Laura Johns works at Nine Acres primary school on the Isle of Wight.
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.
This short article looks at this process in the specic context of a primary school and in a literacy lesson.
The contextualised nature of teaching…means there can be no guarantee that any specific teaching approach will have the anticipated effect.
Laura teaches a mixed year 3⁄4 (7, 8 and 9 year olds) although the school does set for maths and literacy.
Nine Acres is Laura’s first school and she has been teaching for just three years. She got a first class degree in graphic design and illustration, then did a PGCE afterwards, recognising her passion for teaching.
It’s no surprise then that Laura brings visuals into as many aspects of her teaching as she can, and how she immdiately tuned into the HOW2s. Having a dad who was a headteacher of a middle school was also a decisive factor.
This was a target I chose for myself. My literacy target was for my pupils to be able to identify the necessary attributes of a successful letter.
I also wanted my pupils to develop their abilities to work within a group, process and agree their findings and, then, to explain them to others. Similarly, I wanted them to be able to glean from other groups additional areas of successful letter writing they had not covered.
When reading the Learning Statements of the Learning Market HOW2, I thought they were a good match for my lesson targets. I also considered that as my pupils were familiar with other Cooperative Learning HOW2s, this more complex arrangement would be easily learned.
The chunking up of tasks suited the content of my lesson and ensured there would be opportunities for the pupils to learn from each other.
I was already familiar with learning new HOW2s and so quickly found my way around the three visual formats.
Because I had come to realise that the best results happened when the HOW2s were tweaked, I put my mind to considering how I could do this with the Learning Market HOW2. I captured my thoughts in the Notes section.
I had to prepare materials for the lesson: the evacuée’s letter, the VCOP poster and the worksheet. I was also keen to drop the Quiz at the end and substitute this accountability stage with extension work on sentences and a plenary Q&A session.
The lesson went as planned. I showed the HOW2 to my class so they both knew what was going to happen and also could to refer to it during the activities. The nature of the HOW2 meant that I was able to move among the groups and learn how the pupils were discussing their learning which proved insightful.
When I went through the work my pupils had achieved — reinforced by the sentence extension work and the plenary Q&A session — I judged that the intended impact had taken place. At the same time, I realised that a fuller evaluation of the learning would need to take place the following week or so.
Learning Market is now a regular technique in my teacher tool box.
Learning Market is now a regular technique in my teacher tool box. It works equally well with different subjects and yet can easily be tweaked as needed.
Mark Scurr teaches at Nine Mile Ride primary school in Berkshire.View next