This blog is part of a series designed to give a short, sharp insight into a pedagogy strategy or technique. Originally these blogs were CPD sessions, delivered by myself to teachers in the school where I work. Over the next few weeks I hope to type up some of these ‘Quick Wins’ briefings into 3-5 minute read blogs.
In the previous blog in this series I explained how modelling is a really powerful metacognitive tool. It gives you an easy way to break relatively abstract or multi-step processes into manageable steps for students to follow. Further, it gives your novice learners an insight into how an expert approaches the problems that crop up in your subject.
Modelling can be very useful, and I find one of the most common ways that I model my thinking to students is through worked examples. There are a few different ways that we can do this in class, so I have pulled some simple techniques together to hopefully save people some time in researching for themselves. The caveats are that this list is absolutely not exhaustive and I have selected the ones that I tend to use most often in my own teaching.
- Problem Pairs
This technique comes from Greg Ashman and his fantastic blog ‘Filling the Pail‘. In this technique you model a strategy for solving a problem, then immediately model this a second time but while you are doing this, your students actually use your model to solve a similar problem for themselves. This is an extension of the I do, We do, You do, method, but I think it’s better because the ‘We do’ section is made more challenging by being a different question. This forces students to think harder and show that they have properly understood the method you are teaching. Overall, I struggle to see how this could be used for qualitative, written tasks, but it is definitely very powerful for teaching calculations in maths, science and technology.
2. Everybody writes
This is part of the TLAC strategies fromd Doug Lemov and you can find more information on it, and an example of how to use it here. In essence you pose a question and get the entire class to write the first part of a response. This could be the first line of an introduction or a longer section of text, but the key point is that every student writes in response. The next stage is to pick one example fro the group and either explain why it’s a great example or live model how to improve that version while getting students to improve their own work. This technique is brilliant for developing students writing but also making sure that ALL students are involved in the lesson.
3. Consider dual coding
Lots has been said, and probably said better, about dual coding. In essence our brains can absorb information in two main ways – verbal and visual processing. The verbal aspect covers spokena nd written information, while visual refers to pictures and shape. If you present images while talking or provide pictures with written text you allow students to take the information in via two pathways and potentially encode the information more quickly and more effectively.
These techniques are probably stuff that you are doing already but, as ever, putting a name to these strategies allows us to conciously think about them and improve how we use them in class. I hope you find them useful.