How do students learn the curriculum at Harris Greenwich
How do students learn the curriculum at Harris Greenwich?
We want all children to master the powerful knowledge necessary to excel not only in public examinations but in their interactions with the world, leading to happy and successful lives.
This short document explains why we approach lessons the way we do, and how homework supports learning. It describes what a typical lesson at Harris Greenwich might look like, and explains why. We hope it gives you an even greater understanding of what goes on inside the classroom, and why we ask students to complete homework the way we do. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
Making it Stick
Every decision we make about Teaching and Learning is governed by two truths about learning:
- If nothing has changed in long term memory, nothing has been learnt.
- Forgetting is inevitable.
No matter how brilliant a year 8 Spanish lesson appeared, if the students cannot remember it two weeks later, it wasn’t learnt. Understanding sometimes gets confused with learning, but they are not the same thing. Therefore, everything we ask students to do, and everything we talk to teachers about, is designed to make more knowledge stick in long term memory.
Lessons and lesson structure
We are not overly prescriptive on how lessons should look at Harris Greenwich, but there are some principles that all teachers adhere to.
All lessons start with a high challenge recall activity, followed by a period of fully guided instruction (‘I do’ à ‘We do’ à ‘You do’) and then some quizzing. This is surrounded by a warm/strict approach to behaviour management: ‘Because we care, what we ask students to do is not optional’.
Stopping the Forgetting – How do lessons start?
Every lesson at Harris Greenwich starts with 20-30 minutes of high challenge recall designed to stop the forgetting of the most vital knowledge, facts and skills. The questions pull from a broad knowledge base, including previous topics and sometimes previous years! Such is the importance we place on ‘stopping the forgetting’, it is expected that all students attempt all of the Do Now questions, and those not attempting all of them are challenged. Teachers will refrain from providing too much help in the first 10-15 minutes, instead motivating them to think hard. The teacher then spends time going through the answers, reteaching the most important points if necessary, and students make corrections.
Examples from Maths, Spanish and History
Fully guided instruction: ‘I do’ à ‘We do’ à ‘You do’
Following the Do Now, teachers pitch high with a brilliant ‘I do’ phase. This is where teachers introduce the new content clearly with great examples, models and explanations. We pitch it high, often above the most able students in the class, so everyone is challenged.
We follow this with an outstanding ‘We Do’ phase that provides support. Here you will see processes deconstructed, lots of questions being asked, students helping the teacher do some more examples, paired talk, and practice with writing frames.
Finally, students practise the new thing independently without support. The ‘arm bands are popped’ - there will be no / minimal support from the teacher. Rather than different levels of task, we strive for everyone doing the same, difficult thing, rather than different levels of task.
Regular quizzing prevents the forgetting of knowledge. Lessons at Harris Greenwich have regular quizzing to strengthen long term memory.
Our comprehensive approach to homework further enables students to learn the curriculum, and ‘stop the forgetting’. Here we explain our approach to homework and how students use it to ensure the curriculum is being learnt. You can also download our Knowledge Organisers for the term on our year group tabs in the Homework area: https://www.harrisgreenwich.org.uk/619/homework
How does homework support my child to learn the curriculum?
Homework is important because it enables students to:
- Commit the most vital, powerful knowledge to memory
- ‘Stop the forgetting’
- Consolidate newly-acquired knowledge and revisit previous topics
- Develop the self-discipline, perseverance and confidence to study independently
Students should spend the following amount of time completing their homework:
- Year 7, 8 and 9
- 30 minutes of reading per night.
- One page of ‘Flip and Fetch’ per subject per week; maximum six.
- Two Hegarty Maths tasks per week, which is set online by a student's Maths teacher.
- Year 10
- 30 minutes of reading per night.
- One page of ‘Flip and Fetch’ per subject per week; maximum seven.
- Two Hegarty Maths tasks per week, which are set online by a student's Maths teacher.
- Four daily goals on Tassomai, which is an online quizzing program for Science.
- Year 11 will complete a minimum of 14 x 30-minute revision periods per week.
- Years 12 and 13 – four hours per subject per week, plus two periods of home room.
Parents and carers should ensure a quiet area is available for students to complete their homework, and we encourage electronic devices and likely distractions to be taken away during this time. Students can also complete work in the academy library before and after school, and homework club runs every day, in a computer room, with a member of the SEN team available to provide additional support. We encourage parents to discuss the work with their child, ensure neat presentation and support the student in checking their work for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
What are knowledge organisers, and how will they help my child?
A knowledge organiser is a set of key facts or information that pupils need to know and be able to recall in order to master a unit or topic. They are not a revision guide, they simply state the most vital information that needs to be committed to memory.
More challenging KS4 specifications and more ambitious KS3 curricula mean there is a greater premium placed on the retrieval and application of knowledge. Students need to retain even more information.
Typically, a knowledge organiser fits onto one page of A4 or A5 – this helps pupils to visualise the layout of the page which in turn helps them to memorise the information better.
Each half term we produce homework booklets (which we call 'Knowledge Organisers') for all students in years 7-10. These outline what knowledge is expected to be memorised for homework, each week, for an entire half-term. All students are given a copy of their Knowledge Organisers but they can also be downloaded from the year group tabs in the homework area, lined below:
Students will be directed to learn specific parts of their knowledge organisers by heart. Students are then quizzed on this weekly learning in ‘Do Now’ activities at the start of lessons. Students are also expected to continually revise previously-learned knowledge. This is tested in end-of-term cumulative knowledge tests called The Big Quiz.
What is Flip and Fetch?
Please watch this guide to Flip and Fetch at Harris Greenwich https://www.harrisgreenwich.org.uk/753/homework-flip-fetch
What is Hegarty Maths?
Hegarty Maths is how maths homework is set at Harris Greenwich. It is an online program designed to aid student revision in Maths. Students watch videos that cover prior learning and new skills (giving lots of examples) followed by a quiz. Teachers can set different tasks for different students, if appropriate.
Each week maths teachers will set your child two Hegarty Maths tasks. For each task, students will be required to: (i) watch the video, (ii) copy down all examples from the video, (iii) complete the quiz showing the full working out in their homework books, exemplified in the video and (iv) mark their work after putting their answers into the online quiz.
Students can watch the video multiple times, retake the quiz and leave comments that go directly to their maths teacher. Maths teachers will check students have: (i) watched the video, (ii) copied down all examples and (iii) shown their full working out for every quiz question. If a student fails to do either of those three things, then they have failed the homework.
Students are not sanctioned for achieving a low percentage as long as they have shown their full working out and seek assistance from the teacher at least a day before the deadline. Students can access additional videos to aid their revision.
What is Tassomai Science?
Tassomai is an online program to aid student revision in Science. It comprises of multiple-choice quizzes that test recent topics as well as topics from last month, term or year. The system adapts the number of questions and topics that come up according to the specific strengths and weaknesses of the student, so the quizzes become bespoke.
Students are required to log on at least four times a week and complete a daily goal, which normally comprises of around 30 questions. Students can do additional questions and quizzes to aid their revision.
We have high expectations of scholarly behaviour at Harris Greenwich. Such is the importance of homework, if a student fails to complete the correct amount of homework in a week or to the required standard then a school detention of 30 minutes will be set.
How can I help my child even more?
In addition to providing a suitable quiet place to work, away from distractions, here are some strategies that might help you to support your son/daughter.
- Read with your child each evening.
- Read through the organiser with your son/daughter – if you don’t understand the content then ask them to explain it to you – describing it to you helps them to reinforce their learning.
- Try converting, with your child, the information into a mind map or make your own version using clip art imagery if the organiser contains a lot of text. Display on the wall or the fridge door until it sticks.
- Test them regularly on the spellings of key words until they are perfect. Make a note of the ones they get wrong – is there a pattern to the spelling of those words?
- Get them to make a glossary (list) of key words with definitions or a list of formulae.
- Try recording the knowledge from the organiser as an mp3 sound file that your child can listen to. Some pupils retain more information this way.
- Read sections out to them, missing out key words or phrases that they have to fill in. Miss out more and more until they are word perfect.
- Once they are word perfect and can remember all of the knowledge on the organiser, use the internet or a book to find out more or ask the teacher for some (more) exam questions.
What are our teachers working on?
In service of implementing our curriculum, we have 6 Principles of Teaching. These principles, informed by the best of what has been said and written about teaching and learning, guide teachers to make knowledge stick in long term memory. They describe the behaviours that teachers strive to display every day. They provide a common framework and language for teaching and learning. As learning is a change in long term memory, everything we do to further teaching and learning at the Academy is geared to make knowledge and skills ‘stick’ in long term memory.
Principle 1: High expectations of learning behaviour
Teachers have unwaveringly high expectations every lesson every day; they use the whole school behaviour policy (4 Point Plan) consistently; they exude a warm / strict presence in the Academy; they explain to students why they’re doing what they are, and teachers boss the classroom.
Principle 2: Quality of instruction
Explanations are highly effective as teachers have excellent subject and curriculum knowledge; outcomes are clearly defined; explanations are fully guided: teachers model excellence and how to achieve it.
Principle 3: Subject mastery
All teachers have sufficient exam specification expertise so that they can achieve the top grade with ease. Teachers have a comprehensive understanding of the intent of the curriculum as well as how to implement it.
Principle 4: Making it stick
Teachers make connections between underlying concepts; students are made to think hard as memory is the residue of thought; deliberate practice is employed to embed knowledge in long term memory; regular low stakes testing; learning is interleaved with high challenge starts to lessons
Principle 5: Adaptive teaching
All pupils learn the curriculum as teaching is adapted to challenge, and support, all pupils. Teachers pitch high (“I do”) by modelling the new thing brilliantly; teachers provide support with a guided (“we do”) phase and then pupils do independent deliberate practice in the (“you do”) phase.
Principle 6: Effective feedback
Feedback is timely to maximise learning; formative assessment is embedded throughout lessons; comments are specific, accurate and clear; teachers give time to reflect and act upon feedback. We subscribe to high impact, low workload marking. High impact group and immediate feedback is favoured over traditional book marking.