For the skills we are learning in Pebble to be internalised, understood, reflected upon and improved, we have for several years tried to find the best way of making sure that the evidence for this is created in a way which forms a coherent dialogue between teacher and learner. I think, at last we might have just about got it right!
We use the PLTS as our focus for each Pebble unit, but the same could be done for any learning skills or dispositions you were focusing on. Students embark on a skills week before recording their understanding. This allows students to explore, try out and understand what this skill is. Firstly, we use a questionnaire- the sort you might find in a teenage magazine. “Your group have to give an embarrassing talk about contraception in PSHE. Would you (a) hide behind a picture and giggle, (b) Think I know this might be embarrassing but, …..” you get the picture. Students get a score dependant on their answer. Each question helps explore different elements of the particular PLTS. They add up their scores and begin to build a picture of their ability in that particular skill, where they are now and what they might need to change to become better.
Students build on this understanding, discuss what they think the key skills of an effective self-manager are and think of examples of how those skills are used. For example ‘Taking Risks’ as part of being an effective self manager. “an example is when you are not sure what to do, try things out and see if you can do it for yourself and if it doesn’t work out, learn from it.”
As a class, we distill the understanding and agree on the skills we believe relate to that PLTS and type this up on the passport sheet.
Students participate in a task which tests their approach to the PLTS on our Friday session, to help them further understand it before their first project. For the self manager task we design and create personality hats, a task which has a few twists and turns to test their adaptability as well as organisational skills. At the end of this rather fun task, we unpick the skills we have used and begin to map the evidence as you can see below:
The students have responded brilliantly to this document. It makes them analyse the skill carefully and reflect on their own learning incredibly effectively. This passport will now be used throughout first project ‘A Personal History’ where students investigate and create a family tree or a memory book about one of their ancestors. A great project to focus on the key skills of a self manager.
AND…. If that wasn’t enough of a meta-learning paradise, I am using the rather wonderful ‘Class Dojo’ to reinforce the evidence whilst they are working. When I see the particular skills being exercised, I can click on them using my IPhone or PC and add a point, which comes with a nice PING noise! I can also add a negative BOING if they are not showing those skills. Every time students here the noise, they look at the whiteboard to see who’s got it and for what. Funnily enough, students then come to me thick and fast and try to justify why they should get a point. If they use a quality language of learning to explain why, I may yield… IT’S FANTASTIC!!
Click below for a PDF of our Passport to Perfection.
Having created this, I can see a direct use for developing a ‘Marginal Gains’ approach to improving learning and understanding. Something to work on…
Also, being a fairly decent reflective practitioner, I have realised the questioning should include a question like;
“If you were an outstanding self manager, what would your learning in and out of school look, sound and feel like?”
Followed by a Scale of good self manager from poor to outstanding, for students to place themselves on.
Followed by, “why have you placed yourself here? What is your evidence? and what do you need to improve on to move closer to outstanding?”
Will add that for Independent Enquirer, our next PLTS focus.
Anyway. Would love your thoughts on this and share what you do in your schools to analyse skills development.