Using Writing to Help 17 Year Olds Explore Aspects of Narrative: being critically creative

Mary King is an English teacher with responsibility for A level in an Academy in Lewisham. Confused students and unpredictable exam results inspired her to reflect on learning in relation to the AS English Literature exam unit Aspects of Narrative, (the AS, or Advanced Subsidiary Level, is the first year of the A Level, and is usually taken at age 17, in young people’s penultimate year of school).  What started as an investigation into the Literature curriculum and the gap between GCSE and A level study rather unexpectedly turned into a project on the use of creative writing in AS lessons. She found herself researching the relationship between creativity, culture, and agency, and looking closely at the creative writing and class discussions of her two year 12 groups. One of the things that most surprised her was the social nature of much of the learning that took place around re-creative tasks: discussing, negotiating and reading work aloud was a key aspect of lessons centred around re-creativity.

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Children’s Experiences of Learning Autonomy in Cognitive Acceleration (“Let’s Think”) in Maths Lessons

Luke Rolls, a primary school teacher and mathematics subject leader, investigated children’s experiences of the Cognitive Acceleration in Maths programme to evaluate what potential it had for developing the elusive concept of learning autonomy.  His research was conducted with a year four maths class in an outer-London school in an area of socio-economic disadvantage, using ‘Let’s Think’ as a means of developing problem-solving and conceptual approaches to learning mathematics, to counter cognitively-passive, procedurally-focussed lessons. The study researched pupils’ responses to the lessons and wider views they held about modes of teacher instruction and learning, and found evidence to support the contention that the teaching approach adopted promoted pupil autonomy—notwithstanding contextual factors such as the impact of classroom ethos and the effect of thinking skills.

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The Power of Music: An Exploration into the use of Background Music in the Religious Education Classroom to Enhance Classroom Environment

Karina Hussein was working in a complementary school dedicated to the Religious Education of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim youth in Toronto, Canada when she conducted her study in 2014. This research explores the use of background music in a religious education classroom and focuses on the impact on engagement and behaviour made by the introduction of background music in the classroom. The music selection used in this study included instrumental music, popular music and several other genres including R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, Spanish, Arabic, and Bollywood music.

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The Value of Teaching Children to Draw in Primary Education

Rhiannon Mapleston is the Art and Literacy Coordinator at a community primary school in East London. She carried out this research in her own Year Three classroom during her fourth year of teaching in 2014. Rhiannon has been attending weekly taught life drawing classes at the Royal Drawing School (formerly known as The Princes Drawing School) for six years. She wanted to use classroom research to develop her teaching of drawing skills and consult the children on what they thought of using drawing as a tool for learning. Through action-research, Rhiannon examined whether a drawing intervention had any effect on the children and how able they thought they were at drawing, whether they enjoyed drawing and how important they believed drawing to be.

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What are children’s perceptions of written feedback in helping them to improve their writing?

Rebecca O’Reilly is a part-time teacher in a Year 3 inner-London Primary school and carried out this research in her own class in 2014. As a busy teacher, and mother to a toddler, Rebecca wanted the time consuming process of ‘next step marking’ to have as much impact on learning gains as possible, and therefore researched this within her own practice. The research trialled a success and improvement next step marking strategy in Literacy for a class of Year 3 children. The children’s perceptions of current and trialled next step marking comments were examined through questionnaires and videoed group interviews. Themes from the children’s responses were explored including perceptions of approval and disapproval, self-efficacy, ability and goal orientation.

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