Monthly Archives: October 2013

Notes on a coup: TLT13, Teaching and Learning Takeover

Another recent conference, the Teaching and Learning Takeover, held at Southampton University at the end of term. Further reports are included at the end of Harry Fletcher-Wood’s blog.

Improving Teaching

I’m miles from home, cycling up and down steep hills on badly-designed roads, with a particularly poor map: its print quality and detail are unsatisfactory, as are the cycle routes it shows, the majority of which are ‘proposed,’ the kind which don’t make a dual carriageway any safer. What am I doing in Southampton?  What are teachers from Durham, Sunderland and the Isle of Man doing here? Did I mention that it’s Saturday, and the end of week seven of an eight-week half term?


The answer to the first two questions: we were there for Teaching and Learning Takeover, a conference organised at the University of Southampton, on teaching, run by teachers, for teachers.  To the third question: it was worth it.  Here’s why:

Jamie Portman opened the day, sharing an optimistic, explicitly political message, lauding those who graft away or have the courage to lead schools.  He called on…

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Formative use of Summative Tests: Marking #Blogsync


Ever since the idea of formative assessment was expressed by Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black in ‘Inside the Black Box’, one of the practical strategies suggested has been the formative use of summative tests.  Typically tests are regarded as something given at the end of a unit of work; often they mark the end point of a learning sequence and provide information about how much each student has learned – or not learned.  Left as a summative process, the students’ test marks merely become a record of their success at a point in time – without directly helping them improve. And obviously some students will actually know more than their test performance indicates.

However, used formatively, tests provide an important source of detailed, individualised feedback identifying where each student needs to deepen their understanding and improve their recall of the knowledge they’ve covered.

The reason I’m including this here…

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Hattie and Yates – Visible Learning and The Science of How we Learn. Section 1 Review.

A brilliant in-depth review of the first section of Hattie & Yates. Well worth a considered read!

Love Learning....

I’ve been ill this week; so ill in fact that for a couple of days I could not stand up. But I could tweet and read and so thankfully, I had a chance to start reading the latest book by John Hattie, written in collaboration with cognitive scientist Greg Yates. It is a hefty tome. Well, it would be if I hadn’t bought it on kindle. I’m a fast reader and I’ve had time on my hands. But I’m still only half way through. What is without doubt though, is that this will be a seminal and important educational text. And wide reaching as it is, I’m going to review it in sections, following the structure of the book.

These are chapter summaries with little personal comment. I think every teacher ought to read this book for themselves, if only to ensure that my interpretation is accurate!

Chapter One –…

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What happens when cognitive science meets visible learning?

John Hattie and Gregory Yates have a new book out – the Visiblke learning approach informed by Cognitive Science – lots to reflect on here.

Pragmatic Education


So the ‘holy grail’ of evidence-based education meets the scientific research into the ‘universal roots’ of effective teaching and learning. John Hattie has synthesised 900 meta-analyses of classroom practices over 18 years; Greg Yates has been researching the cognitive psychology of learning since 1979: the authors combine five decades of expertise in education.

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‘Holy grail’ or ‘universal roots’ for teaching?

John Hattie’s lens on the evidence in Visible Learning focuses on guidance, practice and feedback:

‘Visible teaching and learning is where the teacher and student both seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging learning goal is attained, when there is deliberate practice aimed at the attaining mastery of the goal, when there is feedback given and sought.’


Greg Yates’ lens on the evidence from cognitive psychology focuses on prior knowledge, teacher expertise and student self-control:

‘Findings from the research areas of teacher effectiveness…

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T&L tip of the week: Independent post-it AFL

 Bulletin T+L RWH post-its

Encouraging students to reflect upon their learning is important in order to foster independence and engagement. In this example, Rebecca White asked her year 8 humanities class to rank out of 5 their learning and interest during the lesson and identify their Favorited aspect of the lesson on post-its as a consolidation task. This not only enabled the students to independently assess their learning and progress but also provided the teacher with evidence of how each student progressed and engaged with the learning, which can be used to inform future planning.

Drills, skills and being match-fit.


This term I’ve been thinking a lot about how well I’m teaching in terms of ensuring my students have clear solid foundations of concrete knowledge alongside the ability to cope with complex problems, to work things out for themselves and to show some flair.

A number of things have influenced my thinking on this issue:

The debate about knowledge and skills.  I’ve had lots of discussions about this, engaged with the Daisy Christodoulou ‘Myths’ as in this review post, and reflected a lot about whether I should engage in more direct transmission modes.  I feel that sometimes, whilst I deliver engaging lessons that fuel curiosity and allow for exploration and thinking, I need to cut to the chase more quickly…tell them the key points, nail down the facts, give it to them straight. It’s a balance.. I’m not sure I’ve had it quite right.

Some superb blog posts:

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