Making Learning LAST: an Innovation Project

Image taken from Iris Connect website

Image taken from Iris Connect website

As part of their BSF ICT Innovation Project, Beaumont Leys will be using classroom observation technology to deliver three elements of the project: supporting self and peer observation and reflection for NQTs and Year 2 teachers, recording teaching materials for use within a flipped classroom approach and creating a bank of good practice resources, for example, starters, plenaries and experiments. These resources will be shared via the school’s website and YouTube channel.

Alex Vann, the school’s Assistant Headteacher, and project lead, provides an update on the project here:

Introduction

The acronym LAST links this project with our school lesson planning tool, where teachers have to identify LA: learning about, and ST: showing that. One of our foci is on active differentiation; this is also an OFSTED action point. Making Learning LAST through improving teachers’ reflective practice, and thus accelerating their development, is key to our journey – along with facilitating the creation of a resource base for students to tap into.

We aim to use this bid to purchase, introduce and embed ICT to enhance the professional learning of teachers and, in turn, the learning of students. Channelling the capability of ICT to capture actual teaching will enable us to increase the impact of lesson observation and enhance teachers’ own learning as well as that of peers and students.

We aim to work in three strands:

  1. Developing our culture of reflective practice by embedding both self and peer observation of lessons (aimed at NQTs and Year 2 teachers)
  2. Introducing and trialling a Flipped Classroom approach
  3. Creating a bank of resources for teachers and students to use: ICT teachers modelling best practice with ICT, other teachers modelling excellent practice and parts of lessons for students to access for revision and review.

The Equipment

With the money awarded to us through the BSF ICT Innovation Fund, we have purchased an IRIS Discovery and Connect kit. These are two separate video based systems that allow for observation and recording of lessons combined with web based storage that allow teachers to access their lesson recording and reflect on/share their practice. We bought these systems because we see lesson observation as one of the leading ways of driving improvements in classroom practice. We have taken some observations away from performance management and have embedded it in our school for CPD purposes. Iris allows us to take this to the next level because the reflective learning coaching conversations that happen live during the lesson and post lesson are of far greater quality.

The Activity

We have purchased the systems and configured them for use on our network. We have created the 20 users and trained them on how to use the system technically and what it will offer in terms of CPD.

The systems have been deployed into lessons with recordings uploaded onto the Iris Connect website.

Post observation we have used the video for peer and self-reflection. The emphasis of the conversations has been completely focused on improving practice rather than on issues around performance management. All recordings are owned by the teacher being observed, they have the login and are the only ones who can access the video unless they choose to share it.

Feedback from teachers who have used the systems;

“The whole experience of watching the lesson back was really useful as it allows you to experience the pace, and flow of the lesson and highlights areas where you realise you were talking too long, explanations were or weren’t clear enough etc. Overall being able to view a lesson over again and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses was really helpful in developing targets and areas to focus on.”

 

“I found that the video system assisted me in 3 main ways:

1) It allowed me to see students’ reactions when I had my back faced towards them. This helped me with behaviour management and searching for the positions to be standing in while teaching.

2) As both cameras are interlinked, I had one of the cameras constantly following me around and the other facing the students. This allowed me to spot minor details. For example, from facial expressions, students becoming restless and frustrated due to them not being challenged enough.

3) It assisted me in analysing my performance in aspects that I felt  had more of an impact than being directly fed back from an observer. For example, I found it difficult to keep up with the instructions I was giving out to the students at the pace that I was communicating it to them”

IRIS2

Image taken from Iris Connect Website

Next steps

We will continue to use the systems for observation, reflection and improving classroom practice with the initial 20 users. Next year there will be another 20 users registered to the license allowing 40 teachers to have used the systems for CPD over 2 years. We may purchase further licenses allowing greater usage.

We will also use the systems to record examples of outstanding classroom practice that can be made available to all staff in a ‘library’ for access when and where needed. These will be based on areas of particular strength in different faculties. Staff will be able to select videos and gain an insight into areas of strength in the school, for example why is questioning a strength in English?  How do teachers plan questions into their lesson structure?

Finally, we will use the systems to pilot ‘Flipped Classroom’ teaching practice within our science faculty. Science are really interested in developing this model and are at present analysing their Schemes of Learning to see which units would benefit from students receiving some teaching via video prior to the lesson allowing deeper learning to occur during the lesson.

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