Category Archives: Independent Thinking

#DHTM ~ Feedback

Even though we were all heavily involved in report writing there was still a good appetite for sharing and learning from each other.    The classroom was full of colleagues keen to share ideas and pick up some new ideas and look at the ways we could raise attainment through feedback.

We started with an idea written on the whiteboard.

Assessment: The bridge between teaching and learning. Dylan William

This quote is, of course, well known in the educational world as it comes from Dylan William author of the excellent Inside the Black Box and Embedded Formative Assessment.  Dylan Williams, the Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the Institute of Education is certainly well qualified to oversee, via his quote, the proceedings on this dark Wednesday evening when many of us were worrying about completing reports.   The quote was there to focus our minds and remind us of the point of feedback and it certainly got us off to a good start.

Then @basnettj got the ball rolling focusing on:

DIRT – Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time.

Google this and you will find lots of literature on it, but @learningspy‘s blog post on the subject is as good as any.   The idea is that when you return work to your students they do not simply slip the file paper into their folders or their exercise book into their bag. They read through the comments and they act upon them.  In this case, work is returned where common mistakes were highlighted but, crucially, not corrected.  On the students’ work are comments to guide them perhaps to some previous notes or to help them reach the right answer by themselves. For example,

What is missing here?  Have you checked the rules on this grammar point? Could you improve this with some more attention on agreements?

Then the key is to leave students time to correct  their errors, enter into a dialogue with their peers or with you, the teacher, so that they can think through their errors and learn where they went wrong.  This proper engagement in where they have gone wrong will lead to greater understanding of their errors.  The onus is firmly on the students to look carefully at their errors and work out where they went wrong so that they do not make the same mistakes again.  The goal is to make the students own their learning.

Naturally, keys and codes can be provided to guide students in their learning.  Corrections can be completed in another colour so that it is clear to both teacher and learner that some thinking has gone on.  If the work needs completely rethinking and rewriting then ask students to do this on different colour paper.  These strategies provide simple ways students can refer back to the learning process and reflect on their mistakes.

Next up was Ian Vallance who always has plenty of ideas on this subject.  He got us all thinking with the following quote.


Ian suggested that this quote should go up in every classroom in the school.  It would certainly make the students think independently.  And on that point, we were reminded by @shampoozil and @downetobusiness to employ the following:



Another step to take before offering feedback is to get the students to read through their work and check that they have achieved a list of requirements on a check list.

mark grid 1

As can be seen in the checklist above pupils have a set of criteria to check through before submitting their work.  They can then ask a critical friend to check through their work before revisiting what they have done and having one final, meaningful and guided look through their work.

There were so many great ideas discussed in such a short space of time. What is written here is just a little taster of what was discussed.  There is undoubtedly room for more discussion on this important topic and we are looking forward to our next teach meet so that we can delve deeper into how to raise attainment through feedback.


#DHTM – Thinking for themselves

Although staff are all knee-deep in exam marking, invigilation, report writing and teaching we still managed to meet to discuss our thoughts and ideas on how we get the students to think for themselves.

First up, @shampoozil talked us through how important it is to share the assessment criteria with the pupils.   The process provides the pupils with clear steps to get from basic level to exceptional.  It may sound simple but it is effective and the steps, if clearly defined, provide a marking structure for the teacher too.

geog assessment criteriaSharing the assessment criteria helps to keep the pupils on task and really makes them think about how to peer assess with greater insight and thus provide feedback that is meaningful and helpful.

self and feed

The whole process helps the pupils to recognise different levels of work and enables them to produce work that goes beyond the relational and access those higher order thinking skills that will help them get the top marks.  The 2 stars and a wish image clearly highlights how thinking in this way can link into Solo taxonomy.

On the theme of SOLO taxonomy this structure for guiding pupils in writing literature essays was also suggested.  The idea is that pupils move up from the bottom and go beyond simply listing and identifying characters and consider how they can express more than an analysis of minor characters.  The top level considers how students might be encouraged to think beyond the analysis.

solo - etranger

Next up @DiEvans18 talked about how she uses twitter to share links with students and then get them to explain a resource with their peers.  This really tests their ability to internalise information and recreate using their own words – not an easy task.

Finally, we were all bowled over by the website In essence a maths website set up by mathematicians where pictures and videos are shared.  The point of the picture or the video – to get you to think “what’s the first question that comes into your mind?”.  The video plays twice and it is then possible to submit your question (or the question suggested by your class) and see what questions other people have thought of.  It really gets you thinking.  Have a go yourself…

What’s the first question that comes into your mind?


Suggested question "how much bigger is this pool table than a normal one?"