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flow 3

Big ideas that influence flow across the curriculum [Flow #3]

How do we turn our classrooms into flow enabling learning cultures? The classroom culture depicted in our last blog showed a selection of features that begin to shape the emotional climate of your classroom to encourage flow.  This flow classroom culture seems to be underpinned by three big ideas which we  explore below. 1. Making…

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flow 2

A classroom culture for absorption [Flow #2]

In our first flow blog we looked at the meaning of flow and the research behind it, and suggested you look out for those behaviours that might help pupils achieve flow. This week we concentrate on flow-friendly cultures. Helping students to experience a state of flow in learning involves creating a culture in your classrooms…

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flow 1

How do we bring the magic back into learning? [Flow #1]

Friends in schools are telling us that many children returning after lockdown, while delighted to be back, are finding it harder to settle down, to pay attention, to keep going or to simply ‘be there’. So we thought we might devote a few blogs to the learning-friendly habit of Absorption — to explore what it…

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Is catching up catching on? #3

Coming back to school after the most difficult lockdown yet, many children – however glad they will be at seeing their friends again – will have become disconnected from their former patterns of learning. Even the keenest are likely to have lost their edge of concentration; others, perhaps many, will be feeling adrift and maybe…

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Is catching up catching on? #2

Picking up on the idea of students’ reactions to lockdown and how some have found them much more difficult than others…. I talked recently with an ex-colleague who works in a large, successful comprehensive school in the Midlands, and mused that students might fall into 6 broad ‘sustaining learning’ categories. During the lockdowns, some students:…

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I'm just catching up

Is catching up catching on? #1

In June last year, the Welsh Government published some wise guidance about returning to school after the first lockdown. The emphasis was on the need to focus on students’ health and well-being and getting them ready for learning, and cautions against any attempt at ‘catch up’: “Focus should be on learners becoming ‘learning fit’ rather…

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Major influences on Building Learning Power

Other educational research Several other strands of research have strongly influenced the development of Building Learning Power. Here we note just a few of them. Professor Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi has significantly advanced our understanding of creativity and creative learning. His concept of flow, a state of focused attention in which one is wholly engaged in learning and…

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Back at school

  … it doesn’t matter how experienced we are, we all entered uncharted waters as we welcomed our students back to school. As one Head Teacher has put it:   So, where do we start when our students are in so many different places mentally? What might help teachers and students to navigate and inform…

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Classrooms where learners ask insightful questions.

What do we mean by Questioning ? Questioning means both the ability to ask good questions and the disposition to do so (which is sometimes called curiosity). Good learners like questions, and are not afraid of the ‘don’t know’ state of mind out of which questions emerge. Good learners like to wonder about things. For…

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Classrooms where learners do more of the thinking

What do we mean by Reasoning? Reasoning—the kind of logical, analytical, explicit disciplined thinking that schools often focus on. There is a lot of interest at the moment in ways of teaching thinking, and such ‘Show your working’ kinds of thinking are a very important part of the good learner’s toolkit, although not the be-all…

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What is good planning?

What do we mean by Planning ? Planning is the ability to take a strategic overview of your learning, and make sensible decisions. It means: taking stock of the problem and the parameters within which you must work assessing the available resources, both inner and outer, and deciding which you think are going to be…

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What does being a good collaborator involve?

What does being a good collaborator involve? If you have well formed collaborating habit you will be ready, willing, and able to: Work effectively with others towards common goals; Seek to understand what others are saying; Share, challenge, support and build on ideas; Adopt different roles and responsibilities in pursuit of team goals; Act responsibly with…

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What is good imagining?

If you have a well formed Imagining habit you will be ready, willing, and able to: Use the mind as a theatre in which to play out ideas and possible actions experimentally; Use a rich variety of visual, aural and sensory experiences to trigger creative and lateral thinking; Explore possibilities speculatively, saying ‘What might …’,…

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What does being a good Link Maker involve?

A well formed Making Links habit involves being ready, willing, and able to: Connect new ideas to what you know and feel already; Match and categorise ideas, techniques and concepts to ones that are already understood; Link ideas across different academic disciplines and in varying contexts; Looking for similarities, differences, the unusual and absurd; Seek…

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Putting Learning Power into Secondary Schools: an integrated approach

A couple of weeks ago we considered using a freestanding Learning how to Learn course as a way of introducing Learning Power to students. This week we contrast that with a more integrated approach to putting Learning Power into secondary schools. Let’s say the school has already: explored and developed its vision for learning. leaders…

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Collaboration: sharing and reflecting

Making meaning through reflection.  A defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience. —Jack Mezirow There’s a tendency to go through life viewing our experiences as just that – experiences –  rather than seeing them as opportunities for learning. But in building powerful learners we want students…

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Collaboration: learning the language

‘There are ways of saying it and there are ways of saying it.’ Two of the most important influences on developing your students’ learning powers are how you talk – the messages you convey in the words and tone you use, and how you behave. Some ways of talking strengthen students’ positive attitudes towards learning;…

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Collaboration: Getting to know you

Make “working together” work better.  Pair work, group work or teamwork are frequent features of classroom practice across all age ranges. The essential purpose of collaborative learning is the co-construction of learning; to make meaning together. Many of you will have recognised the importance of collaboration through the recent BBC 2 series The Family Brain…

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Collaboration: culture and beliefs

Make “working together” work better.  Pair work, group work or teamwork are all frequent features of classroom practice across every age range. The role of collaborative learning is the co-construction of learning; to make meaning together. For this to be successful students will need to ‘live’ being collaborative throughout their time in school; to be…

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If-Then Plans: making a new habit stick

Picking up on last week’s theme of learning language this week we take look at goals, a well used classroom word, and how we could make them more achievable. One of the problems with goals is that they’re often couched in terms that are too big. Research tells us that our brain ignores goals if…

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Language to shape learning: Perseverance, aka ‘Grit’

Schools socialise their students into ways of thinking about learning: how to go about it, which kinds of learning are well thought of, how to think of themselves as learners, and what aspects are worth paying attention to. In all kinds of subtle (and not so subtle) ways, answers to these questions seep into your…

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Managing distractions: nudging the habit

As you interact with your students day in and day out  you’ll be talking about the ‘what’ of their learning – the content. With content, whether it’s English or Maths or History you know what you are looking for, you’re aware of the misunderstandings students may have, you’re aware of common sticking points and so…

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Tracking learning behaviours lesson by lesson

The Big Picture Teachers at Squirrel Hayes First School in Biddulph, Staffordshire monitor every child’s use of learning behaviours in every single lesson. But why are they doing this? What are the benefits? Is it worth it? Headteacher Erica Pickford explains that this data gives teachers and the school the ability to track and identify…

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Come inside a learning powered maths lesson

Last week we took a peek at junior children from St Herbert’s C of E primary school in Keswick talking confidently about their learning power. This week we take a closer look at what’s going on in a learning powered maths lesson in Year 6. Take a look at how the story of the lesson…

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