Approaches to Learning at The Meadows
We have developed three curriculum drivers that shape our curriculum, bring about the aims and values of our school, and to respond to the particular needs of our community. Our drivers are designed to ensure that our children are personally successful, independent thinkers ready for their journey of lifelong learning. Life is not a straight line, therefore we want our pupils to be prepared to overcome their challenges and embrace new opportunities.
One of our drivers is spirituality. This means that our children are reflective about themselves, their learning and their potential for the future.
One of our priorities this year as a school, in order to aid our pupils’ learning recovery, is the promotion of metacognition and self-regulation. This means that we aim to help our pupils to think about their own learning more explicitly and teach them specific strategies to help them plan, improve and evaluate their learning as well as to problem solve.
Educational research suggests that by ‘learning to learn’, it can have a signification positive impact upon a child’s progress and attainment.
Link to EEF.
How do we promote metacognition and self-regulation at The Meadows?
The notion of a growth mindset (Dweck 2000) has become an accessible concept to describe the way learners need to feel about themselves and their abilities, in order to be successful learners. Research over many years has highlighted that we all differ as learners, being mostly fixed or mostly growth, and differing in different situations. The table below highlights the differences between the two mindsets.
People with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and ability are fixed – something that we are born with and that we can’t really do anything about. People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence and ability can be developed through persistence, effort, learning from our mistakes and trying different strategies.
At The Meadows, we recognise that children need to be prepared for an ever-changing world. Therefore, we teach pupils to develop a growth mindset in order to build resilience and a desire to learn, to challenge themselves and to encourage others – all of which are necessary for children’s success both at school and for their future.
The Growth Mindset approach reinforces the Secrets of Success which are at the very core of our school culture. Chris Quigley is a well-regarded specialist in primary education, leading figure in educational research, publishing and curriculum design who summarises this approach by simply stating that “Let your chid know success is a choice, not luck.”
Use of the Thinking Hats
At school, we also use the Edward De Bono’s thinking hats (as another metacognition tool) to help the children think, organise, reflect and assess their learning.
The thinking hats are an essential part of marking and feedback at our school.
In addition, they form the basis of our approach of behaviour and restorative justice.
Assessment for Learning
One essential strategy we use at school to help our children learn is encouraging them to talk about their learning – what they have done well and what they need to work on. We call this AFL or Assessment for Learning. This approach enables our pupils to become actively involved in the learning process so that they know where they are now, where they are going and how they need to get there.
By using AFL, we are teaching the children to be reflective thinkers who assess their achievements and needs – a life-long skill.
Learning happens when students are given opportunities to build upon previous knowledge and experiences. Research consistently shows that only telling learners what they need to know is much less effective than helping them construct meaning for themselves.
How does AFL help my child?
- Improved outcomes - Learners have a clear idea of what good work looks like and what they need to do to reach this standard.
- Increased confidence – They recognise the impact of their hard work and determination and how it has helped them to improve.
- Increased independence – They are actively engaged in their leaning, with the ability to assess themselves and take responsibility for their own learning. Research suggests it can also encourage pupils to become enthusiastic life-long learners.
- Development of a growth mindset – It encourages children to recognise that mistakes are an essential part of learning, which help them to learn in the future in order to reach their potential. It can encourage them to take risks in their learning because they are less worried about making mistakes.
In each lesson, our pupils are provided with the opportunity to talk about and evaluate their learning. This is done in two ways:
- Pupils are encouraged to reflect on their success criteria, and how successful they have been in their learning. They are asked to tick this success criteria off during the lesson.
- Pupils write a green comment indicating what they have done particularly well at, and a red comment reflecting upon how they can improve and the next steps in their learning.
Growth Mindset in Maths
At the heart of our Maths curriculum is the idea that all children can achieve and be successful mathematicians with the right growth mindset. In school, we have adopted the five Power Maths characters, each with their own positive skillset, to inspire and motivate children. These characters are:
In lessons, we encourage our pupils to demonstrate these characteristics in order to be successful. In our assembly on a Friday, we celebrate children who have displayed these traits and reward them with certificates.
RUCSAC approach to solving problems in Maths
One key characteristic of a successful Mathematician is that they can solve problems. In order to do this effectively and efficiently, our children require a good strategy. One that we promote is called the RUCSAC method. Whenever they are faced with a problem, we encourage our children to use the strategy as followed:
R- Read the question.
U- Underline the key fact.
C- Choose the correct method or operation.
S- Solve the problem.
A- Answer the question.
C- Check the answer.
The children are aware of each of the characteristic of a reader and they use these to inform their reflections each week. It is important that the children are aware that reading is more than decoding, but that decoding is a necessary skill to access the text. This is also reflected in our home learning as the children complete a Canine Comment each week.
We use our canine companions to promote individual characteristics of a reader. They include:
The Writing Process
Within writing, the children start each lesson with a recall or consolidation of a skill. These skills are centred around VCOP. The children complete a short task (usually a game) in order to practise their use of vocabulary, conjunctions, openers and punctuation. We also encourage the children to edit their writing within the lesson and dedicate a separate lesson to improving their writing and recognising what they have done well. This is especially important in the current climate as we are referring to skills from the previous milestone that the children may not be confident in.
In Science, to support children’s understanding of scientific enquiry we use ‘Enquiry mats’ that explain what each aspect of a scientific investigation will explore and how this forms a cycle of enquiry. They ask questions and give examples which encourage the children to be more independent and enable them to record their own ideas, understanding and using scientific vocabulary. These mats develop to show progression in knowledge and skills across the school from EYFS to upper Key Stage 2. Each area of the enquiry cycle has a symbol associated with it. These are consistent in all classes and are displayed so that the children become familiar with them and it prompts their memory and awareness of what they are doing.
Early Years Practice
Children enter the Early Years with a natural curiosity about the world around them and an inquisitive nature. Through a metacognitive approach we can develop learning further as they find their own fascinations, learn through playing and exploring, active learning and develop critical thinking.
We can build foundations by providing a safe enabling environment and encouraging children to reflect their daily learning. This is achieved through adults modelling the language of learning and effective learning behaviours.
Pupils with Special Educational Needs
Metacognition is essential for our pupils with SEND. Whilst many of our interventions to develop cognition and learning are based upon overlearning and a multisensory approach, each child will find different strategies more beneficial than others. Children will be scaffolded through the modelling of the language of learning to reflect on their own way of approaching a task and their own strengths. A growth mindset will build confidence to explore different learning styles and learn about how they learn. This will support them in acquiring knowledge and developing skills throughout their lifelong learning journey.
Here are some key questions you could ask your child to help them reflect on their learning:
To encourage your child to assess their learning independently, ask them to use the traffic light system below: