This special offer Taster Pack contains:
Building Successful Futures online resource pack
Use this online resource pack to find out about the what, why and how of developing the sort of powerful learners envisaged in Wales’s Successful Futures curriculum.
The sections delve into the classroom activities and teaching techniques that will help you create:
- A new chapter for education in Wales
- Ambitious Capable Learners
- Ethical Informed Citizens
- Enterprising Creative Contributors
- Healthy Confident Individuals
- Download copies of five At A Glance Cards…and print as many as you need
- Use the practical resources in classrooms
- Gauge where you are now with the downloadable quizzes and tools.
You can preview the resource further down this page.
Building Learning Power with elli handbook
This new introductory handbook will make you alive to the possibilities of engaging students with their Learning Power
- what Learning Power is about and why we need to nurture it in students
- the research that lies behind it
- how to assess and monitor students’ progress in building their Learning Power
- how to begin using it in a classroom setting
- how Learning Power pervades and drives staff and school development.
The 40-page handbook includes a brief introduction to interpreting the scope and function of students’ Learning Power profiles.
Extract from Building Learning Power with elliPages from BLP_ELLI Handbook_v13_Webversion
Preview two of the six sections in Building Successful Futures online resource pack…
The first At a Glance card introduces a new chapter for education in Wales
Scroll through the At a Glance card below
Download as many copies as you need.
Explore and learn more about the topics on each page in the sections below.
This card offers a quick look at learning power. It encourages you to think about the rich forward looking purposes of the Successful Futures curriculum. It shows the broad approaches of learning friendly classrooms and what it means to build students’ learning power.
Below offers a view of the overall architecture of a learning friendly culture; one that is successful in building better learners. The text below the picture explores and extends these ideas.
What are the cultural shifts that take classrooms from traditional to learning friendly cultures?
In general terms moving to establish learning-friendly cultures entails four big shifts. A shift in relationships, a shift in the language, a shift in how learning is constructed, and a shift in what is celebrated – what is seen to matter:
- Relating – How you relate to your students; gradually sharing more of the responsibility for learning with them
- Talking – How you talk about learning; the sort of learning language content and style you use to enhance and explain learning
- Constructing – How you construct learning activities; the tasks and classroom routines you use to build positive learning habits
- Celebrating – What you celebrate about learning; what you prize, recognise, display; the outward signs of beliefs about learning
What does this culture shift mean for learners?
For learners it’s a place where their role changes from receptivity to activity:
- they collaborate and talk about how they understand things
- they accept responsibility for learning
- they do more of the thinking
- they develop curiosity, perseverance, attentiveness, and open-mindedness
- they monitor and assess what they do
- they talk fluently about their learning behaviours
- they value mistakes, challenge, feedback
- they develop their learning behaviours consciously
- they regard themselves as improving learners
What does this culture shift mean for teachers?
For teachers it’s a place where their role changes from teacher to learning coach:
- the learning process is brought to the surface, given a language, discussed, looked for, celebrated
- learning processes are modelled
- teachers act as learning coaches
- few lessons are simply talk-and chalk
- lessons contain challenges and activities that get students thinking and learning for themselves
- teachers encourage students to explore a challenging question, problem or assertion
- teachers enable students to become observers and regulators of their own learning
- teachers keep thinking ‘What’s the least I can do to get productive learning happening (again)?’
This general philosophy is not new of course. There have long been many advocates for learning where students are more active and engaged. But because learning-centred teachers have a particularly rich conception of learning and the habits that underpin it, they are able to design nudges and activities that target quite specific aspects of learning behaviours. Teaching for learning becomes more detailed and forensic.
Questions you might want to ask yourself.
The page below offers glimpses of the key aspects of a learning friendly culture, its language and activities.The text below the picture explores and extends these ideas…
What sort of talk explores learning as a process?
Deep talk about learning is what sets learning powered classrooms apart. Learning and how it works isn’t just talked about at the beginning of a term or year but is embedded in the everyday conversations of the classroom.
- What do we mean when we say learning?
- When and where is it best?
- What helps you to do it?
- How does it feel? What hinders your learning?
- What made it so good?
- What did you contribute?
- How did you make sense of that?
- How do you plan to go about learning?
- How will you monitor how it’s going?
- How can you review how your learning has gone?
What do we mean by ‘teacher as coach’?
“Expert tutors often do not help very much. They hang back, letting the student manage as much as possible. And when things go awry, rather than help directly they raise questions: ‘Could you explain this step again? How did you… ?’” (Mark Lepper)
When we are curious we are genuinely interested in learning. Curiosity lies at the heart of coaching, hence coaches are effective listeners and ask questions to open dialogue without sounding like an interrogation. Coaching aims to enable people to see what they are doing more clearly and discover their own ways to improve. A coaching approach:
- helps people to explore their challenges, problems and goals
- provides an objective view of peoples actions to enable them to see things as as they really are
- enhances motivation and raises self esteem
- builds curiosity and encourages learning
Above all, coaches resist offering solutions. Offering solutions does little to secure learning as the student hasn’t been allowed to confront and engage with the problem and find their way forward. Learning powered teachers adopt a coaching role.
What do we mean by ‘split-screen’ lessons?
- The content dimension, with material to be mastered
- The ‘epistemic’ dimension, with some learning skills and habits being exercised.
In conventional lessons where the teacher remains the focus of attention and the initiator of all activity, and where the epistemic dimension is not acknowledged, students gain habits of compliance and dependence, rather than curiosity and self reliance. In developing learning power, teachers are making conscious choices about which habits to introduce and stretch and how best to couple these with content so that lessons become more interesting and challenging. Through such overt coupling of content and specific types of process, students come to know, understand and take control of their learning behaviours – they knowingly use and develop the whole range of learning behaviours.
The very first sentence is the important one – Whether we realise it or not . . .
It reminds us that learning behaviours happen,
- even if we don’t intend that they do
- even if we haven’t planned for them
- even if we’re unaware of them
- even if students are unaware of them.
Learning behaviours are strengthened when students are aware of the behaviours that they are using and are afforded opportunities to reflect on how well they are using them. Therefore, teachers need to:
- be aware of the behaviours that their lessons are likely to stimulate
- plan activities to make this happen
- plan opportunities for reflection on the content that is being acquired,
- plan for reflection on the learning behaviours being exercised and strengthened,
- reflect on how content acts as the vehicle for exercising the learning behaviours while the learning behaviours enhance the content understanding.
Questions you might want to ask yourself?
The page below offers you an overview of the learning behaviours that comprise Building Learning Power and how these can help Wales realise the four purposes of Successful Futures. The text below the picture explores and extends these ideas.
A closer look at the Supple Learning Mind framework of high value learning behaviours.
The Supple Learning Mind framework, originally conceived and researched by Professor Guy Claxton, reveals learning as a complex process that isn’t just about thinking and having a good memory; it includes how we feel, how we think, how we learn with and from others and how we manage the process of learning. It gives the beginnings of a learning language that helps teachers think about how learning behaviours enable students to grow as learners and tackle the curriculum more profitably.
The Supple Learning Mind captures each of the domains of learning:
- The Emotional domain of learning….feeling… (leading to becoming a Resilient learner)
- The Cognitive domain of learning….thinking…. (leading to becoming a Resourceful learner)
- The Social domain of learning (leading to becoming a Reciprocal learner)
- The Strategic domain of learning (leading to becoming a Reflective learner)
What do we mean by growth in learning habits?
The whole point of everything described in the previous sections is to enable young people to become better learners, to grow a supple learning mind, to become a life-long learner. So the growth of learning habits is attended to closely. Successful growth or progression means not only that can pupils make use of reflection, or imagination, or managing their distraction, but that over time they make more and better use of these learning skills and tools and secure them as habits.
Learning powered classrooms are designed to promote three dimensions of progress:
- the frequency and strength of the habit – how often it is used spontaneously as the need arises
- the scope of its use – the range of contexts within which the skill is used (from the familiar to new uncharted territory)
- the skilfulness of the habit – how the behaviour becomes more subtle, more appropriate to circumstances, more sophisticated.
TLO have developed maps or progression ‘trajectories’ to help teachers enable the steps between, for example, the natural curiosity of a three year-old and the sophisticated skill-set of the consummate questioner. The trajectories allow teachers to identify, nudge and design activity to help pupils build progressively the fine grain learning behaviours of the effective learner.
It’s the Building bit of Building Learning Power. There would be little point in introducing such learning habits if we didn’t attend to growing them.
Questions you might want to ask yourself.
The second At a Glance card shows the learning power behaviours that particularly serve the development of Ambitious, Capable learners
Scroll through the Ambitious, Capable learner At a Glance card below
Download as many copies as you need.
Explore and learn more about the topics on each page of the card in the topics below.
This card offers a closer look at learning power and its relationship to the curriculum purpose of developing Ambitious, Capable learners. It encourages you to think about how the need for Ambitious Capable learners translates into learning friendly classroom cultures and the types of classroom activities and talk that might be appropriate. The final page shows the growth path such learning behaviours need to make.
Below offers a closer look at the learning power behaviours and their relationship to the curriculum purpose of developing Ambitious Capable Learners.
Which learning behaviours best support Ambitious, Capable Learners?
Building ambitious learners (Perseverance): having a realistic and achievable life plan; pursuing self-generated goals with tenacity; reaching high, self-imposed standards through focused effort; relishing and rising to challenge and difficulty.
Building Meaning (Making Links): Seeing connections between disparate events and experiences – building patterns – weaving a web of understanding across subjects and ways of working.
Building curious learners (Questioning): motivated by asking questions of themselves and others, being curious and playful with ideas – delving beneath the surface of things. Exploring possibilities and asking what if… Skilled at finding things out for themselves.
Building critical thinking (Reasoning): using logical and rational skills to solve problems methodically and rigorously: constructing good arguments and spotting the flaws in others; listening attentively to understand what is being said and listening critically to evaluate the quality of others’ ideas.
Building creative thinking (Imagining): using imagination and intuition to explore possibilities playfully; looking at things in different ways; able to devise new ways of understanding and explaining information; producing original, novel and inventive ways to communicate ideas.
Building effective communicators (Empathy): understanding others; putting themselves in other people’s shoes, so that they can communicate effectively with a variety of audiences.
Building strategic learning skills (Distilling): understanding what is and what is not important or of value; able to summarise and paraphrase to draw out salient features and to separate key points from underlying detail; able to carry key ideas forward to aid further learning.
The Donaldson report, Successful Futures, recommends that the ‘wider skills’ of critical thinking and problem solving, planning and organising, creativity and innovation, and personal effectiveness be built into the curriculum at all phases, not only at Key Stage 4 as was previously the case.
The key ‘wider skills’ that underpin Ambitious and Capable learning are
- critical thinking and problem solving – marshalling critical and logical processes to analyse and understand situations and develop responses and solutions
- planning and organising – implementing solutions and executing ideas and monitoring and reflecting on results.
Questions you might want to ask
Something to think about . . .
In summary: To attain this view of ambitious and capable learning, students need to be interested in, enthusiastic about and persistent in learning, taking responsibility for it, be informed and understand how things fit together, and be able to explain their thinking to others.
- Do you agree that this short paragraph captures the essence of an Ambitious, Capable Learner as defined in Successful Futures?
- If not, what would you add or subtract?
- Using our definition, or yours, what proportion of your students are like this?
- Does this vary by year group ? By gender ? By perceived ‘ability’?
- Do you think that students who attain highly are, by definition, Ambitious and Capable?
- Or is it the other way round, that students attain highly because they are Ambitious and Capable ?
The page below sketches the architecture of a learning friendly culture; one that is successful in developing Ambitious Capable Learners.
What cultural shifts turn traditional into learning friendly classrooms?
In general terms moving to establish learning-friendly cultures entails four shifts. A shift in relationships, a shift in the language, a shift in how learning is constructed, and a shift in what is celebrated – what is seen to matter:
How does the teacher’s role change?
The teacher’s role becomes one of surfacing learning; to make learning public; to train some of the tricky bits; to talk about it; to recognise and celebrate it as it happens; to nudge it along, assisting students to grow their learning behaviours; and to design activity to stretch a wide range of learning habits. This uncovering of learning ensures students discover, use, understand and translate their learning behaviours into learning habits. There is a shift in emphasis from performance to learning, from content to process, from teaching to coaching.
How does the relationship between teachers and learners change?
An important way of surfacing learning is to let pupils do more of it; to become more active in the learning process. Active learners are not only offered more opportunities to decide what to do, but are also actively learning through the explicit review of their own experience. They are enabled to make choices about what and how to learn, creating over time high levels of learner autonomy.
This shift to more learner involvement offers deep professional satisfaction and a new set of learning relationships.
How does the language of the classroom change?
Building Learning Power is all about being able to:
- talk about using
- select for use when appropriate
- become skilled in using
- evaluate the effect of . . . . Students’ learning habits
Using and extending the language adds breadth and depth to how teachers and learners talk about, understand and improve learning.
Use of the language becomes essential in what people notice about learning. When used abundantly it makes learning visible.
How is learning constructed?
In this dimension the organisation of learning is based firmly on a model of experiential learning, in other words there is a strong underpinning of not just ‘doing’ learning but reviewing and reflecting on the process in order to make meaning and apply it elsewhere. In the current language of mastery, in this model, the pursuit of mastery is built into the way learning is done.
Pupils are enabled to speculate, question, and solve problems more readily because knowledge is presented as provisional. Learning activities are designed to stretch and challenge by having a dual focus; to explore content and stretch pupils’ ability in using their learning behaviours. So, familiar content is coupled with a variety of learning behaviours, using Visible Thinking Routines (VTRs), for example, causing teachers to become more imaginative in their design of learning.
How is the growth of learning habits celebrated?
The whole point of everything described in the previous sections is to enable young people to become better learners, to grow a supple learning mind, to become a life-long learner. So the growth of learning habits is attended to closely. Successful growth or progression means that not only can pupils make use of reflection, or imagination, or managing their distraction, but that over time they spontaneously make more and better use of these learning skills and tools and secure them as habits. It is this type of growth, improvement that is acknowledged, recognised, celebrated or praised in some way.
What is being celebrated here is how young people are getting better at how, when and where they are using their learning behaviours. It’s the Building bit of Building Learning Power. There would be little point in introducing such learning habits if we didn’t attend to having them grow.
Questions you might want to ask.
Something to think about . . .
Let’s focus on the second cultural shift in terms of what is talked about in the classroom.
- Does your school have a common language with which to discuss the process of learning ?
- If yes, do teachers use it with fluency ? And, critically, do students use it likewise ?
- If no, do you think that developing such a language is a high priority ?
- Listen to yourself as you teach – what is the balance like between talk about what they are learning and talk about how they are learning. Might the balance need to be adjusted ?
- Look at your written feedback to students – what is the balance like between feedback on what they have achieved and feedback on how they have achieved it ?
Below shows just a small selection of learning activities and talk that may help to promote Ambitious and Capable Learner behaviours. The text below the picture explains and expands these basic ideas.
Offer learners more choices
Every time you are able to offer learners a choice their engagement is likely to increase and learners set themselves a level of challenge that’s right for them. This doesn’t mean turning lock stock and barrel to child-initiated learning overnight. It is possible to start with small-scale choices, fitting within current practices.
Choices in what to learn.
- Which of this set of problems will you begin with?
- Where in this text will you start reading?
- Which story shall we read to the class at the end of the day?
- What questions do you want to address in this topic?
Choices in how to learn.
- Which reading place will you choose in the classroom?
- Will you present your account to others?
- How much shall we operate alone, in small groups, as a class?
- What activities will help us learn this the best?
How does the Visible Thinking Routine work?
What’s happening here? What makes you say that?
The first question in this routine is flexible: it is useful when looking at objects such as works of art or historical artefacts, but it can also be used to explore a poem, make scientific observations and hypotheses, or investigate more conceptual ideas (i.e., democracy).
The first question invites students to describe what they notice, see or know, but it is the supplementary question (What makes you say that ?) that requires them to build explanations. It promotes evidence-based reasoning and when the students share their interpretations it encourages them to understand alternatives and multiple perspectives.
There are, of course, many other ways of encouraging students to move beyond describing what they think and beginning to explain and justify their thinking. Try using prompts like:
- Can you give me a bit more ?
- Go on – convince me !
- because ?
- why ?
- Are you sure ?
- What about xxxxxxx (a counter argument) ?
- Is that fact, or opinion ?
Questions you might want to ask
Something to think about . . .
Look at the list of attributes (far right on page 3 of the card) that an Ambitious, Capable Learner is likely to display:
- To what extent are your learners like this list?
- Do you believe that your students are becoming more ambitious and capable as they move through your school?
- Does this happen by design, or by accident?
- Which one attribute, if you could magically develop and secure it in your students, would make the greatest difference?
- What do you currently do to help your students to be like this?
- What else might you do?
Below offers an overview of progression in learning behaviours and sketches the pro of such a progression for Ambitious, Capable Learners.
Growing Ambitious, Capable Learners
The learning behaviours that combine to create Ambitious, Capable Learners need to develop and mature over time – it is the ‘building’ bit of Building Learning Power. These behaviours should become more frequently employed, in a wider range of contexts, and increasingly skillfully, as learners move through their school careers.
But what does such ‘growth’ look like ? The learning trajectories on the At A Glance card hint at the journey from ‘won’t/can’t’ to ‘will/can’ – where are your learners on these trajectories ?
The ambitions and capabilities of the maturing adult should be more sophisticated than those of the infant, but this is not always / inevitably the case. Are student learning behaviours developing sufficiently to support the growth of Ambitious, Capable Learners ?
The questions below relate to the Perseverance trajectory but could, of course, have been written with only minor amendments, about any of the learning behaviours that comprise Ambitious, Capable Learning.
Something to think about . . .
Take a look at the Perseverance learning trajectory above.
You will have some students who have ‘little sense of ends or goals or working towards something purposefully’, and some others who have ‘ambitious, long-term goals which they pursue with enthusiasm’. Ignore these ‘outliers’ for a moment:
- Where would you guesstimate the majority of your learners to be on this journey?
- Do many of them equate perseverance with being successful?
- How many of them actually act on this ?
- Do you believe that your students become more perseverant as they move through your school?
- Why do you think this might be?
- Do you have any evidence for this?
Get these two great resources to ignite your learning power for only £25
- 1 copy of Building Learning Power with elli handbook will be posted to you (free shipping within UK)
- 1 user license to access Building Successful Futures online resource pack will be emailed to you after purchase