Thursday, 31 January 2008

CLL welcomes new readers

A warm welcome to staff who are visiting this blog for the first time.
The blogs contains resources that offer support in a number of areas.
You can search by topic using the Labels on the bottom right of the page to select the relevant posts.

My hope is that other staff will post items here, as one of the key qualities of blogs is their use for networking. It involves little more than typing.
You can also comment on posts and enter into discussion or debate with other posters.

Blogs are being increasingly used by teachers as a resource with students. Teachers post resources to support classwork or revision and students can respond with questions or comment.
Other blogs feature work by students to which teachers and other students can offer comments and advice. One GCSE History student received a positive comment on his essay on 19th Century US History from a Native American who had discovered the work on Google. Language teachers are using blogs to encourage communication between students in different countries.

If you would like advice on how to set up a blog please contact me.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Assessment for Learning: 8 schools project

The Assessment for Learning: 8 schools project was an action research project (July 2005– October 2006) initiated by the Education Department which sought to identify what helps pupils develop as motivated and effective learners and how AfL can be successfully developed whole school (through professional dialogue and collaborative working with teachers, school leaders and LAs). The project yielded evidence that assessment for learning improves pupil progress over the short and medium term and impacts on standards in the longer term.
Download the report here.
Here are two of the key findings:

AfL practice is most successfully developed where teachers work collaboratively within and across departments, share their practice and learn from what they and their peers do well. Change is most effective when there is a sustained professional dialogue between teaching staff and between staff and their pupils. In planning change, consideration needs to be given to establishing mechanisms for encouraging and facilitating this dialogue.

A secure and shared understanding of what effective AfL practice ‘looks like’ is essential for teachers to be able to reflect and develop their practice and for leaders to be able to help them do this. Isolated pockets of good practice can be developed by individual teachers but, for AfL to have significant impact, development needs to be whole school. Everyone, especially senior and middleleaders, must continue to develop a more insightful understanding of AfL.

Personalised Learning

Guidance and resources on Personalised learning, including AfL here.

School blog

There's another example of a blog here - which allows students to contribute and discuss a variety of topics.

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills

Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)are an integral part of the new KS3 curriculum.
A wide range of resources including more video clips on how to develop and support the development of these skills can be found at the same site where the videos in the post below come from. Check them out here.

Dylan Wiliam AfL videos

Another link to a Scottish site here where you can find video clips of Professor Dylan Wiliam talking about the potential of AfL.
The video clips take a while to download. I used right click on the download option at the bottom of the small screen to watch it in a new screen or you can click on the small arrow and wait.
If I can I'll aim to put these on the blog at a later date.

Monday, 28 January 2008

AfL training resources

Ashdown Technology College has the a page that allows you to download the original Education department training resources on AfL for each Curriculum Area, plus more besides here.
You can also download a powerpoint presentation here which explains the virtues and principles of AfL.
Thanks to Zoe Newbery for the links.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Testing, motivation and learning

One last post for today - and that is a link that allows you to download the report pictured left from the Assessment Report Group which is a summary of a systematic review of research on the impact of summative assessment and testing on pupils' motivation for learning and its implications for assessment policy and practice.

Classroom Assessment: Minute by Minute, Day by Day

This is the title of another article on how and why to use assessment for learning in the classroom.

A quote:
What we need is a shift from quality control in learning to quality assurance. Traditional approaches to instruction and assessment involve teaching some given material, and then, at the end of teaching, working out who has and hasn't learned it—akin to a quality control approach in manufacturing. In contrast, assessment for learning involves adjusting teaching as needed while the learning is still taking place—a quality assurance approach. Quality assurance also involves a shift of attention from teaching to learning. The emphasis is on what the students are getting out of the process rather than on what teachers are putting into it...

Peer assessment in action

The Guardian published this article on Peer Assessment three years ago. It shows the potential of Peer Assessment and other strategies to improve learning and raise achievement.

AfL in Scotland

I posted last month about how Scotland has been leading the way in developing new curriculum models. They are also setting standards in the use of Assessment for Learning. Check out this website for resources, guidance and case studies in the use of assessment.

Does assessment hinder learning?

There are some excellent insights in this talk by Professor Dylan Wiliam, one of the original authors of 'Inside the Black Box', on the need for the effective use of assessment to support and encourage learning. Wiliam argues:
If we are to design assessment systems that help rather than hinder learning, we must go beyond looking at the assessments themselves and look at deeper issues about how the assessments help learners and their teachers know where the learners are in their learning, where they are going, and how to get there.

Here are some quotes:
One of the great traps of teaching is the belief that teachers create learning. This is particularly important when teachers are under pressure to improve student results, because studies have shown that when teachers are told they are responsible for making sure that their students do well, the quality of their teaching deteriorates, as does their students’ learning (Deci et al. 1982), hence the old joke about schools being places where children go to watch teachers work.

As a result of their experiences, some students come to believe that ability is fixed. The reason that this is so injurious to future learning is that every time a student with this belief is faced with a challenging task, her or his first reaction is to engage in a calculation about whether they are likely to succeed or not. If they feel confident that they will succeed, or if they feel confident that the task is so hard that many others will fail, they will attempt the task. However, if they feel that there is a danger that they will fail while others will succeed, they will disengage in order to protect their sense of self. Put simply, they are deciding that they would rather be thought lazy than stupid. Given the stark choice between these two, it is the same choice that most adults would make.

Wiliam asks us to imagine:
what would happen if an airline pilot navigated the way that most teachers teach. The pilot would set a course from the starting point (say London) to the destination (say New York). The pilot would then fly on this heading for the calculated time of travel, and then, when that time had elapsed, would land the ’plane at the nearest airport, and upon landing ask “Is this New York?” Worse, even if the ’plane had actually landed in Boston, the pilot would require all the passengers to leave, because he had to get on to his next job.
This would be absurd, and yet, this is how most teachers teach. They teach a topic for two or three weeks, and at the end of that teaching, they assess their students. And whatever the result of that assessment, the teacher is then on to the next topic, because she “has a syllabus to cover”. If we are to ‘keep learning on track’ assessment cannot wait until the end of the topic. Instead, like the pilot, the teacher plans a course but then takes frequent readings along the way, adjusting the course as conditions dictate.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Teaching and learning styles

I'm reading 'Dombey and Son' by Charles Dickens at the moment and as a big fan of his work I'm enjoying it immensely.
As is often the case, his observations on society then seem strangely relevant still . Paul Dombey (the son of the novel) gets sent to school at the age of six, where he is expected to be force fed the requisite skills and knowledge for a future Captain of Industry. Dickens contrasts the 'teaching style' of his first teacher there, Miss Blimber, with that of Paul's sister Florence. At their first lesson Miss Blimber presents Paul with a pile of books which he is asked to digest while she leaves him alone, asking him when she returns:

`Now, Dombey,' said Miss Blimber. `How have you got on with those books?'

They comprised a little English, and a deal of Latin--names of things, declensions of articles and substantives, exercises thereon, and preliminary rules--a trifle of orthography, a glance at ancient history, a wink or two at modern ditto, a few tables, two or three weights and measures, and a little general information. When poor Paul had spelt out number two, he found he had no idea of number one; fragments whereof afterwards obtruded themselves into number three, which slided into number four, which grafted itself on to number two. So that whether twenty Romuluses made a Remus, or hic haec hoc was troy weight, or a verb always agreed with an ancient Briton, or three times four was Taurus a bull, were open questions with him.

`Oh, Dombey, Dombey!' said Miss Blimber, `this is very shocking.'

Paul's older sister Florence, in contrast, buys copies of his textbooks herself:

With these treasures then, after her own daily lessons were over, Florence sat down at night to track Paul's footsteps through the thorny ways of learning; and being possessed of a naturally quick and sound capacity, and taught by that most wonderful of masters, love, it was not long before she gained upon Paul's heels, and caught and passed him.

Not a word of this was breathed to Mrs. Pipchin: but many a night when they were all in bed, and when Miss Nipper, with her hair in papers and herself asleep in some uncomfortable attitude, reposed unconscious by her side; and when the chinking ashes in the grate were cold and grey; and when the candles were burnt down and guttering out;--Florence tried so hard to be a substitute for one small Dombey, that her fortitude and perseverance might have almost won her a free right to bear the name herself.

And high was her reward, when one Saturday evening, as little Paul was sitting down as usual to `resume his studies,' she sat down by his side, and showed him all that was so rough, made smooth, and all that was so dark, made clear and plain, before him. It was nothing but a startled look in Paul's wan face--a flush--a smile--and then a close embrace--but God knows how her heart leapt up at this rich payment for her trouble.

I quote this as illustration of something I have to remind myself from time to time; that it is not enough to present pupils with information and assume they will understand and appreciate it for themselves because of some inherent value in that information. Our role as teachers is 'to make all that is rough smooth and all that is dark plain', to explain things in terms that children understand so that they can then use that information for themselves.

What makes a good teacher?

Some of the best minds in the field of British education have been thinking this over and have recently presented their findings.

Professor Patricia Broadfoot, a former Professor of Education and now vice-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, argued that the evidence from international studies showed that "the highest quality teaching and learning comes when we have the greatest autonomy for the teacher and the learner".

Professor Debra Myhill, from Exeter University, argued that while good subject knowledge and intellectual ability were both important, they were not "sufficient" to be a good teacher.

The crucial ingredient, she argued, was a teacher's ability to reflect on his or her own performance and then to change it.

The third expert is Professor Mary James, from the Institute of Education. One of her top 10 requirements was that the teacher should "promote the active engagement of the learner".

Citing studies that showed the academic gains from children working collaboratively in groups, she argued: "If learners are not involved in their learning, they do not learn".

Read more about the report here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Ten ways to use your blog to teach

How can you use blogs to support your teaching?
Read this.

Monday, 21 January 2008

We are not alone

Lead Practitioners at Campion are part of a wider community of colleagues in other schools. To find out what they are up to and maybe to consider sharing (y)our own practice go to this site.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Language resource blog

Check out this example of a blog featuring podcasts by pupils explaining French grammar.
This site is produced by Joe Dale on the Isle of Wight. He has a blog that offers practical tips and advice on using ICT to enhance the teaching of modern foreign languages.
Consider this as a model for our students to produce work (in written form if audio seems too daunting) that not only provides evidence of their own learning but can also support the learning of others.

What in the world makes a good school?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) commissioned a report last year to investigate why some countries' school systems are more successful than others.
The report confirmed that the three main factors were:
1: Getting the right people to become teachers
2: Developing them into effective instructors
3: Ensuring that the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child
That might seem like stating the obvious but sometimes the obvious gets forgotten.
Factor 1 includes ensuring that pay and conditions need to be attractive to the best graduates. Politicians please note.
Factor 2 includes supporting the continued professional development of teachers , something we Lead Practitioners are contributing to.
Factor 3 includes the effective monitoring of progress within the school, celebrating success and addressing weaknesses.
You can read the report here and some commentary on it here.

Thursday, 17 January 2008


As a specialist Language school Campion has past experience of collaborating with schools from other countries.
The British Council has introduced the eTwinning scheme to encourage collaboration using the internet. Pupils can work on joint projects and share their results on the web.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Teachers as innovators

This was the title of the talk given by Dan Sutch from Futurelab and Doug Belshaw (mentioned in a previous entry) at the BETT 2008 show at Olympia on Saturday 12th January. It was a stimulating presentation that raised all kinds of possibilities - such as students using blogs to present and organise their coursework.
The content for Dan's talk can be found here and Doug's talk can be found here.

Doug has now combined most of his blogs into one site apart from his Educational Technology Consultancy business.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Competency based curriculum down under

It's encouraging to see that the debate about what a new competency based curriculum might look like is an international one, as this site from Queensland in Australia indicates. They have been trialling a new approach since 2003 and have some guidelines that could be a useful model for developing practice in the UK.

As far as I can tell this initiative has links to the Learning by Design project which took/takes place across Australia and Malaysia.