Presentation of Work – Research 2017-2018

Last year Language Teacher Nicola Pugh carried out her Action Research project. This is her summary of what she found out.

Research Question

Does focusing on the presentation of work lead to better note taking and revision in boys?

Method

I have been trialing a departmental technique called ‘Presentation for Learning’. Our Head of Languages began a presentation competition to be reviewed each term; the best presentation and the most improved presentation for learning would receive a prize. Taking this idea, I trialed dedicating a lesson to note taking, organisation of notes and strategies for showing a thought process through their work. Throughout the term, students then worked through their books and chose particular pages or work in their exercise books that showed their best thinking or best learning. Each term, a nominated student would look through books and judge the best thinking.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice.

Dedicating time at the beginning of the research period to note taking, presentation and demonstrating how to show thought processes allowed a better understanding of what I was looking for and what students were aiming toward was something that I have not tried and it proved successful. Also, embedding this as a routine every few lessons to check their progress of their best work and see if they can top it, and also giving ownership to the student about their presentation and not taking.

How did you test and review the impact of your work?

Taking photos at the beginning of the process and regularly assessing progress. Student engagement has been a great factor in judging it as students have actively been trying to beat their best work each term.

Summary of the impact so far.

Start early and maintain the momentum. It is difficult to keep on top of the administration involved initially which is when I developed the role of student judges and the ownership was on them. Ensuring time is built in for regular updates to maintain the momentum and maintain engagement is key.

Motivating Boys – Research 2017-18

One of our English Teachers, Victoria Gilbert and Progress Manager, Leisha Pentlow carried out an action research project looking at motivating boys in lessons. This is a summary of their project.

Research Question

Does using positive relationships and encouragement to build self-esteem improve progress in boys?

Method

Use of Boosters.

Boosters are self-belief, learning focus, value of schooling, persistence, planning and monitoring, and study management.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice.

Teachers adapted styles of learning through one-to-one and small intervention groups, using encouragement and a growth mindset to build self-esteem and confidence in preparation for GCSE exams. planning differentiated resources and further encouraging students to feel comfortable to ask for individual support, guiding students to manage their studies by independently devising their own revision timetable, and attend after school revision sessions with mentor.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Impact of research is evidenced through teacher peer observations of using strategies to improve engagement and learning outcomes. Also, student interviews that revealed further strategies which were implemented, and students fed back as successful at motivating them to engage with the learning. For example, use of praise and reward cards home, and instant phone calls when class learning outcomes had improved.

Summary if impact so far

To summarise, although there have been clear signs of improvement to self-esteem and attitude, students developed limited independence. For example, when attempting exam responses independently in exam conditions, they relied heavily on support and encouragement. The impact on their self-esteem and attitude to their own success has increased. Working with other students as a whole has improved, and also their attitude towards staff.

Recognise lack of progress can come from a lack of self-esteem and belief in own abilities. Boys sometimes have a fear of failure and can self-sabotage. Impact of strategies may have been greater if students have been identified earlier.

 

Motivating Boys Research 2017/18

We have included examples of the research carried out by staff last year looking at improving the performance of boys.

Teaching Assistant Rhonda Lawry-Griffiths carried out the following research with the aim of identifying ways of removing the gender gap in English lessons. This is her review.

Research Question

Will the use of visual stimuli help to sustain and increase motivation in boys?

Method

Use of visual prompts to help engage interest in lessons, eg students drawing, computer images and maps.

Summary of what you did to adapt your  practice.

Use of visual stimuli wherever possible in lessons.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Accelerated reader testing was used for Year 7 students. A staff peer debrief was used to reflect and evaluate at the end of the research project. Discussions were held with students that were in the class.

Summary of the impact so far

The Year 7 students, especially the boys, were more willing to share plot summaries from previous lessons. They were able to recall main events from the material and read more carefully, confidently and accurately. Where a map was used to plot countries from a story-line the boys eagerly participated.

Performance of Boys Research 2017/18

We have included examples of the research carried out by staff last year looking at improving the performance of boys.

Technology teacher Tris Rogers carried out the following research with the aim of identifying ways of removing the gender gap in performance. This is his review.

Research Question     

Does using regular testing and feedback raise performance?

Method

Regular weekly testing, peer or self assessment and feedback. Time given for students to make corrections.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice

Students were given a spelling test of key words once a week; there has been no expectation of practice or revision at home. The same words but in a different order were repeated approximately four times or until a noticeable improvement was seen in the results, at this point new words were added to the bank of words which they were expected to know. Students marked their own or peers’ work and then had to make corrections before moving on to the main lesson task.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Results of the test were recorded on a spreadsheet, which was shown to pupils. It was colour coded to show any increase or decrease in performance which makes it easier to see from the back of the class. It is also a quick and simple way to reward Vivos (behaviour points) for consistency or improvements from their previous results.

Teaching assistants and a technology technician have all commented on the way the pupils have taken to the regular tests and often remind me when it’s test day.

Summary of Impact so far

There is a definite pattern showing improvement for most pupils, in a class of 25 there were two who showed little improvement or drops in results if given a week or two off. Retention of knowledge for most was good and even after a ‘break’ the results were still showing improvements over the original data.

 


 

Improving the progress of more able students

One of the priority areas we have as a school is ensuring that our most able learners make progress in line with their targets. These are the students that are described as High Ability on entry to secondary school. Currently these students don’t make as much progress as students in the Middle or Lower ability bands. When we look at the number of students that are High Ability, they are increasing in every year group from y11 to Y7.

As a school with a proud list of alumni that have gone onto achieve great careers our key questions was ‘How can we ensure that all students meet their potential’. A closer look at the data highlighted that this action research area crossed over with the others – the most likely High Ability students to underperform are male, pupil premium students.

Again this is not an issue specific to our school and there is a lot of current research into why some High Ability students fail to make the same progress as others. A report by the School Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in 2015 identified a ‘glass floor’ in British society, less able, better off students are 35% more likely to become high earners than bright students from low income families. Again, the key question for us is how can we ensure that all students meet their potential – regardless of their background.

We wanted to make sure that as a school we were providing enough challenge, that we weren’t teaching to the middle and that we hadn’t underestimated what our students could achieve.

The research leads for this area are James Perry (Deputy head of Sixth Form) and Nina Elliott ( head of Languages).

What makes a difference?

  • Language: Increase the use and application of subject specialist language.
  • Questioning: Increase the use of differentiated questioning, higher order thinking and oracy within the classroom.
  • Modelling and Feedback: to ensure all students know what excellence looks like. Provide opportunities to make their work excellent. Students consistently responding to clear and transparent feedback.
  • Challenge: Increase expectation for more able students at all levels. Develop Lead Learners in the classroom. Flipped learning – no note taking in post 16 lessons!
  • Teach to the Top – Use department time to plan and create challenging resources together such as “impossible questions’.
  • Build challenge into day to day routines – support more able students to develop self-regulation and use their talents.
  • Competition and motivation – many high ability students want to beat their rivals.
  • Aspiration – students who know what they need to achieve are more motivated.
  • Language and communication in the classroom – using higher level language consistently encourages students to do the same.
  • Peer challenges – they are often tougher on each other than the teachers!

One of the key – mantras that come out of the action research was ‘Take away the spoon‘.

Removing the Gender Gap

One of the priority areas that we identified as a school was the performance of boys compared to girls. This in itself is not uncommon and one that many schools face. In the academic year 2017 – 2918 many staff carried at action research projects to identify strategies that would work in Tor Bridge High to improve the boys performance and bring in inline withe the girls.

The action research leads for this area are Chris Langmead (Head of English) and Andy Lyon (Head of Art).

This is not a simple problem, whilst there is a gender gap it is not found in every subject at Tor Bridge High,  additionally when looking at the national research it is not as simple as saying that boys underperform compared to girls. The largest gender gap in the UK is found between boys and girls designated as ‘white working class’.

As a group of professionals we had to look at our own practice and consider if we were challenging negative stereotypes in education or reinforcing them.

Some of the ‘common thinking’ you currently find in education in the UK at the moment can be summarised as follows;

‘Boys are programmed to be destructive, boorish and rebellious’,

‘Boys underachieve nationally’,

‘Boys like competition and rewards’,

‘Boys don’t like school’,

‘Boys don’t show their feelings’.

We wanted to look at these again and see what could make a difference in out school. Through the action research projects we have come up with what we feel makes a difference in reducing the gender gap in Tor Bridge High.

What makes a difference?

  • High expectations of boys; in their approach towards learning and their outcomes.
  • Developing boys use of subject specific language.
  • Positive relationships based on clear boundaries and consistency.
  • Regular testing and feedback with opportunities to reflect and improve.
  • Raising the self-esteem of boys.

What did people do?

The following are some of the action research areas that staff carried out, the findings of these eventually lead to the list above.

  • Use of extra-curricular activities to boost boys engagement in learning.
  • Developing positive relationships in the classroom.
  • Use of visual stimuli to support engagement and learning.
  • Use of rewards and short term goals.
  • Explicit teaching of command words for examinations.
  • Focussing on boys’ presentation of work.
  • Use of skills based tests.
  • Exploring the role of mentoring in developing boys’ engagement.
  • Use of seating plans.
  • Developing use of technology and apps in improving homework engagement.
  • Use of competitions and rewards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links to Research

This is a list of online research starting points, this is a great place to start to look at what current research exists in each of our priority areas.

National research organisations.

Education Endowment Foundation funds and evaluates research into many areas in education and publishes the results on the teacher toolkit.

National education Trust collates knowledge and expertise to support innovation and good practice in the classroom.

Education Datalab these carry out research for policy makers but also work with schools to help them use data to adapt their practice.

The Institute for Effective Education based at the University of York, this is a charity that works with schools to improve the quality of teaching. They also produce a best evidence in Brief fortnightly newsletter which is emailed out if you sign up.

Sutton Trust a foundation that aims ti improve social mobility through evidence based research, programs and policy.

Blog Sites

Evidence Based Educational Leadership this blog focuses on the leadership and management of Evidence Based Education – including Action Research projects. It provides a really good ‘reality check’ for what works … and significantly – what doesn’t work  – in terms of implementation.

The Super Blog Database of research already conducted by teacher researchers in schools in the UK and across the globe.

Class Teaching This blog shows one school’s (or MAT’s!) approach to Evidence Based Practice and Action Research. They are undeniably much, much further down the road than we are … but their resources may help to shape how we can move forward.

Overcoming Prejudices to the Benefit of Students – Blogpost by John Tomsett, Headteacher in York and review of Making Good Progress?: The future of Assessment for Learning by Daisy Christodoulou 

Review of the OECD paper ‘Academic resilience’ – excellent study on what works for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/orderly-classrooms-benefit-the-most-disadvantaged-children/

Twitter – some people to follow…

@acethattest – The Learning Scientists blog is a treasure chest of ideas and resources presented by leading cognitive psychological scientists. The FAQ section is a good starting point for Action Research ideas.

@suttontrust – updates from the Sutton Trust.

@edudatalab – regular updates from the Educational Datalab.

@marcrowland – wrote an excellent book on pupil premium and works for Rosendale Research School.

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑