Thursday, 5 March 2015

Time to get DIRTy after #ililc5

During my presentation at #ililc5 I talked about student reflection and DIRT time, which is something we are trying to improve and get right at school. I forgot to mention it in my presentation blog, but that isn't a bad thing, because there is a lot to say about student reflection so it warrants its own blog post.

The purpose of FEEDBACK and REFLECTION should be

At the moment, our school policy for student feedback and reflection is two-fold.

1. WWW/EBI once every half term
2. Think Pink Go Green (TPGG) every two weeks

While I acknowledge and recognise the things that need to be shown in exercise books for the sake of monitoring, policy and tracking (and that bastard O word), I am a huge believer that the ONLY reason we should write anything in the students' books while we mark is for student progress. The only good to come of all the time-consuming pressure of marking has to be the increase in student confidence, participation and performance.

I refuse to be a puppet to box-ticking.

So at the moment, for TPGG, I ask the students to reflect on previous work, to improve work, to add ideas, to redraft, all with the purpose of reinforcing skills. All with the purpose of increasing the students' belief that they can do it.

As I flagged up in my presentation, part of increasing challenge in lessons is to increase the level and quality of reflection. So my department sat down together one afternoon with the sole purpose of working out how we can improve the quality of reflection time. My team also said that they felt the amount of content we have at KS3 means that quality reflection time (20mins at least) is difficult. So as a team we decided to cut down on content a bit to allow us to develop and improve the skills we are delivering.
Our DIRT sheet, which I showed the delegates at #ililc5, is now being trialled - one group per teacher - to see how they work and what improvements/tweaks need to be made. This is what it looks like now:
This is for one half term. The students read and respond to the TPGG feedback at the start of the lesson. They then enter what they have to do to improve - this is to prevent the students from replying "behave" or "do my work" when asked by observers what they need to do to improve. They date the TPGG evidence of their first step to improvement.
The danger with simple reflection is that once the student has reflected, they will forget that skill or improvement. A simple example I gave to the delegates was:
  • A child misspells 'tractor' over and over again
  • On reflection, the child copies out 'tractor' correctly 5 times
  • Later on in the unit the word 'tractor' continues to be misspelt

 This could be evidence that our type of reflection may be less effective. So our next two columns on the Dirt Diary are for students to show the relevant skill again in a piece of work later on in the unit. Over the weeks, students have their own personalised check list of skills that they need to remember and practise.

This means that the feedback to students need to be worded correctly, so they know which skills they need to focus on:

I shall be writing a new blog at the weekend, as the students in my trial group will be working on their reflection time tomorrow. I will also show the progress of the students' work, to see if it works!

Oh, and NEVER Google-image search the title of this page. The results will make your eyes bleed.

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