- IB HL Lesson Sheets
After success with booklets in the IGCSE course I have been creating lesson sheets for IB this year. Really they are skill sheets, as each sheet covers a subskill of a unit, rather than a lesson. Like booklets, I now teach the sheet in however much time it takes, rather than trying to teach a skill in a lesson, and this is aided by having resources available on the sheet. The benefit compared to booklets is replacing a lost sheet is easier, and less time os wasted finding the right page etc. I am teaching one of the new IB courses starting March, so will be creating these for that course too.
- Learning Maps
I have been making use of Learning Maps to overview a topic at the start, and then review it systematically as we progress through the unit. This also gives students a revision map for use later. I find one of the biggest benefits is actually in planning the unit, as the map gives me a clear picture of the whole unit and so makes creating lesson sheets easier. I would like to collaborate in making these for the courses I am teaching next year.
- Learning about Instructional Coaching
In April I went the Instructional Coaching Institute run by Jim Knight, and it opened a whole new world of professional development to me. Learning about the Better Conversations model has changed the way I talk with people. And dabbling in the process of the impact cycle has been fascinating. I am really excited to start coaching properly, with a team of 4 others whom I have trained, in 2020.
- The Principles of Great Teaching
The introduction of the Principles of Great Teaching was a little bumpy this year as I didn't anticipate certain reactions to it (namely a belief that I was telling people how to teach), but overall, the document has started to make a difference. Teachers are talking about teaching and learning more and more, and the framework has given a language to enable this. Work in this direction is by no means finished, but it has been such a big part of my life this year, that it has to be listed here. Next year the focus will be on getting departments to work with them in their context.
- Assessing prior knowledge
I did not use Diagnostic Questions to do this in the end, but I did build in a Get Ready section to my lesson sheets. These were one or two questions based on prior learning that students needed to be able to continue onto the current skill. As this was a higher level class, I am not sure I got the full benefit from these, and I am interested to see how these work next year with a year 7 class.
- More time for independent practice
This has been hard as we have had the number of lessons reduced by between 20 and 25% for middle school and IB classes. I certainly made headway with this for IGCSE before they went on exam leave, but my IB classes did not get enough independent practice. However, I have made more use of varied questions, and other activities to make students think more deeply in the time we have, such as Venn Diagrams and Open Middle problems.
- Increasing wait time, and using cold call
I have gotten better at using cold call, but still need to work on wait time, especially between student responses. I also need to use more questions when going through examples to get a wider sample of responses.
- Drop in to more classes
I have managed to average at least one learning walk a week this year, so have spent a lot more time in classrooms. I have also managed to get more members of the management team to join me on learning walks, which has been a good step forward. In terms of more personalised PD opportunities, the coaching should help with this.
- Plan high-leverage questions
I want to make more use of the types of questions suggested in Thinkers, such as "Give me an example of... And another... And another" or "Give me an easy and hard example of...". Alongside Venn Diagrams and Open Middle questions, this types of questions are designed to get students thinking deeply about the idea, and develop their understanding of concepts. I will plan these into the booklets/lesson sheets to help remind me to use them, but I think I will make more use of the mini whiteboard for students to answer these questions. I still think there is a place for repetitive questions to develop fluency, but these will hell develop understanding. The questions is, which to do first?!
- Use Frayer Diagrams and Non-Examples
I have dabbled with Frayer Diagrams a little, but want to be more systematic with their use, particularly the use of non-examples for new concepts as outlined in the literature on Direct Instruction. The idea is to help students identify when a certain concept applies, and when it does not. I am teaching Groups for the first time to my IB HL class in the second bimester, and this is filled with definitions, so seems like a perfect opportunity to make use of Frayer Diagrams. I talk a bit more about my plan for this process in the Making Every Maths Lesson Count post.
- What have you understood?
One of the department focuses for 2019 was checking for understanding, but we spent most of the time discussing what was meant by understanding and the different levels of understanding. Whilst the discussions were interesting, it didn't lead to much actual change in my teaching. I want to make a simple change to help me better understand what my students know and do not know, so I can adjust my teaching appropriately. Again, making use of my mini whiteboards, I will ask students the simple question to tell me what they have understood, rather than the rhetorical 'have you understood?'
- Incorrect examples and different methods
Related to non-examples of concepts is the idea of incorrect examples of skills/methods. Over the last few years I have worked hard on giving clear examples that are easy to follow (and am now starting to build in ideas from Dual Coding for this too), but feel the next step is to analyse incorrect examples or different methods to develop further understanding. My plan is to do this after first teaching the 'correct' way and developing this.
- Apply the ideas of Wholesome Leadership, and read more about leadership
- Keep visiting as many classrooms as possible, and develop a feedback system for learning walks
- Put the emphasis on departments to support the professional development of their teachers within the constructs of the Principles of Great Teaching