Nick Bentley is a Lead Practitioner for Access & Inclusion and Drama at an all-girls Secondary School in East London. In the spring term of 2017 he conducted an investigation into the use of drama in teaching William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and examined the impact of this on five students in a Year Nine “Nurture Group” class targeted at teaching Literacy and Social Skills. Drawing upon data including a teacher journal, excerpts of student writing and the reflective comments of teaching assistants, the investigation concluded that drama can complement young people’s reading, writing, oral communication and social skills, and contribute to giving them a voice.
Perdita Hatton-Brown is a SENCO and specialist SEND teacher. She leads the Personalisation Department in a secondary academy for girls in West London. The school has a mixed demographic, with high numbers of students with additional learning needs, economic disadvantange and for whom English is an additional language. In the course of her studies on the MTEACH Special Educational Needs, she had become interested in Lesson Study as a way to develop ‘universal interventions’ at a whole class teaching level for learners with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities. Her work documents the process and results of Action Research into using Lesson Study to develop inclusive teaching of Mathematics with Year 9 students, and was carried out in her school in 2015.
Lesson Study (LS) is a form of joint practice development that has been used for over 150 years in Japan. It is now widely used across East Asia and in some parts of the United States, but is a fairly recent phenomenon in the UK. It involves three teachers jointly planning, observing, and evaluating a cycle of three lessons. The exciting part is that the focus is on the learners and their progress and not on one another’s teaching; a key means of achieving this is the study, in each lesson, of the learning of two pre-selected ‘case-students’, who are closely observed. They are briefly interviewed about their experience of the lesson and their learning after each lesson. Student feedback and teacher observations are shared to inform the planning of the next lesson in the cycle. At the end of the cycle the LS team write a short report and share with the rest of the teaching staff. In Japan, some schools even set up ‘show lessons’ after school and invite parents and local dignitaries in. At the time of writing, LS had been recently used in the UK to explore mathematics pedagogy and to develop universal teaching for learners labelled with Moderate Learning Difficulties. It had also been used to apply the ‘graduated approach’ to assessing pupil needs. The literature around Lesson Study is generally overwhelmingly positive. It is cheap and quick, highly context specific, and teachers who take part generally report great gains from the process.
Hannah Sharma is Assistant Headteacher of a school in Brixton, south London. She undertook this piece of research as Head of Languages in the academic year 2015-16 in response to changes in the assessment regime at GCSE level (the UK school certificate, generally taken at age 16). Her research looked into exploring a list of strategies recommended by Harris and Snow (2004:25) in conjunction with Harris’ (2000) six-stage process of strategy teaching, in order for beginner learners of Spanish to become less reliant on, and expectant of, teacher help. She had two focus groups, selected on the basis of prior attainment (as defined by their Key Stage 2 data), and wanted to look into how pupils with different histories of attainment grew in confidence and resilience in their approach to reading in a foreign language. She found that a change occurred in her classroom, and that with explicitly taught strategies and practice, pupils became markedly more autonomous and confident readers, relying less on the teacher and drawing more on their own resources.
Ahmad Amirali is a Religious Education teacher in Pakistan and conducted his research in Karachi in 2016. The aim of his study was to gather students’ perceptions about learning outside the classroom in gardens and examine whether students saw these visits as contributing to their learning. The study also enquired the outcome of visits on students’ learning experiences and investigated challenges faced by the students and teachers while participating in these experiences. Two visits were conducted during this qualitative action research; one inside and one outside the school premises.
What is writing? What is drama? Is there any correlation between the two in terms of individual progress and attainment? These are some of the key questions that influenced this research project, performed and researched by Natasha Cornwell. Natasha is the Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English at a secondary school academy in Essex. This responsibility invites her to explore ways to enrich the current KS3 curriculum, addressing national expectations and working towards whole-school targets. Her research project was carried out in 2016 with one of her year 8 English classes. It was her ambition to determine whether facilitating drama activities, prior to extended writing tasks, would have any impact upon her students’ writing skills. This was accomplished by comparing written work that took place prior to any drama activities, to written work that took place after drama. She then went on to evaluate samples of work in detail, analysing evidence of the progress, in terms of the school’s assessment criteria, national curriculum expectations and, more interestingly, personal progress which is often too intangible to measure.
The Elephant in the Room: ‘Race’, ethnicity, and identity in the classroom
Evening Seminar and CPD event
Wednesday 9th November, 2016
Nunn Hall at the IOE, 20 Bedford Way, London
On Wednesday 9 November Dr Christine Callender and Ambrose Hogan will lead a seminar exploring ethnicity, ‘race’ and identity; the session will be informed by psychodynamic ideas and will provide an opportunity to reflect on the impact of these questions for teaching and in classrooms. The seminar is open to readers of the MTeach Journal, to graduates of the MTeach, and to participants in the Schools Direct Salaried route to Qualified Teacher Status.
At this point of the year, lots of teachers will be breathing a massive sigh of relief having finished their classroom research projects; others will be chewing their nails thinking about the one they’re about to start.
So it’s timely to think about where all this work gets published.
Adam Unwin, co-Editor of this Journal, has recently published a book with John Yandell, Programme Leader for the Secondary English PGCE at the UCL Institute of Education, London University. Here, he provides an introduction to the ideas explored in Rethinking Education, one of the No-Nonsense Guides. Continue reading
Sophia Bobdiwala is the Head of Key Stage 3 English at a school in Hillingdon, London and carried out this research in her fifth year of teaching during the 2014-2015 academic year. Her enquiry explores the effects of paired reading on the participants involved. The Buddy Reading Scheme (BRS) is an approach to supporting and encouraging reading. It involves ‘pairing’ younger readers with older, more experienced students. The project investigates the effectiveness of this approach in relation to the pupils’ motivation and engagement. It offers an account of the BRS as experienced by different students, their responses and feelings about the project and the extent to which the scheme might be said to improve attitudes to reading. It is an exploratory investigation into the potential benefits and problems of a programme designed to support and develop pupils’ reading, their skills, but also their feelings about themselves as readers and their enthusiasm for reading.
Alykhan Dhanani was teaching secondary school students in the Ismaili Religious Centre in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania when he conducted his action research project in 2015. His study explored whether search engines as a tool can assist the teaching and learning process or not. His study explored how search engines are defined and seen by Tanzanian teachers and students, and uncovered links between the use of search engines and other educational theories such as constructivism, differentiation, scaffolding and active learning.