Discover more from Tips for Teachers newsletter
Tips for Teachers newsletter #20
Revision lessons, retrieval & Charlie Burkitt
Hello, and welcome to the Tips for Teachers newsletter. For over 400 ideas to try out the very next time you step into the classroom, check out my Tips for Teacher book.
💡 A quick tip to try in class this week 💡
A sensible approach to whole-class feedback is to identify a topic where students have struggled and base a revision lesson around it. For example, students have struggled with Pythagoras’ theorem in a recent assessment, so you decide to compile a selection of questions on Pythagoras for them to work through with your support. Something like this:
This is all good. But the problem students often face in exams is identifying exactly what topic a given question relates to. Announcing this is a Pythagoras lesson, or labelling the booklet of questions or worksheet as such, robs students of an important opportunity to practise such identification, and can lead to an illusion of mastery where we assume that if they can successfully complete the questions in the lesson then the topic is no longer an issue.
A simple tweak can help. Present students with the same set of questions at the start of the lesson, but with no hints or cues, and challenge them to identify the topic. You could say something along the lines of:
Today we are going to go over a topic I know we have found difficult in the past. But before we start I wonder if you can work out the topic from these first four questions. Once you have figured it out, try to put into words how you know.
Students could then share their thoughts with their partners, and then you choose a few students to share their thoughts. This can spice up the start of the lesson and help students get better at determining what exam questions are really asking.
If all is going well, you can take things a stage further by using my SSDD Problems framework. SSDD stands for Same Surface (structure), Different Deep (structure). In other words, these are sets of problems that look alike - maybe they have the same image, context or set of numbers - but they actually relate to different areas of the curriculum. The idea is that such sets of questions force students to delve below the surface features and to think hard about what the question is really asking, as well as tapping into the benefits of retrieval practice.
Returning to our Pythaogras lesson, following the successful completion of the booklet we might present our students with something like this:
You can find all my SSDD problems here.
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
View all the Tips for Teachers shared so far
📺 A video to discuss with a colleague 📺
Teacher and author, Jade Pearce, discusses the active ingredients to make retrieval practice effective
If the video doesn't play when you click on it, click here
Subscribe to the Tips for Teachers YouTube channel so you never miss a tip
👂 A podcast episode to listen to on your way home 👂
Head of mathematics, Charlie Burkitt, shares his five tips:
Be clear and follow through
Enjoy the kids’ company
Ask the whole class questions
Develop systematic revision
Study the teachers you respect
Listen to the podcast here.
😎 Final bits and bobs 😎
Do you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter? Forward it to them, or direct them to the sign-up page here where you can also read all previous editions.
You can also sign up to my weekly Eedi newsletter, where I share resources, research and ideas to improve teaching and learning.
Check out my Tips for Teachers book
Do you and your team want high-quality training or coaching, with ideas you can use in your very next lesson? If so, you can book some Tips for Teachers CPD
Check out the all-new Tips for Teachers online courses
If you value my work, please consider becoming a Patreon
Thanks for reading Tips for Teachers by Craig Barton! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.