Exploring what matters

Welcome to the IRIS Connect blog space where you can join conversations and discover free resources, tips and summaries. We hope you find something useful for your professional development and learning.

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guide to improving teacher happiness and wellbeing

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Closing the gap: How to improve your assessment & feedback skills

Posted by Alexandra Spalding on 4 December, 2020

Formative assessment, along with effective feedback, is one of the most impactful parts of teaching and when done well, it can foster significant improvement. 

What is formative assessment?

Formative assessment is any learning activity which reveals information to teachers and learners which can be used to improve learning. This is distinct from summative assessment, the intent of which is to provide terminal grading. Formative assessment allows teachers to understand where a learner is currently 'at', so that the teacher can a) adapt future instruction to better meet learning needs b) consider differentiating their support, and c) enable effective feedback to and between learners.

 

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Classroom talk: How to improve dialogue & oracy

Posted by Alexandra Spalding on 19 November, 2020

It's vital that learners have the dialogue and oracy skills required to discuss their learning with their peers and respond to questioning and assessment. This gives teachers an opportunity to discover where best to focus on that learner's development.

So, what exactly do you mean by dialogue?

In this sense, dialogue is more than ‘just talk’. It involves teachers and learners commenting and cumulatively building on each other’s ideas, posing questions and constructing interpretations together (Alexander, 2008).

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Questioning in the classroom: How to improve your skills

Posted by Rico Patzer on 5 October, 2020

Teachers use hundreds of questions every day so it's important to use them with purpose and know which questioning techniques have the biggest effect in which situation. From a pedagogical point of view questions serve two crucial roles:

  1. To check for understanding i.e. to identify misconceptions and provide corrective feedback.
  2. To invite dialogue, that is, to help students develop a better understanding of themselves and their progress, share their deeper thinking and to make deeper connections within the content.

Some teachers consider these two purposes to be at odds with one another; they are not. The trick is to strike the right balance between the two and to use them strategically and at the right time within the learning process. The outcome of a good question, whatever its purpose, is that it encourages thinking.

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3 steps to great instructions: How to avoid cognitive overload

Posted by Alexandra Spalding on 30 September, 2020

First things first, what is cognitive load theory? Cognitive load theory describes how the human mind processes new information. The more we have to process at once, the harder it becomes to complete a task effectively. When dealing with new information, the brain can process anywhere from three to seven elements at once. This becomes even harder if those elements are interactive.

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TeacherTales: How we saved lesson time delivering exam feedback via video

Posted by Guest blogger - Chris Webb on 30 January, 2020

Giving quality feedback to students is time consuming but, as the EEF points out, we know it’s effective in improving the quality of learning. Here at The Blue Coat School we’re always trying to improve how we feedback to students and in the last 18 months we’ve been sharing short videos of us talking through exam questions that students can watch in their own time. 

 

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TeacherTales: How I support SEND pupils with these 10 tips

Posted by Guest blogger Dr Maria Jagiello on 16 January, 2020

I believe in inclusion and I often wonder if we’re providing the best possible academic progress for our SEND learners within mainstream schools. Do we have enough time to spend with them? How can we improve their progress regardless of sets, or mixed ability classes? How can we teach them to the best of their abilities within overcrowded classes, struggling budgets and other daily difficulties?

I consider myself lucky - I am a SEND specialist teacher who has worked at a special school and is now working in mainstream. It’s given me a different perspective and an opportunity to compare and apply various approaches, techniques and views into my teaching practice. The majority of strategies I’ve learnt from specialising can be easily adapted and adjusted to meet our pupils’ needs in mainstream schools. Here are my 10 tips to support your SEND pupils better.

 

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