Teaching and Learning at West Beechboro Primary School
The following schematic outlines the Learning and teaching cycle that takes place at West Beechboro Primary School. Through this process we are able to ensure that our curriculum is not only above the minimum state requirements as outlined by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) , but meets the needs of our students.
Quality Feedback for Students
Professionalism, Improvement, Success
“The most powerful single influence enhancing achievement is feedback” (Professor John Hattie)
The staff at West Beechboro Primary School understand the importance of feedback during the teaching and learning process, and are involved in ongoing professional learning in this area. Figure 1 outlines the elements of assessment that our staff have worked hard to imbed in their practices, to help our students better develop conceptual understandings and have success in the classroom.
Staff know that:
- Effective feedback requires daily relationships.
- Feedback is constructive, honest and always starts with a positive.
- Clear expectations are provided prior to lesson. WALT (What we are learning today) and WILF (What I am looking for)
- Meaningful, written and verbal statements are provided to students about what they have to do next towards improvement.
- Students must set personal literacy and numeracy goals in collaboration with the teacher.
Excellent Classroom Tone
Positive, Powerful learning environment
Teachers work to establish this tone by:
- Setting consistent, clear classroom expectations and routines.
- Embedding the essential skills in classroom management.
- Greeting students and parents.
- Modelling respect, courtesy, manners and honesty.
- Modelling enthusiasm and resilience.
- Explicitly teaching appropriate language and classroom behaviour\low noise levels, no calling out.
- Expecting automatic responses by all students to teacher directions and requests.
Every classroom teacher follows the same instructional model. This helps to create a consistent learning environment for our students through a consistent language.
The following 16 elements of explicit instruction are considered by each teacher before, during and after each lesson.
- Focus instruction on critical content
Teach skills, strategies and vocabulary terms, concepts and rules that will empower students in the future and match the students’ instructional needs.
- Sequence Skills logically
Consider several curricular variables, such as teaching easier skills before harder skills; teaching high frequency skills than less frequent is usage, ensuring mastery of prerequisites to a skill before teaching the skill itself; separating skills and strategies that are similar and thus may be confusing to students.
- Break down complex skills and strategies into smaller instructional units.
Teach in small steps. Segmenting complex skills into smaller instructional units of new materials addresses concerns about cognitive overloading, processing demands and the capacity of students’ working memory. Once mastered, units are synthesised (practised as a whole).
- Design organised and focused lessons
Make sure lessons are organised and focused in order to make optimal use of instructional time. Organised lessons are on topic, well sequences and contain no irrelevant digressions.
- Begin lessons with a clear statement of the lesson’s goals and your expectations
Tell the students what they are going to learn today and why it is important (WALT – We Are Learning To and WILF – What I am Looking For). Students achieve much higher if they understand the instructional goals and outcomes expected, as well as how the information of skills presented will help them.
- Review prior knowledge and skills before beginning the lesson
Provide a review of relevant information. Verify that students have the pre-requisite skills and knowledge to learn the new skill or concept about to be taught. This element provides opportunity to link the new knowledge with related skills and knowledge.
- Provide step by step demonstrations
Model the skill and clarify the decision- making processes needed to complete the task or procedure by thinking aloud as you perform the skill. Clearly demonstrate the target skill or strategy in order to show the students a model of proficiency.
- Use clear and concise language
Use consistent and ambiguous wording and terminology. The complexity of your speech (vocabulary, sentence structure) should depend on students’ receptive vocabulary to reduce possible confusion.
- Provide an adequate range of examples and non-examples
In order to establish the boundaries of when and when not to apply a skill, strategy, concept or rule, provide a wide range of examples and non-examples. A wide range of examples illustrating situations when the skill will or should be used or applied is necessary so that students do not under use it. Conversely, presenting a wide range of non-examples reduces the possibility of students using the skill inappropriately.
- Provide guided and supported practice
In order to promote initial success and build confidence, regulate the difficulty of practice opportunities during the lesson and provide students with guidance in skill performance. When students demonstrate success, you can gradually increase the task difficulty as you decrease the level of guidance.
- Request frequent responses
Plan for high levels of student to student and student to teacher interaction, via the use of questioning. Allowing the students to respond frequently (oral, written or actions) helps them focus on the lesson content, provides opportunities for student elaboration, assists you in checking for understanding and keeps students active and attentive.
- Monitor student performance closely
Carefully watch and listen to students’ responses so that you can verify mastery as well as make timely adjustments in instruction if students are making errors. Close monitoring also allows you to provide feedback to students about how well they are doing.
- Provide immediate, affirmative and corrective feedback
Follow up students’ responses as quickly as you can. Immediate feedback to students about the accuracy of their responses will help ensure high rates of success and reduces the likelihood of practising errors.
- Deliver the lesson at a brisk pace
Deliver instruction at an appropriate pace to optimise instructional time. Use a rate of presentation that is brisk but includes a reasonable amount of time for students’ thinking/processing, especially when they are learning new material. The desired pace is neither so slow that students get bored nor so quick that they can’t keep up.
- Help students organise knowledge
Because many students have difficulty seeing how some skills and concepts fit together, it is important to use teaching techniques that make these connections more apparent or explicit. Well-organized and connected information makes it easier
for students to retrieve information and facilitate its integration with new material.
- Provide distributed and cumulative practice.
Critical Elements of Explicit Instruction
- Optimal use of instructional time – Students engaged and on task at all times
- High levels of success at all stages.
- Focused on critical content matched to students’ instructional needs.
- Sequenced logically – Breakdown complex skills and strategies into smaller steps.
- Supported practise.
- Timely feedback – immediate and affirmative. (Archer & Hughes 2001)
Rote Learning Questioning basic knowledge Application and Extension Revision of critical content Higher order
- Warm-ups are mandated in literacy & numeracy across the school (Literacy blocks and numeracy blocks all begin with a warm-up).
- Warm-ups are fast paced, well planned sessions to consolidate core concepts and skills.
- Warm-ups transfer learning from short-term to long-term memory (Automatise).
- Purpose is to revise and review what has been taught previously and does not introduce new learning.
- Delivery is through IWB/ power point, flash cards, orally (working out books), games, actions, chants, little whiteboards.
- Warm-ups are changed regularly. Once the teacher feels the class has automatised a concept it is removed from the warm up and brought back in five weeks’ time, to assess if the students have retained in long term memory. If not it is return it to the warm up for a few more weeks.
- Slide order, style and format are changed to enable checking for understanding
Types of Warm-Ups
Delivered in all literacy and numeracy lessons. For Example:
- Sight / high frequency words.
- Tracking words, blending and segmenting.
- Phonological awareness – rhyming, syllables, end sounds, manipulating sounds.
- Phonics – graphs, digraph, trigraph, blends
- Spelling rules.
- Time – analogue/digital
- Conversions – measurement, time…
Used for specific subjects. For Example:
- History vocabulary.
- Theme Words and vocabulary.
- Health vocabulary.
- Subject specific skills