Nicky Dolton teaches Year 6 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.
Nicky Dolton teaches Year 6 at Nine Mile Ride primary school in Berkshire. She used the HOW2 Comments to Homework in for writing across the curriculum.
Her story is told through the structure of the HOW2 Process.
Children peer mark regularly but struggle to critically appraise others’ work. I wanted to improve their ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in a piece of writing and explain their response clearly in writing.
I looked at the HOW2 Assessment for Learning section to find ideas on giving feedback. Comments for Homework seemed to fit the bill, with a change of emphasis from homework to peer reviewing of writing.
I used the infographic predominantly.
As the aim was to improve the children’s own feedback, some example texts and appropriate feedback were prepared which were relevant to the current learning needs in the classroom.
These were handed out and the children discussed with their talk partner what they thought of each piece of writing before looking at the pre-written feedback and matching to the texts.
In their next piece of writing children peer reviewed their partner’s work. Their comments were more specific and gave greater detail in the feedback. For example, instead of vague comments like ‘I liked the language you used’ they commented more specifically using phrases such as ‘your sentence openers are varied’.
The children are becoming more effective at evaluating writing.
The children are becoming more effective at evaluating writing, and are able to identify specifically what they feel is good.
This has been linked to their personal targets and is giving the children a greater understanding of what the statements on writing assessment sheets look like in practice.
I have been pleased with the impact so far and can see this becoming more effective over time.
We discussed the HOW2 as a year group pair (of teachers), and adapted it to meet the needs of our learners. It is not a complete change in approach, but fine-tunes what we were already doing to make it more effective. Longer term, the aim is to help the children to reflect more critically on their own writing before it is marked! The children will develop a deeper understanding of what we are looking for in their writing.