26 September 2014

Improving the basics: Inspired by Austin

Filed in Teaching and Learning

Here’s a very short post to report on some fabulous work my Year 8s did this week.   I marked their first few pieces of work and then devoted a double lesson this week to redrafting: a slice of Directed Improvement and Reflection Time. We started…

Improving the basics: Inspired by Austin

Here’s a very short post to report on some fabulous work my Year 8s did this week.   I marked their first few pieces of work and then devoted a double lesson this week to redrafting: a slice of Directed Improvement and Reflection Time.

We started the lesson by watching the Ron Berger Austin’s Butterfly video:

Austin's Butterfly.  The final draft was always within him. It just needed to find a way out.

Austin’s Butterfly. The final draft was always within him. It just needed to find a way out.

The students immediately got the message: the boy who made the first and final drafts was the same boy.  He just needed to know what the standards were and how to reach them.

Then I gave out their books and asked them to redraft as much of their work as they could in the time focusing on two main themes:

Presentation: pencil and ruler, underlining, diagrams, handwriting.

Science content:  adding explanations, correct use of terminology, adding ideas about forces between molecules.

The examples that stood out the most were from two boys who I thought had serious difficulties with writing.  Turns out, they just needed to aim a bit higher.  Through the redrafting process and the praise they received for their improvements, their attitudes shifted significantly; their self-believe grew and they left the lessons beaming.  I didn’t expect quite such a big effect.  Here’s a sample of what they did:

Slide1

Student 1.

This student engaged in a fantastic discussion with me about molecules and forces. He came up with this idea (illustrated with his fingers) about molecules in ice being like balls with sticks giving the solid structure. Still plenty of room to improve but even he couldn’t believe he could do work like this.

Slide2

Student 2

This student responded superbly.  Once he realised that excellence was in his grasp, he just made a decision to produce something really good – instead of the slap-dash effort he’d defaulted to first time around. That applied to his presentation and his thinking.

I’ll be doing this again.

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