Tag Archives: Cognitive science

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.

Knowledge Organisers

Knowledge organisers were developed and adopted by the famous Michaela Community School, whose motto is ‘Knowledge is Power’.  These have recently become very popular and link both to our focus on linear learning and independent learning.  If you run a google search you will find lots of examples for different subject areas.  I have created one, attached, which I am going to try with my Year 11s to support their revision for mock exams.

On their website in their vision they state:

‘…we have, for too long, been teaching skills and neglecting knowledge. In English, we have taught any novel, or any poem, thinking that the thing that is important is the ‘skill’: of reading, of inferring, of analysing. And yet, novel finished, what have the children learnedDaniel Willingham says that memory is ‘the residue of thought.’ The problem with skills-based lessons is that they don’t require thinking about anything you can commit to memory. Nothing is learned because nothing is being remembered. Over years and years of skills-based teaching, children aren’t actually learning anything. They are simply practising some skills in a near vacuum.

We hugely underestimate how vital knowledge is. Skills-teachers across the land cannot work out why their kids cannot improve their inferences, cannot improve their analysis. Why can’t their ideas about the text just be a bit, well, better?

The children who grow up being taught facts and knowledge will thrive in their national exams. They will use all their background knowledge and cultural literacy to deliver deft insights in glorious prose, and sweep up the top grades with ease. The children taught through skills will improve slowly, painfully, and nowhere near fast enough to compete. They will endure two years of teaching to the test and lose any love of learning they might have gleaned in the previous years.

Is there another way? Of course: teach a knowledge-based curriculum from the very start.’

This link describes the knowledge organisers.

https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/knowledge-organisers/

Teachers prepare these for particular topics and students go away and learn/self-test this as homework, there is a big emphasis on the testing effect.  This is then tested in lessons via starter activities so that teachers can monitor progress.

Are you already using a similar approach?  Have you tried knowledge organisers?  I’d really like to hear about it if you are, perhaps this is something to discuss at one of our next 15 Minute Forums or the T and L group.  Do you think it is ‘spoonfeeding’?  Do you think it is an approach we should adopt?  Do you think students should be creating their own knowledge organisers?

More information can be found here:

https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/a-knowledge-led-school/

https://jlmfl.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/michaela-french-how-we-use-knowledge-organisers/

http://mcsbrent.co.uk/maths-9-03-2016-masses-of-maths-what-should-pupils-learn-by-rote/

And here in a podcast shared by Steven which is very useful https://soundcloud.com/user-907153766/kirb-your-enthusiasm-for-knowledge-organisers-1

KO Muscular System