Monthly Archives: February 2013

T & L activity of the week – Pass the Parcel.

ParcelThis strategy is useful as an engaging connect that encourages high level thinking. Plus, it’s fun.

  • Use an object that is related to the lesson topic.
  • Write a series of clues about what the object is on strips of paper.
  • Wrap up the object in layers of wrapping paper with a clue in each layer
  • Play music and pass the parcel around the students.
  • Stop the music at several points and the student holding the parcel unwraps one layer and reads the clue.
  • Continue until the object has been identified.
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T & L activity of the week – Mastery modelling.

This strategy is useful as a revision activity in preparation for an exam or assessment. Using exemplars students identify the key features of a master answer/essay/project and then produce a ‘mastery model.’
  • Give groups of students a series of models, both exemplar models and lesser models, including some with common errors that students would likely identify. This could be extracts from essays or model answers to exam questions.
  • The students do a critical appraisal of the these models as a group and identify their summary assessment of the models first. This could take the form of a success criteria, using examples from the models, that is presented to the class. This presentation should include an explicit focus upon the steps taken leading to create the ‘mastery model‘ during the feedback – this unveils the process required for mastery for the whole class.
  • Students  then produce their own ‘mastery model’ that is a composite exemplar model of work. This could be a master essay, master exam question, or master piece of art.
  • This strategy works in pretty much every subject, with the modelled work being either an essay, a piece of art, or a mathematical problem. It is effective for refining essay or exam technique  and, as a group work task, it has a clear learning objective and requires students to support one another.

What works best? John Hattie, effect size & ‘Visible learning’

John Hattie’s research into the most effective strategies for improving student achievement has had a major impact on our thinking about teaching and learning.

His most recent book “Visible learning for teachers: maximising impact on teaching” takes all this research and applies it to the classroom; looking at the practical strategies which, the evidence shows, have the most significant impact on our students’ progress.

The great thing about Hattie’s approach is that he has found a way to compare the impact of different interventions on the same scale. He calls this the ‘effect size’. Virtually every strategy we can think will have some effect, so the really important ones are those that beat the average, in other words, the ones that work best. An effect size of one, for example, translates into a major impact on student learning – a two-grade leap in GCSE performance or advancing learners’ achievement by up to one year.

Hattie estimates that the average effect size is 0.4. So we need concentrate on the interventions that have a larger impact than this – the ones that fall into the ‘blue zone’:

effect size scale

Thankfully, Hattie’s estimates suggest that these blue zone factors are already well reflected in our Paddington 10 + 3:

effect sizes

There’s a short summary of Hattie’s work attached below. His book is packed with practical applications of strategies that promote ‘visible learning’ – the exceptional progress which we need all our students to be making in individual lessons and across years. I’ll be blogging bits and pieces from it over the coming months.

John Hattie – what works best summary

T&L activity of the week – Fish bowl

fish bowl pic

This strategy is useful for student-led AFL. It can be used as a connect activity, recapping prior learning, as a consolidate or as a method of formative assessment during the lesson. Fish bowl is particularly useful as a preparatory task before individual written work as students are given the opportunity to discuss their learning with their peers in a structured format.  

  • Split the class into two groups – one group forms the inner circle facing outwards and the other group forms the outer circle facing inwards.
  • The teacher poses a question or discussion point and the inner circle (this could be the most able students) gives a response to the student facing them in the outer circle.
  • The student in the outer circle then responds to the inner student’s answer.
  • Students in the inside circle move one place to the right and students either discuss the first question or the teacher poses another question.

This is also a great way to introduce and scaffold debate skills with younger classes, whilst making sure all students have a chance to speak.

T&L activity of the week – Question Box

question boxThis strategy is really useful for student-led AFL. It can be used as a connect activity, recapping prior learning, as a consolidate or as a method of formative assessment during the lesson.

  • On small strips of paper, students write their name and a question they would like to ask about a topic/issue.
  • Students fold up the strip of paper and put it in the
  • Students each take a question out of the box (making sure it is not their own) and try to answer it.
  • Students find the person who wrote the question and tell them how they would answer it.

It’s great for encouraging group work on a topic students have already covered, but the ‘random’ element keeps students on their toes and accountable, whilst giving you an idea of what the tricky questions are and who feels confident in answering them. See Jennie Sanderson for resources and examples.