Poulner Infant School

Poulner Infant School has been developing it’s learning to learn strategies
over the last three years.  The staff have poulnerbeen inspired by INSET with Guy Claxton and attended courses on ‘Building Learning Power’.  As a direct result the school has created the unique Poulner Learning Heroes.  They have been designed to encourage pupils to develop skills for life. The learning heroes are interactive characters that demonstrate the learning habits of independence (Incy Independent), co-operation (Team Bee), problem solving (Solver Snail) and reflection (Better Beetle).  They are shared with the children through puppets, stories, real-life situations and celebrated weekly.
The learning heroes are part of the fabric of the school and are fundamental to the schools vision, which states ‘ Great Learning is at the heart of who we are, what we do and what we strive to achieve’

Poulner Infant School has recently joined the Expansive Education Network to develop teacher’s professional learning and research skills.  The teachers have developed individual small-scale enquiries, enabling them to explore issues, which will have a positive impact on the learners in their class.

Some of the projects are based around the following questions;

•    If children are challenged to try a new activity will it improve their ability to seek, enjoy and persevere at new experiences?

•    If teachers model the key vocabulary and language of initiating play and sharing will the children be able to use these skills during child initiated play?

•    If children are given a self-evaluation tool to assess their writing will they be more able to identify their strengths and weaknesses as a writer and set their own targets for development?

•    If children are taught a strategy to ‘look away’ during thinking time will it help improve the quality and quantity of responses to questions?

Many of the projects are works in progress and the impact is being monitored  with a variety of tools such as questionnaires, attitude surveys, observation forms and work samples. The research will be written up and shared within  and beyond the school community.
The school recognises that everyone is a learner.

The school website can be accessed at http://www.poulnerinfantschool.com

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Hearing about scientists’ struggles helps inspire students and boosts their learning

Science suffers from an image problem. Many students see the subject as too difficult and they think scientists are aloof boffins with big brains. A new study out of Taiwan tests the benefits of teaching high-school physics pupils about the struggles of eminent physicists – Galileo, Newton and Einstein.

Over the course of three computer-based lessons during one week, 88 low-achieving students were taught not just about the relevant theories developed by these characters but also about their frustrations and perseverance. For instance, they heard about Newton’s hard work and inquisitive nature (including his comment “I keep the subject constantly before me, till the first dawnings open slowly, by little and little, into the full and clear light.”), and they heard about Einstein’s efforts, but ultimate failure, in seeking to develop a unified field theory – an endeavour that he spent the last 25 years of his life working on.

For comparison, a further 93 students completed the three computer-based lessons on the relevant theories but without any background information on the scientists, and 90 more completed a version in which they heard achievement-based background information on the scientists, including their key discoveries and dates.

Learning about scientists’ struggles had several important benefits versus the other two conditions. Students in the struggles condition developed more rounded, less stereotypical images of the scientists, seeing them as people who worked hard. For students who had no initial interest in science, the information about struggles boosted their interest in the subject. Struggles-based background info also improved students’ delayed (a week later) recall of the theoretical material, and it increased their success at complex open-ended problem solving tasks based on the lesson material.

Huang-Yao Hong and Xiadong Lin-Siegler, who made these findings, think the benefit of struggle-based background info for students’ recall may have to do with helping the students to build connections between different key concepts, and with increasing their emotional and cognitive reactions to the course material. Similarly, the researchers think that the struggle-oriented background information helps students see the interconnections between theories, which aids complex problem-solving.

Future research is needed to differentiate the effects of struggle-based information related to the scientists’ work and their personal lives. Also, the findings need to be tested in a different cultural context and over a longer time period.

“By helping students see the real human struggles behind science, we can inspire greater interest and learning to benefit future generations of scientists,” Hong and Lin-Siegler said.

Read the full article

Progression in Creativity: A Literature Review

Authors: Ellen Spencer, Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton

This literature review provides an overview of the key issues and debates surrounding creativity and the potential for assessing it in individuals. The authors discuss the concepts of assessment, progression and creativity, how creativity is experienced in society and in schools, and consider the tensions faced by schools working to promote and develop it in their work.

The review underpins a CCE-commissioned research report conducted by the authors which aimed to explore the possibility of developing a framework for assessing creativity in school age learners.  The full report is available at http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/progression-in-creativity-developing-new-forms-of-assessment

There have been numerous attempts to assess creativity in school pupils (discussed in section 7). However, the fact that no single model or approach has ever been able to assert itself within educational settings suggests that there are some deep rooted challenges to overcome. Not least is the question of whether there is a central contradiction between the development of creativity in young people and the way schools are currently configured. With their focus on age related exams, large class sizes and non-individualised projects it often seems difficult to see how schools might be able to sustain a credible focus on the development of creativity while at the same time conforming to other mandatory modes of assessment which value different forms of learning and knowledge than those we might describe as creative.

CUREE – The benefits of – and approaches to – collaborative maths

How can collaboration and discussion in class improve the teaching and learning of mathematics?curee_logo

Teachers and researchers have been concerned with how best to help pupils overcome their difficulties with mathematics for many years. This TLA research summary* describes an approach that has helped some teachers address these difficulties. The project used a student-centred, collaborative and discussion based method for learning, with some positive results.

The key questions which the research set out to answer were:

– How can we design teaching using lessons from other research, so mathematics learning becomes more effective?

– What effect do student-centred and collaborative learning approaches have on student learning and attitudes to

learning, and on teachers’ beliefs and practices?

– What tools can be used to encourage collaborative learning in mathematics classrooms?

Full report

Eden Project – Play ideas and resources

“We love play at the Eden Project. Our visitor destination in Cornwall is testament to our
belief that peoEden+bleed+logo.tifple of all ages learn best when they’re having fun.

Play helps kids develop social skills, create connections and discover more about themselves.
It feeds their imagination, increases their self-esteem and boosts their physical wellbeing.” more