Educational leadership & learning

This half term our Marvellous Minutes* at the start of our Staff Development Meetings are focused on bringing and sharing an example from the week of when we have tried to stretch / challenge / enrich (choose whichever word you wish) some of the learners in our classes. This is about celebrating our achievements, and exploring together different ways we can provide learning opportunities at greater depth, without moving onto different Learning Objectives. This is part of developing our collective understanding and actual use of ‘Mastery and Enrichment’ within our curriculum.

Year R. The class teacher explained how important listening and engaging in conversation with children is. Following a short maths activity, the teacher was listening to a boy who was still practising using his number bonds to 10 within an activity he had chosen. The teacher then asked some additional (pun intended) which developed into challenging the child to extend the range of numbers he could manipulate mentally. He went far further than the teacher had previously assumed he could. We discussed how important it was to listen in to children’s conversations to gain insight into their thinking and to challenge and extend thinking through well chosen questions.

Year 1. After a couple of lessons of deliberate practice on “o’clock” (making times on model clocks with partners, discussing / reading / drawing given times), some of the learners were challenged to apply their knowledge and understanding within a context. “A clock has the small hand at 12 and the big hand at 6. Bob thinks it is 6 o’clock. Is he correct?” The example shared also showed how the learner had explained her thinking in full sentences. This was followed with the challenge to choose 3 usual events in a day and to draw the hands to show an appropriate “o’clock” for those events.

Year 2. Following a series of lessons on the high quality story “Bog Babies”, the class were asked to write a description of a setting. The teacher (@penfoldno1) discussed how he had changed the Learning Aim from a description of the task, to one that concentrated on effective language choice to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. A group of previously identified higher attainers were briefly shown a WAGOLL that the teacher  had prepared, and then asked to write their description independently. The rest of the class then had a more detailed discussion about the WAGOLL and were encouraged to ‘magpie’ words and phrases in their own piece. We discussed how as the learners journey through the year, we need to take more scaffolded support away. By Easter we would hope for them to be independently creating their own Success Criteria for their written pieces.

Year 3. (@francescaprett2) explained that after a series of sessions of practising aspects of fractions and use of tenths as fractions and decimals (involving concrete equipment and a range of visual models) she has challenged her class with some questions in problems solving contexts. The question “prove it” was evident in many and the most worthwhile struggle came through the learners trying to explain their thinking and reasoning in a coherent and precise way.

Year 4. The class teacher shared a couple of examples of how by phrasing questions differently the challenge level had been raised for some learners even though the Learning Aim had remained the same. Towards the end of a series of fractions lessons, questions such as “1/3 of 72 = ” were mixed in with questions such as “1/5 of __ is 14. What is the missing number?” During the session today when the Learning Aim had been to convert using different units of measure, some learners were given greater support and had a longer input to explore converting ‘cm’ to ‘mm’ and vica-versa. A cut away group were moved onto their questions quicker, which involved them needing to add and subtract different measures. It included missing number questions and also introduced ‘m’ alongside ‘cm’ and ‘mm’ after a few questions. We discussed how by phrasing questions in different ways, it challenges the learners to think in different ways and raises the cognitive demand on them.

 As a reflective team, our staff are sometimes harder on themselves than they need to be. Generally the feeling amongst them is that they haven’t fully ‘got their heads around’ the ‘Mastery and Enrichment’ approach. On the evidence on today’s examples I would respectfully disagree, and think we have come a long way in our collective practice.

*The original post explaining Marvellous Minutes

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