If you haven’t come across Standardising the Format, you need to read Teach Like a Champion (affiliate link) http://amzn.to/2wVGgFJ
Driving instructors know you are not an expert. So they don’t ask you, what route would you like to do today. They insist that you drive between the lines. There are speed limits which you must obey, and lights which tell you what to do.
They don’t ask you to choose any gear you think is appropriate, but tell you what gear to use, and why. They don’t ask you to try reverse parking and find which method works best for you. They tell you exactly what steps to take and then rehearse you.
Driving instructors don’t ask you about your learning style, they just give you instant feedback on your learning.
Standardising the format means that they can always spot a mistake as soon as it happens. It also means that you as the learner can often spot the mistake also, and self correct.
What does this look like in the classroom?
- This is what your book should look like, with joined up handwriting, underlining, capitals, dates, full stops, paragraphs. This is how much I want you to write, draw, diagram etc.
- These are the words or the workings out I want you to use.
- This is the method I want you to use.
- I want everyone to do these two questions, and I will patrol the room to look for common errors. I won’t give you more than two questions, because if I do, my feedback will be all over the place, and I won’t be able to teach the class like an individual.
- I treat my whole class as an individual student so that my feedback is always relevant.
- This is the exact vocabulary I want you to use in your writing. I also want you to use this vocabulary in your verbal answer. No, you haven’t used the correct word, say it again. Now speak it in a sentence.
- You have a signal for stop or silence that the class are trained to obey. It is the same every lesson.
- If we are doing something creative, there are rules. Rules force us to be more creative – just think of writing a sonnet, compared to ‘write any poem’ to see how this might help.
- So, I don’t teach creativity (just as your driving instructor doesn’t teach you creative ways to steer – once you have passed your test you will be skilled enough at the business of driving to be as creative with your steering as you like. The security your drivig instructor gave you in driving properly is actually what allows you to be creative.)
- So, in a Design Technology lesson I don’t ask all my students to design and make a key ring in of their choice. I ask everyone to make this keyring, so I can demonstrate each and every part, and so the student can see exactly how closely theirs matches, and self-correct. And this also allows me to choose the exact level of difficulty of the keyring too.
- In science, if I have to give my students an experiment to do (and that’s a whole other blog post), I give them all the same experiment, so I can intervene with the whole class, or a selection of groups at the same time.
- In a history essay, I don’t merely ask the students to come up with their opinions, I tell them exactly which facts and events they must include, and I show them exactly which connectives I want them to use when considering different points of view, and I give them some exact vocabulary which I need them to use. I tell them exactly what has to go in a conclusion – how many sentences it needs to have, whether it needs a new fact or an opinion – whatever it is I need them to master. Once they have written a few history essays, I can let them loose on their own format if I feel the need to.
- When reading a text in class, I insist that student follow where I am so that they can continue as soon as I stop. Some schools develop this further, so that all student follow the text with a ruler. Then it is instantly visible when students have gone off task.
Does this Hold Back the More Able?
Yes, this might slow down the more able in terms of pace, but I use them to question or teach the others, so their learning is consolidated. The pace of their activity is slowed, but not their pace of mastery. These instances will be fewer though, as we move two questions at a time. Time limits are therefore short, and the pace is high. If you want to know more about why this works, look at the research on Reciprocal Learning.
If you want to read more about Standardising the Format, go straight to Doug Lemov:http://bit.ly/DougLemovTLAC