As part of the CPD sessions I’ve been attending in school, we were asked to take an activity we use often in lessons and ‘Dr. Ice’ it to ensure that it is doing the following for students:
1) Deepening Thinking
2) Role modelling the learning process
3) Impacting upon their learning
4) Challenging expectations
5) Engaging them in Learning
The rationale behind this exercise is that often, as teachers, we continue using activities that we know work because they work, however we don’t often reflect on how we can make a successful activity even better.
As an English teacher, I will often give quotations to groups for them to analyse and to help them deepen their analysis I will provide key questions around the edge of the quotations which their analysis must respond to. I do this as a way of role modelling the types of questions they should be asking themselves in an examination situation. The questions will be differentiated per group and I may also allocate different questions to different students within the group as a form of further differentiation.
After ‘Dr. Ice’-ing the activity, I realised that, whilst the activity does seem to hit all of the Dr. Ice criteria in one way or another, I’m providing too much scaffolding and guidance (in fact, I’m ‘role modelling the learning process’ too much) as the students won’t have key questions provided for them in exams.
I have now updated this activity in three ways: I first tried to get students to write their own key questions first before answering them. However, I found that often the key questions they were writing weren’t helping to facilitate the depth of analysis I wanted. So I now employ two different strategies: 1) For higher ability classes who are well practiced in this form of quotation analysis, I get them to formulate the key questions for a different group. They must then answer the questions written for them by another group. Often this process leads to them complaining that the questions the other group have written for them are not ‘good enough’ for them to answer, which therefore leads them to discuss, understand and them formulate their own ‘better’ questions. 2) For lower ability classes, I still provide the initial key questions. However, once they have answered them, the class rotates around the room and reads the other group responses. At each station they must write two further questions for the other groups to answer later, based upon the analysis they are reading, which will enable the other groups to develop their analysis even further. The idea behind this is that it enables them to critically identify how to improve a piece of analysis.
Any questions please ask Amy Tweddle