Mark Scurr 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.
Mark works at Nine Miles Ride primary school in Berkshire. He had only just joined the school, after seven years at another primary school. He had no previous acquintance with the HOW2s and this case study is focused on his responses to lesson observation feedback from his headteacher.
His case study is based on the HOW2 Why Is This Good? with Year 3 and 4 pupils in a literacy lesson.
The HOW2s were new to me as I had recently joined the school. After a lesson observation and discussion with the head teacher I highlighted ‘assessment’ as an area for me to improve.
I decided I wanted to lighten my marking load, allowing children to take more responsibility for their learning and make this explicit in their Literacy books.
I went to the HOW2 website and looked under assessment. I opened all the HOW2s in separate tabs. I read the overview for each to get a feel of what it was like and if I instantly took a liking to it.
When I had done this I then went back and read the HOW2s I had opened. I then read it in more detail and began to get a feel for it. And whether it suited my teaching style and the children in my class. Then I selected one that I felt was most appropriate to task, class and teacher. Why Is This Good? was identified.
I read through the infographic and got a clear understanding of how to use the HOW2. I felt this was clear and worked as a prompt for how to carry out the HOW2 effectively.
I looked at the presentation and eBook but preferred the infographic so used this over the other two. Although I would use the presentation if presenting this to others.
Our school uses the green highlighters for good work and pink for areas of improvement. Children looked at a partner’s piece of work and found an area achieving the success criteria. They made a note and highlighted the aspect of the work.
Pairs were then asked to swap books with another pair. Then to find another success criterion in the work that had been achieved, highlighting in green (2nd medal). Finally, to identify another criterion that hadn’t been achieved or could be improved — recorded and highlighted (a mission).
The children responded really well. Some hadn’t filled in all the medals and missions. So the second time we used the HOW2, children had to write their name next to the medals and missions they had identified.
We also built in time for the original author of the work to respond to the medals and missions. This gave them the opportunity to reflect and say whether they agreed or disagreed with what the marker(s) had identified. Disagreements about the mission was really beneficial as they identified where they had already achieved it.
Children feel a lot more in control of their learning. At times what they notice in others work they are then able to apply to their own work and future pieces of work. They enjoy being in roll as ‘teacher’.
This HOW2 has allowed me to see how aware children are of their learning and if they truly understand the learning objectives and success criteria. There is a bigger buzz about marking their work.
Children feel a lot more in control of their learning.
I felt comfortable from day one. This confidence was confirmed when the children responded to the HOW2 successfully at the first time of asking. We have now used this several times. Not always in this exact manner, sometimes individually, sometimes paired, sometimes a mix of both. This has been shared with colleagues via discussions at a staff meeting.
Matt Smith is a newly qualified teacher, working at Nine Mile Ride primary school.View next