Knowledge Organisers

Knowledge Organisers

(credit to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls for some of the content used below)

What is a “knowledge organiser”?

It is a sheet which organises all the most vital, useful and powerful knowledge about a given topic on a single page.

So just a revision sheet then??

Maybe but Knowledge Organisers are designed to fit certain criteria: Teachers try hard to choose the most valuable content that they want all pupils to remember for ten years and beyond. And for each unit, they should discipline themselves to distill it onto a single page, using sentences that should ideally not exceed around 25 words.

When a new teacher starts in a school, one of the first questions they have is ‘what do I teach?’ At a single glance, knowledge organisers answer that. Everything pupils need to know for the year is set out clearly in advance. In theory, any teacher can pop into anyone else’s lesson, look at the unit organiser, and see what every pupil is working on.

How else can a Knowledge Organiser help?

Pupils can develop their memory of the knowledge being delivered: Knowledge organisers ahould be given to all pupils at the start of each unit to help them remember what they’re learning. No longer out of sight, out of mind: instead of leaving behind previous units’ content, teachers can recap quickly and easily in lessons. Instead of forgetting all about it, pupils continually revisit and retrieve prior learning from their memories.

Every lesson, across all subjects, knowledge organisers can be used as a pack of in-lesson quizzes. The numbers and columns here help turn the grids into simple in-class quizzes. Emboldening key words allows pupils to peer-mark the more complex definitions, working out which terms are vital in them.

So they will help with revision then?

Absolutely. Whilst not always being exhaustive, they are designed to provide pupils with the key facts in a more easily digestible form.

And homeworks…?

Again schools are using Knowledge Organisers to try to structure meaningful homeworks. The French department at Michaela Community School says: “Pupils use the Knowledge Organisers for their homework. Each week they complete one A5 page of Self Quizzing on a section of the knowledge organiser. The quantity (how many lines?) and nature (particularly tricky phrases?) set can depend on the capacity of the class. Pupils are encouraged to read aloud as they write, to CUDDLE [do what?! any guesses anyone??] carefully, to quiz themselves regularly, for 10 minutes at a time, in order to embed the language. When they do their quizzing, they begin by copying letter by letter to promote accuracy. Later on, when they know the language better, they can take a more Look/Cover/Write/Check approach.

Each week, after pupils have done their homework, they will be set a quiz on the lines that they have learned, as well as recapping previous organisers, or practising de-contextualised HFV (high frequency vocabulary). The recapping of previous material is very important, as it impedes the forgetting curve.”

(Taken from https://jlmfl.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/michaela-french-how-we-use-knowledge-organisers/)

But I thought education was all about developing pupils’ skills?

Skills-based education in itself can be of limited value if heightened knowledge is not the end result. (The Michaela school says The problem with skills-based lessons is that they don’t require thinking about anything you can commit to memory. Nothing is learned because nothing is being remembered. Over years and years of skills-based teaching, children aren’t actually learning anything. They are simply practising some skills in a near vacuum.”).

See this piece which argues the importance of a knowledge-based curriculum:
https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/a-knowledge-led-school/
(its summary is:
The more knowledge you remember, the more curious you become.
The more knowledge you remember, the more intelligent you become.
The more knowledge you remember, the more you achieve academically.
The more knowledge you remember, the more choices you have for your future.)

So what does a Knowledge Organiser look like?

Below is an example for History. There are many others to be found simply by Googling Knowledge Organisers then selecting images (clicking here should achieve the same).

Knowledge Organiser

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Marking Tips

Marking Tips

Graeme Cronin recently put together this set of tips as a way to keep the priority of marking alive – and meaningful/manageable – within the science faculty, and was happy to share them with you all:

Tips for effective marking – AKA “Gran, I want to show you how to suck those eggs.”

ADMIN TIPS 

Have a timetable for your marking – this allows you to put time aside in your week when you will sit down with a set of books.

Keep a record of the last time you looked at your books – this will reduce your anxiety and will also let you keep on top of things.

Ask students to hand in books open on the page of the work that you want to mark.

Mark 5-10 books in a night, but do it every/most nights, and in 3-4 nights you have a set done painlessly.

METHODOLOGY TIPS 

Have a pen in your hand when you walk around the room – write tasks or advice in the margin of books; this is gold dust in terms of effective feedback (manageable).

Peer marking is good. It is quick and effective if you do it right (manageable, meaningful) e.g – do a task (w/sheet? paragraph?) then ask students to swap books. In red pen students mark and put in corrections. You can (and should, especially with “go to” pupils) check for understanding as you go through (verbally questioning). At the end of the process you should highlight areas that might be recorded as www and ebi – students do this and then sign their marking, writing “PA”.

Self assessment is good. Get the kids to put the right answers in on a worksheet while you go through it in class. Does it matter if they “cheat” and fill it in? Depends what you’re doing – assessing or teaching. You can always scan through after (manageable).

Target your marking to a particular piece of work and mark this in detail. Do not try to do this for all of the book. Use the codes for any other piece of work that is poorly presented/incomplete/not underlined, etc. (manageable, meaningful).

DIRT time needs to happen – fill in a yellow box (meaningful).

PLEASE NOTE – These are not my own tips – I have gathered these from colleagues who are effective markers. Thanks to JPB ME JW ADM QSL LG and others; sorry if I asked you and forgot to add your name!

An easy tracker for behaviour

An easy tracker for behaviour

I have plugged this one many times before to a number of different staff and it is beginning to grow as standard practice…

In Music we use a simple system which entails opening a spreadsheet each lesson with the a green block for each pupil copied and pasted in a column underneath that day’s date.

I often emphasise to the class that they are all starting green as my expectation is that they will all have a great lesson. If the whole class has been green for a while then similarly I will stress how pleased I am at their behaviour and focus as a whole group.

If a pupil at any point does something to disrupt the lesson then their block goes orange and a note is made of the type of behaviour in the block. They can, however, come back from an orange – they can return to green if good for the rest of the lesson but the comment will remain.

Once orange if they disrupt the lesson again the orange goes to red which will stay red regardless. Two reds within a half-term triggers a detention.

That’s all there is to it but the clear advantages are:

  • Very clear to the pupils and can be displayed at anytime.
  • Focuses on the positive initially.
  • Allows pupils to try hard to redeem their orange status.
  • Can be referred to if another member of staff queries behaviour.
  • Provides concrete evidence if a parent queries a detention.
  • Can be printed off for use in a parents’ evening (or observation).

Obviously you can tailor this in terms of exactly what triggers a detention (do you want to count two oranges as a red?) or how “zero tolerance” you want to be in terms of what merits a comment/colour on the spreadsheet. Do you want to use this for progress as well as behaviour? Do some behaviours merit pupils going straight to red?

Remember:

  • 1st disruption = pupil goes orange (plus one word comment)
  • No further disruption = pupil goes back to green (but keep comment)
  • 2nd disruption = pupil goes red (no going back from this)
  • 2 REDS = DETENTION

Like I say this has worked very well in Music, is very low maintenance and easily becomes habit. Give it a go!

Tim Eden

 

A simple idea for parents’ evenings…

A simple idea for parents’ evenings…

Given how well our pupils are responding to the simple-but-effective WWW/EBI process, Jill Moules has created a similarly simple-but-effective pro-forma for meaningful dialogue to take place on a parents’ evening. It also facilitates parents being able to take away some useful action points.

Jill gives out the pro-forma to pupils in advance of the evening and asks them to complete it by going through their exercise book and noting down all the WWW and EBI comments. Using the sheet, the pupils then lead their parents’ evening slots by talking through comments and explaining what they are doing to address issues within their work. Jill answers/clarifies any questions/issues at the end.

This certainly looks like something other staff could consider in the future…

Here is the pro-forma:~

Stepping Out of the Curriculum Comfort Zone

Stepping Out of the Curriculum Comfort Zone

Having been a part of the Bridgewater furniture for more than a decade, I must confess I was starting to gather more dust than the shelves in the staffroom. Without talking myself out of my (much-loved) job, I was stagnating in my ideas and feeling a little stir-crazy within the walls of Room 97.

This year, I have discovered that it is true what they say, ‘a change really is as good as a rest.’ I have stepped (well) out of my MFL comfort zone and I am dipping a nervous toe into new waters (sorry) of Geography.  I have been transported back to NQT status and I experience all kinds of emotions, from self-doubt and paranoia to enthusiasm and elation, all within the same week!

The Geography department have been so supportive and welcome to the new members of the department! Cheryl Crawford and I have felt part of the Faculty from day 1, and we even have our own Faculty book boxes!

My first learning curve was finding how to teach in a different technique to French and German. With languages, you are constantly repeating the same structures, drilling language over and over and telling pupils facts that are best not to be questioned.  With a Humanities subject, suddenly the training about the use of questioning, growth mindset thinking and giving feedback all fit into place.  So, I am learning how to teach all over again.  I think that is a good thing.

I have also learned this year that pupils love to argue. I am getting to know a different aspect to pupils and it is amazing that in your own language, it is easier to get to know pupils’ personalities and to hear how they think.

Denise Tobin has ventured into the English Department this year. She reflects, “As a language teacher I was delighted to be given the opportunity to take on some English lessons this year. Many of the pupils I teach French/German to are also in my English classes, so for me this gives me a great opportunity to get to see what they are capable of in their native tongue as well as using the ‘English’ part of my degree. I am greatly enjoying teaching a wide range of topics in English, from the complexities of grammar, persuasive speech writing to analysing war poetry, (which I hadn’t done since my own ‘A’ levels) and even a bit of creative writing which I most enjoy! I am also delighted that my year 9’s now think I am ‘really clever’ as I can teach 3 languages!”

Alison Swaffield has been teaching RS and English this year for the first time. About this new experience, she says, ‘I have learnt that I’m a stronger person than I thought I was. Teaching out of your comfort zone is scary, and you constantly worry you’re doing it wrong. It’s ok to ask for help when you need it, it’s makes you a more versatile person. After initially being overly negative, I now see it as a professional development aspect, giving me a wider range of teaching subjects. After all, you never know what the future holds! ‘

Stepping into another Faculty has many rewards, but it is also rather daunting. When you are supposed to be a trained expert, it can be difficult to admit problems and ask for help.  Alison Swaffield adds, “At first I was overwhelmed by teaching 3 subjects, as well as leading a department and delivering new GCSE and A Level courses. I still am to some degree, but I know people are there to support me if I need it. It’s also difficult to mark different assessments out of your subject area. There’s a constant worry that you’re doing everything wrong, and that you’ll be asked something in class you don’t know the answer to!”

I am learning and trialling ways of engaging teenagers into the wonders of the world. I am still working on that one.  I think that there is no greater self-reflection than working in another subject area.  Getting to see pupils working in a different way, in a new light and for me, in a whole different language is rejuvenating, exciting and highly recommended.

Julie Burrows

 

Turning AWOL on its head?

Turning AWOL on its head?

Here’s an interesting approach to AWOL as exemplified by the English department. By creating E/N/S/D columns for each pupil (they stick this in the front of their book) it becomes easy to track for each skill whether a pupil has Exceeded, Mastered, etc..

Not only is this a clear, visual way of seeing which skills still need working on but if, at a later date, a pupil improves on that particular skill (where this is one which is repeated in the next block) then they can be moved along a column. This means that progress over time becomes very visual too and gaps in learning (the fundamental basis behind AWOL) can be addressed clearly.

I have created an example here using my standard ukulele playing, singing, etc. model from Music and added some appropriate dates.

As ever, this approach won’t suit all subjects but is certainly worth sharing as an innovative approach.

HeadGuruTeacher’s no nonsense advice

HeadGuruTeacher’s no nonsense advice

For those of you who haven’t discovered Tom Sherrington, aka HeadGuruTeacher, he is one of the nation’s top educational bloggers. As a current working headteacher, he has lots to offer in terms of genuine working solutions and speaks in a way which just seems to make perfect sense most of the time.

It is worth following him on Twitter for those of you who have accounts. He is a big music fan and shows his more personal side by uploading many posts regarding this also (including his own guitar skills!) which can be equally entertaining.

For those of you wanting to dip your toes in, have a look at these three great articles.

https://headguruteacher.com/2016/10/26/10-teaching-pitfalls/

https://headguruteacher.com/2016/11/20/no-excuses-and-the-pinball-kids/

https://headguruteacher.com/2016/10/26/10-teaching-essentials/

Or why not lose yourself in his Pedagogy postcards…

https://headguruteacher.com/2014/05/11/the-pedagogy-postcard-series-all-in-one-place/

If you see any potentially valuable blogposts or websites of your own that you think staff might benefit from, feel free to pass them on to talk@bridgewaterhigh.com