Jill Evans teaches at Nine Mile Ride primary school in Berkshire.
While HOW2s offer an unprecedented degree of precision in specifying exactly how to execute evidence-based teaching techniques, they are not bespoke for every single possible classroom situation.
As Dylan Wiliam reminds us: “Teachers have to be professionals, deciding for themselves whether the research is applicable in this particular context with my particular students in the context of what I’m teaching them”. And so, it is teachers’ detailed knowledge of their students and what they have to learn that will determine the success of any adopted technique, however impressive the effect size.
The HOW2 Process gives teachers a simple yet highly powerful framework with which to work through their planning. It provides a way of organising their thoughts into what amounts to a spirit of action research.
The contextualised nature of teaching…means there can be no guarantee that any specific teaching approach will have the anticipated effect.
Jill teaches Year 6 at Nine Acres primary school in Berkshire. Her case study is about the use of HOW2s Inductive Mapping for Writing in Literacy and across the curriculum.
Her story is told through the structure of the HOW2 Process.
Organisation and planning of writing was a major area of development for most of our Year 6 pupils. The children had very limited skills in planning writing, and many of them avoided planning completely as they saw it as too much effort (particularly reluctant writers).
I came across Model Mapping at an INSET session for whole school led by HOW2 co-founder Ian Harris. The session focus was literacy and it seemed such a good fit for my plans. The actual HOW2 is Mapping for Writing: Interactive Teaching.
My preference was to learn the steps through the presentation format, as I could focus on each step at a time.
Initially I introduced the technique using the HOW2 presentation on Model Mapping Course. I used the language of cupboards/shelves/trays to introduce the idea of hierarchy, as this was easy for the children to understand.
The subsequent writing was very high quality and well organised. I believe that the change of approach was a major factor in this.
In the first piece of independent writing, I decided that we had to give the children a full session to complete their Model Map. Making planning the focus of the lesson changed it from a ‘waste of time’ to an essential part of the writing process which was a real mind-set shift for quite a few of the children.
The subsequent writing was very high quality and well organised. I believe that the change of approach was a major factor in this. I have continued to use Model Mapping and the children are becoming more skilled in organising their ideas and understanding,
Many of the children had poor skills in organising their writing, and have now got a clear framework which they can use for non-fiction writing. They have really improved their understanding of the link between quality of planning and quality of writing.
A significant impact on teaching has been to increase the time given to planning in class. I now include a full session on planning before Big Writes, so that their talk homework is much more focused and effective.
I am still learning how to use Model Mapping – there are so many opportunities. I share ideas with my colleagues regularly, and find that we have adapted the approach to our own classes and our own understanding even when we are completing the same task which we have planned together.
Laura Johns works at Nine Acres primary school on the Isle of Wight.View next