Teachers often started lessons displaying common misconceptions (What went wrong?) and asking children to prove the right answer. This allows then to clearly see which children need support or those that have a good understanding of the skills or processes. It also develops reasoning and problem solving skills, vocabulary and communication skills. One teacher had mistakes such as ‘1 more than 12 is 11’ and ’15 is the same as double 7’ and had both higher and lower achievers able to answer and correct.
Similarly, 4 teachers would demonstrate a mistake (such as counting aloud in tens and making a deliberate mistake) and ask talk partners to discuss what went wrong. Children become the teachers – discussing and proving their claims.
Easing the cognitive load
One teacher had introduced pictorial success criteria. Children now don’t struggle with what is next. The pictures jog their memory quickly and reduce stress.
Four teachers had made sure children had more accessible resources to help jog their memory, as well as aide memoires on the working wall. Children are less stresses as they can access information easily. They can now focus on the skill in hand rather than trying to remember to do too many things.
All teachers were making the learning as real life as possible to make it easier to understand. Photographs were often used. Children are enthusiastic and can relate to this. Skills are being developed rather than having to spend time generating new ideas.
Starting topics with a picture and generating conversations about it revealed misconceptions and understanding.
Using ‘Do you agree or disagree?’ in maths lessons engaged children and encouraged reasoning and justifying their thinking.
The range of answers helped develop success criteria.
The odd one out was very popular and was very inclusive as there was often more than one right answer.
The best wrong answer involved higher order thinking.
Teachers were able to adapt their lessons based on the starter questions and were able to fill gaps in knowledge before moving on.
I showed the children a picture of a sunflower and said ‘This is a tree’. The children practically rolled around laughing. ‘That’s not a tree Susi!’ said one child. ‘But it did grow’ said another.
Susi – Fircroft Primary
Easing the Cognitive Load
In Nursery the counting of dinosaurs was done in silence. This made children more engaged. ‘Watch what I do, then explain to me what I did. Stop me if I make a mistake.’ Modelling in silence made the teacher more reflective and she asked ‘Am I talking too much?’
Knowledge organisers had been given to the children for each topic, so that they could refer to these. Children also fill in a circle, in one school, their prior knowledge which they go back to as a class at the end of a unit to write what they have learnt.
The odd one out question worked well in science as 3 pictures. Pre-learning tasks had been developed for maths using true or false questions. Talk partners had been used for ‘Convince me..’ questions. The teacher can assess the children’s understanding by eavesdropping on the talk partners.