Thursday, 22 October 2015

Now that's what I call progress

This has been a fantastic term at Ysgol Merllyn.
We started the school year by having Solo Taxonomy training with Craig Parkinson.  The day was amazing and really got us thinking about how we teach our children to think.  We have been planning for deep thinking forever but the structure that Solo offers makes teaching meta cognition really easy. I've been very grateful to Pam Hook for offering support and advice these last couple of weeks as we plan to use Solo across all curriculum areas hopefully by January.  Her Rubric Makers on has massively reduced workload.
We've had One World Week in school this week and it was brilliant to go into year 1 today and here them saying ' I'm relating' when comparing Senegal to Tanzania.

Also this half term, I've been asked to present at the Welsh Leadership Conference next month in Cardiff.  I'm so excited and I'm taking Miss Coppack with me so she can talk about the impact as a class teacher.  However the line up is as follows... Professor John Hattie, Professor Donaldson... Then me (definitely not a professor).  no pressure there then 😐

Promoting our four Visible Learning strands has also been a very positive feature.  Team time has really helped focus us in on where we are and what our next steps are.  We visited the inspirational Bader Primary last month.  The #vlnetworkuk collaboration has definitely helped us all.  This alongside our own training has been so effective in raising all our games.

What I find fascinating is how social media has really had an impact on our school improvement.  Yes, we bought into the Visible Learning intervention but being able to share with people on Twitter, for example Michelle at Pembroke Dock, Simon at Bader, all the Scottish VL family, Sarah Martin in NZ, Pam Hook, Craig Parkinson James Nottingham.........sorry if I've missed anyone
This is sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech

Happy half term everyone, we've got one more day with Craig tomorrow on Feedback.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Learner led conferencing

With Visible Learning, we are always asking and evaluating if our pupils know what they are learning, why they are learning something and their next steps.
We have wonderful displays and stickers and learning ladders but was this just wallpaper to our learners ?
Our children would tell you that they are responsible for their own learning but were they really? Could they really lead on their learning journey? What better way to test them out that at parents evening
So we have held our first learner led conferences this week, and what a week it's been.  Also, for many of our parents, school is a bit of a mystery.  You drop them off from 8am then see them again sometime after 3.15 and they might tell you what they had for lunch but they sometimes give the impression they do nothing all day.  It was really important for us to make learning the focus of everything we do.

We'd organised two days where parents/carers came during the day and spent time in their child's class. Each parent had a 15 minute appointment, available from 8am to 5.30pm.  Our teachers were really up for it, let's have a go and see what happens, we can evaluate afterwards to see how we can refine next time.

Aren't they great! 

Anyway, the children were all briefed.  This is your conference, this is a chance to talk about your learning and explain your next steps, it'll really be exciting and you can show off how good you are at learning.

The children had their books, learning ladders, learner reward cards, learning pits etc at the ready and we went for it.

To run the conferences the teachers set tasks the children could get on with to free them up but our kids are very good at getting on with it now, they are so clear on what they need to do, what to do if they get stuck...
Our early years ran the same and out wonderful teaching assistants took groups with some tasks in the areas.  Admittedly, it was a bit trickier with our youngest pupils but we like a challenge.

I generally wandered around for the two days chatting to parents and evaluating how it was all going.  The teachers did find it hard to stand back because they are programmed to lead parents evening but after a few parents in they relaxed into it more and went with the flow.
The children were amazing.  
In the juniors, the parents went into class and their children explained the set up, how the learner displays and pits help them.  They explained all their learning dispositions and how they are used.  They then showed their books and how they are cold task planning using Solo Taxonomy then the learning intention and success criteria are building their learning.  If parents wanted to stay longer, their child took them outside the class and took their books to continue talking about their learning and next steps.  They also at some point took them to our learner progression displays and showed them where they were and their next steps.

In the infants, the children again led the learning in partnership with the teacher.  The teacher became more of a facilitator and were helping the children to explain their learning, taking into account we've been back five weeks and their age they were brilliant.  One of my highlights was a y1 girl, when her mum and dad arrived she made them close their eyes before they came into the class because she was so excited to share her learning. Another was the Polish children explaining their learning in the first language to their parents.

I also think it was so important for the teachers to see the fruits of their labours.  They were thrilled that the children could explain their assessments  and learning, why they were learning something and what their next steps were so confidently and naturally.  It made parents meetings about learning and not about lost jumpers and the dinner menu.

Our next steps is to survey the pupils and parents to measure the impact and to continue to build our school where if we were a stick of rock Visible Learning would run through the middle.