For the past six years the college has worked with Professor Barrie Bennett, one of the world’s leading experts of Instructional Intelligence. Instructional Intelligence can be defined as the conscious and deliberate utilisation by the teacher of a range of teaching methodologies that impact positively on student learning in the classroom, based on extensive research into how students learn. In addition, this practice creates a greater awareness of how their actions can impact on critical factors or concepts that affect student learning, such as motivation, novelty, authenticity, safety and accountability.
Through the schools involvement with this program teachers have focused on Instructional Skills such as Framing questions & wait time, Checking for understanding, sharing the learning objective, active listening and modelling; Instructional Concepts such as motivation and accelerated learning; and Instructional Tactics such as brainstorming, think-pair-share, graphic organisers, value lines and place mats to name a few.
AFL (Assessment for Learning):
The college is currently working with PDST on promoting AFL in the classroom. This form of assessment is about gathering, interpreting and using information about the processes and outcomes of learning. It takes different forms and can be used in a variety of ways, such as to test and certify achievement (e.g. Junior and Leaving Certificate), to determine the appropriate route for students to take through a differentiated curriculum or to identify specific areas of difficulty (or strength) for a given student.
Recent advances in our knowledge of how learning takes place and how learners make their way through classroom activities have led to new understandings of the importance of assessment in the promotion of learning. These new perspectives are having an impact across the curriculum as the focus in assessment activity begins to move from an emphasis on the assessment of learning to include assessment for learning-providing feedback to learners on how to improve their learning.
The main features of assessment of learning and assessment for learning are set out below:
Assessment of learning Assessment for Learning happens after the learning takes place an integral part of the learning process information is gathered by the teacher information is shared with the learner information is usually transformed into marks or grades information is available on the quality of learning comparison with the performance of others comparison with aims and objectives is important looks back on past learning looks forward to the next stage of learning
Sharing the Learning Objective:
In keeping with the Inspectorate of the Department of Education & Skills last Year the college introduced classroom white boards. Here all teachers Share the Learning Objective with students, link the objective to certain success criteria (AFL) and homework. These boards promote the use of Key Skills in the classroom, and link the lesson to literacy and numeracy strands.
Learners need a wide range of skills to help them face the many challenges presented to them in today’s world. They develop specific skills in their subjects and other courses. But there is also a more general set of skills that are needed to support learners in their personal, social and work lives. We refer to these as the key skills. As learners develop each of the key skills in an integrated way they will also become better learners.
The six key skills of Junior Cycle are
- Managing Myself
- Staying Well
- Being Creative
- Working with Others
- Managing Information and Thinking
Working with digital technology also forms part of each of the skills.
Research with teachers and learners in the classroom has shown that these skills are relevant to all subjects and that they improve the learning experience. Therefore they will be embedded in the curriculum through the statements of learning and in curriculum specifications. Teachers are encouraged to build them into their class planning, their teaching approaches and into assessment.
The key skills also support the development of literacy and numeracy, which is crucial for learners to access the curriculum. For example, skills in communication, problem solving, and accessing and selecting information will contribute to literacy and numeracy development.