‘Right team, on the board we have a recall starter for our lesson so Jake would you like to read the recall please for the rest of the class?’ So this is a creative writing module that I’ve taught over a period of time and all the learning is shared on iTunes U. I’ve built a course and the the main thing is for students to be able to write creatively because of course when they get to GCSE that’s what they need to be able to do and they need to do that quite quickly. I was really keen to use a collaborative tool.
The EEF toolkit talks about the value of feedback and you can get about eight months in the research that they’ve done but the difficulty is getting that feedback to children very quickly but hopefully you saw today, the feedback is given to the children very quickly but then they’re feeding back to each other as well so I wanted them to collaborate; they could choose who they wanted to work with and so we put them into… I chose pairs and then I’m a collaborator with them so I see everything in real time but they also see each other’s work real time.
Then they got together, they planned their stories, they put it all together, put the plot in, the character, we did all the structure of what it would be and then let’s go, let’s write and then as they’ve been writing, I’ve been able to see very quickly where the gaps are so straight away I could see, ‘oh, we’re just talking about events, we need some description in there.’
It’s just rapid, it’s so quick but because then they’re working together, they’re sharing it, plus then it’s all shared on the main screen so if they’re working in iTunes U, I get them to just write a discussion and then they all contribute and I think you saw today, will then get them to pick out, which one do you like? Which is the best one? We’ve done that with vocabulary as well so then instantly it’s not just their words, they get 25 other students’ contributions immediately.
‘Okay and that was your modelled answer that you used so let’s go to the remembering your learning section and in remembering your learning, I’d like you to post your very own sentences about the wolf in the snow. I’m going to give you two minutes, on your marks, get set, go.’ So the rate of progress, if feedback makes that much difference, if they’re getting such quick feedback on such a regular basis, you would hope that it would accelerate. ‘Okay, take a look at the sentences that we have had from all our peers in the classroom. Have a little read through and choose a favourite.’
So it’s double-edged really because you you are able to inspire each other through the collaborative process, at the same time as making people feel really good and share their successes because it’s really important to catch them doing something right, because they’re more likely to repeat it. ‘That’s lovely…’ It’s difficult for teachers in a classroom, a full class, to get around to everybody and give that individual feedback. It’s tough and you know, it’s a skill that we have to learn but it makes it so much easier if you can use methods like this.
‘So today, you saw instant feedback, previous lesson they’d done some writing around sentence structures and I saw it pop up and so I was able to say straight away, ‘oh, you just need to do this and this, just redraft it.’ He did it immediately, brought it over, that’s it perfect, you’ve done it. And that might have taken two weeks in the old days with my set of thirty books when he may have forgotten all about it and would it have really been cemented and could I have then moved on much quicker? So it’s totally different.
All the pages are shared through school work and if I just click on their group in schoolwork and up pops their piece of whatever they’re writing and then I can just write on it with the Apple pencil and rub it out if I need to and then now, I’ve started using the verbal feedback as well. I went to a presentation that was given by the teaching school and they were talking there about the value of verbal feedback, particularly for children with Special Educational Needs and it really hit home to me that when you’ve got that intonation in your voice and they know you, that feedback might just be a little bit more powerful, rather than just the written word.
That can be quite stark sometimes, can’t it? We’ve got that with text messages and all sorts so having the verbal on top just almost brings that feedback to life and I thought mmm, I think there’s mileage in that. So, if you saw today, I’ve written some comments for students but then I’d actually recorded the comments as well so they could listen to the intonation in my voice, to see whether I’m, you know, excited about it or disappointed and then when I come back to the lesson, they can then erase… make the corrections and delete the writing so that they get a nice clean text again, which improves each time [student listening to audio feedback] It’s simple.
Click the button, click on the app, click on the folder, up pops the student’s work, I can make some comments, do some verbal feedback, shut it down, done. It’s just easy peasy and it’s anywhere, you know, I can take my iPad anywhere and do that. I can, you know, grab ten minutes or half an hour. I might have an hour somewhere and I can just get that completed, whereas if I had to take my bag of books around and all my resources if I’m preparing a lesson; it’s just much easier. There are so many benefits to it. To try and pick one is really difficult.
I think, perhaps the greatest one from a staff perspective is the reduction in workload because we’ve had a couple that have monitored their marking and how quickly they can mark online compared to how quickly they mark if they’ve got big sets of bags of books that they have to take home.