June 2021 BLOG
We continue to see great developments in blended planning across the College, with many exemplary examples across all subjects.
From our work and experiences this year, we have adapted the wording of our Blended learning Protocols: removing the emphasis on self-isolating students and focusing more on our blended approach to support independent learners.
During May, AJB met with a selection of students from all year groups and discussed:
- What they like about our plans currently
- How they are interacting with the platform in general
- How they would like us to develop our practice to make things easier for them.
Some of the details from these discussions I will now share below (in italics), alongside the findings from our most recent walk-through of class courses:
- Activities are becoming clearer
Clear development has been seen where staff are ensuring activities are clear, bullet pointed and in student language.
Students report that they like bullet point / numbered activities that are simple to follow and not too wordy. Don’t include all the knowledge in the activities – link to resources where they can find the knowledge.
Students also reported that they like a simple, spaced-out presentation of activities. Too much colour, too many fonts and background colour made reading more difficult.
- Dates are (mostly) accurate
Plans are dated appropriately – a lot of staff are now using the date only function rather than specific timings as this was causing some issues. Point of action: for some staff: Please make sure you check that all your plans for the day are visible to students with the correct date on. Some staff have no plans visible because there is no date at all.
- Students like accurate dates as they know what to look at. However, there is some confusion when they have two lessons per day (sometimes with two different teachers) where two plans are active. Point of Action: if this is the case with you, please add the period number at the top of the activities box.
- Most of the resources appropriate and available
In the majority of plans seen, relevant activities were seen and accessible to the students. In a minority of cases, resources for a current plan were inactive. Point of Action: Please check for resources in italics that cannot be seen by the students and consider using ‘Student View’ to confirm if needed.
Students reported frustrations with resources not being available. There are some issues with the way that staff are copying plans with ‘Tree links’, and then not copying over the relevant resources as well. Point of Action: italic fonts on resources are an obvious check. I also recommend checking all links in an active plan when you set the plan and replacing links that don’t work or take you to another course. You can also check your plan in student view which gives a very quick and clear oversight of what the student can and cannot see.
- Review notes
There was inconsistency seen in the use of review notes. A major part of our planning process includes the review of students learning, informed by student activity in lessons, CFU tasks, and formative assessment. The review notes are a vital part of ensuring that our planning is bespoke for each individual class. Point of Action: HS and teachers to make the use of CPT time to reflect on learning and update review notes to aid future planning.
- CFU tasks and putting into the assessment record
It is pleasing to see a lot of subjects using a blended approach CFU tasks. Unfortunately, course assessment records often did not reflect this good practice. Points of action:
- Remember to tick the ‘Include in assessment record’ and select the correct term if needed. This can be retrospectively selected if you did not select it at the time of setting.
- Remember to set all assignment, tasks, and tests with a deadline. This way the assessment record can be seen in deadline order (retrospective deadlines cannot be added – so ensure this is correct at the time of setting the activity).
- Custom columns. Custom columns in the assessment record do not have deadline and therefore appear at the end of the record in the order they were created. From the usage seen across staff this year, I recommend not using custom columns from now on. All assessments are linked to specific areas of work, so create a ‘Task’ in the plan – this will allow more details to be provided for the student (such as what work the mark has been awarded for) and potentially allow some personalised comments to individuals if it would be useful. Marks can be added straight in the assessment record as you would for a custom column.
- Consider using ‘Categories’ for your activities. These are easy to set up and assign to an assignment, task or test. The assessment record can then be filtered to a specific category. i.e. if you use self-marking tests for CFU and assignments for more formative assessment, you can filter down to just CFUs and see the trend in scores across the year.
- Regular setting of homework
Going forward, we will be referring to homework as ‘Independent work’ which can obviously be completed at home or in study club. However, it would be a massive jump to remove the term ‘Homework’ at the moment.
It was not always obvious to us where independent work / homework had been set.
Point of action for some:
- Homework tick box – please ensure you are ticking the homework box when you set an assignment, tasks or test that is to be completed as such. This will support students and parents in identifying their homework as well as teachers when they are looking to help students in study club.
- Please ensure that homework is planned into the sequence of learning for effective development of knowledge
- The Big Question
In the sequential and conceptual planning session back in March 2020, where we were working on revisiting and adapting our curriculums, Sarah discussed the idea of The Big Question in our medium-term planning.
‘Why did William win the Battle of Hastings?’ – this big question, in student language, covers the main point of learning in the topic. From there, components of learning break down this big question into chunks of activities and resources for specific learning points: ‘Preparations of William’, ‘English not ready – What went wrong for Harold?’ Please see the documents in the folder from this training session (Staffroom – Planning Templates).
From the walk-though, we found that this ‘Big question’ and subsequent components has been lost. We found many examples where the question had been replaced by a code, i.e. ‘LO1: Analysis of Data’. A code does not let the students know what they are specifically learning. A code is not searchable when we are encouraging the students to revisit and revise work independently. Consider the following:
In 4 weeks time, would your students be able to find the information you’ve given them today, based on the ‘Big question’ you’ve assigned to it?
Older students reported that prefer plans where the titles for lessons (the Big Questions) were related to the knowledge being covered rather than an exam-board code.
Protocol for Blended Learning
Blended learning is:
The vision for ‘Blended Learning’ is a mix of the critical face to face teacher input in the classroom supported by the organised access to the learning resources used in lessons. It affords the possibility of additional learning resources and activities that encourage students to grow in confidence with knowledge and understanding, or to learn in greater depth independently.
Key factors that facilitate Crookhorn Blended Learning:
- All plans are to be on itslearning and bespoke to individual classes through the use of review notes and adaptions to the activities as needed, to ensure that future learning links to or builds on the learning from the previous lesson.
- The activities whether just in the planner or in a PowerPoint or other resource attached to the plan should include explanations as well as questions and must be explicitly clear with the task that is to be completed. (This is so that students working independently can access the tasks or activities without the benefit of your direct instruction). All assignments, tasks and tests need to be set with a deadline.
- All independent learning (homework) to be set on itslearning AND clearly planned into the sequence of learning. Independent learning can be planned as small CFU tasks such as self-marking tests. Independent learning can be set as the main CFU assessment task (as this might require detailed feedback this needs to fit in with your feedback and marking cycle) or can be response to feedback that might have been given on an itslearning assignment.
- All main CFU or formative tasks are to be put on itslearning as an assignment or task. These should be planned into the sequence of learning.
- When completing these assignments or tasks in exercise books, all the marks should be entered into the assignment/task and the assessment status changed to ‘Assessed – Complete’ or ‘Assessed -Awaiting response’.
- In covid times:
- In practical subjects the sequence of work and the CFU assessment might need to be amended slightly to what is practical to be completed at home. However, the work should still be connected to the main learning in the plan.
- For students who are self-isolating the assignment MUST be completed, and feedback will be through ‘itslearning’. You should be checking through ClassCharts which students are self-isolating, so you know who to chase for the assignment/assessment.
- If a student has not completed an assignment whilst self-isolating, there is a button to push on ClassCharts that indicates this to HOH.
- In covid times:
- To provide a true blended learning experience, additional resources can over time be built into the plans that allow students to pursue aspects of their learning on a topic to greater depth or resources that might help students master their understanding of the knowledge connected to a topic that they have struggled with.
- Putting the revision planners up for GCSE courses enables this additional aspect specifically if supported with complementary resources from GCSE Pod etc.