Unit 4 - Assessment for learning and lesson pacing

Session 4.5 - Review of AfL and lesson pacing

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Learning intentions and objectives.
In this session you will learn about:

  • self assessment and review as a way of consolidating learning about AfL
  • ways to ensure lessons are paced appropriately and adapted to learners' needs

Success criteria.
To meet the learning intentions you will:

  • complete a review document about what has been learnt and tried out for AfL
  • watch two videos and analyse the pace of the lesson shown

ICT components.
In this session you will continue consolidating the ICT skills you have learnt so far, and apply them in the classroom. You will be able to apply AfL techniques in conjunction with ICT classroom use as well.

1 Review of follow-up activities from last session

Educator note

If you are running a professional learning programme which follows these sessions in sequence, then you should do the review of follow-up activities relating to the previous session (Peer and self-assessment). The 'review of follow-up activities' for that session is available here, and also shown below in the session text. However, if you are following selected sessions in a different order, then you should use the reflection appropriate to the previous session you did.

The review of the follow-up activities for this session (to be done at the start of the next session) is available here.

Activity icon.png Whole group dialogue (10 min) on peer and self-assessment use. As a group, discuss the following:

  • What peer or self-assessment strategy did you try out this week and what topic was it on?
  • Do you think that peer and self-assessment may only work for teaching certain topics? Why?
  • Did you find that it has worked well for you and for your students? Did some students respond better to peer or self-assessment than others? Why?
  • How will you prepare yourself further to introduce peer and self-assessment in future lessons?
Educator note

Peer and self-assessment is something that students need to get used to and practice. You may find that there is some resistance to using such techniques, for instance because teachers found that students were writing cheeky comments, that were not helpful to their peers. However, think back to introducing whole class dialogue and group work. It also took children time, before such ways of working became effective. It is just like this with peer and self-assessment. So do encourage the teachers to persevere, and to share solutions to challenges encountered.

2 Review of AfL

Activity icon.png Individual activity (5 min): Individual work. You have learnt quite a lot about how assessment can support students’ learning (AfL) and some activities that you can carry out in lessons.

If you have been updating your assessment inventory regularly you should have at least five rows of entries. These serve to remind you of:

  • what you have understood of an aspect of AfL each week and
  • how you have tried to carry out AfL measures in your lessons

Self-assess your completed inventory now using this criteria and if there are any gaps you can fill them in with the help of your peers.

Educator note

Give participants a few minutes to fill in any gaps as this will help with the next part of the activity.

At the end of the review activities ask participants to comment on how useful they found their inventory in helping them to get a clear picture of what they have learnt about AfL.

  • Did they complete it in enough depth?
  • Did they keep it up to date as new techniques were learned?
  • Did they practise each of the new techniques as they were introduced?
  • What are the benefits of keeping track of your learning in this way?

Referring to your inventory, complete the following questionnaire to review how much you have learnt and tried to practise AfL in your classrooms. Circle the choice that best represents how you feel about each topic in this unit. There are no right or wrong answers!

4.1 Assessment for Learning (AfL)
How much do I know about the difference between AfL and what I used to think of ‘assessment’ as? very much somewhat not much
How interested am I to learn more about AfL? very much somewhat not very
4.2 Learning objectives and success criteria
How much do I know about learning objectives and success criteria? very much somewhat not much
How skilled am I at using learning objectives and success criteria? very much somewhat not very
How often do I make use of learning objectives and success criteria routinely sometimes not often
How interested am I to learn and improve on using learning objectives and success criteria? very much somewhat not very
4.3 Formative feedback
How much do I know of formative feedback? very much somewhat not much
How skilled am I at giving formative feedback? very much somewhat not very
How often do I give formative feedback? routinely sometimes not often
How interested am I to learn and improve on giving formative feedback very much somewhat not very
4.4 Peer and self-assessment
How much do I know of peer and self-assessment? very much somewhat not much
How skilled am I at making use of peer and self-assessment in the class? very much somewhat not very
How often do I make use of peer and self-assessment in the class? routinely sometimes not often
How interested am I to find out more and improve on making use of peer and self-assessment? very much somewhat not very

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/4.5_Review_of_AfL_and_lesson_pacing/questionnaire .

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (10 min) in pairs: Sharing your responses to the review activity. Share your responses with another partner teacher and reflect on whether there are any similarities or differences in the entries. Each pair of teachers will report to the whole group on the similarities and differences of your responses. Try to explain to the whole group why there could be these similarities or differences.

Activity icon.png Whole class dialogue (10 min): Reviewing the responses. As a group, review the responses of each pair of teachers and identify if there are any conclusions that are common to the other pairs of teachers. Identify in particular if there are any particular topics of assessment that will require more follow-up. What are some specific ways that you may require more support and assistance? Can your peers help you?

Educator note

The facilitator may like to record on the blackboard or a large sheet of paper what each pair of teachers have mentioned to remind the group what has been said.

If you are participating in our facilitators programme, please collect the data, and submit it for review.

3 Lesson pacing: Your experience

Activity icon.png Individual activity (10 min) Individual work.

  1. Think of a lesson which took more time than you had planned or less time than you had planned. On your mini-blackboard or sheet of paper write reasons for why you think this happened?
  2. Also consider what are some ways to ensure that you can pace lessons effectively such that you have sufficient time and learner engagement is maintained – for example, students get bored if they are not gainfully occupied and have to wait a long time for assistance or for peers to complete a task. Have you ever noticed this happening?

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (10 min) in pairs followed by whole group discussion. Compare your responses with another partner teacher and report to the group on your responses. Write down three strategies that you would like to try in your classroom and keep this safely with your other OER4schools materials. Choose one or two of these to commit to trying out this week to maintain the pace of your lesson and ensure that all students are actively engaged throughout.

Educator note

The facilitator may like to record what lesson pacing strategies each pair of teachers has suggested, to remind the group what has been said. You could do this on the blackboard, a large sheet of paper, or using a computer and projector. These could be some possible responses for over-running of a lesson:

  • too much information in one lesson,
  • unrealistic estimation of what children know/do not know,
  • inappropriate concept about timing,
  • too much repetition of the same concept, and
  • not keeping an eye on the time left and re-adjusting the lesson accordingly

As part of the group work, brainstorm how this can be avoided. Here are some examples for improving lesson pacing:

  • hang a wall clock that both you and students can see [or use timer on a netbook],
  • avoid repetition when it is not required (e.g. do not tell each group individually, but address the whole class with common instructions)
  • assign timings to different parts of the lesson plan, revise after teaching so it is more accurate next time, keep trialling this until your accuracy improves,
  • do not wait for the slowest learner to finish, and make sure that the pace of the slowest learner does not determine pace for everybody: every child should be active (consider what other tasks high capability learners can do like design problems for peers, and how they can progress).
  • have activities, or materials such as storybooks, on which students can work on their own after finishing their work,
  • use fast workers as classroom assistants (they could even develop resources for you such as making traffic lights, creating maths problems that other children could solve, making charts that you would like to display for the lesson next week etc).

4 South African videos on lesson pacing

In this session, we are watching video that was produced in a school near Cape Town in South Africa. The school is located in a township, and the class is a Grade 7 class, with about 40 students. The teacher (Noxolo) planned a mathematics activity day on making three-dimensional shapes out of paper, so that the learners could get hands-on experience of building and understanding those shapes. We will return to this lesson in the unit on enquiry and project-based learning.

Activity icon.png Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min): South African videos on lesson pacing. Watch the two clips below, showing

  1. How the teacher, Noxolo, tries to find out what students know about polygons prior to her teaching the topic (see first video) and
  2. Noxolo responding to the students after she observes them working in groups on polyhedra (see second video).

Before you watch the clips, read the questions below (in your own time), and consider them as you are watching the clips:

  • Why do you think Noxolo has made the effort to ask so many questions to the whole class and individual students?
  • Do you think the majority of the students know what the terms polygon and polyhedron mean?
  • Imagine if Noxolo had directly told the class at the beginning of the lesson the definition of a polygon and polyhedron, how different would the learning for the students be? Would she know whether her students are learning?
  • Do you think that Noxolo has paced her lesson effectively? (Was she in a hurry to teach the topic or did she take too much time to repeat certain ideas?)
  • Do you think that effective lesson pacing will always result in avoiding over-running or under-running of a lesson? Why?

Bear these questions in mind as you watch the video:


Checking prior knowledge

Checking learners' prior knowledge. In this clip Noxolo checks the learners' prior knowledge, and probes the students' answers (rather than just telling them right or wrong). Through questioning, she clarifies the learners' understanding.

Video/Noxolo 3Dshapes 1.1 AfL1 prior knowledge.m4v, http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Noxolo_3Dshapes_1.1_AfL1_prior_knowledge.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/3D shapes folder.About this video. Duration: 2:11 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options)(Series: 3D shapes, episode 01)


Assessing understandings

Assessing students' understanding and acting on those observations. Noxolo has observed that the students are struggling with naming shapes. She interrupts the group work to address the issue.

Video/Noxolo 3D shapes 1.3 AfL4 acting on obs.m4v, http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Noxolo_3D_shapes_1.3_AfL4_acting_on_obs.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/3D shapes folder.About this video. Duration: 1:10 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options)(Series: 3D shapes, episode 16)

After watching the videos, share some of your responses as a group.

Educator note

As the clips are short, and not shown in the context of the lesson, you may have to provide some guidance for the participants to draw out the key points. For instance,

  • The teacher says “I can see that you are struggling with naming shapes.” indicating that she has made an observation about how her class is learning, that she is now acting on through whole class dialogue.
  • The teacher probes the answers further (“You say yes, why do you say yes?”).
  • The teacher uses questioning to assess prior knowledge.
  • The teacher is clarifying common misconceptions.

It may not be possible for the teacher participants to comment on the pacing of Noxolo’s lessons without seeing the entire footage of the lesson. The facilitator can highlight to the participants that Noxolo used a combination of teaching strategies in this lesson to ensure that the lesson pacing is according to the learning pace of the majority of the students – finding out what the majority of students understand through a series of inquiry questions, group work and direct teaching.

Highlight to the teachers that the pacing of the lesson needs to consider how much students are learning from their teaching. The teacher needs to balance delicately what he/she wants to teach (that is according to a lesson plan or what is in his/her mind) with an understanding of how much the students are learning there and then. It may be the case that MORE time is required than they expect, particularly if the majority of students do not seem to be following their lessons.

5 Reflection on lesson pacing and making connections

Activity icon.png Whole class dialogue (10 min): Reflection on lesson pacing and making connections.

Adapting to learners’ needs

You have learnt about what good pacing is about, which is to help as many of your students as possible to understand and keep up with your teaching in the classroom. No matter how good your initial lesson plan is, it is highly likely you will have to adjust your pacing or even totally change your teaching strategy, especially if you have been listening to students’ responses and checking what students have learnt. For example, if Noxolo knows that most students know the meaning of the terms polygon and polyhedron, she will have to teach her lesson in a different way. There could be different ways to know whether to adjust the pacing during a lesson.

Now discuss these two questions below on making connections between what you have learnt about differentiation through group work and AfL, and lesson pacing:

Question 1: What did you learn about differentiation in the group work unit that might help with lesson pacing?

Educator note

When we talk about differentiation, we mean differentiation by task, not by learners. Stress the point that learners may work at different paces in different subjects or even different lessons in the same subject, depending on, for example, how confident they are with the material. “Slow learners” are not always slow learners and fast learners likewise, so these labels are not necessarily helpful.

Question 2: What did you learn about AfL measures that might help with lesson pacing?

Educator note

One thing relevant here is: assess what children know at the beginning, assess whether they’ve understood after an activity or task before deciding to explore the topic in more depth or not – and again, re-adjust the lesson according to what students know. It is not a good idea to rigidly “stick to the script”.

Allow time for participants to raise other points too.

Write down your main take-away messages about lesson pacing, group work and AfL in your assessment inventory.

6 ICT practice: Different-tasks group work with ICT and activity planning

Activity icon.png Different-tasks group work (20 min) on becoming an expert. Have you become an expert at using a particular application? Have you developed a nice idea that you can show to your fellow participants? Now is the time to share! Share what you have developed with others. Given that you have worked in pairs, split up. First, one person of the pair remains with your computer (and your idea), and the other person is free to go around. For the first ten minutes, this person goes around, looking at what other groups have done. After 10 minutes, you swap roles.

7 Connecting with overarching goals of the programme

Activity icon.png Open space (10 min). It's now time for the "open space", that gives you an opportunity to discuss issues that have arisen, and to relate those to the broader context of the programme. Do not just gloss over this section, but make time to raise issues, and probe the progress that you are making. You could use this space to:

  • Remind yourselves of the of the Most Significant Change Technique, and e.g. collect more of your stories.
  • Discuss your assessment portfolios: Is there anything that you are unsure about? Is it going well? What could be done better?
  • Check on the work with the classroom assistants: Is this going well? Are there any tensions? Any observations or tips you can share?
  • Reviewing individual ICT practise (such as typing practise).
  • If you are preparing a presentation for other teachers, you could work on the presentation (about what you have been learning, stories emerging from MSC).
  • Remind those who are doing audio diaries, to upload them.
  • You could discuss any other issues that have arisen.

You will find notes and summaries of various techniques and concepts on our reference page, and you might want to refer to those for clarification during this activity if needed.

8 Focus on assessment portfolios

Submission of an assessment portfolio containing at least one piece of material (with notes) from each unit is a key part of completing the OER4Schools programme.

Educator note

You may want to adapt this section to your particular needs.

As we have done before with other units, you could review all sessions in the current unit, and discuss what participants have found most useful.

You could also consider asking the participants to do an assessment of their progress so far, by adding to their portfolio, as detailed below.

Activity icon.png Individual activity (10 min): Start work on assessment portfolios and continue in your own time. Reflect on your progress so far by adding to your assessment portfolio. This portfolio should include your “best” pieces of work (e.g. completed activity template or lesson template, concept map, etc) from what you’ve done so far this year. These should be quality items that illustrate what you have learnt, and what you feel you have implemented successfully.

You may already have material in your workshop materials that you can dig out or draw on. It can be one technique (eg. traffic lights or no hands up) or a whole lesson.

As part of this assessment portfolio, reflect on each item. You could do an audio reflection for this, if you have access to an audio recorder. At the start of each reflection, state clearly which item you are talking about (eg. “my class discussion about how diseases are transmitted”, or my “concept map on parts of a plant”), and then discuss the following questions:

  • Why have you chosen the item?
  • What does it illustrate? For example, what new technique did you decide to trial and how did you apply it in your lesson? How well did it work in practice?
  • What did you learn from that about what works or doesn’t work to support interactive teaching and learning?

We encourage you to include your progress on developing new computer skills, but please do this through showcasing your new knowledge about interactive teaching techniques rather than just including computer skills by themselves – so your chosen activities or examples of learning about interactive teaching may or may not involve computer use.

9 Follow-up activities

Activity icon.png Agreeing follow-up activities (5 min).

  • Do a final update of your assessment inventory on any AfL measures you have tried out this week.
  • As above, commit to one or two techniques that you will try out this week to maintain the pace of your lesson and ensure that all students are actively engaged throughout.
  • Try out the sequencing activity in class. (Try to find your own images for a forthcoming lesson topic. You can find pictures that are open resources, i.e. Creative Commons licensed, at http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/, see here Finding CC licensed images on Flickr to get some help.) Bear in mind AfL measures, and try them out during the lesson.
  • Prepare/complete your assessment portfolio.

Educator note

In the next session, these follow-up activities will be reviewed. If you are using this session on its own, you can have a look at the review of follow-up activities here.