This year there are two strands to our T&L priorities. The first is focused on ‘Quality Answers’ which includes looking at teacher talk, teaching vocabulary, better sentences/ thoughts and modelling/ scaffolding. The second is focused on short term and long term memory and strategies to enhance memory such as retrieval practice.
Our first whole school INSET introduced both of the strands and started to introduce the key ideas. Below is a summary of what was covered, including the presentations used.
Quality Answers (Lead: Michael Tatham, T&L Team)
Session 1: Quality Answers
Michael introduced the importance of vocabulary and being ‘word rich’. He explored how teachers are fundamental in the teaching of tricky but essential vocabulary. A lot of his work has been influenced by Alex Quigley’s book ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap’ and other academic research.
In the classroom Michael recommended:
- Model the academic code in your talk
- Use the S E E C model
- Teach key words and concepts memorably.
Model the Academic Code in your Talk
This idea emphasises the need for teachers to infuse academic and subject specific vocabulary during teacher talk. As Amy Benjamin states “As teachers, we should be using (or infusing) vocabulary we suspect that our students don’t quite know yet…… If speaking this way becomes a habit, then our students are fortunate: they will be learning new words effortlessly.”
Michael suggested strategies we could use to do this:
- Using discourse markers
- Talking like an expert
- Upgrading or restating words
- ABC feedback
- Phrasing tentatively
Use the S E E C model for Teaching Vocaulary
Select words to teach and spontaneously teach words
Explain the word well
Explore the word
This idea was explained by Amanda Jones (T&L Team) who examined how she would use the model to teach the term ‘osmosis’.
Teach Key Word and Concepts Memorably
Michael modelled how to teach key vocabulary in a memorable way. He demonstrated the concept using two teachers and then modelled what he would do in the classroom.
To conclude a quote from Phil Beadle was used; “In introducing pupils to higher order language, you are enabling them to convey an increasing complexity of thought, and besides this, you’re also teaching them how talk in the language of the orthodoxy – those who hold the reins of power”.
Presentation 1 Improving teacher talk and vocabulary
Long Term Memory (Leads: Alison Benn and Alex Mclean, T&L Team)
The start of the session examined the difference between the working and long term memory. The key learning from the introduction was the Attention, Encoding, Storage and Retrieval model which easily explains how people learn and remember.
Alex and Ali introduced a range of practical strategies they use in order to aid students’ retrieval practice.
Ali explained how she used to teach topics in blocks, set topic specific home learning, use application questions related to the topic and then test at the end of block. This process was repeated for her to cover the content she needed to teach. Now, she is using retrieval practice in order to aid learning and memory of key concepts and knowledge. As a Maths teacher she has introduced ‘Ratio Tuesday’, ‘Throwback Thursday’ and Friday ‘Skills Check’. One of the key ideas which a lot of our teachers liked was ‘Throwback Thursday’ which included a question from last term, last week and last lesson.
Alex shared a range of ideas she uses with her classes. In English, she uses a range of images at the start of a lesson and asks students to explain how they link to a particular act in a text they have studied. She also writes a passage about a text but leaves blanks which she challenges students to fill in without using their text. Alex highlighted how useful some online sites can be in retrieval practice and mentioned Quizlet, Triptico and Factile. It was interesting to hear how Alex has changed elements of her planning in order to include greater opportunities for students to recall their knowledge from past lessons and content.
Presentation Session 1 Long Term Memory
We will be building on these two strands throughout the year and encouraging teachers to include them in their planning and lessons.