Teachers had put a number of things into place to ease the cognitive load:
- Children taking notes on white boards or rough books has been helpful for children to reference.
- Flip charts displayed and notes on the learning walls helps scaffold the learning.
- Brain breaks helps children refocus.
- Chunking, particularly in literacy – actions provide children with a hook and reminders for vocabulary.
- Having a visual learning journey for the skill in hand gives children further reminders and scaffolds the learning by breaking it up and making the goals clear.
- Showing children what a good one looks like helps children to see their final outcomes and how to build it.
- Peer coaching encourages reflection on success criteria and reinforces learning.
- Giving children a hook for the learning such as a concrete link or context.
“Children are specifically asking for PowerPoints to be returned to the learning journey and working walls – this shows that for some children this is reassuring and a helpful tool to reduce the cognitive load and scaffold the focus.”
Midlothian (including secondary)
Teachers had printed out PowerPoint slides which meant children could focus on the teaching rather than trying to remember the slides. This has reduced stoppages to ask questions and clarify misconceptions.
Working walls had key questions displayed which were added to at the ends of lessons. As children are involved in creating the display they are remembering more easily.
Regular mid lesson learning stops in which tasks are carried out on the whiteboard to summarise learning so far take you back to the purpose of the task and helps make decisions about where to go next. They refocus the children and lead to better self-assessment.
Relating to real life contexts has helped children remember and apply.
Prior knowledge starters and co-constructing success criteria have enabled the learning to be clearer and relevant. Giving bad examples for pupils to then improve also helped greater engagement and was inclusive.
“As part of our Ancient Greece topic, there is a significant amount of complex vocabulary the children have to use and understand. At the end of each PowerPoint I created a ‘Key Points’ slide, which I print out so that every child has a copy (knowledge organiser).
“This has dramatically reduced the time children spend trying to remember and has allowed then to focus on the learning intention and applying their knowledge in the task. It also helps with retrieval of information as we add the key pints slide to our working wall to refer to through the topic.”
All teachers had provided visuals to help children remember each part of the task which made them less likely to go off task. This also increased participation from pupils who think they have poor literacy skills.
One teacher had ‘speedy sessions’ for overlearning material. This consolidated understanding and embed from working memory to long term.
Bundling success criteria together helped to chunk the things to remember.
“I wanted to find a way to make lessons where there were a lot of success criteria more accessible and manageable for the children. I was particularly aware that in writing lessons there was a lot for children to remember.
“I introduced the ‘Chunky monkey’ approach whereby we found ways to chunk or bundle success criteria together.
“We initially discussed which success criteria could be bundled, first as a class then learning partners together. These chunks were then the basis for a subsequent grammar lesson which fed into the next writing lesson. During these lessons I modelled the ‘how to’ in my writing, showing them my own examples and also using the visualiser to show children’s examples.
“The pupils liked to see how they could chunky monkey the criteria and in turn kill two birds with one stone. It made the success criteria more accessible and manageable. I felt in turn that peer feedback and indeed my own feedback improved markedly during lessons.
“Next steps were then focused on a ‘from ow on’ approach whereby pupils would actively implement any changes in their own work from feedback time onwards.
“I also used a visual image – an actual picture of a monkey and two birds and one stone to remind them where and when to chunk criteria.”
North Wales 1
All teachers used working walls, showing success criteria. Children can use these when working independently. They can be referred to during 1-1 feedback and teachers can give feedback to children with reference to the working walls. One teacher has a laminated surface for the working walls so they can be changed frequently for new genres for instance.
Three teachers get children to use the pages at the backs of their books for taking notes. This means there are fewer questions after a task has been introduced; there is more responsibility for their own learning and more independence. There is greater consistency within the class, although some children have been seen doodling rather than taking notes!
Two teachers display the learning journey for each skill at the beginning of each lesson, so that children can place today’s learning and one teacher e mails the PowerPoint presentations to the children for use during lessons. They have been able to look for key information rather than trying to remember something they have only seen once. These can also be stored (on Hub One drive or Google Classroom) for future use.
North Wales 2
Jotters had been given to children across the school and they decide how to use them. All teachers had children use chrome books for notes and Seesaw for sharing. This had all helped children to absorb information and develop clear understanding.
Working walls were used by most teachers, again providing a point of reference for children rather than trying to recall important things such as success criteria, vocabulary, examples of goof ones etc.
Mid-lesson learning stops remind children and keeps them focused.