School: E Bryant
Highfield CE Primary School
What could go better? What do you want to improve?
What interests you?
(eg ‘My students give up too easily’) My pupils know they should ‘as standard’ use full stops and capital letters but forget them. They may use one and then forget the other and so I was concerned they were not consistent. I would like a system where they have to prove they use them 5x times in a row to attempt to embed it.
What’s your thought about the issue you are focusing on?
(eg ‘Maybe I am doing too much for my students’) Background: Enabling pupils to help themselves progress and learn is a pursuit of most teachers. It allows a pupil to set themselves up with skills that can prove useful throughout education and then into adult life. With education standards rising and pupils needing to make faster progress in smaller timeframes and myself acquiring a new class and classroom for 2014, I decided to implement a new strategy to get my class partially driving their own success.
What does the research say? What do others in my school know about this?
Research says that this kind of research is low cost and has a high pay out, i.e. this can be a success with minor training of the pupils.
4. Research question
(eg ‘If I make it easier for students to help themselves and each other will their resilience improve?’ Aim
To determine whether openly sharing individual literacy targets boosts overall literacy target achievement.
How does my question sit within my school’s current priorities? Have I checked with key team members/senior staff? I have checked with school’s current policies and this has been approved and checked as ethical. Our priority is to boost standards in literacy so this fits well.
6. The Intervention
What you will do? When? Who? How?
For example Method: By sharing, via a visual whole class display. In our classroom we have a display with all possible targets on and the pupils place their names on their current target. When they graduate from a target they move their name from one target to the next based on their needs. The board is colourful, fun and the graduation ceremony is lots of praise which they will enjoy and will help share current targets with each other.
7. Evaluation Methods
How will you notice, measure and describe what happens?
I was initially going to evaluate by a control class of a parallel year 1/2 class but the concept proved so popular that it was adopted by the other classes who now have similar displays. My display however was unique in that it was the only one containing the concept of sharing and helping each other reach their target. At the start of each literacy lesson I reminded children to tell each other their current target and then repeat that they can help each other reach the targets. As plenaries, the pupils could check each other’s work to see if they hit their target or not alongside applying the technique of two stars and a wish.
If the pupils hit their targets five times in a row (i.e. five separate pieces of work), they were rewarded with a small target graduation ceremony whereby they were heavily praised and received a sticker. In front of the class they would move themselves from their current to their new target on the display.
Timescale Ongoing but evaluated as ‘so far’ in February 2015.
Findings- Feb 2015
Achieving graduation proved very popular, the process of achieving graduation was widely considered to be a game and the process represented operant conditioning, whereby desirable behaviours were reinforced with small rewards.
The presence of ‘Skinner boxes’ in video games, whereby tasks are repeated until a small reward is achieved is known to increase the likelihood of people playing a game, therefore increasing the time spent playing. Both of these attributes were observed with regards to children achieving their targets. Missing targets, and consequently having to start the five count from the beginning added to the game element and was undesirable so children were keen to avoid this. As such the targets from previous lessons appeared more likely to be adhered to in subsequent lessons. This is known to behaviourists as avoidance, and can be used as a motivator for continued effort in a task. As a result of the changes made, the children were keener to know their targets, were more aware of their targets, spent more time considering their targets and it was clear by going through their workbooks that the children were hitting their targets more frequently.
The pupils have been responding well to the display and have appeared to have found it useful to refer to when they have not memorised their target, for example after the weekend or a half term has occurred. The pupils were driven to hit their targets and were progressing faster in literacy than I had seen previously. It is difficult to monitor if it is the game and reward that drives them to succeed or if it is the help from each other, or perhaps the combination of the two. Their new self awareness of how they need to progress in literacy is a positive outcome and correlates with a variety of research performed by the Education Endowment Foundation.
Research by the Education Endowment Foundation suggests that the discussions I had with pupils at the start and end of lessons are perhaps supporting the pupils too much in prompting them to self manage: “Self-regulation means managing one’s own motivation towards learning”. “These strategies are usually more effective when taught in collaborative groups so learners can support each other and make their thinking explicit through discussion” (Education Endowment Foundation).
Further research would suggest I use scaffolding whereby I set the pupils up with this technique and then let them self manage. I personally feel this would work well and give pupils skills for life but I have reservations with scaffolding with pupils so young as they have a lot to remember and retain on how to succeed. This will be a point for me to consider as the year progresses.
Education Endowment Foundation, http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/meta-cognitive-and-self-regulation-strategies/, accessed October-December 2014.