebrating thinking, through discussion, or display, provides oral and visual WAGOLLs, evidence of achievement by some that may encourage others.
We talk of thought processes. Children need to learn how to think, which they will only do by being offered problems to think through.
This, to me is the essence of a Growth Mindset classroom.
Children “doing an activity”, which could be a “recipe” to follow, does not automatically mean that they are challenged, thinking or learning.
Two pieces that I was able to read this morning caused polarised reactions.
The first, by J.L.Dutaut, was an insightful and honest account of practice in his classroom, which, during an Ofsted inspection was judged as outstanding, because, in addition to the essential lesson structure and information sharing, it was the quality of rapport that was highlighted as the significant factor in the success of the lesson.
The second was the reported speech by Nick Gibb, which appeared to extol the virtues of “facts, facts and nothing but the facts”. This may be doing Mr Gibb a disservice, but it echoes previous speeches in similar vein.
The simple fact in classroom teaching and learning is that, in the final analysis, the class teacher, standing alone with a class, is the arbiter of the lesson dynamics and this will depend on several factors, which can be distilled in part from the teaching standards (2012) and specific expectations on classroom teachers derived from SEND legislation.
8, 7, 1. The vast majority of teachers show professionalism, status and good class control, and have high expectations of themselves and their classes, both in terms of behaviour and learning, although the latter could be seen as becoming more refined within practice and experience.
4, 3. A well-ordered classroom, supported by well-ordered thinking, record keeping and availability of resources to effect good or better teaching, coupled with good subject knowledge are also pre-requisites of successful practice.
2. Having an understanding of what learners can achieve in ideal circumstances can provide a benchmark against which to judge outcomes, but the teacher also needs to be able to articulate progress that has been made between two points in time, by reference to prior and current performance.
6&5. Anyone reading my main blog, will realise that I see these two standards as the essence of teaching, in that, having planned and ordered and organised thoughts and resources, assessment and adaptation to evident needs are key to the success of all children. While a Direct Instruction approach might achieve with a majority of learners, to support the lower achievers and raise the bar for higher achievers requires greater insight into their thinking, which may well create the need for investigation or intervention. These two standards, to me, embed the teacher role within the SEND legislation 2014.
With the best will in the world, it is a rare teacher who can “hit every target” first time around. There is always a need to take stock, to re-interpret or to re-present ideas, I ways that all can access. It is within the talking with children that the teacher discovers the anomalies that need unpicking, usually by more detailed questioning.
This is why JLDutaut’s thoughtful blog resonated. It showed a reflective, reactive teacher, thinking with the learners, moulding ideas to their need and enabling them to make use of “the facts”, which to me is real teaching.
Ps. I love learning facts and finding out things.