This webinar, hosted by teacher and author Geoff Petty, looks at a method of structuring learning that is evidence based, works well in the classroom, is based on cognitive science and has been improved over many years. It is adaptable to most topics and subjects and makes a massive difference to learners.
Below you can read the round-up of the webinar, including the discussions which took place and some highlights from our live question and answer session.
Of all the things that teachers can change, their teaching method has the greatest effect on how students will learn. ‘Whole class interactive teaching’ can double the rate at which students learn, and any teacher can use this method to become an outstanding teacher.
The Receive-Apply-Reuse (RAR) approach, like all evidence-based methods, needs to be practised to become effective; Geoff recommends using this new approach five times to get used to it, and 25 times to reap its true power.
RAR is used to teach topics (it is not a lesson plan). A three-phase approach is used:
RECEIVE – this happens in three steps; the purpose of this stage is to orientate learners
APPLY – in this stage, students complete a ‘ladder’ of tasks
Each of the steps on the ladder has clear success criteria and builds on the knowledge from the step before. This can take more than one lesson, and differentiates learners, so teachers can focus on who needs help.
REUSE – to consolidate the learning, the new knowledge should be reused at least six times.
One ‘reuse’ method is to give the students a quiz (which they know about in advance). They then discuss their answers in pairs and self-assess against model answers. Another day, they re-take the questions they previously got wrong. This makes the quiz a formative learning and improving experience, not just a measurement of knowledge, or as Geoff says, “You can’t fatten a pig by weighing it”.
Another way to get students reusing information is to give them an assessment to mark. This can be genuine, from a previous year, or one the teacher has made up. Using assessment criteria, students mark the work, then in pairs discuss how they marked it and come up with suggestions for improvement. The teacher then show how they would mark the assessment and the class can discuss it.
Geoff discusses more methods and activities in his book, 'How to teach even better', 2018.
Throughout the RAR approach, there is continuous feedback for both teachers and learners, creating a high-quality learning cycle that builds on prior knowledge. A key point is that the teachers need to give students time to think.Questioning strategies
Unlike the most common teaching methods (for example, where a teacher asks questions of the class or nominates someone to answer), whole class interactive teaching uses group work, pair checking, peer explaining, nominated group representatives and assertive questioning, to ensure that students listen well, as they know they might be called on to answer.
In this webinar, Geoff talks about how assertive questioning revolutionised his physics class when he was teaching, and described in detail an example of assertive questioning on the topic of stock taking in a shop.
Assertive questioning is done in steps:
This strategy results in high participation and allows teachers to really see who is understanding the topic and who isn’t.
Peer explaining – where pairs of students explain parts of a lesson to each other – helps students to self-assess themselves against the key points of a topic.
A ‘graphic organiser’ task, which the teacher pre-warns students about, can lead to better understanding through mind-mapping, peer comparison, self-assessment and class discussion.
Why RAR is better than conventional methods of a teaching:
Is the pair checking the most effective method used by most teachers?
Geoff: "It is one of the most effective, but it depends on your class. With shy learners or adults lacking in self confidence, it might not work so well."
Do you seek students' help in planning lessons?
Geoff: "No, but asking them about their pre-requisite learning engages them. You might find you have to re-teach the pre-requisite topic if they don’t remember it."
How can the approach be adapted for 121 teaching?
Geoff: "The teacher becomes the other half of the pair. The process is to form understanding, expressing it, and correcting mistakes."
When you task groups with the same questions, do you find lots of repetition in the answers?
Geoff: "That depends on how deep the question is. You don’t’ have to ask every group, just ask for ‘different’ answers."
In a small group situation where not all are participating equally, what I could do to improve their equal engagement?
Geoff: "Using nominated representatives makes each student think they might get picked, so weaker students tend to ask enough questions to make sure they know everything."
Is this suitable for all level learners? I ask especially for lower-level learners.
Geoff: "Yes, the topic would need to be adapted ad short – you could fir three topics into one lesson. Research shows that RAR works better for weaker students."
Are there any adaptations for students who find listening challenging and are nervous about communication?
"Using breakout rooms online and smaller groups; any interaction makes a difference – see Geoff’s previous article for SET, 'Learning teams and study buddies’.
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