All entries for November 2019

November 25, 2019

How can assessment encourage & motivate learners to succeed, academically & socially? Brogan

How can assessment encourage and motivate learners to succeed, academically and socially? - Brogan

Assessment is a fundamental element of teaching and learning for both students and teachers. It allows teachers to receive feedback on how well students have understood the content that has been taught. This feedback can then be used by the teacher to assess their own teaching and reflect upon its merits and areas which could be improved. It also allows the teacher to have an insight into how students are thinking or approaching the taught material. It can highlight areas of common misconceptions or areas of confusion for students, allowing teachers to address this.

A less commonly cited benefit of assessment is its ability to motivate students socially. In my own teaching practice, I find that summative and formative testing allows me to pinpoint my students’ individual strengths and weakness, thereby aiding me when it comes to classroom differentiation. I use this information to ensure that my questions are at an appropriate level for the individual learner, allowing them the chance to contribute to the class. I believe that this approach can boost a learners’ confidence and motivation to learn, rather than embarrassing them in front of their peers. Building students’ confidence helps to promote a more student-centred environment, where students are encouraged to take part in activities such as class discussions and peer review. I feel that promoting peer review activities in my own classroom and incorporating an element of fun such as team competitions has helped promote engagement and discussion within the class. I have found for example, giving the students more autonomy over the direction of the discussion leads to the emergence of good learning and teaching opportunities; particularly when real life examples that are relevant to the learners are linked back to biology.

I have also found that asking for feedback before an assessment is a good way to help students evaluate their own learning. I ask them to give me a brief note on what topics they think they are good at, could improve more and are struggling with before they sit a summative test. I use this information to guide my revision plan. During their revision I also help them to explore different revision techniques.

I strongly agree that it is more important to praise effort over intelligence, as argued by Mueller and Dweck (1998). This point resonates with me, as I am keen to instil a growth mindset within my students and encourage and motivate them to work hard to improve (Dweck, 2015). For example, I will use formative assessment tasks as a way to give helpful comments such as action points to guide students on how they can improve, rather than focussing on the mark (Black and William 1998).


Black, P. and Wiliam, D., 1998. Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: principles, policy & practice, 5(1), pp.7-74.

Dweck, C., 2015. Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), pp.20-24.

Mueller, C.M. and Dweck, C.S., 1998. Praise for intelligence can undermine children's motivation and performance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75(1), p.33.

November 18, 2019

Using a reflective framework to reflect on and improve my practice – Jade

“Reflective practice is the ability to reflect on one's actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning” (Schon, 1983). Schon’s (1983) reflective model framework distinguishes between “reflection in action” and “reflection on action”.

Reflection in action refers to practising critically, so in essence, reflection during lessons. For me, this involves considering a host of different aspects during a lesson;

  • How are students reacting to tasks/ activities?
  • Are timings appropriate and do I need to shorten or lengthen an exercise in line with student engagement?
  • Do I need to support any individual students or clarify anything to the class as a whole, as they progress?
  • How do I know all students are engaged?
  • Do students need a break from listening to me / others talk (e.g. an energiser activity)?
  • How can I ensure that all students are progressing in their learning?
  • What I am going to do next and is it appropriate, given the students’ engagement so far?
  • What is the key take-away that I need to emphasise – have these changed from the lesson plan given any misconceptions in class?

Reflection on action is the reflection that occurs after lessons. Again, for me, this includes reflection against a variety of aspects and compares the actual lesson against the initial lesson plan; including:

  • What went well?
  • How did particular students handle the lesson?
  • Could I have done anything differently and what?
  • How do I feel after the lesson?
  • Do I need to find additional resources or research a particular example to follow up on any questions raised in class?
  • How will this lesson impact the next lesson with this class; is it too soon to move onto the next topic?
  • How does this feed into modifying this lesson plan for next time I teach this topic or a similar lesson?

I have been fortunate, in that my mentor is required, for safeguarding purposes, to be present in all my lessons. The 2- 3 minute informal debrief with my Mentor at the end of each lesson has been an invaluable part of my reflective process. Generally, this helps me assess if I have judged the success of the overall lesson correctly, as well as briefly discuss students to help us both continually assess their progress. Specifically, it also helps to assess my reflection in action, as I can get reassurance or advice with regards to how I could have done things differently. In our weekly mentor meetings, we also have more time to discuss and reflect on past lessons as well as plan for future lessons. This dialogue feeds into my reflection on action as in situations where something didn’t go as planned, I can put forward solutions for how to address this in the next lesson, ask questions and build in advice and suggestions from my mentor’s experience.

“If teachers don’t engage in these types of conversations, they stagnate. They need to be able to be open and honest with someone and for this to, ultimately, lead to a kind of change.” (Harris, 2019)


Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith

Harris, C. (2019) Every teacher needs a reflection buddy to keep them sane [online] Available from: (Accessed 11 October 2019)

November 11, 2019

Using a reflective framework to reflect on and improve my practice – Richard

Throughout my teaching experience I have found that reflecting on and discussing the lessons I have taught is vital to my learning. Recently, I have been using Kolb’s Learning Cycle (1984) framework. This follows 4 steps and encourages me to draw conclusions and ideas from an experience, then assess and build on those to come up with new ideas which inform and improve my future practice.

Stage One. ‘Concrete Experience’. I recently taught a Y1 maths lesson focussing on comparing number bonds to 10 and building on the pupils’ knowledge of addition, greater than and less than symbols. I utilised the concepts and resources set out in the medium-term plans. We started with counting to 100 and worked through some examples as a group on the whiteboard. Pupils then split into ability groups and were provided with differentiated worksheets to complete. It was apparent that although some of the children had understood the concept when modelled on the whiteboard, most were unable to understand the worksheet independently. The lesson ended with very little achieved.

Stage Two. ‘Reflective Observation’. After the lesson I apologised to the class teacher as I felt the lesson had been unsuccessful, and I was very disappointed with my performance and the lack of learning by the pupils. Reflecting later, my initial thoughts were; the structure of the lesson had been unclear; I had rushed sections trying to cover too much and there was a lack of understanding of what the children should do on receiving the worksheets. However, I felt that I had modelled clearly at the start with the pupils working out examples together on the interactive whiteboard.

Stage Three, ‘Abstract Conceptualization’. As part of this step I reviewed my lesson materials and spoke with the Year 1 team who had taught the same lesson. I realised I had not been clear enough of the learning objective and success criteria for the lesson or the means by which I could achieve them. I had not taken into proper consideration the specific needs of the pupils, primarily a high level of EAL preventing many from being able to read and understand written questions without assistance. The worksheets, while created for this objective, were too complicated and at a level above the children’s ability. In discussion all the teachers agreed that the pupils’ needs meant a simplified worksheet was required.

Stage Four. ‘Active Experimentation’. I taught the same concept again the following day focussing just on number bonds, asking the children to use numicon outside to answer questions. In addition, the children could choose the level of worksheet to start on and progress as they wanted, thus building confidence through successful completion of tasks. (TS2)

The practical nature of this lesson engaged the children, and a distinct LO and success criteria provided the lesson with a better structure (TS4, Department for Education, 2011). Following this process, I have gained a better understanding of how children learn and factors that influence the effectiveness of my teaching. It helps identify barriers to learning, encouraging me to adapt and experiment with new ideas and provides me with skills to handle similar situations in the future.


Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development.. [ebook] New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2019].

Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies. Crown Copyright.

November 04, 2019

Bacc–ing the Arts in Education – Abigail

Arts Council England stated that “Drama communicates through the language and connections of theatre. This results in all pupils… gaining access to one of the great forms of human expression.”. As a Drama trainee, I can only agree.

Since the 1980’s, we can see how Drama has grown in education as its own subject, and how it can be a method of delivery in other subjects. However, the current situation surrounding the National Curriculum suggests that history may be repeating itself; the Arts once again are at risk, and Drama in particular is being threatened as a subject that has little academic value due to the recently introduced EBacc system. Drama was the most commonly withdrawn subject as the EBacc made its way into the curriculum; in 2011, the Department for Education conducted studies amongst ten schools in preparation for the 2012/13 academic year, and found that 23% had already withdrawn Drama, with Art, Design/DT and Textiles following behind at 17%, 14% and 11% respectively.

But why is this case? Any teacher of Drama can tell you of the importance Drama can play on a child’s development; it builds both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, boosts confidence, and can turn the shyest of children into one of the most confident within their school. Any teacher of Drama can tell you how having a creative outlet like Drama can engage even the naughtiest of pupils. And any teacher of Drama can also tell you that it is rare for students to spend lessons pretending to be trees!

Has this research into the impact of the EBacc benefitted my teaching? In a sense, yes. It has made me realise that, as Drama seems to be making its way back into the English Department in many schools, I may have to continue to ‘fight’ for my subject’s recognition. Although Drama is more focussed on social and cognitive learning, with a focus on development overall as opposed to purely academic value, it does not seem to be enough to give Drama a place within the EBacc.

With this in mind, I wonder if perhaps it is the potential lack of written work that has caused problems for the subject. From experience, KS3 rarely engage in written work in Drama, meaning that when they begin to study it at GCSE, problems can arise when it comes to written exams as students are having to learn a different method of writing alongside everything else. Perhaps written work needs to be implemented into Drama lessons considerably more than it is, and Drama will be seen as a more academically viable subject than it currently is. Perhaps then it may not suffer at the hands of the EBacc as much.

Do I still think Drama should be available within the EBacc? Certainly. Already I have mentioned the benefits it can offer socially and cognitively, but the simple fact is that students need creativity. They need an outlet that breaks away from the academic rigour of school, and for those who struggle academically, Drama can be a fantastic tool. As Ken Robinson stated, “Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”

November 2019

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  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
  • Hi Lucy, Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of diverse assessments. I hope you have inspired o… by Anna Tranter on this entry
  • Hello Lucy, I totally agree with everything you have said here. And well done for having the energy … by Natalie Sharpling on this entry
  • Thank you for setting up this Learning Circle. Clearly, this is an area where we can make real progr… by Gwen Van der Velden on this entry
  • It's wonderful to read of your success Alex and the fact that you've been able to eradicate some pre… by Catherine Glavina on this entry

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