A little while back I published a blog where I had collected some of the videos I made for Oak during the first Lockdown. Those videos are no longer available, but people seemed to enjoy the post and I got lots of really helpful feedback, so I thought I’d post a couple of videos from the last few weeks. If you didn’t read that post, I’ve copied the introductory text below which explains the purpose of the exercise, so please check that out first. If you read that post then skip on down to the videos.

These videos are way more rough and ready than the ones I did for Oak and are mostly ad hoc, so I imagine there will be plenty for you to give me feedback on. One last thing – protip: watch on 2x speed.

“As you may know, I’ve prepared the year 7 science lessons for the Oak National Academy last term. By the end of term, I finished 44 lessons, each one featuring a pre and post quiz, an instructional video and at least one practice set. 

I taught the lessons according to a method broadly construed as “explicit instruction,” which involves the teacher explicitly giving students all the information they need, but chunking it down to cognitive-load-friendly bites, providing lots of practice, opportunity for retrieval and feedback. For more about the general approach see here, or buy this excellent book (if I can say so myself) here

For a long time, I wanted to do explicit instruction, but didn’t really have any models of explicit instruction to look at. The teachers in my school didn’t teach in the way that I wanted to teach so I was sort of making it up as I went along. Ironically, given the importance of expert instruction and feedback to explicit instruction, not only was I having to work it out myself, but I wasn’t getting any feedback that aligned with the approach either. This meant it took me a hell of a long time to make marginal gains. I got plenty of feedback, but it was from a different paradigm of teaching – a language that I didn’t share. Where I wanted feedback on the clarity of my instruction, I was given feedback about the need for students to put their thumbs up or down to signal understanding. Where I wanted feedback on the challenge a particular problem set, I was given feedback about getting students up and active.

So when I say model here and throughout, I don’t mean “the best or most perfect possible example” – I just mean someone who is thinking the same way and trying to do the same thing, who has then gone and done it in a way that I can see and learn from.

I’ve long maintained that teachers observing each other and giving and receiving feedback is one of the best ways for them to get better at their craft – provided the observer is working within the same paradigm as you. Feedback that ignores or undermines your entire pedagogical approach isn’t really going to move you forwards by all that much. Even during the best of times, I think there are lots of teachers out there who are in contexts just like the one I was in: wanting to work on their modelling, chunking, sequencing, clarity of explanation, quality of independent student practice…but have nobody in their school who can really help them. These are the worst of times, when we are even further isolated from our colleagues and deep thought about pedagogy becomes an internal process bereft of the beneficial levers of models, feedback and challenge. 

As such, I thought that, bearing in mind the videos are public anyway, it would be good to try and get the videos out there with two aims.

Aim 1: to get feedback myself

Feedback is a gift, and if you watch my videos and think “oh I think he could have done x better by doing y” then that gift would be absolutely welcomed. I want to get better, but that’s a lot harder without that feedback and challenge as above.

Aim 2: to serve as a model

Again I reiterate – when I say model I don’t mean “the best possible example.” I just mean something you can look at and think “oh that’s a cool way to do things maybe I could try that.” No more, no less. I’ve had to do an absolute ton of hard thought before each of the videos, and if I can spare you that thought or help push it along then I would be honoured to do so. It is a privilege to give teachers useful ideas, and this may achieve that. 

Video 1: year 7 energy efficiency – Do Now and modelling

Check out this video for question selection in a Do Now, how to go over a Do Now, followed by modelling of efficiency with sequenced examples and a slow fade into student independent practice

Video 2 + 3: year 7 speed – Teaching equations

I have a bit of a different way of teaching equations that relies on visual representations and trying to communicate the meaning of the equation before using it to solve problems.

Video 4: year 9 atomic models – Winging a quick and dirty retrieval lesson

This is for a group who can really struggle with science and I’m just drilling the basics. Having covered atomic models a little while back, they watched an Oak video and then I did some recap work. The lesson demonstrates a quick and dirty method to get some retrieval in, where you use a diagram as a springboard for questioning, moving from I to We to You throughout. Takes very little time to prep but is pretty effective.