Use of Mini Whiteboards

January 2018 Update

Perked up by an unhealthy amount of sugar and caffeine, our third CPD Monday meeting kicked off with a buzz. We started by reflecting upon how we described ourselves as learners in our first meeting in September. (Anonymously) staff had used phrases such as ‘I beat myself up if I get something wrong’, ‘constantly reflecting and tweaking’, ‘mistakes=growth’ and ‘gaining confidence in the not-knowing’. I think we are truly becoming a teacher learning community and I appreciate the honesty of the participants.

As we split into the same groups as last session, teachers reflected upon the work they had done so far tweaking their use of mini whiteboards. We are focusing this part of each session, as well as the year-long project as a whole, around the question: 

How do we design mini-whiteboard activities so we can make rapid and effective instructional adjustments?

Chapter 4, Eliciting Evidence of Learners’ Achievements, from Dylan Wiliam’s book Embedded Formative Assessment helped refresh some of the strategies we are all familiar with, but also initiated debate around the design of questions which invoke the best evidence of learning. This chapter helped to refresh some strategies we were all familiar with, but also initiated some debate around the design of questions to help us to elicit evidence. What are we actually trying to find out from the students? Can they still get it right even if they don’t understand thoroughly? How will a question design help me to adjust my lesson to best progress the students? For example:

Mini wb blog

88% of students correctly got A for Question 1 – if a teacher had used this question in isolation it might be judged that the students understand how to order fractions. However, only 46% of the class correctly got A for Question 2 and (most significantly) 39% of students incorrectly chose B. If a teacher had used both questions together, he or she may have been able to spot that too many students focus just on the denominator when judging the size of fractions. Dylan William’s main point here is...

...when we ask students a question and get the answer we were hoping for, we tend to conclude that the students’ learning is heading in the right direction.

The rest of the chapter threw up lots of interesting questions for us as teachers and is well worth a read.

In our last staff meeting, our Headteacher, Jy Taylor, shared his vision of a move towards a professional culture which drives quality assurance. Teachers creating their own CPD through working with other teachers in a high trust environment is a new way of looking at teacher development. Observations are interesting for the observer, but for the teacher it can be a great source of data to help reflect upon use of mini whiteboards more effectively. I also highlighted how the questions we had just explored from Dylan William’s book were often collaboratively written. With these points in mind, staff got on with planning their next steps and thinking about how staff collaboration could be a central part of that.

The sugar and caffeine were wearing off but there was still a buzz.

I really look forward to the observations I am personally involved in over the next few weeks, as well as seeing how other colleagues benefit from the collaboration brought about by our dialogue group.

Most significantly for me, as I reflect upon how our group is developing - I am extremely excited by the fact that one member of our group who has found some research around retrieval practice relevant to mini whiteboard use has kindly agreed to present it at our next meeting in March – bring it on!.....