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Education Festival 2015
Transcript of Education Festival 2015
What did I learn from attending The Times Education Festival?
The importance of reading and language in closing attainment gaps
The design of an assessment has a significant impact on what it can tell you about students' learning
There is a key difference between performance and learning
Research can never tell teachers what to do; it can only guide
Students should have a role to play in implementing research in schools
Student voice is essential when evaluating impact of interventions
Teaching assistants, if used properly, can be really effective in supporting disadvantaged and SEND students
Results aren't everything: we need to provide a rounded education for all.
If all teachers don't take responsibility for improving the reading and communication of
students, then the word-rich get richer and the word-poor get poorer.
Think of assessment as a process of reasoning to help you draw conclusions.
What you discover is only as good as the assessment you have designed.
What if everything we think we know about education is wrong?
Andrew Morrish, Mary Myatt and Apples and Pears Foundation
Some of the best interventions we do with disadvantaged students cannot be measured in terms of hard data.
Wellington Research in partnership with Harvard Graduate School of Education
If we discover something that has impact on student learning, we have a moral imperative to share and implement the research.
How do we make every child a confident reader and communicator?
Demand students use precise, technical words appropriate for the topic.
Expect students to speak in full, grammatical sentences and make them repeat until they do.
Check students' prior knowledge and how this will affect how they can access a text.
Question students fully and don't accept their first answer.
Explicitly teach subject-specific style of writing so they sound like a scientist, a historian, a literary critic.
Use students' reading ages to identify how much to chunk the text and build in talk time and teacher questioning
Teach the skills of skimming and scanning texts in all subjects
Make time for students to build relationships with the librarian and invest time in finding books that will hook them in.
How do we ensure that we design and use assessment to improve student learning?
We have more data than ever before - the worship of the spreadsheet - but how much of this data helps teachers understand students' learning?
When designing an assessment, teachers need to take into consideration construct-irrelevant variance; testing things you don't care about which are affecting the results.
Construct under-representation is also important because some aspects of a subject do not receive the same focus as other aspects, which gives a distorted picture of students' learning in a subject.
Use a range of assessment design. Multiple choice questions are good for testing factual knowledge and essays are god for testing interpretation and argument.
Teachers need to decide in advance what they think is worth testing and then devise assessment opportunities that cover these things; this is a teacher's assessment matrix.
Scores and grades are not helpful from a teacher's perspective of knowing what the students cannot do; instead, use teacher codes 1) strong evidence of mastery 2) some evidence of knowledge and understanding 3) no evidence of knowledge and understanding.
Make teacher feedback into student detective work - find and fix.
Target minimum grades are one of the most limiting factors when it comes to students' learning, especially when you take into consideration that most tests suffer from errors of measurement. Rather than setting ceiling on students' expectations of themselves, tell them that everything they do feeds into what they can be - growth mindset vs fixed mindset.
How should teachers use research to work out what actually makes a difference to students' learning?
There is a fundamental difference between performance and learning. Performance looks good and students seem engaged but the new ideas haven't stuck; learning happens over time and you can't see it happen but you know when true learning has occurred because students have knowledge and understanding in their long-term memory.
Introducing desirable difficulties (Robert Bjork) is really important to help students transfer learning into their long-term memory. This can be achieved by frequent testing, spacing and interleaving topics, reducing scaffolds and students reformulating material they have studied.
We shy away from introducing desirable difficulties into our lessons because we are scared that it will look like students aren't making good progress.
Teachers need to be wary of educational fads, e.g. Brain Gym, learning styles that have no evidence behind them that they make a positive impact on student learning.
The fundamentals of teaching that are known to impact on students' learning need to be practised and mastered - excellent subject knowledge; confident teacher instruction; teacher expectations and interactions with students; classroom management; and reflective pedagogical practice.
How do we best support disadvantaged students to achieve well and have a positive school experience?
Not all disadvantaged students have the same issues - be careful about generalising.
The most common deficit in disadvantaged students is language - not just the amount of words they have at their disposal but also having understanding academic register.
TAs can be effective if they are used for a specific learning purpose; invest in training your TAs and they will have a positive impact.
DIRTY (dedicated, improvement and reflection time) TAs is one way of getting effective value for money - their role is to support students in developing their metacognition and responding to teacher feedback to close the learning gaps.
Set up PAL (pupil-assisted learning) sessions; develop students' confidence and autonomy by getting them to help others who need more time working on particular topics.
Look out for as many opportunities to build student leadership amongst disadvantaged students; they will not necessarily think that the opportunities available in school are for them. Good work done at University of the First Age.
Organisations like Apples and Pears Foundation support schools in finiding cultural capital opportunities and develop links with the wider community.
Hard data will never be enough; speak to families and students to find out what other knock-on effects there have been due to the intervention.
How can schools engage meaningfully in the research process?
For research to be meaningful for schools, it should never be something that is done to them; schools need to own the research question.
Working in partnership with universities and other academic institutions help schools to get the most out of the research process.
Some teachers may find the idea of doing research overwhelming; instead, go to each department and ask them "What one question would you like to explore that research might be able to help you answer?"
Involve students in the research process by giving them an accessible literature review; if students understand why teachers are trying something new, then they are more likely to engage with the process rather than switch off or be suspicious of change.
How can we ensure that students get a rounded education?
A broad and balanced curriculum based around Trivium 21st Century by Martin Robinson: grammar (knowledge), dialectic (discussion and application of knowledge) and rhetoric (expression of ideas).
It is an utter nonsense to see the Arts as having lower status than Humanities or Languages; the Arts teach a different kind of discipline in students.
The alternative to a narrow EBacc is the National Baccalaureate with three levels: foundation, intermediate and advanced.
The offer to students is challenging qualifications, an EPQ and a personal development programme of individual time working on cultural, physical, creative or community tasks.
Each student will have a Baccalaureate Transcript detailing their chosen pathway.