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Interactive teaching and learning blog

Making the learning vi2ible

June 21st 2016

John Hattie’s book Visible Learning states that teachers and leaders need to be continually aware of the impact they are having on their students by analysing evidence and making the decisions about how best to change the approach to ensure maximum progress for all.

It is critical that teachers see themselves as evaluators of their effects on students and develop a mind frame where they evaluate their effect on learning. Hattie argues that teacher’s expectation and belief have the greatest influence on student achievement. One of the most powerful single influences enhancing achievement is feedback. The best feedback should be:

·         Clear, purposeful, meaningful and that which builds on prior knowledge.

·         Is pitched at the right level, so it can assist students to comprehend, engage, or develop effective strategies to process the information intended to be learnt.

·         Combined with effective instruction in classrooms, and focus on what is being learnt and how students achieve it (success criteria).

·         Occur as students are doing the learning (fairly immediate).

·         Provide information on how and why the student has or has not met the criteria.

·         Provide strategies to help the student to improve.

Our new assessment system at Weydon has fully embraced Hattie’s ideals and recognises that effective formative assessment ensures better progress for all. We have been working all year to ensure that our students own the assessment process and engage and reflect on feedback. We have implemented a ‘feedback book’ where students record their feedback so they can measure their own progress and in curriculum areas across the school we have been ensuring that the students read, assimilate and act on targets and comments. In PE, Maths, Performing Arts, Geography and History they chose feedback as the focus of their action research.

‘PE strive for the ‘Perfect Model’

PE asked students to reflect and recall against a ‘perfect model’ of how to perform a particular skill. This was trialled with Year 7 students and then developed further by producing a video bank where students could access the video to review and improve their own performance with the aim of it being available on the learning platform. The ‘perfect model reflects Hattie’s research by sharing the success criteria and then providing a strategy where students could help themselves to improve through self-reflection, discussion with peers and teacher advice . Although in its embryonic phase the idea is to find time to create an extensive video bank for different sports.

‘Maths, line up the confidence of low ability!’

Maths wanted their students to be able to act on feedback from the beginning of the lesson. The aim was that this would drive progress throughout the lesson to enable them to achieve success. Initially iPads were used to check knowledge and once a quiz was completed, outcomes were RAG colour coded. Whilst the students benefited from the visual representation of success, the team wondered how they could achieve the same results without iPads.

At the start of the lesson the students were asked to answer a simple expanding brackets question on a named post it note. They then placed their answer on a confidence line. Many students placed their answer near the 100% confident end of the line showing they felt confident. None of the students got it right and what became evident was that low ability mathematicians often overestimate their true ability and without feedback would not be aware of the progress they need to make. The confidence line was revisited regularly in the lesson and it gave the students the opportunity to recognise their errors and correct their answer. Students in follow up lessons had corrected their mistakes and made progress .This visible form of measuring progress really suited the low ability and made sure the feedback was fully understood.

‘Student Performers own their feedback’

In the Performing Arts they wanted to see how their feedback was impacting on the quality of the work and getting the students to own and reflect on the written feedback. The Performing Arts teachers are masters of verbal feedback: they can often be seen giving extensive 1:1 feedback to every student in their classes in the time it would take most teachers to finish the starter! The Arts wanted, though, to develop a way that the students could record this valuable verbal feedback. They implemented a new feedback sheet and provided space for the students to respond to feedback and use DIRT. The feedback focused on how to improve rather than complimenting or providing positive affirmation. As a result the students have improved the quality of their feedback and really understand the success criteria. The Art curriculum area used Marvin Bartel’s research on how to critique art through asking questioning which coaches and empowers through self-awareness. This leads to deep reflection and evaluation – find out more http://www.bartelart.com/arted/critique08.html

‘Geography maps out the progress!’

Geography also implemented a feedback sheet based on the Flight Path Scale. They produced a generic feedback sheet which was simple and easily understood by the students irrelevant of the content being taught. They wanted to engage the students with the success criteria and have produced a laminated set to use prior to assessments.


The result, is the students own, and are comfortable with the criteria and are writing at greater length and depth. The sheet is now given to students prior to commencing a piece of extended writing to focus students on the key skills they need to practice, embed and develop at that time.

‘Historians no longer ignore written feedback!’

Their aim sounds simple, encourage students to engage with the assessment criteria every time they undertook an assessed piece of work. This would eventually allow them to become masters of their achievement and would prepare them for KS4. As a result DIRT has become an integral part of our planning. The criteria are ‘grade less’ but are incremental and they use keywords like mastery, confident, secure and emerging to distinguish between the levels of attainment. When marking student’s work they are careful to highlight the aspect of the criteria that they had met. Before the student completed the assessments they created model paragraphs which allowed them to engage with the success criteria. The DIRT sheets and dedicated ‘DIRTY’ lessons meant the students acted on the feedback. Poor grades are a thing of the past! Confident learners are rewriting the history books!

Weydon teachers have started a learning revolution where students are co-constructors of their learning by understanding the success criteria, responding to feedback and owning the assessment process. The sky’s the limit for our students and Hattie would be proud!

By Jackie Sharman – Deputy Headteacher Teaching & Learning – Weydon School

If you enjoyed this blog, try these:

From memory to mastery

Lest we forget 

Effective revision techniques

Filed under: Teaching Posted at 09:58

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