The workshop on Differentiated Homework came about due to us considering the differentiated lesson. “We differentiate in lessons so we should differentiate homework…right?” Right!
How can we as teachers insist upon differentiating our classwork but then feel justified in giving the entire class the same piece of homework? It can become boring for the more able, consistently annoying for those who are finding the work challenging and it can be boring for the teacher too! To an outsider, it may seem strange that we are not differentiating homework, so what’s happening? Why are we all giving our students the same homework? Let’s consider the “Why? How? & What?” of this homework scenario
Why do you want students to complete homework?
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What makes an outstanding lesson? And who decides? Ofsted set out their criteria for evaluating the quality of teaching and learning in an institution as a whole. In their School Inspection Handbook, footnote 42, it says:
“These grade descriptors describe the quality of teaching in the school as a whole, taking account of evidence over time. While they include some characteristics of individual lessons, they are not designed to be used to judge individual lessons.”
We know that plenty of schools ignore this and adapt the criteria to apply them to individual lessons – for some very understandable reasons. We also know that this leads to teachers teaching “observation specials” to try and jump through the hoops of the taken-out-of- context criteria. You can read about the impact of this in @cazzypot’s blog: Is Michael Gove lying to us all? and in @BarryNSmith79’s Lesson…
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I have been thinking about SOLO taxonomy for a while and the impact it can have on student learning in PE. I have also looked at ways to make it easier for students to access.
I have previously blogged about Project Based Learning here and the feedback has been really positive. both staff and teachers are engaged in this approach to co construction of the curriculum and lots of teachers are telling me about their plans for embedding it in their schemes.
To move things on a bit I wanted to look at ways of supporting students to create their own learning models. To help facilitate the process of finding out what they need to improve on and where to find out how to do that.
That is where the link with SOLO…
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Can you show ‘true’ progress within 25 minutes? And, how much of a limiting factor should progress be?
Some of our thinking within leadership in this area has been discussed in the blog around the ‘catastophism of student progress’. Suffice to say, progress certainly isn’t linear; you only have to look at our own careers to see that. Progress loops and dips and staggers before it leaps and bounds:
So, why should we ‘hang’ our observation grades on ‘progress’? Yes- because our students deserve success. So, what’s wrong with this observation structure? The answer is simple; it encourages a teacher to ‘shine’ for 25 minutes once a term. Our students need us to ‘shine’ every single time we stand in front of them.
As Aristotle once said, ‘Excellence is a habit’ and, as discussed in the blog ‘Greatness isn’t born, it’s Grown’, Dan Coyle has stated that greatness isn’t something we’re born with; practising skills over and over again is the key as ‘each time we reach and repeat we earn another layer’. So, to become and great teacher, who will create great learners, we need to practise our skills day in, day out. So, as a school leader, how do you encourage habits over performance?
You change the way you grade your teachers.
Is grading a teacher on a 25 minute slot fair? Probably not. Is the answer to ditch the grades as other bloggers have suggested? Probably not. Is research conducted on one source of information considered fair? Probably not. You need to triangulate your data.
Rather than focus on progress shown in just 25 minutes, we need to focus on progress over time; following on from the conditions in the classroom we’ve just been in for 25 minutes, would students be able to show outstanding progress over time?
This approach should certainly be fairer- staff can point at progress over time through their book marking, achievement data, student voice and outcomes. Not only that but they can signpost their future thinking/ planning in medium term plans as well as the individual lesson to show how they’re adapting and differentiating for the class. Staff who make a habit of ‘shining’ for their students will be rewarded with Good or Outstanding grades:
As such, our observation form changed again to highlight the importance of progress over time (removing the need for staff to ‘perform’ and show progress no matter what stage of the year/ scheme of work/ curriculum.)