Think Learning 7

SRC Learning and Teaching Newsletter

week commencing 10/3/2014

6 Steps to active learning - Meeting the new criteria and delivering progress in learning. Steps 4-6 in this edition.

This edition follows on from the previous edition of Think Learning. (

The following is a summary from Jackie Beere's recent publication.

Remember – there is no one methodology to be followed for achieving outstanding learning and teaching. There are many approaches to doing this. What counts is that learners achieve to their full potential and that the learning and teaching approaches adopted by the teacher have a real impact in raising achievement.

Step 4 - The main lesson activity/activities

Teacher input is key to this step.

There needs to be:

  • A challenging level of subject knowledge.
  • Active, collaborative learning - this is crucial as students should be able to work, on task, "without adult supervision".
  • Choice of activities or approaches to them.
  • Lots of higher order questions (which you don't answer for them).
  • Visual aids and practical activities.

Choice, collaboration and challenge need to be present in order to deliver an outstanding lesson for these reasons:

  • Challenge, because this is the way to ensure that expectations are high and learners are working to make progress in their learning.
  • Collaboration, because students should be talking more than teachers and working together to achieve the "brilliant outcomes".
  • Choice, engages the learners and makes them feel committed to the task.

Good collaborative activities tap into the talents in the room and help connect the learning with the world at home.

3 useful beliefs which underpin outstanding teaching:

  • We always underestimate the capabilities of young people.
  • We always get what we expect.
  • Every child wants to succeed.

Step 5 - Dish up the DIRT...often!

DIRT = Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time

This is done through assessment as learning. As the process of learning is a journey, it is essential to raise awareness about this process by reminding students frequently to check their learning process and progress. What have you learnt, how far have you travelled towards the learning outcome? There should be regular checkpoints which then become assessment as part of the learning process.

Reviewing and reflecting.

Assessment becomes part of the learning process.

Top Tip

Take a moment for a mini plenary at any time to gather evidence of the learning progress.

Step 6 - Final Plenary/Review

Plenaries can take place throughout the lesson.

Moments of reflection about how the learning is progressing are an important part of an outstanding lesson. At the end, a memorable plenary will sum up the learning outcomes. Don't be afraid to acknowledge when they haven't all made progress. This gives you a chance to explain what your next steps will be to ensure ALL students have learnt what they need to know.

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The moment of truth.

How far did we get towards our objectives?

You could stick a huge learning progress arrow on the wall that you can use as a visual aid for students to pin their names on to show how far they have progressed towards their learning outcome.

Some other useful plenary techniques:

  • Post-its for students to collect 3 things they have learnt. These can be placed on the door on the way out or shared in groups and prioritised.
  • Mini whiteboards and pens for writing key points from the lesson and holding up.
  • Sit in a hotseat and make 3 points as a key character that would be an expert in the lesson outcome, hand onto another class member who has to make 2 points, then down to 1.
  • Use a metaphor such as a rucksack or treasure chest to put all the key learning points from the lesson to open up next lesson. These can be written on paper and folded up to place in the bag or box. At the beginning of the next lesson they can be opened up and shared.
  • Write newspaper headlines - summarising your key learning in a headline. Useful to have some mock up newspapers made with blank headlines.


Always finish on time so that you do not miss out the plenary in your lesson plan. Cut short other activities but make sure you demonstrate the learning at the end and make your own assessment about whether you have succeeded in achieving the learning outcome.

Use assessment outcomes to inform future planning.

Finish the lesson by setting the scene for the next exciting learning experience that will build on the lesson today.

Staff Development

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