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Suggestions for an AFL lesson?

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#1 SiobhanT



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Posted 19 November 2006 - 07:42 PM


I'm desperately in need of some help :crazy: . I'm being observed this week and the focus is AFL in History. I have a few ideas but I've never taught a full AFL lesson before and I don't want my year 7s to die of boredom (I've heard nothing but dire tales from other people who have to teach them almost daily) nor do I want my HOD to do the same. :(

I'm starting a castles SOW and I was going to look at the development of castles. I'm aware that it'll fit in nicely with AFL but I'd really like any ideas for interesting AFL tasks if they exist!

Thank you thank you thank you! xx :flowers:

#2 Simon Ross

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 11:33 PM

At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, I'm not sure that your aim should be to teach 'a full AFL lesson'. The assessment for learning initiative can't be the focus of the lesson, after all it is just a set of ideas about how to help students learn. Many of these ideas you probably use anyway in your normal classroom practice.

We recently had an INSET where we tried to define AfL. Most of the responses centred around: making the learning aims clear to students, using a range of activities to engage the students, getting the students to reflect on the learning (through peer and self assessment), and giving feedback to students that focuses on how they can improve (formative) rather than what they can currently do (summative).

If you really want to tick the AfL box I would suggest including:

- An enquiry question for the lesson.

- Learning aims that are made explicit to the students (often through having them written on the board).

- A three part lesson structure that uses a range of activities: ideally there should be some variation here, possibly with some visual material, some reading, some physical movement (eg standing on a continuum of agreement or disagreement, or simply thumbs up and thumbs down), some music. However this may depend as much on the best way of teaching that topic as on the 'preferred learning styles' of the students.

- An opportunity for the students to reflect on their own learning. This could be by getting the students to smiley face the aims at the end of the lesson. :) Ready to move on, :mellow: Understand some parts but not all :( Don't understand this and need to look at it again. Alternatively you could give them some success criteria (e.g. write in paragraphs, use capital letters for names, include dates) for a piece of work and then get them to draw a smiley face where they have done this in their work.

- A plenary that links back to the lesson aims, and links forward to future lessons.

AfL is not, I believe, just about this peer and self assessment. This is clearly something that can be overused, and as you suggest can lead to some boring lessons. AfL is about making the learning process more explicit, and if you are taking some steps towards that then surely you meet the observation focus.

Edited by Simon Ross, 19 November 2006 - 11:35 PM.

#3 A Finemess

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 05:24 PM

Why not set the question ... "What features made castles hard to capture".

Get the kids to work in pairs. Issue a drawing of a castle and tell them this is a typical castle of the period. One kid describes the castle to the other who has to try and make his / her own sketch of castle without looking at the original. (This forces them to focus on the details of the actual castle.)

Then get them to work together to annotate the copy with labels. Some of these can be given as starters / prompts. ("This made the gate easy to defend" )

Others can be left to the pupils themselves.

AT the end of this activity, the groups swap sheets and mark each others' efforts using criteria you have puton the OHP / smartboard etc.
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#4 JohnDClare


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Posted 20 November 2006 - 09:56 PM

I'm very grateful to Simon Ross, because I have to admit that I didn't understand Siobhan's question, for much the same reason that he suggests.

As I understood it, AfL - Assessment for Learning - was originally all about the assessment process of getting to pupils to understand why - in a particular assignment, piece of classwork or assessment piece -they had gained the level they had gained, and what they needed to do to advance to the next level. At thsat time it was essentially something that the teacher did on his exercise books, after the lesson was finished. We started highlighting 'passages that demonstrated the level' when we were marking, and adding 'Ways you can improve' after we had marked each piece of work. I have to admit, that WAS a hell-of-a-sight better that 'try to work more neatly next time'.

Then - again as I understood it - AfL then became all linked up with the idea of a plenary, because that was when the teacher assessed the progress made by the pupils, and used that information to make sure that his next lesson was the relevant next step for the pupils in the class. Thus AfL became part of the process of lesson planning, because it was informing the best way to prepare the next lesson(s).

And the latest I had heard - again as understand it - was that you had to do mini-plenaries throughout your lesson, so that you could make sure that not only was the next lesson the next step, but that the next step in the lesson was the right 'next step' for the pupils. By this, AfL was being integrated into the TEACHING process, because it was something the teacher was doing to guide his teaching throughout the lesson.

Nevertheless, even though we were seeing a developing concept, the concept of AfL was of something which SUPPORTED the children's learning - something which you applied TO your lesson plan.
I have never before heard of the idea of an AfL lesson per se - an AfL lesson for AfL's sake!

So was Siobahn being asked simply to teach a normal lesson, but just one where she would demonstrate that she was using AfL principles in the marking, the planning and the delivery of her lesson (as above) ... or had the concept of AfL had moved on, and that now we were supposed to be able to teach 'AfL LESSONS'!

I mean, there are lots of very ambitious people out there making a good living from delivering training about this, and it pays them to keep on inventing new things for us to have to 'learn' how to do!!! So - is there such a thing? From Simon's post he seems mere to be describing what I have always called a three-part 'Secondary Strategy' lesson, and CALLING it an AfL lesson. Have we started doing this now? Or is an AfL lesson something different? Or does Siobhan need to go back to her HoD and ask what he means by an AfL lesson??

Genuinely not being sarcastic here ... things move on and its very easy to get left behind.
Reading Siobhan's post made me worry that it had happeend to me. :unsure:

#5 HTowler


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Posted 20 November 2006 - 10:14 PM

I agree with all that has been said. My understanding is that you have to give the pupils an opprtunity to assess what they have learnt and for you to use that information to help you assess how to move the lesson on.

Some things we do

1. Traffic lights. Give each child a red yellow and green card joined together with a treasury tag. Ask children a question, at strategic parts of the lesson, to assess what they have understood. For example, who feels confident in explaining why castles changed from being built out of wood to being built from stone? Or, How hard did you find this activity?

2. After pupils have done a piece of work, they draw and colour a red square on their page, if they feel they still don't understand the work, yellow if they feel so, so about it, and green if they understand.

3. For younger pupils, ask them to peer mark each others work, using the Three Stars and a Wish system. For example, they have to write three things they really liked by the "stars" for example, i like the way you have used connectives, and the wish is one thing to improve, for example, I wish you had put more detail in the last answer.

Good luck


#6 SiobhanT



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Posted 21 November 2006 - 05:55 PM

Thank you so much!

I wasn't sure either what I was being asked to do! :unsure:

I did have to go and ask around - I'm not a new teacher either, so it was a bit embarrassing! I got a wide range of answers, so I think there's a lot of confused people out there.

I've got my lesson together, and decided to throw caution to the wind - bit of ISM on castles, then I'm simply giving them levels ranging from 3 - 5 with the criteria, then lots of interactive activities and finishing with a bit of peer assessment using the levels. Or smily faces! I'll be using the objectives explicitly anyway!

I'm NOT wasting precious lesson time doing nothing but levels and telling them exactly what they need to do as surely they have to find out for themself? And develop their own writing style. Like John said we shouldn't teach AFL for AFL's sake, but I think in some places (my school!) some people have got slightly carried away and have taken the 'mini plenary' tactic to whole activities, with leveling, peer marking and "how-to-write-a-level-7/A*-answer..." activities.

Thank you for the extra guidance and advice - it's been really helpful! :flowers: xx

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