10 November 2019

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Communication Focuses




  • Reading widely
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Spelling of subject-specific vocabulary
  • Use of WAGOLLs to model/scaffold (visualisers, mini-whiteboards)
  • Purposeful and structured communication with others


Teaching and Learning Priorities

Climate for learning students will be enthused by their learning and will be focused, absorbed and attentive (DMC).

Vocabulary the words that we use and expect the students to be able to use in context, to succeed in their lives beyond Walton le Dale High School (ACH).

Purposeful Interactions by all if students are communicating, it must be purposeful allow their needs to be met.  Interactions should enhance the learning of ALL students at ALL times (CRO).

This Week:

  • The thought for the week in form time this week is ‘Anti-bullying Week’ and ‘Respect’.  Assemblies will be led by RHO.
  • NQTs – Meetings will continue this week: JMJ – Tuesday period 3; RHU – Tuesday period 4; both in RLO’s office.
  • CPD for new staff – postponed this week due to presentation evening and SIG.  Will resume next week with a focus on Teams with LCH and DTU.
  • Wednesday – Top Tip from the Learning Support Department.
  • Heads up!  Pastries and Progress is w/c 25th November and will have a focus on mini-whiteboards and visualisers.  

Reflect on Your Practice:

Over the last few weeks, Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction have been included as a focus.  They have also been highlighted as the foundations of our Brilliant Teaching and Learning Toolkit. This week, see how many you can remember and  - more importantly – that you use.  Quiz on Friday!

17 Principles of Instruction

Retrieval Practice

10 Techniques for Retrieval Practice – the strategies for this week’s TLD are taken from Tom Sherington’s blog here.  They are practical and easy to implement (the fourth idea has been highlighted as it works well alongside knowledge organisers, with little additional planning).

1. Quick Fire Quiz

Everyone know this one but it can still be done well or badly:  Teacher reads out the question or presents them via slides or an audio tape (e.g. in MFL). The questions can be spontaneously generated or prepared. Questions can be simple factual recall, mental maths or multiple choice.

All students write down their answers. Teacher reveals the answers, one by one or all at once.  Students check which they got right.  Swapping answers to check is an option but it can be a faff and takes away from the message that students need to be evaluating the depth of their own learning.  If you’ve prepared this in advance, it is much more time efficient if students can see the answers all at once to check rather than wait for each to be read out.

It’s important that the teacher discusses common wrong answers – which is one of the main functions. If you can do lots of confidence-building questions quickly (rather than deliberately hard ones) – you can get a great buzz of enjoyment. Knowing things is fun!

2. Paper Quiz

Everyone gets a copy of the questions and writes down answers at their own pace within a time limit.  This is much less teacher-directed.  It frees the teacher up to circulate and spot common errors as they emerge.  It allows for a wider range of question types and makes it easier to engage in with worded questions that can be hard to read from a slide.

The checking process is much better done with pre-prepared answers rather than reading out answers one by one.  Why? Because it is quicker, allows for more detail in the answers, it allows students to focus on things they got wrong and helps to build their capacity for self-assessment.

3. Silent Self-Quiz

Try this. Which ones do you know? Give students a grid containing blanks and then the answer grid to check. This works well for testing retention of new vocabulary.

How well can you learn these labels? (Test and then check)



In a test like this, students can generate answers and then check if they were right, silently and privately. They can repeat this multiple times.  Any number of resources can be used – blanked diagrams, cue cards with answers on the back, maths questions with answers kept separately.   This process keeps the outcome of the assessment with the student – the most important place! They learn what they know and don’t know.  You can then discuss common errors and problems.  It saves a lot of time with asking questions and marking them – all of that is done mentally by the students.

4. Paired Quiz.

Here, we start using Dylan Wiliam’s excellent strategy: Activating students as resources for one another.  In order to maximise the extent of retrieval practice that goes on, it is fantastic to get students to quiz each other in pairs. One student has the material – questions, answers, cue cards, knowledge organiser, text – and asks the other student questions.  “Test me”  – it’s a well-used technique and can be harnessed in lessons.  Give a time limit and then get them to swap around.  You get a room full of students checking their knowledge.   I’ve seen this done in superbly well in languages where the teacher circulated to check for accent issues and common errors listening in to the multiple paired quizzing dialogues.

5. Self-Explanation

Beyond simple recall, ask students to explain something to themselves. You simply give students a few silent moments to complete a mental task.  They have to generate a version of what they understand that they can either then self-check or write down or use to respond to further question.  However the process of mental rehearsal is important.. making this explicit helps to train those who don’t do it spontaneously.

What is the story of Henry VIII’s Six Wives?  Run through it… then check.




6. Demonstration and Performance

Of course LOTS of knowledge isn’t simply quiz-able declarative knowledge. You can ask students to show what they know:  a procedure; a technique; a routine.  Have you learned it? Show me…    Of course as a student shows what they can do to a teacher, they are showing themselves what they can do.  This is important.   Again, the intensity and frequency can be amplified by getting students to show each other in pairs rather than one-by-one with the teacher, as long as they have the tools to evaluate success.   This is common in practical areas and performance areas – sport, music, art – but it also has a role in science, maths, English where the modelling process could be framed as ‘teaching’.  E.g .teaching the class how to answer a maths problem.

7. Paired or individual elaborative-interrogation

A form of quizzing that can be done in pairs or as a silent private process, is elaborative interrogation.  This is where students explore their schema by answering How and Why questions.

Why does this happen? How does it work? Why does it work?  Why did she say that? Why do you use that structure? Why is that the most important reason? How do you know?

If you train students to use some of these question stems and give them resources that help them to verify the answers, this makes for a deep retrieval practice exercise

8: Tell the story; rehearse the explanation

Lots of knowledge forms a narrative structure  – a series of events, a process, cause and effect.  So, the retrieval practice can be formed as ‘telling the story’ to someone else who can play the role of verifier.  Any explanation can then be improved and rehearsed.  You can get better at telling a story in more detail.

Here are some examples.  Tell the story of a water molecule as if follows the water cycle: (with or without key words provided: Why does the sun rise in the East?….  How good was your friend’s answer? Now you have a go.  Of course this material can be used for self-explanation in the first instance.

9: Summarising

This is a useful recall process although it is less precise in terms of checking – because every summary can be different.   A retrieval process can be something like:

Last week we looked at renewable energy.  Summarise the main advantages and disadvantages of a wind farm: Go! .

Then show your definitive response for checking.

10.  Map and Compare

This method is where you want to check students’ capacity to make links.  Ask them to make a memory map of the key aspects of a topic… e.g.:  Reactions of Metals OR Themes in Hamlet OR Generating Electricity.  These things can be much tighter sections of knowledge too:  Types of radiation; the key events and figures in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Top Tip Schedule

Subject Heads, please ensure that someone from your department is ready to share a ‘Top Tip’ on the designated date. 


















Pastries and Progress

Open Door Week























CPD Cascade

Study Groups 2019-20

Many thanks for sharing your proposals.  They are now all stored in WLD Teachers Team and can be viewed by following this link.

You may be interested to know what other subject areas are working on so here is a list below.  This also allows inter-departmental work, if you think that this would be useful.

  • Expressive Arts – improving engagement in Year 9
  • Computing – Developing the use of Teams to allow learning beyond the classroom
  • Mathematics – recall and retention
  • Art – Engagement of boys
  • English – use of knowledge organisers
  • MFL – Speaking examination – extended pupil responses; Listening and reading: developing confidence
  • Humanities - progress of middle attaining boys
  • PE  – Link between theory at KS3 and KS4
  • Technology – Developing the use of homework at KS3 to prepare students for KS4 course
  • Science – personalised learning plans for each student in each science.


CPD Feedback

Last week, HKE attended a CPD session on Memory and Retention.  She has offered these useful tips:

  • The brain can't form memories of new experiences if it isn't linked to something we already know so when learning new content we must link it to previous learning to engage the area of the brain we want to build on.


  • The brain can retrieve knowledge better if the conditions the memory was created in are re-enacted. For example, if you have to retrieve the knowledge in exam conditions (i.e. GCSE exam) then revision lessons and practice tests should be done in the same conditions.


  • Saying things out loud when engages phonological loop, which means more of the brain is engaged and therefore the memory created will be stronger.  


Posted by Rachel Long

Category: Teaching and Learning Digests

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