Prep learning - my journey into implementing metacognition and self-regulated learning

Posted by Neil Williams on 8 July, 2019

What is prep learning?

Prep learning is a learning method that promotes the teaching of metacognition and actively supports independent learning, mindfulness and self-regulated assessment.

Pupils using the prep learning method access a teacher-made website which allows them to study exemplary work, both written and visual, to develop a deeper understanding of their qualification curriculum.


What are the benefits?

Prep learning supports work in lessons, makes homework more meaningful and allows work to be extended at the pupils own pace. Lessons are freed up to support pupils and every pupil has a recorded pre-lesson set of aims and objectives built around differentiated needs.  

What makes prep learning so useful is that it allows teachers to digitalise their curriculum with examples and promote their student successes. It has freed up time to focus on teaching skills to every independent learner and has allowed the curriculum to extend well beyond the classroom lessons.


My personal journey

So where did I begin?  How did I decide what my students needed?  

Together with a  group of pupils, my department decided what could be included on the platform to iron out the day-to-day frustrations for both the teacher and the learners. We discussed what should be included to enhance and free up time for both extra-curricular work and one-to-one lesson support. For example, students had said they spent a lot of time at home searching sites like Youtube for help with their work so it would be beneficial to have these videos in one place for everyone to be able to access with ease (see point 3 below).

We decided to include 3 specific key areas:

  1. Multi-approached exemplar material demonstrating full awarded marks across the assessment objectives set by the board.
  2. A platform for our academies alumni to share their personal journey and work since leaving our department.
  3. Internet exemplar video workshops from students and teachers (created using IRIS Connect video technology and displayed using student groups in the IRIS Connect secure platform) as well as videos sourced online.

As a department and with an enthusiastic pool of students support we set about building our platform. Staff went away to collect exemplar material which was later organised into a collection of videos which students would be able to access at any time and from any internet platform. We also collected all relevant schemes of work, handouts and policies and included them.

After using the prep learning approach I could clearly see it had significantly improved my teaching and how my pupils engaged in learning. I found that learners as young as year five relished the opportunity to work on independent projects and were significantly more engaged in the work they produced.  

Using digital work as an example enabled students to fully understand what promotes high end learning from initial ideas to final outcomes. It clarified standards and reassured students that their working process was following the right pathway.

We also had a very large and positive response from parents who were able to support their children at home and contribute to their project ideas by accessing our platform. Homework was much more relevant and students were more willing to engage in prep learning time with others in their household. Pupils took great pride in the ownership of prep learning projects which was evidenced in conversation by parents and carers.

Take a look at our platform, here.


What does prep learning lead to?

  • Higher standards/quality of work
  • Presentation of work significantly raised
  • Parent and pupils commenting on significant feelings of security and mindfulness
  • Raised motivation and independent processing
  • Clear evidence of self-regulated learning
  • Raised esteem for teachers
  • Increase of time for teacher/student interaction


Quick tips for implementation

  1. First get together with your team and pupils to discuss their needs and what you could do to support them more efficiently and with more clarity.
  2. Talk to people who can help you realise the platform you want – don’t waste time trying to learn skills you don’t have. There is always a pupil or two that would love to build the platform and your ICT team can be a great support.
  3. Use your own work history to advertise your interest and journey


What my students say

Prep learning is great for the mind. It gives us a choice instead of being set a task we find over challenging and makes us anxious, we can make our own challenges that make us improve at our speed and are achievable.” 

Alyssa Y9

I prefer prep learning rather than set work because you get to choose what you are going to do in the next lesson and you have some freedom over the work you are going to do.

Barnaby Y8

Prep learning is useful as it gives you a chance to be given a problem and to solve it by yourself. This has given me a boost in confidence, productivity and all around appreciation for learning. I enjoy being able to do this so I am a strong believer of prep learning.

Luke Y9.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you are interested in what has been written please take a look at the website my class and I created. The extended version is only available to our students so get in touch via email if you’d like to see it:

Topics: Classroom Strategies, TeacherTales

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