Activity

2.4: Developing your teaching

Time allocation

1 hour 15 minutes

Instructions

  • There are three areas for you to develop your classroom practice.
  • Click on each one to go to a summary of why it’s important, what success looks like and ideas for practice.
  • Select one of the ideas for practice from each area to try out in your classroom.
  • This will require some additional planning either individually or in collaboration with a colleague.
  • You should also evaluate the effectiveness of the approach you use and impact of this in discussion with your mentor.

The intended outcomes of this activity are for you to:

Learn that
2.2 Prior knowledge plays an important role in how pupils learn; committing some key facts to their long-term memory is likely to help pupils learn more complex ideas
2.9 Worked examples that take pupils through each step of a new task, process or problem are also likely to support pupils to learn
Learn how to
Build on pupils’ prior knowledge, by:  
2g Encouraging pupils to share emerging understanding and points of confusion so that misconceptions can be addressed

There is an obvious link between knowing about how pupils learn and teaching.

Three strategies which the research literature cites as having beneficial outcomes to prevent cognitive overload and transfer information to their long-term memory are:

Worked examples

Doing this in your classroom will mean…

  • Pupils are quicker able to understand a new idea or concept.
  • Pupils are more confident to complete a task, using your worked example as a guide.
  • Pupils make fewer mistakes when they are working independently.

Instructions

Create an independent (homework) task with worked examples to guide pupils

  • Decide what task you would like pupils to complete.
  • Break the task into sections with similar problems or themes grouped together. 
  • For each section, complete a worked example. Annotate your answer showing the steps you took to complete the task (e.g. “Divide by 2 on both sides to balance”, “underline the adjectives & circle the verbs”).
  • Give pupils questions to complete independently and instruct them to use your worked example to guide them.

Live model a worked example on the board

  • Display a question or task which you would like pupils to be able to complete. Use a whiteboard or a visualiser to work through the example question, verbalising each step in your thinking and process, e.g. “I am first going to draw out the sweets each person has”.
  • Do more than one worked example on the board if needed.
  • When ready, set pupils some questions similar to the one you have just solved which could be partially solved already to help manage the cognitive load.
  • Leave your worked example on the board as a prompt.

Help pupils commit key facts to their long-term memory

Doing this in your classroom will mean…

  • Pupils will be able to recall a set of facts or knowledge from memory.
  • Pupils will engage with complex ideas, drawing on key facts which they have in their memory.
  • Pupils will be confident when encountering complex content because they have secure foundational knowledge.

Instructions

Flashcards

  • Create a set of flashcards for the subject or theme with the key facts you want them to learn. You could either create these yourself in advance, or with older pupils create them together.
  • Put a question or prompt on one side, and the answer on the other.
  • Have a class set or one set per student.
  • Pupils can spend time (in class or at home) using the cards to retrieve knowledge. They ask a question, recall the answer and say it out loud, then flip it over to check whether it is correct.
  • Pupils should only remove a card from the deck when they have seen it come up three times or more and have correctly answered it.
  • Pupils should shuffle the deck in between retrieval practice so the order doesn’t become predictable.

Quiz, quiz, trade

  • Plan a set of flashcards which have questions on one side and answers on the other.
  • It works well with content you want pupils to repeat a lot (e.g. times tables or quotes from a text).
  • Give each pupil a card and ask them to work with a pupil next to them.
  • Pupils take turns to ask each other the questions on their card and have time to check the answers with each other (quiz, quiz).
  • Pupils then swap cards (trade) and turn around to speak to a new partner.
  • To ensure that the focus remains on the content which you want pupils to learn, you might include a capture sheet where pupils can write down their working out or record their answers as they go.
  • It might be helpful to have some extra cards ready because pupils will naturally start to circle back to the same cards again so you can quickly swap a card in and out if that happens.

Encourage pupils to share emerging understanding and points of confusion so misconceptions can be addressed

Doing this in your classroom will mean…

  • Pupils expose existing gaps in their prior knowledge or existing misconceptions before you teach new material.
  • Your planning will improve to take into account pupil prior knowledge and potential misconceptions as they are forming.
  • You address points of confusion and misconceptions quickly before they take root.

Instructions

Think, pair, share

  • It is helpful to set up pairs in advance and label pupils A or B.
  • Pose a question to the class.
  • Give time for pupils to think. This should be on their own. They might write down their ideas or thoughts in their books.
  • After a few minutes, ask pupils to talk in pairs. Pupil A goes first, followed by B. They should compare answers. Did they agree/disagree?
  • During this time, you should circulate and listen in to pairs’ answers to hear what they have understood or not.
  • Once pupils have had enough time to discuss the answer in pairs, bring the class back together and call on a few pupils to share their ideas from the pair with the class.
  • You can use this information to decide what to do next. If there are misconceptions or misunderstandings, you can intervene and maybe re-teach that part. If everyone has understood, you can move on to the next stage of the lesson.

Shared misconceptions 

  • Choose a topic or a concept which you have been learning about.
  • Write some multiple-choice question on the topic, including some misconceptions you think the class may have.
  • When you have looked at pupil answers identify which of the misconceptions are common in the class.
  • Talk it through with the class and dissect the thinking.
  • Present it in a positive way to show pupils that uncovering and correcting misconceptions is an important part of learning.
  • Use questioning to get pupils to unpick the misconception.
  • Ask pupils to then correct their own work.

In your notepad

  • Which idea(s) for practice did you try? 
  • What did you do? 
  • What happened?
  • What will you do next?