S2 & S5: Using plenaries and promoting independent learning.

For my QA lesson observation on 5/12/2017, the learning objective was to write a character description of the children’s bad character in their mixed up fairy story, applying prior knowledge of what had been learnt in previous SPaG lessons to their writing (adjectives to describe nouns, commas to separate adjectives and similes) (S2: be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these). Having had training the week before on independent learning, I wanted to introduce differentiated challenges and give children the option of who they worked with and how they learnt (S5: know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively).

The tasks included drawing around each other on large paper and writing adjectives to describe their character, creating simple mind-maps on iPad’s or making wanted posters. I felt that these activities supported different learning styles promoting visual, auditory, physical and social elements of learning, children choosing the learning style that suited them best (S2: demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching). It was great to see how confident children were in choosing their level of challenge and how engaged and motivated they were during the lesson. I ended up incorporating several mini-plenaries into the lesson, one was to address some children’s misconception that they were writing about the Gruffalo, which had been a character in the starter activity. I also used the plenaries to move learning on by asking children to reflect on their work and assess it against the learning outcome and success criteria and challenge them to up-level their vocabulary or add a simile (S2: guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs).

During the lesson some children came up to me to ask for help with their iPads or saying they had finished their work. I reminded them of using the ‘3 before me’ strategy, which promotes children to check their own and their peers work or seek out help from their peers (a more knowledgeable other, Vygotsky) before coming to an adult (S2: encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study).

The initial start of the lesson felt a bit chaotic when children were choosing which task they wanted to do. Next time I would stagger the children going off to choose their challenges for a smoother transition. However, during the lesson the QA mentor noted that with the exception of 2 children the rest of the class were engaged and on task for the whole lesson and were given the opportunity to develop their collaboration and independency skills.

One thing my QA mentor said that I need to consider is how I can assess children’s work during the lesson when they are using iPads. Using technology as an outcome for the lesson is quite new to me and I found it tricky to judge how much work the children were actually doing. There were also a few technical issues with some children saying they had accidentally deleted their work and had to start again, others having difficulties with the app itself.   Having had technology training yesterday, I feel more confident with introducing technology to children that will enable them to be more independent, e.g. putting instructions on ‘QR codes’ or the ‘Explain Everything’ app, which can be accessed at a help desk independently if children need additional support. The ‘Padlet’ app would also enable me to monitor children’s work during the lesson and also identify any misconceptions with their learning.

Focused next steps:

Introduce more technology into lessons as a way of monitoring work and to give children more independency with supporting themselves or others if they need help.

(S2: encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study).