Midlothian (included sec ASN)
Four teachers had used the ‘odd one out’ starter and ‘true or false’. They found that discussion has increased and ‘convince me’ had created focus.
Teachers were asking prior knowledge questions randomly across lessons, mainly in maths as they found it difficult to think of questions for other subjects.
One example of an effective prior knowledge starter was ‘The age at which you can drink alcohol should be lowered’ ‘Discuss…’ Planning the lesson was irrelevant because this question really highlighted what children knew. They were able to justify their thoughts and had reasonable justifications.
Teachers had also tried snowballing (partners join with another pair to share thoughts) which had resulted in sharing and growing knowledge.
“For a World War 2 topic, I asked children about key battles on a time line and discovered that one child had huge amounts of knowledge about Pear Harbour. This pupil then brought in resources/posters and books he had about the attack. He then taught the class, drew maps, identified ships and the direction of the aircraft etc.
This pupil is one of our lower achievers in many areas. Taking this lesson had a huge effect on his confidence levels.”
North Wales Team 1
All teachers had used true or false starter questions for maths, such as ‘Mr Davies can be measured in miles or km. True or false?’ This sparked great discussion and the concept of measure and units was explored. They were instantly engaged and the discussion revealed that they had no understanding of the connection between distances measured.
All teachers had used Concept Cartoons for Maths and science. The information gathered about evaporation at the beginning of the lesson changed the entire lesson, as there were so many misconceptions.
In general, the impact of lesson starters was to engage children immediately, giving a positive start to the lesson, including all children in discussion and encouraging collaboration. This small change in routine has had a big impact.
All teachers had also introduced the big picture learning journey at beginnings of lessons, so that children could see where they were going and where they had been. The purpose of every step was made clear.
“I used the Concept Cartoon on dissolving:
“Will sugar and water weigh the same when mixed as they do separately?
“Children discussed with talk partners and in groups and shared their responses. Because I used the word ‘interesting’ as my response to their responses, all shared their current thinking openly.
“It was clear to see which pupils had misconceptions about dissolving so those pupils actually carried out that experiment to see for themselves (not planned) before doing the planned investigation which was about sped of dissolving.
“It was also great to listen in to discussions where one partner understood and was using other examples to try and explain what was happening.”
Sarah – Ysgol Sant Dunawd
North Wales Team 2
True/false and don’t know choice prior knowledge statements worked well with children engaged immediately and with better concentration.
All teachers had used a variety of questions to discover children’s misconceptions. Teachers now have a better understanding of the appropriate starting point.
Children are not scared to voice an opinion.
All teachers had used ‘What went wrong’ to lead to forming success criteria, which works particularly well in maths. Children feel ownership of subsequent tasks and of their own success criteria. There is much more dialogue happening and sharing of ideas. Children are learning from each other without being aware. ‘Are you sure?’ even when you know they are right enables children to check and prove their answers. Gareth Metcalfe’s book ‘I see maths’ on reasoning was recommended, which has lots more maths prior knowledge questions.
The ‘Mantle of the Expert’ approach was also used in two schools which had encouraged deeper thinking and engaged pupils.
“I had used the ‘What went wrong’ template for numeracy with number facts or calculations given on the whiteboard with a deliberate mistake. In their random talk partners they discuss what is wrong and how to correct it. They collaborate and co-construct the success criteria for the calculation. As the criteria have been constructed in their own vocabulary the children recall the criteria better from one lesson to another.”
Eiran Jones Ysgol Bro Guydir
One teacher had also used pictures to ask ‘What do you think this is about?’
The ‘odd one out’ had been used by all teachers in Welsh which encouraged deeper understanding.
One teacher had used the opposing statement for ‘This whale is not our responsibility because it is in Thailand.’ This encouraged using reasoning.
The resource ‘Maths no problem’ have two different answers which children have to prove. This also led to revealing prior knowledge successfully.
Teachers felt that the prior knowledge questions were easier to use in maths than in English or other subjects.
The templates get children talking, and allow all children to shine as there is no writing involved.
All templates had been used successfully to reveal children’s prior knowledge.