Matt Smith is a newly qualified teacher, working at Nine Mile Ride primary school.
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.
Matt Smith is a newly qualified teacher (NQT). He works at Nine Mile Ride primary school in Berkshire.
He used this HOW2 in his very first term of teaching. This case study looks at how Matt used his selected HOW2s with his Year 2 pupils in a topic lesson. His story is told through the structure of the HOW2 Process.
As an NQT and a new member of the school, I was unaware of the HOW2s. I decided to explore how I could develop both my teaching, and the children’s learning simultaneously.
Many areas interested me, but I decided to look at ways to make my plenaries more interesting and inform future planning through formative assessment. This was mainly due to the fact that I was becoming aware of a small minority of children, who seemingly coasted through whole class activities.
Exploring the HOW2s, I added some to my To Try set. I then narrowed it down to the HOW2 that I wanted to attempt first: Learning Capture.
I felt it would be great for science and topic lessons as it would enable me to received formative feedback straight away. Using this HOW2 technique allowed for further discussion centred around the learning. It ensured that no child went hiding in the discussions. The children were also able to plug the gaps in their learning through their conversations.
I learned and adapted the Learning Capture HOW2, by studying the infographic and working through the presentation.
I found both very useful. I prefer working with the infographics, as they allow you to see the whole picture and the overall teaching concept. However, I also find the presentations useful when gaining knowledge in the step-by-step guidance that HOW2 has to offer.
I adapted the HOW2 by adding a step. The first step suggests that the teacher should put the children into groups. Instead I wanted the children to work in pairs, to ensure that every child was discussing and sharing ideas.
Then in newly-formed tables, they magpied further ideas. This is Step 2 on the HOW2.
Finally in the plenary I chose children, using lollipop sticks, to tell me one thing they or their group had learned in the lesson. I then scribed this onto a model map to add to a working wall for our display.
I have used this HOW2 over half a dozen times now. To begin with, the transitions where the children were moving tables to form new partners and groupings took a longer than needed. Now, they’re very smooth.
I find that children want to sit next to their best friend. I believe that being with friends encourages them to participate and so learn more. However, on a couple of occasions, I have instructed the children to work with someone who they don’t normally play with at lunch times. This seems to work equally well.
Before using this HOW2, some of the children were reluctant to participate in whole-class discussions.
Before using this HOW2, some of the children were reluctant to participate in whole-class discussions. But as this HOW2 breaks the plenary discussion into stages which stimulates more detailed discussions, the children are more confident in sharing ideas. They are especially confident if they are encouraged to share one of their group members ideas, rather than sharing their own.
This has affected my teaching as I now break down teaching and learning into more manageable chunks which develops the learning step by step.
I felt comfortable using the HOW2 straight away. They are very easy to follow – clear and precise, and it is because of this that they are easy to explain and easy to adapt to suits the needs of your learners.
Nicky Dolton teaches Year 6 at Nine Mile Ride primary school.View next