Mrs Humanities

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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Differentiation Strategies for SpLD

mrs humanities shares

Now I’m no expert in SEN or SpLD for that matter, but these are 5 strategies that I have found that work for my students over the past 5 years. These strategies have come from research or CPD I have undertaken.

1 // Pastel Colours for Powerpoints
Since I can remember I’ve been using pastel colours for PowerPoints and other digital documents. I read somewhere during my NQT year that pastel colours are preferable for students with dyslexia but are also beneficial for all students as white backgrounds can cause eye strain. Ever since then I’ve been using pastel colours for displaying information on the whiteboard. Yellow for task instructions, blue for information and green for assessment for learning. In addition the background is a light grey to reduce glare and sensitivity to bright lights.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

2 // Structure Scaffolds
To support students to develop their extended writing I’ve used a variety of scaffolding strategies over the years in order to enable students to break down the task and focus on demonstrating their knowledge as opposed to structure (initially). Some approaches include sentence_starters_mat, structure sheets/strips and tasks broken down into sections which come together as one piece in the end.

atstructure stips differentiatedtask break down

3 // Note Taking Supports
Students with dyslexia regularly struggle to take notes, the challenge of listening and writing at the same time is clear. In order to develop note taking skills, I’ve provided what many people these days call ‘Knowledge Organisers’ as a reference point and note taking supports to support laying out and recording information.

independent learners topic placematsindependent learners note taking

4 // Differentiated feedback
This really applies to all students, however there are things I focus more or less on with students with SpLD than others. For instance focusing on subject knowledge as opposed to spelling, punctuation and grammar, making students respond to questions as opposed to making improvements to a previous piece of work and editing as opposed to full re-writes.

5 // Words to use in a lesson
Really simple but effective way to develop subject specific terminology in SpLD students and their practice of spelling such terms has been the list of key terms to use during lessons. These appear as a list at the bottom of PowerPoint slides and students are given the key word list at the start of the topic. They’ve then been able to highlight the words for the lesson that they need to focus on using. These are the only spellings I have focused my attention on in the marking of their work and these are the only spellings I have had them correct. I found this worked particularly well with boys, particularly one higher ability boy in year 8 that particularly worried about the structure of his written work and SpAG, he’d focus too much on these rather than showing his understanding in written work. When we started to focus on the spelling of key terminology instead he wrote more about what he knew and understood. independent learners key word lists

I hope this post is of some use to you.

Share your approaches in the comments.

Mrs Humanities


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Developing a Feedback NOT Marking ‘Policy’

This summer I was tasked with the job of editing and improving the Department Handbook I had inherited. One of my key focuses was going to be on creating consistency in marking and feedback within the department.

In order to this I looked at what we already had in place and how we could become collectively more efficient whilst maintaining high quality assessment and feedback for our students.

Using the work I’d done at my former school in researching and putting into practice assessment and feedback strategies, I looked at what we were already doing individually and as a department and took it from there.

First things first we had the job of deciding what should be marked. In a department meeting we identified pieces of work that would be assessed, marked and feedforward could take place on. Assessment pieces were the first to be included, we tend not to assess by test due to our approach to the Middle Years Programme and instead our students produce pieces of work that will be assessed according to specific MYP criteria. Next we decided on one or two pieces of class work and/or homework per topic that would demonstrate student progress in particular skills or MYP criteria.

Below is an example for September to December for one year group. You can see we decided on particular skills and/or MYP criteria to assess and the work that would be associated with that.

assessed work

Our second job was to decide what type of assessment would take place and by whom; would it be assessed by the teacher, peers or by either.

types of assessment

In inadvertently we came up with a few guidance rules

  • If the task was to be assessed for the Humanities faculty then this would be assessed by the teacher only, however ACE or SpACE peer assessment could be carried out throughout the process to help students to make improvements before submitting their final piece.
  • After feedback of any kind, the teacher would assess the piece of work that has undergone Feedback-Feedforward.
  • If there were quantitative or definitive answers e.g. grid references, country names, numbers etc. then it could be peer or teacher assessed so long as mark scheme was provided.
  • Any work could be peer assessed part way through the task, providing time was given for students to continue and make suggested improvements before submission. Also know as time to Stop. Peer Assess. Progress. in my classroom.

Each piece of assessed work was then colour coded to identify who should be marking it.

types of assessment

type of assessment

Thirdly I looked at the best practice taking place in the department and my own research into marking and feedback strategies to create a departmental toolkit to reduce workload and to develop effective Feedback-Feedfoward cycles.

In the end it ended up looking something like this…

page 1 and 2page 3 and 4page 5 and 6

And frequency of marking? Well… “There is no strict rule on how frequently our student books should be marked and assessed.”

The only rule we have is… “Students must receive feedback in some form on a regular basis – this can be through verbal or written feedback, whole class or individual”.

 

If you’re looking for ideas for marking and feedback, there are plenty more on my site. Here are a few to get you started

If you’d like a copy of the departmental feedback and marking document to give you a starting point with your own department, please feel free to get in contact.

Hope the post is of use.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Stop. Peer assess. Progress. 

stop peer assess progressHow often do you carry out peer assessment at the end of a task? I know I used to do it a lot in the past, I’d get students to read each other’s work, write a WWW and EBI comment or a kind, specific and helpful comment depending on the school system and then that would be the end of it.

Then when I started using DIRT in lessons, I might have got students to re-write a piece of their work or write an additional piece in action of the peer feedback.

Then I eventually realised, why I am getting them to peer assess at the end when if they were to carry out peer assessment part-way through a task that would give them time to act on the feedback there and then.

I first did this some time ago now in my last school, it was just before we had Ofsted in so that would have been about May 2015. In fact I did it during the observation lesson, students had been working on the Spanish Armada double lesson; at the end of the lesson they peer assessed each other on their chosen criteria. The next lesson they continued with the activity and made improvements as they produced new work – for instance if a student had wanted their use of PEE paragraphs assessed and in particular their use of evidence from the sources, their peer assessed how effectively they’d been applying evidence and how they could improve, when they continued the work the next day each time the student included new evidence they’d write it in pink to demonstrate the progress they were making in their use of evidence in their PEE paragraphs.

These days I rarely use peer assessment solely at the end of a piece of work, instead I apply it within activities to give students the opportunity to assess progress, make improvements and access inspiration to develop their own work.

Recently when I’ve mentioned the power of peer assessment in my classroom I’ve had a lot of backlash from other teachers on twitter, particularly when I’ve shared the ACE and SpACE peer assessment techniques. People arguing that we are expecting novices to assess novices. Now I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t expect my students to ever give a summative grade or level without assessing it myself as well, they are learning.

I might however ask them to predict the level or grade they think a finished piece of work might achieve using success criteria or a mark scheme and justify why in order to help them to understand what is being assessed but I never take it as the final grade. It’s merely an opportunity for students to engage with assessment criteria; in my opinion if they understand the assessment criteria when they sit an assessment whether it be a formative piece, a summative or external exam then they can apply it better? No?

I know my learner’s are not experts, but I’m training them to be. I’m facilitating their learning and that means both subject content, life long learning skills and their understanding of assessment criteria in order to maximise their potential in their GCSEs or other exams.

The opportunity to peer assess isn’t just about the outcome (grade, marks, levels etc) but the process. Students see other work whether it be good or bad practice; reflection upon what they see allows them to improve their own work. It’s an opportunity for idea sharing and to be inspired. A time to reflect on one’s own strengths and weaknesses. A time to consider successes and areas for improvement. An opportunity to gain feedback before submitting work as complete to the teacher. Personally peer assessment is more than that, it’s a learning experience.STOP PEER ASSESS PROGRESS

Yes, peer assessment does reduce my workload slightly. In the sense that it means students receive feedback there and then and the opportunity to act on it in a timely manner rather than days or weeks later. I mark their work, I assess their work. But I often found that marking work at the end or part way through myself meant a delay between producing the work and them receiving feedback on it, further more it meant a lag time between production and opportunity to act on the feedback.

I personally want my students to access timely feedback, verbal works but I can’t get around a whole class of 28-32 students in the time available so peer assessment helps students to access this feedback. Yes it takes training from day one, yes it takes time and yes it requires scaffolding but eventually students get it. They become confident in their ability to self and peer assess, they learn exam techniques throughout their years in secondary education and not just in the ‘exam’ years. Give stop, assess and progress and go in your classroom (but be consistent and persistent with it, it takes time to master).

How do you use peer assessment in your classroom? Do you agree with me? Disagree (polite debate welcomed)?

Mrs Humanities

 


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Guest Post from @geographyhanna – Combining Approaches

guest post

A word from MrsHumanities

I’m really excited to be sharing the very first guest post on the site. When I saw how Hanna (@geographyhanna) had combined approaches @ploguey and I to develop a feedback-feedforward approach in order to close the gap on an activity I felt it was something that should be shared more widely.

If you have something worth sharing and would like to write a guest post, get in touch.

I hope you enjoy the first guest blog on MrsHumanities.com

combining approaches

Finding myself spending hours providing specific and personalised written feedback to students, I became increasingly frustrated at the value students place on this written feedback. I often found myself writing the same thing for the same student again and again, and whilst I would provide them with DIRT time, they didn’t all use this productively or show signs of using it to improve their work and make progress. I would often get asked by Year 12 ‘so what do I have to do to improve?’, having not even read what I had thoughtfully spent time writing. It was infuriating. Searching through twitter looking for inspiration I came across @mrshumanities SpACE feedback.

I trialled the SpACE feedback initially with my dreamy top Year 7 set.  They were engaged, it got them thinking, asking amazing questions and really reflecting on their work. From this they summarised their findings into a WWW and EBI, part of our departmental policy. Reading them, they were informative and useful. Not the old classic ” you need to write more” or “work on your handwriting”, they had really thought about it. I trialled it on my Year 12’s and was equally impressed by the learning conversation and outcomes.  It has completely challenged my feedback practice and the way I view peer assessment.

Being newly addicted to twitter I had previously come across @ploguey read-edit improve approach. I had used the idea successfully with exam classes. Students really liked the level of challenge it provided and spotting mistakes became good points of conversation and developed an element of competition. The structure had the added benefit of supporting reluctant writers and highlighting the use of AfL in their books. However, I found that students were not brilliant at articulating their feedback in the ‘edit’ section and needed quite a lot of guidance for the higher level skills.

Example

This led to me combining the two ideas for my Year 11 revision session on explain the formation questions. Using the SpACE feedback provided them with some structure to their feedback and allowed them to edit and improve with a greater focus. In addition I also added an ‘apply’ section on the end, which lent itself well to the skills I was hoping to adapt. Whilst the students had not used used either approach previously and were a little saturated with revision, they engaged well and clearly showed development in their ability to structure this style of question. It is an approach I am excited about using more and will definitely be sharing and building in to schemes of learning.

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Thank you to @mrshumanities and @ploguey for the inspiration.

Hanna (@geographyhanna)

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My Marking and Feedback Toolkit

marking and feedback toolkit #feedbackNOTmarkingI think we all know by now that I actually love providing feedback in all shapes and forms. Over the past 3 years I’ve tried a large variety of methods to find what works best. Some methods are my go to approaches, a few I come back to now and then, others I’ve tried the once and binned.

feedback toolkit

I thought I’d share my top 5 feedback approaches that have become my #feedbackNOTmarking toolkit.

ACE Peer Assessment or the more recent take on it SpACE Peer Assessment.

This technique I use frequently with my classes. Often when students are working on an extended piece of writing  or a prolonged task I will get them to stop where they are (usually about half way into the task) and get them to ACE their peers work. Students will peer assess in purple pen using the coding system and write comments/questions at the end or in the margins. Once peer assessed the work is returned to the student and they act on the feedback there and then in pink pen. They then continue with the task and each time they make the suggested improvements, these could be anything from the spelling of a key work to the use of data as evidence, they do it in pink to clearly demonstrate the improvements and progress they have made in the remainder of the work. I usually use this approach with Key Stage 3.
I also however use ACE peer assessment with my 6th formers however rather than being carried out during a piece of work, students will peer assess at the end of an essay or extended piece. They are given time to act on the feedback before submitting the work as complete.

Marking and Feedback Grids
I use these in one of two ways. Firstly as a students work through an extended piece or assessment they are given the feedback grid as an outline of the success criteria they need to meet; as they achieve the criteria it is highlighted and discussions occur in relation to the next steps that could be taken to improve it. Depending on the age range and ability, sometimes I will write what to do next, highlight in a different colour next steps or give a specific task that will enable the next steps to be completed. The second way in which I use them are for the summative assessment of piece of work, I will create the feedback grid as a way of identifying the successes and areas of improvement for the student. Students will read and then reflect upon the feedback to identify their own targets and next steps to focus on through the next topic or piece of work. GCSE graded work

Double ticks, successes and next steps
This approach I use for formative assessment throughout the term. I quite simply single and double tick pieces of work. Double ticks identify to students that these are particularly strong aspects of the work and they have to explain through annotations in the margin or at the end why it was double ticked – this is in relation to the skills used within the work such as use of evidence, use of case study facts, stats and specifics and so on, rather than topic specific achievements. At the end of a marking session I will write a brief and concise comment in relation to their successes and next steps. Students will then act on the next steps feedback if it requires to so for instance a question to move their understanding on or to develop an answer they’ve given or it can be a target they need to focus on in the remainder of the topic again to move their learning and progress on. When possible I  also carry out double ticks as I walk around the classroom looking at and discussing work with students, usually we will verbally discuss why the double tick has been given.

Whole class feedback and feedforward
Sometimes it is not necessary to write diagnostic comments in students books, particularly in relation to everyday classwork so I use the whole class feedback approach. On a regular basis I will take a look through students books and record which students require praise for any particularly outstanding work, any students with unfinished work, any reoccurring misconceptions and SPaG errors and next steps that apply to more than 1 student on my feedforward sheet. Feedforward Book Look Record.png

I then use this information to plan the next sequence of lessons to ensure misconceptions are dealt with and students have an opportunity to act on the next steps. The whole class feedback sheet is shared with the students by scanning and projecting it onto the whiteboard. In the assessment of understanding section I RAG the students understanding of the work undertaken and those with in the Red section I deal with first in class to ensure their understanding is clear and their learning and move forward. I no longer display this aspect to the class and cover it up; this is just me to help with support students with appropriate in class intervention strategies. Students write down comments relevant to them. To find out more on how I use this, head over to my original post on it here.
Verbal Feedback
This is my most powerful feedback tool, my voice. Before starting an extended piece of work, a project or a summatively assessed piece we feed up by discussing the success criteria, what a good one looks like, what the mark scheme might want from us, what skills will be used etc. Sometimes we discussed work that has been similar in terms of the skills used and think about the challenges faced and how they could be overcome this time around. We do this verbally, usually discussing in groups, with discussion as a class followed by confirmation from me.  Students then start the work and are provided with verbal feedback as they work through it, this might be from myself or their peers. Simple discussions of where the work is going and how it could be improved. It’s timely and purposeful. Verbal feedback isn’t just given for extended pieces of work but also those little tasks, usually in the form of discussions of clarification. The last verbal approach is feeding forward, whereby students and I discuss as a class, individual or in groups the successes and potential improvements for future work, students discuss the challenges they faced and may then make note of their reflections in their books for future reference.

Well there’s a guide to my feedback toolkit, I hope this post is of some use to you.

What approaches make up your toolkit? Feel free to share your ideas.

Kind regards,

Mrs Humanities