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Teaching the Curriculum with Creativity

How do you deliver the curriculum without killing a student’s natural love of learning? Roamer and AfL will help you do this:  Here we explain AfL’s basics using videos from leading experts on the subject. Other people use variations on AfL and while they’re interesting to look at the selection we’ve made here reflects the approach we’ve built into Roamer.

Is AfL Good or Bad?

Over the last few years we’ve become aware of a few teachers reacting badly to the mention of AfL.  We see AfL as a set of rules-of-thumb which reflect good teaching practice.  Some teachers and administrators have taken these rules too strictly and insist teachers rigidly follow them.

For example some school managers demand you make children write learning intentions in their books at the start of a lesson.  We know Ofsted inspectors who’ve marked teachers down for not doing this.  Such incidents have affected the opinion of some teachers towards AfL.  These examples show how good research loses itself on its way to the classroom.

AfL aims to help you: if it doesn’t it’s valueless.  It’s a guide, which if understood and used well can help you create better lessons and as you’ll see AfL and Roamer make good partners.  AfL aims to help you organise a lesson, but it’s flexible and adjustable to suit your student’s needs.

The Origins of AfL

“Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment.”  They argued normal assessment aimed to find out how well a student, a class, a school – even a whole education system did on a test.  Ultimately, the test told politicians and the public how well or how badly schools were doing.

You view a Black Box for what you put into it and what you get out of it.  What’s inside it doesn’t concern you and is often unknown.  The way governments collect and publish data on schools takes little to no-account of what goes on inside them.  It’s all testing for learning.

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Black and Wiliam wanted to look at what went on inside the classroom.  They stated, “Learning is driven by what teachers and pupils do in the classroom.”  To improve education you needed look inside the “Black Box”.  What they found was formative, formative and formative again.   The research identified a number of “things” teachers did to manage the demands and complexities of thirty on so children in the classroom.  We call these techniques “Assessment for Learning” or AfL

Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam.

AfL Overview

You may find several AfL ideas familiar.  This shouldn’t surprise you because AfL isn’t something new: it’s a collection of good teaching practice used for years.  AfL creates the ideal learning child-centred and constructionist learning environment mixed with concerns about knowledge, curriculum and testing.

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People argue about child-centred learning, knowledge focussed – and so on.  The ideal environment is a blend of all of these. Ref: Bransford, J. D. Brown, A. L. and Cocking, R. R. Editors (2000), How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School. (p134) National Research Council.

AfL consists of several matters you might want to consider when planning lessons.

  1. Learning Intentions – How are you going engage students in the lesson so they understand what they’re learning?
  2. Success Criteria – How will learners know when they’ve been successful?
  3. Feedback – How will you work with students during lessons to ensure they’re on track and how will you respond to their work post-lesson?
  4. Peer and Self-Assessment – What chances can you create in the lesson for students to engage with their classmates?

Not surprisingly good teachers have invented good ways to work with students.  We share these in detailed topics.

Paul Black, Dylan Wiliam and Others Talk AboutAfL

A selection of videos from the key researchers in field of AfL.

Dylan Wiliam unpacks formative assessment, discussing the five strategies that make up a smart formative assessment strategy: setting learning intentions, questioning, feedback, activating self, and activating peers.

Professor Paul Black and Dr Christine Harrison from Kings College, London talk about the practicalities of Assessment for Learning.  The video includes examples of teachers implementing the ideas in classrooms.

Dylan Wiliam stresses the importance of formative assessment as a key process for increasing teacher quality whilst having the biggest impact on student outcomes. He looks at some of the popular initiatives that aim to increase student achievement, such as learning styles, and presents research that shows formative assessment practices have a much greater impact on educational achievement than most other reforms.

Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam.

Presentation by Professor Dylan Wiliam to Utdanningsdirektaratet, Norway In this presentation Professor Wiliam provides a critical review of past policies aimed at raising standards. He points out the quality of teacher’s is the key. He goes on to discuss how Assessment for Learning methods can improve practice.