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How Students Learn

Making it Stick

Daniel Willingham said ‘memory is the residue of thought’. Every decision we make about learning and teaching is driven by two principles about learning:
• If nothing has changed in long term memory, nothing has been learnt
• Forgetting is inevitable
No matter how brilliant a year 7 English lesson appeared, if the pupils cannot remember it two weeks later, it wasn’t learnt. Understanding sometimes gets confused with learning, but they are not the same thing. Therefore, everything we ask students to do, and everything we talk to teachers about, is designed to make more knowledge stick in long term memory.

Lessons and lesson structure

At Fulwood we expect that teachers plan to make learning stick. There are a number of our Teach SMART principles that every lesson follows.
All lessons start with a high challenge retrieval activity of knowledge that has already been taught to ensure that this knowledge ‘sticks’, followed by a period of fully guided teacher instruction (‘I do’ ->‘We do’->‘You do’). This is driven by a behaviour management system that is underpinned by the teaching of positive habits and routines through positive unconditional regard and sets the tone for learning.

The residue of thought - homelearning and retrieval

Every lesson at Fulwood Academy starts with 10 minutes of high challenge retrieval questions designed to stop the forgetting of the most vital knowledge, facts and skills. The questions are drawn from a broad knowledge base, including previous topics and previous years to ensure that knowledge sticks.
We place such an importance on making the knowledge stick that homelearning is designed around thinking and remembering.  Homelearning is set every week on Classcharts and places the remembering of knowledge as its top priority. This knowledge is remembered in the Do Now tasks at the start of each lesson. it is expected that all students attempt all the ‘Do Now’ questions, and those not attempting all of them are challenged. Teachers will refrain from providing too much help in the first 10 minutes, instead motivating students to think hard without looking back over previous work.
The teacher then spends time going through the answers, reteaching the most important points if necessary, and students make corrections. It is our belief that the more knowledge that is retrieved in Do Now quizzes, the more is remembered.

Fully guided instruction: ‘I do’ ⇒ ‘We do’ ⇒ ‘You do’

Following the ‘Do Now’, teachers begin instruction in the ‘I do’ phase. This is where teachers introduce the new content clearly with great examples, models and explanations. We pitch it high, so everyone is challenged. Adaptive strategies are carefully planned to ensure that all learners can access this new content.
We follow this with a ‘We Do’ phase that provides support. Here you will see processes deconstructed, lots of questions being asked, pupils helping the teacher do some more examples, paired talk, and practice with writing frames.
Finally, students practice the new thing they’ve learnt independently without support. This is about developing resilience and independence from the teacher and therefore often minimal support from the teacher is seen. Rather than different levels of task, we strive for everyone doing the same, difficult thing. The support given in the ‘We Do’ phase ensures that all pupils can perform the ‘you do’ practice successfully, gaining confidence and vital knowledge in long term memory as they do so.

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