Category Archives: Teaching tips

Simple metacognitive strategies

Closed book/open book

Set an assessment/quiz to support retrieval of content previously taught.  Students divide the page in half and answer first on the left side with no books or notes to support them (you could just use different coloured pens rather than divide the page).  Then allocate another period of time where they can use their books, notes if they wish, to add to their answers.  By using the left-right column method, they are forced not only to spend time retrieving the information (or even just trying – which still benefits memory), but also have a clear record of how easily and accurately they could arrive at correct answers from long-term memory, without consulting external sources. This supports metacognition by building students’ explicit awareness of their level of learning, which can then be used to guide their study.

Questions that could be used during/after an independent task

During:

What am I trying to accomplish?  (This encourages the student to identify the purpose of the activity)

What strategies am I using?  (This requires students to think about what is required of them)

How well am I using the strategies?  (This encourages students to monitor their progress and adapt if necessary)

What else could I do  (When students get stuck, this encourages them to think for themselves!)

After:

What resources have you used in your learning on this topic so far and how useful were they? How else could you use them to support your learning?

How much has today’s learning challenged you? How could you increase the challenge? How would you tackle it?

What skills have you been developing in the lesson so far?

In what contexts outside the classroom might you encounter what we are learning today?

How could what you have learned today be used in other subject areas?

What do you need to do next to make further progress?

Revision Decisions

Meta-cognitive and self-regulation strategies (sometimes known as ‘learning to learn’ strategies) are teaching approaches which make learners think about learning more explicitly. This is usually by teaching pupils specific strategies to set goals, monitor and evaluate their own learning. Self-regulation refers to managing one’s own motivation towards learning as well as the more cognitive aspects of thinking and reasoning. Overall these strategies involve being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses as a learner, such as by developing self-assessment skills, and being able to set and monitor goals. They also include having a repertoire of strategies to choose from or switch to during learning activities. (EEF)

Attached is a resource that I prepared for Year 11 as we began to prepare revision materials in class and at home.  This gave them some time to begin identifying their strengths and weaknesses.  I  chopped up post-it notes for them to list the topics, then gave them some time to look back over their paper 1 mock and place the topics in the appropriate box.  The idea behind the resource is that as time goes on, there will be less in the red box.

I also added a box in to encourage them to focus on the AO’s.

Revision Decisions

Challenge Grid – Retrieval Practice

Challenge Grid forces students to recall content from the previous lesson to  earlier in the course.   More points are awarded for answering questions from way back than the previous lesson.

This serves to give students feedback on what content they need to be revisiting in their personal study time.

Template below.

Challenge Grid Template

1 Die, 1 Pen – Retrieval Practice

1 die, 1 pen is an activity that requires students to retrieve subject content against the roll of a die.  It encourages students to work quickly but more importantly gives them feedback about content that they do not know.

The rules and an example set of questions can be found below.

1 Die 1 Pen Rules

1 Die 1 Pen Questions

IDEAL analysis

Attached is a template I have created following a discussion we had in the new staff induction  around command words and skills.  There is also an image taken for the Mrs Humanities blog who shares lots of excellent resources.  I assume it will need a little adaptation for different subjects areas as in the explanation of each IDEAL, or it may not suit your subject area at all.

If you follow the link below you can read the full post.

https://mrshumanities.com/category/classroom-ideas/

Margin checklist

I saw this shared on twitter by a fellow PE teacher, see attached picture.  I have created one and added it into a practice test for Year 11.  Students often forget the structures we teach them when setting off on an extended question so this should help to scaffold their answers in preparation for exams.

The margin master could be cut out and stuck into books as pictured.

Margin Checklist

Margin Master

Fish, dog, whale

Thanks to Kal for sharing this tip.

I saw a great activity when observing a trainee teacher yesterday. The activity is to do with recall of prior topics.

As a start activity or “Do It Now” three questions are put on the board as pupils enter:

The FISH question requires pupils to recall something that they were doing last lesson.

The DOG question requires pupils to recall something that they were doing one-two week ago (previous topic).

The WHALE question requires pupils to recall something they were doing a month ago (perhaps two topics ago).

This is a simple method of introducing spaced learning into lessons. Going forward a department could incorporate specific questions into a scheme of work.