fbpx

My menu

Author Archive | Steve Watson

60062_3027-1_M034

Putting Learning Power into Secondary Schools; some cautionary tales

Few secondary schools benefit from an intake of students who are well-versed in their Learning Powers i.e. those learning dispositions that determine their propensity for change and will influence and underpin their performance throughout life. Sadly, despite a rapid uptake of learning power ideas in primary schools ten and more years ago, few have persevered…

Continue Reading
Flag-Pins-Scotland-Wales

In praise of the futures-driven curriculums in Scotland and Wales

I have spent much of the past few weeks considering the issues that have faced Scottish schools for over a decade as a result of the Donaldson Report. This report spawned their Curriculum for Excellence which is built around four key purposes, sometimes referred to as key capacities. These purposes look to the longer term…

Continue Reading
Image credit: Annette Wamser from Elk Grove, USA (DSC_1747E2rs) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Learning to be Robots?

Two things caught my eye this week – did you see them too? The first was an ad in the TES from a school in London that is seeking a Detention Director. Do you, the ad begins, like order and discipline? Believe in children being obedient every time? When I last looked online, TES was…

Continue Reading
from-scratch

Building Learning Power from scratch

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days last week at a new free school in London that accepted its first intake (120 year 7 students) last September. Having previously spent two days working with the newly appointed staff in June, I was keen to see how their vision was taking shape. The…

Continue Reading
walking

Walking the walk

When I ask senior leaders about learning walks, most say that they do them regularly. When pressed about what they actually do during such a learning walk, the answer is usually more about walking than learning. A few systematically gather data about learning that can be used to monitor changes in the school’s learning culture,…

Continue Reading
homework

Homework?

There has been much excitement on Facebook this week about setting homework for primary age pupils. The trigger was a teacher in the US who wrote to her pupils’ parents that she would no longer be setting homework as there was no evidence that it works. As is now so often the case, the social…

Continue Reading
Group Work

In praise of Think Pair Share

Almost every classroom I go into has children talking, working and learning together for considerable periods. Sometimes this group work is carefully managed and structured by the teacher, but too often it is little more than children sitting around the same table working together or near each other. Frequently stimulated by the poorly specified invitation…

Continue Reading
observing

Never look at a lesson the same way again!

I returned home recently after two wonderful days undertaking a learning review in a welsh medium school in North Wales. You might think sitting around in lessons all day watching students learning would be easy, but spotting which learning behaviours they are employing and how their teachers are stimulating this to happen always leaves me exhausted.…

Continue Reading
tartan

The Scottish Solution?

I work in schools in all corners of the UK, but increasingly in Scotland. The first flight to Edinburgh or Glasgow, a day’s work with a school and the last flight back is just feasible with schools in the central belt. But why the interest in BLP in Scotland, when most English schools are currently…

Continue Reading

Three cheers for inactive learning!

When I talk to students about the types of lessons they enjoy, they invariably mention lessons where they are ‘active’. For them, active means playing sport in P/E, or acting in Drama, or doing an experiment in Science, or making something in D&T, etc. Dig further, and what they mean by active learning is that…

Continue Reading
gettingbetter

What does it really mean to get ‘better’ at learning?

Teachers are familiar with the need to assess, record and report on curriculum progress and attainment. The world is full of levels, level descriptors, tests, diagnostics, examinations, point scores, value added measures, and the like – even in ‘life after levels’ !! But they all refer to the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and understandings…

Continue Reading
repeating

Do I have to repeat myself again and again?

Discussion is a key feature of learning, whether it be working in groups, think pair share, or engaging with a question and answer session. The spoken word is a frequent medium for learning. It follows that effective listening behaviours are necessary if the student is to access the learning. Why then, do so many teachers…

Continue Reading
hard learning

And talking of learning, why is it so hard to do?

When working with schools, I regularly initiate conversations with teachers about learning. It is, surely, the core purpose of schools, and to be an effective teacher with little interest in, or understanding of, human learning is inconceivable. So why, then, do such conversations frequently become derailed by other, more ‘pressing’, issues? What are these pressing…

Continue Reading
independent-child-Edit

Independence – reality or empty rhetoric?

Schools frequently talk about producing independent learners who are able to rise to the challenges of the 21st Century. Indeed, many schools include such notions in their mission statement. But how often does this aspiration get beyond wishful thinking and empty rhetoric? Part of the problem might lie in the lack of a shared understanding of…

Continue Reading
rockandahardplace

Getting unstuck

It’s easy to get stuck, so why is it so hard to get unstuck ? Lack of sensible strategies when faced by perceived difficulty is a recurring theme from the teachers with whom I work – about their students, obviously! Why, they ask, do my kids give up so readily? Why do they freeze when…

Continue Reading
simply give up

I give up!

When working with schools I frequently ask the question “Which learning behaviour, if improved, would make the biggest difference to learning in your school?”. Invariably the answer is Perseverance. I wonder why that is ? When you talk with students, it is immediately clear that perseverance carries many negative connotations that reflect their (often unspoken)…

Continue Reading
flipped bart

Learning, flipped on its head

There is much talk of the flipped classroom and of flipped learning – some of you may have attended FlipCon UK this week (Twitter was positively alive with it!). The terms, which are frequently used interchangeably, concern, at a basic level, what would have otherwise been covered in class being covered at home and in…

Continue Reading
brain

The Growth of Growth Mindset – A leap of faith?

When working with teachers I often mention Carol Dweck and her work on developing a growth mindset. Most teachers nod knowingly and say they have heard of it. When pressed, many fewer have actually read much of her work, such as her excellent book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’. Nonetheless, teachers across the country…

Continue Reading
parentblog

Parenthood: the steepest learning curve

Many of us look back at the early years of our own kids and wonder how we managed to ‘muddle through’. I, for one, wish I had known then what I know now! Parents go from a world of independence, adult company, and, for most of us we hope, a state of relative competence at…

Continue Reading

A Growth Curriculum: going beyond the growth mindset

Here at Building Learning Power towers we have long been firmly of the belief that learning is learnable – to oversimplify, one aspect of Learning Power is an extension of Carol Dweck’s outstanding and well-accepted work on growth mindsets. But after you have accepted that the mind is a balloon, capable of expansion and lift,…

Continue Reading