At a recent TeachMeet I shared the most influential change to my teaching practice so far this year. I almost decided against the topic because the strategy is…
a) like all good ideas, stolen from others
b) ridiculously simple
I went ahead, however, simply because the best ideas I have ever picked up from events such as this have generally met both these criteria!
I wanted a way to integrate regular Daily Review into all my lessons, and after a few failed attempts last year needed something simple. The solution came with a 5-a-day strategy I had seen floating about, but which I believe is best described by Rebecca Foster here.
Doug Lemov has also described a very similar process, including some examples from science. I have also discovered Corbett Maths has a huge 5-a-day resource freely accessible.
As mentioned, the approach could not be more simple; create 5 short answer questions per lesson, drawing on the previously learned material (last lesson, week, term, year…). Students complete them individually at the lesson start. Questions are reviewed, self-marked and improved as needed.
I am sure that many have used a similar strategy however the benefits of using the approach with absolute regularity and consistency have been immediate and exceptionally valuable.
- Quick to make and a renewable resource,
- Easy to collaborate on to share the burden (each department teacher handling a few lessons)
- Avoids the temptation to resort to ‘guessing game’ starters or preparation heavy card sorts
- Increases student confidence in the material and demystifies the learning process.
- Encourages and motivates students to take personal responsibility for study
- Independence allows the teacher to register and prepare the environment, deal with homework, lateness issues etc.
- Valuable AFL (for teacher and student) and can be tracked if desired
- Establishes clear and consistent routines for the lesson start (Get in and get on.)
It has actually been the last of these points which has provided the most impressive gains. Like Rebecca I have found the consistent routine, based on independent activities completed in silence has allowed me to set a calm and focused lesson start with minimal effort. Furthermore, particularly with more challenging groups, these consistent starts have affected the lessons as a whole; setting the standard early primes students to continue the lesson in a similar fashion.
The most pleasing result is the pride and confidence with which students now respond to questions of curriculum content which they previously felt free to forget lesson to lesson. Students have been thoroughly briefed on the rationale behind the process and, as I seek to maintain a close to 80% success rate on average, are very aware of the progress they make and are starting to complete extra study to remain competitive!