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The FabulousFortnightly Fifteen Minute Forum- numbers 3 & 4

May 3, 2014

Either side of Easter we have had our 3rd and 4th instalments of the 15 minute forum. For a short blog on the first 2 click here. We are still meeting every other Friday although the day may change when our Year 11 leave and there are fewer demands for after school revision sessions in midweek.
On the 4th of April Mr Rogers (@Penyrheolmusic) took a session on using Socrative (@Socrative).

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What is socrative? Well:

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Mr Rogers explained how he has been using the app in music and took us through how to set up quizzes. In Socrative you can set up quizzes or tests that can be multiple choice or free response. The quizzes are very straightforward to set up. Once complete, the pupils simply log on (using IPads, PCs or any web enabled device). The pupil enters the room number (set up by the teacher when they completed the quiz) s then simply answers the questions.

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The answers will be available for the teacher to analyse in real time as soon as the students have completed a question. Mr Rogers had set us a quiz to complete to show the different types of questions that could be set and what the teacher can do with the answers. You can set up multiple choice, true/false, quick quiz, short answer and space race.

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Mr Rogers set us some multiple choice questions and some short answer questions. The multiple choice questions were very useful because the class responses are displayed as a graph in the teacher’s area giving instant feedback and giving the opportunity to highlight misconceptions. The app definitely satisfies (at least ) 2 out of our 10 features for effective lessons (for more see here). Constructive questioning is satisfied because this system promotes whole class participation. It is also, of course explicit AfL. It collects data that the teacher can do something with. It allows misconceptions and weaknesses of ALL pupils in the class to be identified (or not) which the teacher than can use to inform future planning. The quiz data is emailed to the teacher and can be opened as an excel file.

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It also provides instant feedback to the pupils too.

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Very powerful stuff!
Huge thanks to Mr Rogers for skilfully showing us the power of the App and for creating a fun quiz that certainly made us laugh on a Friday afternoon (although it did highlight major weaknesses in my knowledge of musical terms).

Our 4th 15 minute forum was a change to the advertised program. Myself and KJ (our head of English) did a swap. That means that I presented a #15MF on DIRT and marking with symbols while we have to wait for KJ’s propeller effect session (I’m looking forward to that one- sounds very intriguing).
This DIRT section of the fifteen minute forum owes a lot to the DIRTY work blog of Alex Quigley (@HuntingEnglish) and you can read more about it here.
I started with this slide (the quote comes directly from Alex’s blog):

20140503-093718.jpg This was certainly true for me. I would spend hours marking a class set of books and watch in frustration as the books were returned and the feedback was given a cursory glance (or even ignored) by the pupils. I knew I had to mark books and give feedback but what was the point of the feedback wasn’t, well, feeding back to the pupils?
I then introduced the concept of DIRT (Directed Improvement and Reflection Time). In a nutshell it means that pupils have to actually do something with their feedback. Scanning the feedback and moving on is not an option (of course a number of departments and individual teachers already get the pupils to do something with their feedback but this is often task dependent). There are a number of tasks that pupils can undertake as part of their DIRT time at the start of the lesson when their books are returned. This could include redrafting, asking a specific question, redrafting a specific section or completing an extension task (some pupils can even be assigned DIRT champions to circulate the room and assist- key word assist- their peers in the completion of the DIRT task).
I showed staff a typical piece of feedback I would give a pupil in my Year 11 Applied Science class (this is before discovering DIRT) after marking one of their regular formative assessments:

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The feedback would be ritually ignored by the student (though they would do me the courtesy of reading it).
So, I changed the target to a DIRT question:

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This simple twist meant that for the first 5-10 minutes of the lesson pupils would have to answer a question directly relating to an area of weakness rather than just have their area of weakness pointed out to them.
This is what it looks like in practice:

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Pupils then interact with their feedback and answer the question. The key though is that their answer must be checked. This can be done by circulating during the DIRT task (armed with a red/green pen), by your pupil DIRT champions or by collecting their books in at the end of the lesson. I use #RAG123 marking system and collect books in to mark every lesson (for more info read here). This means I can check their DIRT task. I can also ask for more if they haven’t quite “closed the gap”:

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These are 2 examples from my Year 9 class:

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This slide shows why it is so successful, but the last point is a word of caution:

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We can’t expect pupils to do something they couldn’t the lesson before. However by some annotations of pupil work, by allowing them to use text books/revision materials, by “nudging them” as you circulate or by using the DIRT peer champions pupils can complete the DIRT tasks.

The second part of the 15 minute forum was on marking with symbols.

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There were lots of nods at writing the same few statements over and over again.
I have read a number of blogs on marking with symbols but the best is probably this by Dan Brinton (@BelmontTeach) the marking with icons section is the most relevant.
The best way to mark with symbols is to mark the first book and decide what your feedback/DIRT task is going to be and write it on a piece of paper with a symbol (like # or £ or *) and just write the symbol in their books. Mark the next book and it may need the same symbol. If not, write a more relevant feedback statement/DIRT task on the paper and put a different symbol in their books. Once the marking is complete you will probably find that in total there are 5 or 6 different statements you have used. However, rather than write those 6 statements over and over again you have just written the symbol. Timesaver. Big timesaver.
When pupils enter the class they have their books returned to them and the following displayed on the board:

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Another example:

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Pupils then look at their books and write the statement out that the symbol represents (and complete the DIRT task if it is DIRT feedback).
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I finished the session by sharing this fantastic example from Harry Fletcher-Wood (@HarryFletcherwood) on combining RAG marking, symbol marking and DIRT tasks. Read more about it here. Harry collects books in at the end of the lesson. He then marks their “plenary task” which checks their understanding of the lesson objective. He then puts a Red, Amber or Green sticker in their books based on the following criteria:

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The following lesson the pupil has his/her book returned, notes the colour of the sticker and completes the DIRT task:

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This happens every lesson. Wow.

The forum finished and there were a few questions but the most pertinent was “where are the biscuits?”
I’d let the side down on that score. I’ll have to get some top, top quality biscuits in for the next 15 minute forum on Takeaway Homework” by Miss V Jones.

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