This post contains a session that I ran with my first year Teach First participants on how to track and narrate progress as well as how to get students to reflect on this. This is an important part of effective teaching, although obviously there is a balance to be struck: lots of discussion of progress without any real learning isn’t right. Likewise, a lesson where the students feel lost because they don’t understand the direction of the learning is also not desirable (not to mention leading to behaviour problems). New teachers often tend to linger at the latter end of the scale: they don’t spend enough time sharing the direction of the lesson with the students, as a result of which the students themselves feel, quite justifiably, frustrated. This session was designed to help in this area, however it is important to tell participants that this is highly personal and open to interpretation; what works in one classroom will need to be adapted in another. What matters is getting the trainees trying these out for themselves as early as possible.
The learning objective and outcomes for the session are as follows:
And the structure:
I gave the group an impossible to solve task, asking them to sort meaningless symbols into equally meaningless categories:
After asking them what they learnt from this, the answer of course which was “nothing”, I introduced the learning objective and asked the same question, eliciting the response that you need to understand the learning objective to be able to properly understand the learning itself.
2) Ways of sharing objectives:
I then gave pairs different ways that I had found to share learning objectives (many, but not all, of which are purloined from David Didau). They had to discuss their method, answering some questions to reflect on how it might work for them, and then present this back to the rest of the group. All the methods are in the PowerPoint, attached below.
3) Using the SOLO taxonomy
I won’t say much about the taxonomy itself here, apart from to say that I think it is a fantastic way of helping students to really understand and take control of the learning process. Some excellent online resources related to the taxonomy here, here, here, and here.
In this part of the session, I introduced the taxonomy to the trainees in exactly the same way that I use when sharing it with my students for the first time. I took this method from a Guardian article about the taxonomy, and left it as it is. I then shared my own method for using the taxonomy to share, reflect on and discuss progress:
which is where I ask students to reflect,usually at the beginning, middle and end of the lesson, about where on the taxonomy they would place themselves, giving evidence for their decision. For example: I think that I am currently at the relational level, because I can define four kinds of imagery and relate this to how C.S. Lewis creates imagery in the book.
4) Utilising the learning
Finally, I asked students to come up with an objective that they were planning to teach in the next few days and create: 1) an interesting way of sharing that objective, 2) a way of including ideas from the SOLO taxonomy within the lesson. This is the most important part of the session as it ensures that the ideas included will turn up in real life teaching, rather than remaining in the abstract (see The CPD Paradox).
The session itself, containing all the required resources, is here: