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Building Better Learners: Phase 2

Building Better Learners: Phase 2

Online course: The Professional Learning Power Game

The Professional Learning Power Game is the core of the second phase of Building Better Learners. It consists of thirteen online units, each expected to take about four to six weeks to implement in classrooms, using the professional learning team model.

The units are:

  • Putting Perseverance into learning
  • Putting Questioning into learning
  • Putting Collaboration into learning
  • Putting Revising into learning
  • Putting Making Links into learning
  • Putting Imagining into learning
  • Putting Reasoning into learning
  • Putting Capitalising into learning
  • Putting Listening into learning
  • Putting Planning into learning
  • Putting Noticing into learning
  • Putting Me Learning (meta learning) into learning
  • Reviewing our progress

Each of these except the last explores one key learning behaviour: how to develop and grow it over time.

The final unit provides teachers and the school with ways of assessing the progress made to date. It can be used at times chosen by the team, or perhaps the school, throughout the programme; it is not intended to be left until the very end! See also Reviewing Learning below.

The units can be undertaken in any order.

  • A team might start with those learning behaviours that fit particularly snugly with their subjects or curriculum topics before extending the range of behaviours as they gain confidence;
  • Or they may all choose to focus on an area of common concern before moving on to considering subject-friendly ones;
  • A confident team might choose a learning behaviour that seems at first blush to be a distant fit with their subject area — this can be a stimulating creative challenge;
  • A unit can be revisited, perhaps as a refresher or to explore at greater depth.

Unit structure

Each unit follows the same form, divided into four sections.

Three individual teacher sections

Teachers work their way through the materials at a time and place to suit them. Each section will usually take about 45 – 60 minutes to work through and think about. The materials introduce new thinking and practical ideas for staff to get their heads around prior to their team session.

A Professional Learning Team meeting section

This brings staff together as a learning team at monthly intervals (typically six to eight staff per team), convened and led by a learning champion from your school. Staff share and discuss how they have moved their practice to incorporate learning behaviours, consider new material introduced in the individual online learning sections, and plan their learning enquiries to be implemented in the next month. Each team session is planned to last about an hour to 75 minutes.

Each unit is accompanied by a Learning Diary. This helps participants to distil important messages, home in on key pieces of information, and design learning experiments specifically for their pupils.

You can find fuller descriptions of one typical learning-behaviour unit and the progress-review unit via the buttons:

Example Unit — Putting Collaboration into Learning

Example Unit — Putting Collaboration into Learning

At its least sophisticated, collaboration is little more than being cooperative. At its most sophisticated and complex level it goes beyond learning ‘in a team’ and becomes learning ‘as a team’. It is an invaluable life skill.

This unit is designed to guide you through a process of building the habit of Collaboration in your students. Sections 1–4 consider:

  1. Collaboration and how it develops. Includes a Collaboration Progression Chart. Unpick the meaning of Collaboration, how it develops over time and use the Collaboration chart to plot where your pupils are now.
  2. Taking Collaboration into classroom culture. Includes Collaboration classroom activities. This section offers numerous suggestions to develop a learning-friendly culture and build students’ learning skills. Here you will find ideas for lesson starters and quick wins; classroom activities; learning reflection tools; ideas for the appropriate learning language for each phase of progression in Collaboration. You are likely to browse in this section for about 30 minutes in preparation for the team meeting.
  3. Blending learning habits with content. Example dual focused lesson. This section suggests a series of questions and steps you might use to ensure the development of learning habits claims its place in the curriculum and is designed into lessons and activities to aid understanding. Here we look closely at how to blend improving students’ Collaboration with the content you have to teach. The section covers: The six principles behind any learning powered lesson; Big questions to ask about lesson design; Lesson planning in action: an exemplar Collaboration-focused task.
  4. Team reflection and planning. Share the impact of your experiments with colleagues and plan what you need to do next. It gives a skeleton plan for the Professional Learning Team session (usually undertaken about a week after the individual online sessions). It includes downloadable enquiry questions and planning formats. In team sessions you are invited to share the impact of your experiments with colleagues, discuss the online materials, and plan how you might use these to change your classroom practice. All the activities are designed to help you bring the learning behaviour into active use in the classroom. The section also includes a range of indicators that you could start looking for to begin to measure the impact of teacher development across the school. The team sessions are timed to last about 75 minutes.

Example Unit — Reviewing our Progress

Example Unit — Reviewing our Progress

This unit is designed to enable you to review your progress so far. You can use it at any suitable point in the programme.

The unit offers a rich variety of tools to help you review your progress in developing a learning culture in your classrooms. This review will provide you with information to guide your approach in the next phase of building students’ learning powers. Sections 1–5 consider:

  1. Learn more about the learning friendly classroom. Consider the shift from teacher-centred to learning-centred classrooms, and how these changes impact on student learning dispositions. This section answers the questions: “What is the Big Picture’ of making progress with Learning Power?” and encourages you to reflect on your changing practice to address the question “How far have I come?”
  2. Reflect on students’ changing learning dispositions. Consider how your students have changed as learners. This section answers the question “How have the changes in classroom culture impacted on student learning dispositions?”
  3. Reflect on how the Professional Game has enabled students to become more skilful learners. Consider the extent to which students have progressed through the lens of the progression charts. This section answers the question “Are my students becoming increasingly skilful learners?”
  4. Team session: Learning together. Put your heads together and think “what next?” This team session answers the questions “How are we doing, how are our students doing and where do we need to go next?”
  5. What’s next? – is a reminder that you have thus far only scratched the surface of the 12 Professional Game modules. Revisit them, seek out higher order teaching behaviours that will further up-skill student learning behaviours, or expand your repertoire by tackling modules you have yet to address.

Building Better Learners: Phase 2

Online resource: Finding Learning Power

Finding Learning Power continues as a resource that sits alongside the course, helping teachers to watch and record their students’ developing learning power.

Building Better Learners: Phase 2

Online resource: Reviewing Learning

The Reviewing Learning online resource is a substantial compendium of evaluative resources which sits outside the course. It is made up of a rich array of assessment and evaluation tools that can be used by schools or teams or individual teachers or students themselves. It describes how, why, where and when you might use such resources, and includes issues such as learning culture, dual focused lessons, coaching.


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