Making Learning LAST: an update

With the end of the school year only hours away, here in the BSF ICT office we’re busy wrapping up and updating information on a number of a our Innovation Projects. One of these is the Making Learning LAST project from Beaumont Leys school. The project focuses on the use of classroom observation technology to deliver three elements of work: 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.

Here Alex Vann, Assistant Head and project lead, provides us with an update on the project’s progress:

Image shared under a creative commons license by Ashley Spratt (USFWS)

Observation deck after Hurricane Sandy by Ashley Spratt/USFWS shared under CC BY 2.0

The Iris system continues to be a huge learning tool for staff at Beaumont Leys School. It is being used extensively by our Teach First, NQT, first and second year teachers to reflect on their teaching.

We have also used the equipment in our professional learning for Lesson Study, a method of professional learning where a particular area of focus is identified by a teacher. Working in triads, a lesson is planned that will enable to teacher to look at the desired area. The students are then the focus of the observation rather than the teacher. Having cameras in the room rather than two other teachers means that the class behaves in a similar manner to normal. There is also then a recording of the lesson which all three can view and discuss and based on this the lesson can be replanned and retaught.

Staff Feedback

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

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.

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.

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.”

“Yes would definitely use it again! I think it’s worth having a go because it enables you to reflect more holistically on your lesson and the learning taking place. I think trainees and NQT should definitely have a go. It is very cringe watching it back and the technology is a little bit fiddly, but manageable.”

“I’ve used Iris software twice, first time I had technical issues which meant I couldn’t actually view the observation but the second time was great. The kids are over excited and show off for the first 5-10 minutes but then they forget about it and continue like a normal lesson.”

“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.”

“Using Iris for lesson study was a stroke of genius. We started the cycle looking at how to increase the engagement in a year 10 class and as we sat and watched the lesson back in its entirety we realised that the engagement was actually not an issue, it was something slightly different that we wouldn’t have known about or recognised without the system. Being able to talk with two colleagues whilst watching the actual lessons was an experience that every teacher should have. How many times have you had ‘Real Time’ feedback as it were?”

“The system is amazing, you can view your own lesson where ever, whenever you want. I asked my mentor to watch the video of my teaching. He wrote notes and questions on the video that were time stamped allowing me to see exactly what he meant. For example, I missed an assessment opportunity that he spotted. When it’s pointed out to you and you can see it on the video it becomes so much clearer.”

Flipped Classroom

For the second strand of the project’s work, we approached the science faculty to see if they would be willing to take part in a flipped learning trial. The concept was sold to them (although most knew the general concept), through discussion and by using examples such as these;


We chose the science faculty for the trial as we identified that there are large parts of a typical science lesson that are the acquisition of knowledge before using that learning to enquire and investigate. If the knowledge was acquired pre lesson (or part of the knowledge), the lesson time could be used for the investigation of that learning. More time could be given to group work and hands on enquiry that leads to a deeper level of learning.

That was the plan, unfortunately, flipped learning has not been developed as far as was planned, due largely to time constraints. Enthusiasm still exists for developing a flipped learning scheme of work but we are in the situation of not having a large enough bank of resources available to plan a unit for the trail period to take place. We will continue to work on the resources so that the library grows and we are able to conduct an extensive trial producing evidence that we can use to develop flipped learning further at Beaumont Leys.

Next Steps

We are starting to use the IRIS system to share good practice at Beaumont Leys. We are building the vehicle by which staff access good practice (teachers demonstrating particular aspects of their teaching), videos through SharePoint Sites. The working title is ‘Online PL Library’. We are also linking our library to YouTube videos by academics such as John Hattie therefore signposting their work to our staff. The idea is that staff are set as contributors to the site and can add links to resources they have found, add to discussions, upload documents and generally spark conversation, collaboration leading to improvements to teaching and learning.

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