HPL in Senior School - four key classroom strategies
High Performance Learning (HPL) encourages teachers to reflect upon their practice and to try out new strategies to support the learning of their students.
Over this last year, teachers in Senior School and Sixth Form have focused on four key strategies. These are easily employed without distracting from delivering lesson content and aim to develop HPL characteristics and skills, which we believe are vital for student success, both now and in the future.
1. Enquiry-based learning
Every lesson is based around a central ‘enquiry.' This might range from a short answer question such as: What is Osmosis? in Biology or How does attrition work? in Geography, to an enduring question of great complexity such as: What do we learn from the study of History?.
Framing lessons as a question encourages students to see their learning as a process of exploration, an opportunity to engage in debate, to research and reflect, and to find their own answers. HPL encourages students to be curious about the world, and we know when students are curious, they learn at a deeper and more sophisticated level
2. Empowering decision-making
In every lesson, students have at least one opportunity to make a decision about how they learn. HPL encourages students ‘metacognitive processes’, encouraging them to think about how they learn most effectively.
Instead of providing uniform instructions on how students of all levels of confidence must work, students have freedom and control over how they learn. For example, where once they might have completed a written task, now they might choose to answer a question visually, making a mind-map, a poster, model or even recording their own film.
This helps students to develop new skills and also to take greater responsibility for their own learning.
We encourage students to try out new ways of working to help them identify for themselves what works best for them, and to help them develop a toolkit of strategies that they can confidently apply, whatever the task set in the future.
3. Collecting feedback during lessons
Asking students to put their hands up to answer questions can have value, but only tells a teacher about the progress of the students confident enough to volunteer.
At St Mary's, we have been working on other ways to collect feedback, such as the Think-Pair-Share model: students are given time to think about their answer, then discuss it with a partner, then finally share it with the class.
This helps students to hone their answer through debate with a peer and gives less confident students an opportunity to check their understanding before sharing it with the class. Question sessions in class, it has been said, can become like a tennis match, with a question fired at students and an answer returned, when really they should be like basketball, with the question shared, passed and answered by the whole class.
4. Measuring progress in every lesson
Teachers have been seeking to measure progress at least once in every lesson. Previously, assessment of progress might take the form of a written task or exam style test after a series of lessons, but now we aim to assess feedback more regularly.
This can be quickly collected in many ways, such as asking students to score their confidence for themselves on white boards or by completing an online quiz. This gives teachers hugely valuable real-time measure of student understanding, allowing them to intervene immediately and to support any students who would benefit from help within the same lesson - rather than waiting potentially weeks for a summative assignment, during which time misunderstandings can become embedded and more difficult to reverse.
HPL encourages students to be curious about the world, and we know when students are curious, they learn at a deeper and more sophisticated level.
Dr Andrew Flint, History and Politics Teacher / Global Lead Teacher for HPL in History
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