Tag Archives: secondary

Briefing on Gaelic Education⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Seo fiosrachadh ùr bhuainn:

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/BriefingonGaelicEducationSept2019.pdf 

Please see our September  Briefing on Gaelic Education here:

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/BriefingonGaelicEducationSept2019.pdf

Our briefings on Gaelic Education  keep practitioners updated of some of Education Scotland’s, and key partners’, support for improvement in Gaelic Education. Please follow this link for more information:

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/Briefings%20on%20Gaelic%20Education/Fiosrachadh%20mun%20Ghàidhlig

Resources available in Gaelic which support First Minister’s Reading Challenge⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust have produced two resources, available online, which support the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. To access these resources please follow the links below:

Cuir sgeulachd ri chèile san taigh-tasgaidh – This resource can be used at any museum across the UK.

Leugh do shlighe timcheall Taigh-tasgaidh Naiseanta na h-Alba! – This resource is for use at the National Museum of Scotland.

 

National Digital Learning Week 2019⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

National Digital Learning Week is back! This year the event will take place Monday 13 until Friday 17 May.

For this year’s even all Early Learning and Childcare Centres and Schools across Scotland are invited to take part in 5 Curriculum focused challenges in: STEM, Social Studies, Expressive Arts, Numeracy and Literacy.

Here’ a 2 minute video that tells you everything you need to know about the event.

Visit the Glow Blog today and get started. https://bit.ly/2PfR0Go

Curriculum for Gaelic (Learners) and A 1+2 Approach to Languages⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

e-Sgoil is an interactive, real-time teaching facility which uses Glow, Office 365 and V-scene to support the teaching of Gaelic and through Gaelic in any school in Scotland. This supports the curriculum for 1+2 Approach to Languages, Gaelic Learner and Gaelic Medium Education. A short promotional video is available here:

http://bit.ly/2Nhvm2F

e-Sgoil is currently inviting expressions of interest for teaching National 5 Gaelic (Learners) from August 2019. This may be to provide progression with the 1+2 Approach to Languages, or to enable learners to access Gaelic as a new subject.

Support for self-evaluation

Advice to support implementation of 1+2 and challenge questions

Case study and challenge questions on improving the secondary GME and GLE curriculum

Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Education

A review of e-Sgoil’s first year of operation is available here:

http://e-sgoil.com/media/1133/e-sgoil-report-year-1-june-2018.pdf

 

For more information, please contact e-sgoil@gnes.net or phone 01851 822850.

Senior Phase Programme, a school-college partnership.⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Glasgow City Council Employability Support Team have an effective school-college partnership. The programme currently supports over 1000 young people and provides support to ensure that all young people are supported toward a career pathway.

There are two strands:

SCQF Levels 1-3
SCQF Levels 4-7

Links have been developed with the local colleges to provide a wide range of different courses and levels in order to showcase the wide range of career pathways. Open days and information evenings help to involve parents/carers in the decision making process. Extensive recruitment policy has been extended this year to include further meet the expert evenings for young people and their parents/carers. The recruitment is reviewed, evaluated and modified to ensure the information provided allows young people to choose an option that suits their career pathway.

They currently have successful partnerships with:

Glasgow Kelvin College
Glasgow Clyde College
City of Glasgow College
RSBI Blindcraft

All of the courses have support in place to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to have a successful outcome. There is an online application process that is supported by the school and helps to match young people to a course that suits their career pathway.

Some key points:

Linked programme with East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.

College has a rigorous attendance management procedures to ensure that young people are able to achieve a successful outcome on the course. There is a wide range of courses and levels, currently  SCQF 1-7. This provides an inclusive programme and promotes an ethos that every young person has the opportunity to experience college at an early stage. There is an online portal which provides school with a support and tracking mechanism to ensure that young people are progressing during the programme. Schools and college partners have worked together to ensure that the reporting tool is relevant for both school and college. Learner journeys are reported each year to promote the positive links between school and college.

Courses have extensive ASN support and a range of the options are designed to effectively showcase college as a potential career pathway and to aid transition from school to further education. Taster sessions are used to ensure that they have the correct match of young person and course. The opportunity to experience what is involved has helped to improve the course outcomes.

Schools have harmonised their timetabling to ensure that young people have the programme as an option in their subject choice selection. The majority of the courses take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon however some courses have extended timetables and this allows for a varied range of options.

Transport is arranged for the young person and most choose public transport which is subsidised by the programme. This encourages independent travel and ensures that cost of travel is not a factor when young people are deciding on their participation.

Some key statistics from the previous cohort:
1080 young people participating in the programme
7 different providers
96% sustained a positive destination

The programme will continue to work with schools and colleges to provide young people with a wide range of senior phase options.

Some comments about the programme:

“I like it because it is “hands on and specialising in various areas of computing”
Senior Phase Student

“Course designed to prepare student for the construction industry. Learning split between the workshop and the classroom”
Lecturer

“I am developing new skills every day”
Senior Phase Student

“I enjoyed this because I was able to learn to cook lots of different dishes that I had not cooked before”
Senior Phase Student

“All Glasgow Colleges are fully committed to delivering Glasgow’s Senior Phase School/College programme. We will create new opportunities for all young people to embed high quality work-related learning in their curriculum with progression to further learning, training or work. Whatever your gender, background or level these programmes offer a learning experience that may inspire you to develop new skills for the changing world of work.”
Eric Brownlie
Assistant Principal Quality and Performance
Glasgow Clyde College

NQ Support Materials Update⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The NQ support materials for Gàidhlig, Gaelic(Learners) and subjects and courses through the medium of Gaelic, previously hosted on the Education Scotland National Qualifications website are now available on our professional learning community for Gaelic education on Yammer.

It should be noted that these resources no longer fully match the SQA course specifications. However, they do provide a range of useful support on approaches to effective learning, teaching and ongoing classroom assessment, should teachers wish to use them. You will find these resources here.

A glow login is required to access Yammer and membership of the group is also required.

Senior phase GME curriculum: Foundation Apprenticeships⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Foundation Apprenticeships in Social Services – Children and Young People

Are you considering pathways in the senior phase for young people learning through the medium of Gaelic?

This Foundation Apprenticeship is available through the medium of Gaelic for young people in S5 and S6 . It can be studied  over a period of one or two years, starting in S5 or S6.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig offers a partnership with schools to deliver this foundation apprenticeship. Delivery is organised to suit the school’s timetable. Young people will be taught by a college lecturer from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. A range of online learning materials will be used  support young people in their studies.

A video sharing a pupil’s experience of the foundation apprenticeship, as well as additional information is available here:

http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/en/cursaichean/preantasachd/

More advice on the GME senior phase is available here:

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/gael3-9secondarystages.pdf

A case study on improving the secondary curriculum and challenge questions to support planning are available here:

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/self-evaluation/improving-the-secondary-curriculum-for-gme

Information on e-sgoil, a digital teaching platform to support the GME curriculum is available here:

Permalink: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/eslb/2018/09/10/curriculum-for-gle-and-gme/

Briefing on Gaelic Education⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Seo fiosrachadh ùr bhuainn:

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/briefingongaeliceducationfeb19.pdf

Please see our February Briefing on Gaelic Education here: 

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/briefingongaeliceducationfeb19.pdf

Please follow the link below to view our briefings on Gaelic Education which keep practitioners updated of some of Education Scotland’s, and key partners’, support for improvement in Gaelic Education.

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/Briefings%20on%20Gaelic%20Education/Fiosrachadh%20mun%20Ghàidhlig

 

Microsoft Tools on Glow⤴

from

As a Scottish (Maths) Teacher, I have access to Glow Scotland. Within Glow, teachers have access to Microsoft tools such as Teams, OneNote, Forms and Sway. In this blog post, I will introduce you to each of these, link to examples of each and get you started on using these tools in your own practice.

I have presented a workshop on this at the Scottish Mathematical Council’s Conference (9th March 2019), and will be talking about it at the first Tay Collab Maths Conference on 23rd March 2019. If you’re attending this, you will get a decent head start by reading this blog, as the blog summarises my talk.

 

OneNote

Let’s get started with OneNote.

OneNote is excellent.

If you’re not using it yet, you really should be.

OneNote allows you to store and share absolutely any type of digital content.

Notebook – This is the full OneNote – it contains all of the sections and pages.

Section – A section is the first level down within a Notebook. This particular Notebook you are looking at has two sections. The one you are in just now is called “Microsoft Tools on Glow”. The other one is called “Other Section”, and contains only one page, which has not yet been used.

Page – The level you are at right now, where I am typing this text and where you are reading this text is called a Page. Pages can be extended in all directions, indefinitely.

Every Notebook can have as many Sections as you like and every section can have as many Pages as you like. There’s no limit other than, I guess, the amount of storage you have in OneDrive, which is where the Notebook is saved.

Creating a new OneNote Notebook

Sign into Glow, open OneDrive and Click on New – this lets you create a new OneNote Notebook in the folder you are currently in on your OneDrive.

1 New OneNote

This will create a brand new OneNote Notebook, ready to be populated with whatever you want to populate it with.

Sharing your OneNote Notebook

To share this Notebook with you, I clicked on the three dots next to the Notebook’s name and clicked Share:

2 Share

This box appeared:

3 Link

And I clicked on the wee arrow next to “Only the people you specify who have this link can edit”

4 Anyone With

And clicked on “Anyone with this link”

5 Anyone With

Then, when you hit apply you can copy the link to the OneNote

The link looks like this: https://glowscotland-my.sharepoint.com/:o:/g/personal/gw13allanmichael_glow_sch_uk/Ehg-FsOTQm9CuKmUJx9vpK4BIObzLZ_rk1xqLdGlmLIS5w?e=KYvivj

That’s not easy to jot down, or remember, so I used bit.ly to create a shortened link.

The shortened link is bit.ly/MAllanSMC2019

If you want to create a OneNote Notebook and share it with a whole class, it’s probably going to be easier to use Teams…

Teams

Microsoft Teams will change the way you work.

If you’re familiar with Edmodo, Schoology, Show My Homework etc, you’ll find Teams easy to use. Even if you’re not, you’ll find Teams easy to use, because it’s really easy to use!

Watch this short video for an intro to Teams: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/video-welcome-to-microsoft-teams-b98d533f-118e-4bae-bf44-3df2470c2b12

To create a Team (and this can be staff only or Teacher and pupils) your best option is to Download Teams (it’s free). https://products.office.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software

If you work in a Scottish School, chances are Teams is already on your work computer.

Once you open up Teams, sign in using your Glow username and password.

This is what it looks like when I sign in:1 Landing

You can see I am a member of 3 Teams (GHS Maths, Team MIEExpert Scotland and Bertha Park High – PT Team)

To create a new Team, you click on the button near the bottom left that says “Join or Create a Team” You’ll then see this:

2 Join or Create

If you want to create a Team, then it’s obvious which button to click. If you have been invited to Join a Team (and have been given a code) then that’s obvious too.

When you choose “Create Team” you’ll see this:

3 Team Options

Choose whichever option you need. I’m going to create a Class. Give your class a Name and description (if you like).

4 name Team

You can then add students and other teachers to your Team:

5 Add People

Once the Team has been made, you can do a few things with it. Best to play around with these options and see what happens when you press the different buttons. Most of it is pretty obvious.

6 Manage Settings

Clicking on “Manage Team” and then hitting “Settings” shows this page:

7 Settings

You can then create a Team Code by clicking “Generate Code”

8 Join Code

Feel free to join my class (you know how to do that if you read the bit above)

At the top of the Team, when you are in “General” you can set up the Class Notebook. This is the OneNote Notebook for your Team.

9 Set up Onenote

When you click on “Set up a OneNote Class Notebook” you will be walked through the process. You can customise the Notebook so that it has all the sections you want it to have.

There’s a video here that will show you (pretty slowly) how this works: Teachers – Get Started with OneNote Class Notebook Creator

My OneNote Class Notebook has been created, ready for using with the class.

91 Open In OneNote

I have one pupil in the class (Isaac Newton) but if I had more, they would be listed below. I find it a lot easier to work with the OneNote Notebook in the full desktop version of OneNote, so I click on “Open in OneNote” at the top of the screen.

The types of content you might put into the OneNote is entirely up to you. I have an Example OneNote Notebook that you can take a look at here: bit.ly/MathsOneNoteTeachers

Using OneNote as a Planner

I have blogged about using OneNote as a planner. I no longer use a physical planner, instead choosing to use OneNote. You can find out how to set up your own Planner OneNote here: https://mrallanmaths.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/using-onenote-as-a-planner-a-few-years-on/

Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader (also known as Microsoft Learning Tools) allows pupils with additional support needs to access text in a fully supported way. The support is customisable, and the best way to learn about it is to give it a go.

You click on “View” in the toolbar then select “Immersive Reader”

This is available in OneNote, Word, PowerPoint and so on.

Sway

Sway lets you create interactive newsletters, and much more.

Here’s how to get started.

Log into Glow and open up OneDrive. You then want to click on the 9 dots at the top left of the screen:

1 Waffle

And select Sway:

2 Sway

You can then choose to start a New Blank Sway:

3 New Blank

To begin with, the Sway looks pretty boring, but you need to put some content in and choose a design:

4 Title

I’ve given it a title and written a little bit of text and added a picture:

5 Some text

Now I’m going to choose a Design.

Click on Design in the top left corner then Styles in the top right corner:

6 Design

Pick a design you like:

7 New Design

Then click “Play” in the top right:

8 Play

You can view the Sway here: Sway

Here are some more examples of Sways that you can take a look at:

Glenrothes High School Pupil Equity Fund Update: https://sway.office.com/t4Xy1SIHNRV94wmn?ref=Link

Bertha Park High School Winter Update: https://sway.office.com/dOuvWTYJz8KIOsED?ref=Link&loc=play

N5/Higher Maths Revision: bit.ly/MathsRevisionN5H  (This one is worth sharing with pupils)

Forms

Ever used Survey Monkey? Well there’s a better version of that available from Microsoft and it’s called Forms.

You can use Forms to get feedback from pupils/parents/staff for any number of things.

You can also use it to build Quizzes that can serve as assessments.

To access Forms, you click on the 9 dots at the top left in OneDrive:

2 New Form or Quiz.png

“New Form” lets you make a survey. “New Quiz” works in pretty much the same way, but you also can assign points to each question and select correct answers.

The best thing to do if you want to learn more about using Forms it to use this link here: https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/forms

Sharing with people outside Glow or Pupils/Staff who don’t know Usernames/Passwords

Ideally, the solution to this is to get staff and pupils to just remember their passwords. However, I have found it useful to be able to share links that work without signing in.

I use bit.ly to create shortened web links. If you sign up for a free account your can customise the links. Paying for a subscription allows you to edit and delete links once you’ve made them – I haven’t bothered to do this.

Learning More / Getting Help

You will find lots of free courses available here: https://education.microsoft.com/

Log in using your Glow username and password and you can build up a profile and collect points and badges once you have completed the courses. It’s the best way to learn about the Microsoft tools available on Glow apart from this Blog post!

OneNote intro: https://education.microsoft.com/Getting-Started-with-OneNote

I hope you found this useful.

If you have any questions that you think I might be able to answer, do get in touch on Twitter or in the comments below.

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What can teachers do to maximise pupil learning?⤴

from

I have probably missed some really important ideas, or badly explained some of the ones I have chosen to mention. Sorry if your favourite thing isn’t included here – I’ve probably missed something very important. Happy to receive useful feedback on what I have written here – you can get in touch on Twitter (@mrallanmaths) or leave a comment below.

It’s inservice day next week, and I was asked if I could do a session on Cognitive Load Theory – 30 minutes. I’ve presented about CLT a lot in the past and 30 minutes isn’t very long, so I thought I’d talk about a collection of ideas that I think are important for teachers to think about that can maximise pupil learning.

Huge thanks to the teachers who got in touch on Twitter with ideas for this workshop (see replies to this tweet). The trick will be to make the workshop fit into 30 minutes!

The title isn’t overly catchy, but it’s what I set out to achieve with the workshop. Here’s what I have included.

Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

These are important, but not the focus of this workshop. I’ll be talking about some results from cognitive science and research that suggest there are other important things we can focus our attention on that have the potential to maximise pupil learning.

I’ll also be talking about some of the things we probably should do less of or stop doing altogether.

This workshop will have been successful if teachers leave and have a conversation with each other about any element of the workshop.

We often run focus groups and ask pupils how their learning experience can be improved. Here are some of the common suggestions pupils give…

  • Fun lessons – we ought not to prioritise fun over learning. Learning doesn’t need to be fun. It’s fine if it is fun, but it is more important that there is something meaningful to be learned.
  • Posters/PowerPoints/Presentations/Animations – this often means pupils get better at bubble writing, PowerPoint or using animation software. Memory is the residue of thought, and if you are thinking about how to put together a stop animation as a way to demonstrate your learning about some scientific principle, let’s not kid ourselves that you’re learning about science – the learning outcome ought to be “how to use stop animation software” as this is probably what will be learned during this time.
  • Make the learning relevant to pupil interests – their focus becomes about their interests. Including a contextualised question about baseball instead of football can minimise off task discussions about football (pupils in Scotland tend to be far more into football than baseball).
  • Project based learning (and Interdisciplinary Learning)– this is fine if they have learned all of the content and are working on project skills. Not fair for novices to try to learn through projects but this is definitely good for experts (expertise reversal effect).
  • Discovery based learning (or problem based learning) – what about equity? – those who learned about it at home (or elsewhere) can already do it. Pupils like the idea of figuring things out for themselves. This should be used with care, since misconceptions can grow easily and can be shared by pupils working in groups with minimal guidance.
  • Games based learning – there’s perhaps some merit to this, but when the attention is on the games, how much working memory is able to focus on creating deep and durable long term memories? I have seen some good looking lessons where pupils have designed a board game to play that requires them to answer knowledge based questions to progress in the game. I think the playing of the game is good, but I don’t think it makes much sense to spend any length of class time letting pupils design these games, (including drawing the pictures/logos/game boards that are required for the game).
  • Choice of task/method/format etc – pupils will always choose the path of least resistance – they will opt for the easy task. Why give them the choice? Just so they can have choice? Do we really trust pupils to make the best choice for their learning? We know the tasks and we know the pupils. We (experts) can look at a set of questions and decide if they are easy or if they are hard, but pupils (novices) cannot.
1. Task A Task B

Which task would pupils pick given the choice? I reckon Task A looks easier to novices, because the numbers are easier looking (smaller numbers). Task B is in fact easier even though the numbers are bigger. You have to think about different things for each of these tasks. Task A involves negative numbers and fractions, but Task B involves whole numbers only. If novices are looking for a challenge, which one would they pick?

More on Minimally Guided Learning:http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/kirschner_Sweller_Clark.pdf

These are some suggestions of things that are better:

  • Working just beyond their capabilities – you get better because you are challenged. The best performers in any field set themselves goals that are just beyond what they are comfortable with.
  • Feeling successful early in a lesson – success leads to motivation. This doesn’t mean we make the work too easy. We need to get the level of challenge right when it comes to learning the new stuff, otherwise it isn’t worth learning. A good starting point is where pupils have already felt some success. Intrinsic motivation can even come from seeing the success somebody else has had with a task.
  • Attending to their work – pupils need to give their attention to the task they are working on – we can bring this about through carefully planned and consistent routines and by minimising cognitive load – more on this later.
  • Explicit instruction of new ideas – Pupils cannot figure out novel content on their own – we need to guide them fully in the initial stages of learning.
  • Purposeful practice of new material – this does not mean pages and pages of questions – even just 4 or 5 questions have been shown to be effective – see graph below.
  • Teacher directed 80% of the time – that’s why schools were built – explicit teaching of new ideas to a large group of novices. This explicit instruction doesn’t need to be chalk and talk the whole time. Expert teachers use a mixture of exposition, explanation, analogies, questioning, guided practice and so on to fully develop a new concept in the minds of their pupils, using their wealth of pedagogical subject knowledge to maximise the chances that pupils will be thinking about the things they need to be thinking about.
  • Inquiry learning 20% of the time – We need to build in time for pupils to conjecture, behave mathematically, behave like scientists, reason using known facts, analyse etc. This can only happen with a foundation of knowledge. You can’t think critically if you have nothing to think about. We want our pupils to be able to tackle unfamiliar problems using what they have learned – this might be the ultimate goal of education. We need to provide opportunities for this.

Overlearning versus Distributed Practice

2. Hi Masters and Lo Masters

The Effects of Overlearning and Distributed Practise on the Retention of Mathematics Knowledge. DOUG ROHRER and KELLI TAYLOR

In an experiment by Rohrer and Taylor, Hi Massers were given 9 practice questions to complete and then tested on this in Week 1.
Lo Massers were given 3 practice questions to complete and then tested on this in Week 1.
After 4 weeks they were given another test on the same material.
Lo Massers are only very slightly worse off in the assessment in week 4, to the point where I think this is negligible.
The main takeaway from this (for me) is that overlearning isn’t impactful.
The authors go on to show that distributed practice (5 questions one week, 5 questions the next week) is more effective than 10 questions in one week.
Distributed practice is better than overlearning.

Further reading on this: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5720/cbea1d4dc2d3da3b2ee176ee9d3ef377f294.pdf

80%/20% split of direct instruction and inquiry-based learning

This is very often referred to as the “sweet spot”. Further reading on this can be found here: https://tomneedhamteach.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/the-application-of-theory-8-propositions-that-underpin-our-approach/

3. Impact of Direct v Inquiry

Problem Solving and Arbitrary/Necessary Knowledge

What makes something a problem?

Teachers can structure the learning so that pupils can use their awareness and what is arbitrary to figure out that which is necessary.

I recently listened to Stuart Welsh (@maths180) talk about this at the La Salle Education PT Maths Conference in January and I really like the way this language makes it clear to teachers how we can get pupils to think, and what we should get them to think about. I think there are applications for this in all subjects.

Knowledge that is arbitrary can’t be worked out by a student unless they are simply told it, for example the name of a particular quadrilateral or the sum of the angles in a full turn. Knowledge that is necessary can be worked out by the student as long as they are thinking, and have access to the arbitrary knowledge. An example of necessary knowledge (again from maths!) could be that once pupils know how to draw the graph of a derived function, deducing the derivatives of the sine and cosine functions can come from their awareness of what is happening with the gradient of the functions.

All of this concerns ensuring that pupils have the necessary knowledge to tackle problems that are unfamiliar. Generic thinking skills are useless in the absence of knowledge – more on this later.

You can read more on arbitrary and necessary knowledge at: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/bitstream/2134/18847/3/hewitt1.pdf

Exit passes are crap*

*Wrong answers are more useful than right answers.
Exit passes used badly only measure performance. You cannot tell if a pupil has learned something in a lesson. Exit passes can be used well – just don’t expect them to tell you that your class have learned what you just taught them. They were just shown how to do it 5 minutes ago – of course they can still do it now.

Exit passes can be used as distributed practice, where perhaps the exit pass question can be about something that was taught 4 weeks ago.

There is a difference between learning and performance

Learning happens over time – performance is when I see a pupil get a question right today, after just having taught him that thing today.

Pupils get into a false sense of security if they get a page of questions right during a lesson. They think “I’ve learned this” and don’t feel then need to re-visit it. We need to train them about this and encourage distributed practice.

Learning is a change in long term memory

If nothing has been changed in Long Term Memory, nothing has been learned. We cannot measure learning easily. We can only measure performance. The sad reality is that by the time pupils get their exam results in August they will have forgotten lots of the stuff they got right in the exam. Long term memory hasn’t been changed if pupils cram for exams – this explains why many Higher Maths pupils get a strong pass at N5 but consistently make mistakes in higher questions when relying on content from N5.

4. Ebbinghaus

Above is the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. It is a useful thing to refer to when you are trying to convince pupils (or teachers) that forgetting is part of learning, and that they need to retrieve facts again and again to build durable long term memories. I refer to it often with my classes.

Retrieval Practice

Getting pupils to recall facts and knowledge (and even complete skills) from memory is a way to strengthen long term memories.

You can think of the retriever dog (stolen this from Stuart Welsh as well!). You ask yourself a question and the retriever goes away through your mind looking for the answer. He passes by relevant, related information, becoming more familiar with the path every time. The more times he retrieves the easier it becomes. Eventually he knows exactly where the information is.*

*(The brain doesn’t actually work like this, but it’s a nice wee analogy to use with pupils).

Retrieval practice can come in many forms. A few are:

  • interleaving of previous skills within new skills – either by having to use previous knowledge to answer a question on the new topic or just by including a question on a previous topic among questions on a new topic.
  • distributed practice – rather than having all of the practice of a new skill within the lesson where it was introduced, split the questions up across a week or more. See the Rohrer and Taylor article (linked above) for more on this.
  • low stakes quizzes – Neil Tilston (@MrTilston) spoke about these at the Scottish Maths Conference (and Angus Maths and #MathsConf12 Dunfermline). Low stakes quizzes are extremely effective, when planned carefully, and can offer opportunities for pupils to take advantage of the retrieval effect. Here’s Neil’s presentations slides on low stakes assessments in maths (you can do this in any subject): https://sway.office.com/obhJhSOzOLEBZKBI?ref=Link
  • regular homework, that is planned meticulously so that topics re-appear after a few weeks. Keep the skills from dropping away.
  • … and many other ways are possible – teachers are always coming up with new methods for everything.

Worth noting that retrieval beats re-exposure, so it is better to have pupils think of something from memory rather than re-read it from a textbook. This is one of the reasons I don’t put formulas or exact value triangles and the like on my classroom walls.

More information on Retrieval Practice here:http://www.learningscientists.org/retrieval-practice/

Success leads to Motivation

This works. If you can build the lesson in such a way that pupils get stuff right early on, they have a better chance of pushing on and working hard on new stuff. This makes sense if you think about how you would feel if you started off a 50 minute lesson by getting the first few questions wrong straight away. This is a balancing act, though. Don’t make it too easy just so that they get it right. You need to know the pupils in the class and what they are capable of.

It’s definitely not the case that pupils need to be motivated first so that they can be successful – you show me a kid who is intrinsically motivated to solve simultaneous equations. I get my N5 class fully on board with this by letting them see that they can do it easily. For more on this (maths specific) see: https://tothereal.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/my-best-planning-part-1/ from Kris Boulton (@Kris_Boulton).

Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learners

10 VAK

We might have a preference for one of these, but try learning the key features of a corrie by having somebody read about it to you (Geography example – you’re welcome). A diagram (visual) will help with this. Or try telling the difference between the sounds a trumpet and French horn make (if you’ve never heard them before) by looking at pictures of them (visual). Unfortunately, I still hear people talking about V/A/K, and have recently seen a study guide telling pupils to complete an online questionnaire to tell them if they are a V/A/K learner, then give advice such as “you are a visual learner so you should turn your notes into diagrams and look at the diagrams” or “as an auditory learner you will find it easier to learn by reading your notes aloud, since hearing your notes will help you learn better”. Unfortunately, there are no studies that have shown any of this to be effective. The idea is clung onto by teachers and pupils because they themselves might have a preference. There is no evidence that shows there are benefits for pupils (of any learning preference) by tailoring lessons to particular styles.

We CAN boost learning if we provide a diagram (visual) and talk about the diagram (auditory) and this works for all learners, regardless of their learning preference. If you want to learn more about this, here’s Greg Ashman talking briefly about dual coding: https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/we-need-to-talk-about-dual-coding/ 

More information on why VAK is wrong here: http://www.danielwillingham.com/learning-styles-faq.html

The Pyramid of Myth

5. Pyramid of Myth

This is nonsense. The numbers are too nice for this to be real, and in fact it’s not based on any scientific method. One guy liked the idea of these numbers and shared it. Then it got turned into a pyramid. Teachers love a pyramid, so it took on quickly. This was shared with me during my PGDE year, but luckily I only remembered 5% of what they said about it

The idea that you learn better when you explain a concept to somebody else seems to make sense, but how did you come to learn what you are teaching someone else? If you learned it by reading about it (10%) you can only pass on 90% of what you learned, so that’s 9%, right?

More on this here: https://theeffortfuleducator.com/2017/11/29/the-pyramid-of-myth/

Thinking Skills rely on Knowledge

You cannot think if you have nothing to think about. If you do not have the required knowledge, any amount of thinking skills will be useless.

Work out the answer to this:

6. Integral

An impossible question to think about if you don’t have the knowledge required. Maybe you’re not thinking hard enough. Obviously I’d expect maths teachers to solve this easily, but they have a bit of an advantage over non-maths teachers.

You have little chance doing this if you don’t know what it means, no matter how hard you think, or what thinking skills you have.

The answer is 3, in case you were wondering or want to check if you are right.

Try this one (from a History past paper):

7. History Q

This is a National 5 History past paper question. As somebody who knows very little about the Maid of Norway, I cannot answer this question. I cannot think critically about it either.  Although some sources are given in the exam paper, there is a requirement for “using recalled knowledge”. I’m thinking really hard, but still I have nothing.

The rest of the workshop will focus on Cognitive Load Theory (if there is time, which there probably won’t be). 

The Worked Example Effect

Presenting novices with fully worked examples (modelled by the teacher: I do, We do, You do). This helps focus novices on the key features of what a correct answer looks like and how to structure their response. These can be enhanced further by considering fading the steps in a sequence of questions so that all steps are given in the first question, all but the last step in the second, all but the last two steps in the third (and so on) until pupils eventually have to complete a full question on their own.

Reading out slides – we really mustn’t do this. I give an example of this in the presentation, but basically, pupils cannot read a slide and listen to you talking about the slide and think about the content all at the same time. It’s too much. Put a picture on the slide and talk to the class – that’s fine. We can process auditory and visual information at the same time, but we cannot read (which uses the auditory part of your working memory) and listen to someone speak (also auditory) at the same time. It’s too much. I will try to model this throughout the workshop.

The Split Attention Effect

This occurs when pupils need to look at two different sources of information to make sense of the whole thing. This can be avoided by integrating the two sources. Example below:

8. Split Attention

Now re-reading this post before publishing, I realise that I am giving an example of the split attention effect by splitting your attention across two diagrams. The complexity of this (fairly low) and what you are required to do with the diagrams (nothing, really) makes this okay, I hope.

Classroom Design

We can minimise distractions by considering the classroom environment carefully. See examples on the slides or in the blog post linked below.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about Cognitive Load Theory which goes into much more detail: https://mrallanmaths.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/cognitive-load-theory/

What I really hope will happen as a result of reading this post and/or attending the workshop is that teachers reflect on how the things that make their practice routine could be changed to be more impactful.

9. Routines and New Things

@maths180 provided this image that speaks volumes