How We Use Research
There are many evidence-based resources and tools available to help improve teaching practice and raise the attainment of pupils. Still, it can be not easy to get research into schools in ways that make a difference in the classroom. At Nightingale, we have been using a range of evidence-based approaches to support collaborative learning using Kagan Structures. Kagan Structures are a collaborative (or cooperative) learning approach involves pupils working together on activities or learning tasks in a group small enough for everyone to participate in a collective task that has been clearly assigned. Pupils in the group may work on separate tasks contributing to a common overall outcome, or work together on a shared task.
How effective is it?
The impact of collaborative approaches on learning is consistently positive. Effective collaborative learning requires much more than just sitting pupils together and asking them to work in a group; structured methods with well-designed tasks lead to the most significant learning gains. Practices which promote talk and interaction between learners tend to result in the best gains. On average if taught effectively, cooperative/collaborative learning strategies can lead to 5 months of progress for children.
Why do we use Kagan’s model of cooperative learning?
- To provide a structured approach to cooperative learning
- It gives teacher content free set structures, which have a series of steps, to use
- Develop children’s social skills such as turn-taking, listening to others and sharing information
- It is backed by research which is in line with our principle of using research and evidence-based approaches to support all facets of learning at Nightingale.
- Use of the structures will help to increase the amount of time pupils spend on a task
- Teams of four maximise and equalise active participation compared to any other number – we aim that all children are participating in the lesson all the time
Our use of Thinking Routines underpins our cooperative learning approach. Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based conceptual framework, which aims to integrate the development of students' thinking with content learning across subject matters.
Visible Thinking began as an initiative to develop a research-based approach to teaching thinking dispositions. The approach emphasised three core practices: thinking routines, the documentation of student thinking, and reflective professional practice. The Visible Thinking Routines developed at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, provides ways of making students' thinking visible to students, their peers, and to the teacher. The use of thinking routines first emerged through Ron Ritchhart’s study of teachers who were adept at developing students’ thinking dispositions. What he observed was that these teachers did not “teach thinking” or rely on “thinking programs” but instead leveraged the use of routines and structures regularly that allowed students to grow into their thinking. As teachers work with the routines, they often notice that students become more engaged by ideas taught. Thinking Routines are simple structures; for example, a set of questions or a short sequence of steps that can be used across various stages of learning and content areas. These routines become a part of the fabric of the classroom.
DEFINING THINKING ROUTINES
Tools used over and over again in the classroom that supports specific thinking moves such as,
- Making connections
- Describing what’s there
- Building explanations
- Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
- Capturing the heart and forming conclusions
- Reasoning with evidence
Structures, through which students collectively as well as individually initiate, explore, discuss, document, and manage their thinking. These structures are:
- Explicit: They have names to identify them
- Instrumental: They are goal-directed and purposeful
- A few steps: Easy to learn, and easy to remember
- Individual as well as group practices
- Useful across a variety of contexts
- Help to reveal students’ thinking and make more visible
Patterns of behaviour adopted to help one use the mind to form thoughts, reason, or reflect. We see these patterns emerging as the routines:
- Are used over and over
- Become engrained in us both teachers and students
- Flexibility emerges
In Literacy, we heavily evidenced established approaches to support our diverse collection of children. These included:
- Repeated Reading model across all subjects recommended by the Education Endowment Fund.
- Reading Recovery for early interventions
- Phonics teaching and learning approach by guided by the Department of Education English Hubs
- Reading Fluency strategy recommended by the Education Endowment Fund
- Flexible Phonics approach suggested by the Education Endowment Fund
- Vocabulary Instruction method guided by the Department of Education English Hubs
Mathematics at Nightingale
The concept of teaching mathematics to mastery standard is to ensure that topics are well developed. Pupils will spend enough time to fully explore an idea before moving on to a different topic. Each unit is designed to provide minimal step progressions through the material so that ALL pupils can move forward together at broadly the same pace. Provision is provided for both struggling and advanced learners so that concepts are embedded without the need to accelerate.
A mathematical concept is well-formed and reinforced through ample practice. New knowledge is then used in subsequent lessons so that all concepts build on top of each other, and pupils have broad opportunities to develop relationships between the topics. Concepts are revisited as children progress through the years, each time at a more challenging level.
Teachers work with senior leaders, collaboration schools and the NCETM Mastery Maths Hub to ensure that the quality of teaching is consistent across classes. Maths No Problem (Department of Education approved textbook) lesson guides help teachers to develop by providing plenty of opportunities for pupils to investigate planned open questions that require them to sort and compare, seek patterns and look for rules. Our teaching emphasises the importance of using concrete, pictorial and abstract approaches to the teaching of mathematics throughout a pupil’s school career and that pupils will need to go back and forth between them, rather than seeing these as separate stages of learning.
DEEPENING NOT MOVING ON
We aim to develop a depth of understanding through pupils’ being able to use the correct mathematical language. We ask pupils to explain, justify and prove their ideas so that they are deepening their understanding of a concept. The element is at the heart of the mastery approach, so we make sure we dedicate sufficient time to each new concept or skill, so every pupil can gain the reasoning they need to solve new problems in unfamiliar contexts. Instead of accelerating higher attainers onto new content, teachers differentiate through depth, to develop pupils’ conceptual understanding.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
We have high expectations for every child, spend more time on fewer topics and focus teaching on using mathematical principles to problem-solve. We promote a growth mindset and believe that all children can get better at maths when they put in the effort and work at it. To this end, we have developed lesson structures and resources to promote high expectations. We vigorously uphold the principle that no child is left behind and that interventions, based on the teacher’s expert knowledge about what pupils know and can do, help children to keep up, not catch up!