In my Phase 2 placement, the school took a differentiated approach to Maths. This meant that they planned their lesson daily, with the first lesson being a whole class input and the follow up lesson being planned for differentiated groups.
I really enjoyed this approach as it allowed all children to progress to the level which suited them. It gave children the opportunity to either revisit a particular area or to attempt the next steps at Greater Depth.
Although this meant that they was more preparation for the lesson, with many activities being planned, children progressed at significant amounts.
Above are examples of the differentiated activities. The main focus of the class was to try and get on to the next steps which was problem solving.
TARGET: Continue to explore differentiation techniques.
During my Phase 2 placement, I was beginning to find that children were starting to lose motivation in their learning and I began to reflect on this situation. Having also discussed it with my class teacher, I decided that a likely cause for a lack of motivation was due to children not being reflective and seeing the progress that they had made.
I therefore created a traffic light system (seen in the photo above) which allowed children to decide and reflect on how they found the work that lesson and the progress that they had made. Once the lesson had finished, children would place their book in the tray which they thought best suited them.
I found that this got the children to reflect and think about their work more thoroughly. It began to make the children strive for greater depth within the lesson, as they wanted to be able to place their book in the green tray. Having used it over a series of lessons, it also allowed children to see the progress that they had made and was suitable for all children in the classroom. I was also able to use this to influence my own assessment.
TARGET: Continue to allow children the opportunities to reflect in lessons.
I regularly give feedback in all of my lessons, both verbally and written.
This was noted by my mentor in several lesson observations. I am always keen to give children verbal feedback, especially when questioning, as it motivates and encourages children to partake fully in their learning.
I have used the schools marking policy when giving written feedback. The school uses ‘stars and wishes’ when marking, to highlight the positives in their work and the areas on which I would like the child to try and improve in their work in the future. I also am able to reward the children for especially good work, by writing a number in a bubble, which symbolise the number of ‘good marks’ awarded to the children.
TARGET: Continue to look at other methods of giving feedback to children.
Above is an example of a tracking grid that I created to monitor the progress of children through each lesson.
I update the tracking grid during and at the end of each lesson. I use both formative (observations, questioning, discussions) and summative (children’s work, assessments) assessment to fill in the grid.
This has allowed me to see the progression that children have made, as well as set targets and guide pupils to stretch and challenge them.
TARGET: Continue to develop knowledge of statutory assessment requirements.
Having experienced different formats of planning, I have been able to see the different ways that teachers differentiate their planning.
On my current placement I have been introduced to the schools format of maths planning, in which teachers plan daily. The first lesson is a whole class input, with children completing the same activity. This is differentiated through teacher/TA support and resources, as well as implementing next steps for the children to attempt once completed. Through formative assessment and summative assessment of the children’s work that lesson, the teacher decides what to do in the next lesson. This may be moving on to a new area of the topic, or to revisit what the children have just done in the lesson.
When revisiting, children are grouped in to 3 different groups (working towards, expected greater depth – though children are not aware of this) and the input and activity is differentiated according to how these groups of children managed the previous lesson. Each group has their own teacher input at various times throughout the lesson and of various lengths of time depending on their needs. Whilst a group is having the teacher input, the other two groups work on an activity that reinforces or further develops that learnt previously. A TA works with these two groups to support them.
I have found that this planning approach is extremely beneficial, as teaching is adapted appropriately so progression is ensured for all children. It is extremely important to be aware of the children’s prior knowledge and to build on this, but also to guide and allow the children to reflect on the progress that they make throughout. However this approach will only be fully successful with a TA, so that the children maintain their focus and have someone to go to without interrupting the teacher input and other children’s learning.
TARGET: To continue to explore differentiated teaching methods.
As a trainee teacher, it can be rather intimidating to enter a school and work with the class Teaching Assistant (TA) who has quite often had many more years experience in a school setting.
When I first started my Phase 1b placement, I felt that it was very important to build an effective relationship with the class TA. This allowed us to create a mutual respect and increase my confidence.
In each of my lesson plans I included a section that was specifically for the role of the TA. In this, I included great detail so that the TA understood their specific jobs for the session. I always aimed to give the plan to the TA the day before the session allowing them the opportunity to reflect on their own knowledge and think of any questions that they may need to know before the session. Each morning I would meet with the TA to ensure they understood what they were doing, as well as gain their opinion of the session.
As easy as it is to assign the TA to the lower ability children, I did try to use them in the most effective way. I found that the TA was great to extend the higher ability children’s knowledge. A TA can also be very helpful when it comes to assessment if you make sure that you outline what, who and how they should assess within the lesson.
TARGET: To continue to look at the most effective ways using a TA within the lesson.
Assessment is an area that I am constantly striving to improve within my Professional Practice. Prior to Phase 1b I had a very basic understanding of how assessment can be used successfully and effectively, as well as methods that can be used.
One form of assessment that I used in each lesson on my Phase 1b practice was traffic lights. I found that this was a very simple way of assessing the children’s confidence and understanding of the work completed. Children would colour in the traffic light red, orange or green, in accordance with how they felt about that piece of work.
Red – the child was unsure about the work and found it difficult.
Orange – the child found the work OK, but struggled at times.
Green – the child understood and was happy with the work.
This allowed me to see the children’s own opinion of the work and I was able to compare this with the outcome/results of the work completed. I was able to then use this to decide which direction I would proceed in that would allow the child to make progress and deepen their understanding.
I found this method very helpful, however it may not always be accurate. Some children may just copy those around them or due to confidence may not always be truthful. With this in mind, I would have conversations with children to gain a deeper understanding.
TARGET: Continue to find different ways of formative assessment to ensure children’s progression.