Idea of the Month Archive

A Taste of PEEL archive

These samples taken from PEEL resources illustrate how PEEL teachers have worked in their classrooms.

The first four articles deal with the theme of Journey 3  - developing a language for learning. Students are better able  to understand how they learn most effectively when the teacher spends some time explicitly  teaching a way of talking about learning.

Journey 3 Building a shared language for learning  (Posted 21/3/2017)

A major insight from a PEEL meeting a few years ago was that perhaps the most crucial difference in PEEL from other good teaching practice was not so much the tasks the teachers set, but the way they talked about this with their students and thus the kind of shared language they built up. This enables teachers to introduce and highlight learning behaviours, debrief on lessons and activities, discuss their pedagogical reasoning and purposes, make links to big ideas and generally build a community that has a shared focus on learning. One goal is that students will be able to identify and articulate how they learnt, how they are learning and how they could learn better. As is elaborated in 3.6 - 3.10, there are several ideas from linguistics that can significantly improve the language for learning. 

Some Ideas

3.1 Building metacognitive knowledge requires a language to think and talk about learning (PEEL principle 11)

One key aspect of metacognition is knowledge about aspects of ineffective and effective learning. Clearly this requires a language of relevant words and phrases.

3.2 You might start the year with a discussion of questions such as what they think good  learning is/good learners do, but frame this as the beginning of an ongoing conversation

Several primary teachers regularly begin the year with a conversation like this and report success. It has been done at secondary levels, but teachers report that students initial views are commonly very simple and the issue is one that needs to be revisited, sometimes by students revisiting a labelled they drew of a good learner.

3.3 Both GLBs (Good Learning Behaviours) and teaching procedures are usually components of a language for learning, but there are others: debrief, reflection, big idea ...

As mentioned in Journeys 1 and 2, Putting labels on GLBs such as linking to an earlier lesson and talking about the learning purposes of different procedures such as POEs getting students to retrieve their existing (or prior) views is a common early aspect of this journey. Teachers can immerse their students in the language of learning/thinking through the procedures/teaching routines they decide to use Lets have some wait time; praise them when they do use the language and model the use of the language.

3.4 Apparently simple terms such as getting started and moving on acquire much richer meanings over time.

Getting started, for example comes to include thinking about the purpose of the task, what the student has done so far, what they need to do and deciding whether or not they need help from the teacher or a peer. Moving on acquires agendas of independently getting unstuck.

3.5  Big ideas become part of the language for learning (PEEL principle 10)

This has two levels, one is the general notion of big ideas and their roles  and the other the particular big ideas/key skills associated with the current topic.

3.6  Use inclusive language

We rather than I, our rather than my. This is our class, our learning community.

3.7  Use language to position students as active learners, thinkers,  scientists, writers, mathematicians etc

As a scientist, you might test this, as a writer you need to constantly revise your expression to meet your purposes (Language of identity)

3.8  Use language to help students explore their ideas and contributions, rather than (politely) saying they are wrong.

Name and notice publicly that a student has asked a thoughtful question Can you explain a bit more what you mean? Or made an interesting link - what made you think of that? or offered a great  idea How could we build on that interpretation? (Language of personal agency)

3.9  Use language to frame knowledge as (often) conditional and not fixed and absolute Use tentative terminology

What s  another perspective on that?, What s  your interpretation/theory?, (Language of Knowing)

3.10  Language of feedback and praise

Praise the thinking, the contribution, the questions, the wondering, the puzzling NOT  right answers. This means, of course, often not asking closed questions

Relevance to later journeys

Reflection  and building a co-operative community  are both easier as students develop relevant aspects of a language for learning.

As the shared language is built, a shift in the perception of roles of teacher and student  becomes more evident.  Children sense that they need to ask three or get themselves unstuck , that the teacher delays their intervention or gives wait time -  the teacher is not the holder of all knowledge and this becomes more visible as they can talk about it. This also leads to more explicit visibility of a teacher s  purposes and long term agendas .

The language enables the building of the understanding that classroom tasks should always be linked to relevant big ideas and key skills.  The children now have the language to talk about this, to ask questions, to justify and react to big ideas; they can also identify key skills needed, in part from their links to the GLBs


Where we have come from, where we're at and where we want to go, by Sarah Foley  Posted 13/03/2017

In this article Sarah who was fortunate enough to have spent a substantial amount of tme with her class, was able to establish with her students what they considered good learning to be and how they could be better learners. She had developed ways of talking to her students about learning.

Last year we had worked hard on developing a language for learning.  Initially we took small steps towards achieving this goal.  In the beginning this involved telling the students the names of the learning activities that we were using in class, and having some informal discussion about how the procedures work, and what thinking they encourage, or what they do to information (e.g. summarise, compare).  This progressed to more formal verbal and written reflections that occurred on a very regular basis.  These reflections were greeted with a sense of excitement and interest on the students behalf.  They enjoyed (far more than I had anticipated) discussing the names of and the reasons behind why we might choose certain learning activities.  They seemed to like being let in on secret teacher business .  There was another thrilling aspect of this work for me, and something that I had not expected or even thought about.  This was the real success that students who may be considered weaker in terms of content related performance indictors.  I found that students in this group were confident and extremely willing to contribute to reflection time, and very astute in their responses.  You could sense they really felt there was a time in class where they could put their hand up, and contribute something they felt comfortable about in front of their peers. The sense of achievement that this gave these students was a pleasure to watch.

After a while students became fairly competent and confident in discussing the range of learning activities that we had used in class.  This then brought me to a point in my teaching where I was forced to think "What was I trying to achieve with these students?  Where did I want to go from here?"  Obviously the overall aim is help students become truly independent learners.  Then I realised that if I was to achieve this, they needed to develop an understanding of the learning process that ran deeper than simply the names of procedures and why and when we may use them.  I realised that to do this I needed to take a step back and consider with the students the learning process itself.  That is, what is learning?  How do we learn?  And what helps us to be the best learners we can be?  This led to a unit of work that was covered in TLC.  We began with what the students believed learning to be. Below is a sample of answers and a discussion of their responses.

  • To learn is to be taught and to remember what has been told.  Like maths, I learnt how to divide e.g. 100 / 2 = 50 (Michael B)
  • Learning is where someone teaches you and you understand (Brittany)
  • I think that to learn you need to be taught and to be taught you need to learn (Maddy)
  • I think that learning is when someone teaches you something and you remember it (Mitch W)
  • Learning is when someone teaches you something and you learn about it (Brooke)
  • I think learning is when someone tells you something and then you take it in and you remember it (Darcie)
  • I think learning is when you don' t know something and someone comes in and tells you (Billy)
  • Learning to me is where someone has been teaching you something and you have learnt what you have been taught (Nicole)

We followed up this initial brainstorming activity by having a whole class discussion about the students responses to the initial question What is learning?   I asked them:

  • "What is the theme here?  What is one word that is being repeated?"
  • "Teaching, being taught." someone said.
  • "Yes!" I replied.  "But is that always true?"

This led onto a (very) lively discussion (debate/ argument) and some excellent points were raised including that if you see something on television, like a dance sequence, and you copy it, you have not been taught as such.  This led one student to protest:

 "The person doing the dance still taught you in a way.  They just didn' t know it".

Such arguments were bounced back and forth until the class went down the path of discussing newborns and infants.  They considered how people are born knowing how to suck to feed, and then walk and talk without being explicitly taught.  We even progressed onto discussing a jigsaw activity.  They agreed that even though the teacher may provide some initial stimulus material, students essentially learn elements of their expert area themselves, and then teach each other.  So we had arrived at a consensus that in fact, you do not need someone to teach you something in order to learn.  A "teacher" or teacher-like person as the fountain of all knowledge is not needed.

Following this we looked at some of the good learning behaviours and began to link these to the learning procedures.  Students began to become competent in identifying what good learning behaviours are encouraged or promoted by different procedures (concept map - good learners look for links, jigsaw - good learners cooperate etc).

We ended our unit of work with a survey designed to see how the students had progressed in their understanding throughout the unit.  Below is a sample of questions and responses.

What is learning?

  • Where you go looking for information and remember it.
  • I think learning that you remembered from teaching you or you reading and putting the important information in a Venn diagram or something else like that.
  • I think learning is when you have found out something new that has been told to you, observed by you, found out by you, or thought of by you, which you are able to remember later.
  • Learning is when you think about what you are doing.
  • Learning is when you are finding out new information, whether it be from a person or book etc andyou take it in and can remember it in a few weeks or more.  Relatively permanent.

 How do I (the teacher) know when you have learnt something?

  • When I can reflect in Community Circle a little while later.
  • When I can show you what I have learnt during project
  • By how I apply it to my work.
  • When you give us work and I can link it to other work, or when I can remember it on a test or reflection etc
  • We answer our reflections with good quality answers.
The development in the students responses by the end of this unit showed show that they had developed in terms of their understanding of the process of learning and good learning behaviours.  At the beginning of the unit their definitions of learning were quite shallow and most students said that they needed to be taught or told in order for learning to occur.  Their final responses indicate that they had developed an understanding of learning as an active process, and one that does not depend on another person necessarily.  They also developed the understanding that in order for you to learn there needs to be some thinking or processing of information involved.


Let's start with the learning by Damien Toussaint  (Posted 6/3/2017)

In the following article (taken from PEEL in Practice) Damien describes how, with a new class he starts to develop with his students a way of talking about their learning - a language for learning.

"Good morning guys. How are we all today?"

Some nods, some mumbled Good some silence. It s Year 7 English and that seems a fairly typical response for the second day of secondary school. They are still figuring me out.


On the IWB are two questions: What does learning involve? and What do good learners do? As I look at the questions I wonder if they are two questions that should be considered separately. Am I asking them to think about too much at once? I reassure myself that there is no rush. You have to go slow to go fast. I look back to my students and decide to press on.


I have asked my students to assemble at the front of the classroom. This is going to be our thinking, discussion and reflection space. In this space we will discuss our learning, how we are learning and the thinking routines that we use. In this space we will discuss ideas, share opinions, consider perspectives, construct meaning, articulate understandings, build trust. Away from the desks, away from the laptops, away from the distractions.

"So yesterday I mentioned that this year we will be talking about English and Learning at the same time and in the same breath. Today, I'm asking you to think about two big questions that we will discuss and explore throughout the year. Today I 'm just trying to get a snapshot of what you think at this moment in time. The ideas that you generate today will be our starting point for our year-long conversation about learning."

I don t ask for responses to the questions on the IWB (Interactive White Board) just yet. I want them to think back to yesterday and see what they can remember about the Think, Pair, Share This is an opportunity to get them to think about why I asked them to think about that cartoon using that procedure.


"So who can remember what Thinking Routine we used yesterday when we were looking at the cartoon?" 

I go to the board and write Thinking Routines at the top, using this as a chance for them to think and maybe even share their recollection of yesterday s class. It 's my first opportunity to encourage them to link yesterday with today. It s also an opportunity to reinforce and emphasise the term thinking routine one which I have used, with my students, in preference to procedure. These are important elements of my long-term agenda: to encourage my students to see the connection between their English lessons; not as a series of disconnected episodes. To begin to use and understand a language related to learning.


There is some whispered discussion as a write. I turn back to the class and there are a few hands up. Emma 's  hand is up and I choose her to get the ball rolling.



"Think, Pair, Share" Emma says confidently.


"That's right Emma, we used a Think, Pair, Share I pause. "And why (my emphasis) did we use this thinking routine?" 

Lots of hands shoot up.


"Put your hands down guys. A question that starts with why requires some extra thinking time" I pause. "So give yourself some more time to think that one through. I call this wait time."  

Emma explains how she first thought about the photo on her own, jotted down her ideas and then shared her ideas with a partner.


"Excellent Emma. That was a very thoughtful response. And why did I ask you to share your ideas?" I allow Emma some wait-time. I think she feels this and she takes her time to respond.


"I think you wanted us to listen to each other s ideas." she says.


"Great explanation Emma!" I say, making my excitement at Emma s explanation obvious. I turn to the board and write Think, Pair, Share under the heading Thinking Routines "I love these kinds of discussions,"I say as I face the class again.


"OK, so today I' m going to introduce you to another thinking routine that we will use throughout the year. This routine is called a Concept Map. Has anyone heard of or used a concept map?" 

There are no takers for this question. I suspect that some of them have, but it' s risky to put your hand up so early in the year, so I don t press the question or wait too long.


"A concept map is a routine that can be used to activate your prior knowledge. In other words, a concept map can help you to generate ideas and encourage you to think about a topic or a question. It also encourages you to make links among ideas. You could do this by yourself, but I think it s important that you learn from each other, so you are going to work in your table groups and develop your concept maps together."


I turn back to the IWB. I write Concept Map under the heading Thinking Routines and then flip back to the two big questions.


"We' ll use your concept maps as a building block for the year." As I 'm talking, I sketch a picture of building blocks, labelling the first level as Concept Map .


"So think about the concept map as the first level. We 'll build on and extend today s ideas throughout the year."


I then introduce the students to the four steps that they will use to construct their concept maps - Generate, Sort, Connect and Elaborate. Concept Mapping can be complex for younger students, so using a simple process, or structuring the thinking, can be helpful, like with the Think, Pair, Share . With some guidance from me, each of the groups makes a start. Each group, by the end of the class, is able to construct (very different) concept maps.

I make some rough notes on the board while I listen to the students and their discussions. I tell them that I will also be listening carefully to what they are saying and observing closely how they are working together. I tell them that I won t share these with them now, but I will use these are a way of connecting this class with the next. It will be an opportunity to introduce the notion of the debrief .


Learning about Learning   by Bree Moody (Posted 27/02/2017)

My focus

This year, I really wanted to spend more time talking to my kids about their learning. In the past, such conversations had been quite incidental to me, and were usually in response to what the kids had to say during reflection time. I certainly didn' t plan to have these discussions. So I was really entering into new territory here, but I was definitely excited about the prospects!

Getting Started

What do 7Green already know about learning? I really had no idea. So over a few lessons. I started probing, getting the kids to individually explore the following questions.

  • Why do we come to school?
  • What has your experience of school been like in the past?
  • Think of a time when you had a successful learning experience? What did it feel like? Why was it so successful?
  • Think of a time when you had an unsuccessful learning experience? What did it feel like? Why was it so unsuccessful?
  • What experiences would you like to have at school in the future?

 We then shared our responses in our TRIBES and community circle.

What did I find out?

Everyone agreed we come to school to learn new things so we can get a job. Lots of my kids associate successful learning with good grades, good behaviour & feeling good and unsuccessful learning with the opposite! The kids found it very difficult to explain Why an experience was successful or unsuccessful . When I asked them if anything was different to usual in such cases they said things like I found it easy or hard but had no real idea of why!

Where to next?

I think I really need to ban the word good, bad, hate, like, easy, hard & I don t know when doing these types of activities, that s all a lot of them wanted to say. I quickly realised I would need to give these kids lots of support in talking about learning? That is I would need to develop a Language for Learning!

Developing Language for Learning! - A work in progress

I really enjoy doing this with 7 Green. As the year has progressed I have definitely noticed an improvement in the way my kids talk. In fact, on Friday during community circle reflection, the kids started telling one of the students off for making their reflection too simplistic because he used the word good. Most of the time the kids really enjoy the activities and discussions we have about learning, especially when they get to talk about themselves! I have included some of the types of things we did in class to get this happening (and some of the kid s responses along the way)

What I have learnt from doing this:

  • I have to be very careful not to overload them with discussions and think pair shares! They get bored if we just talk!
  • Patience is the key- Getting kids to speak about learning in an articulate and meaningful manner takes time, but the more you do it, the better they get
  • As the year has progressed I have learnt to stop reflecting on the kids, and start reflecting on myself in front of them.

Grade 2 discuss and select their procedures,  by Tanya Whiteside  (Posted 19/02/2017)

(Even young students are able to identify strategies or procedures that can help with them their learning. In this article Tanya describes how her students (who she had been working with for some time) discussed which strategies would be the most effective for particular learning tasks  Ed).

ach week at the whole school assembly classes are judged on how well they are behaved at assembly.  At the end of each term, the scores are totalled and the winning class gets a fun day with either the principal, assistant principal or our leading teacher.  Our class had won first term, and now they had again for second term!  For this particular day they chose to have Mr Wigney, the school principal. 

On the Friday after the fun day, I suggested to the children it might be a nice idea to write letters to Mr Wigney about the day, thanking him for all the fun things they did.  We had done this for Mr Painter (leading teacher) on our last fun day.  The children agreed.  I told the children that they would need to select a procedure that would help them to reflect on the day before they started writing their letter.  I asked them to take 30 seconds of wait time to think about this carefully.  I set the timer so they knew when 30 seconds was up.  At the end of this time, quite a few hands went up.  The children started to make suggestions and then went to our class display and pulled off the procedure and bought it back to the board.

We put each procedure up on the whiteboard so we could discuss how / if it would be helpful.  The children suggested ways of using each one - I drew it up on the board while they spoke. 

They came up with :

Flow chart
Fish bone
Think pair share
Venn Diagram
Y Chart
Make a list

When we talked about the Think, Pair, Share I asked how this would work. 

Will: "You need someone to pair with".

As a class we discussed this one and we thought about how many children we would need doing this one in order for it to work.  We came up with four.  If we had four people interested we could use that one.

The Venn Diagram was interesting.  When I asked how this one could be used, Amy suggested:

 "You could do ice cream and free time". 

We talked about why we would want to compare two activities from the day and whether this would help to reflect on the whole day.  I needed to prompt the children with this one as I could see a way to use it. 

Teacher: "Have you ever had any other days like the one you had yesterday?"

Sophie: "The day with Mr Painter!  So you could do Mr Painter and Mr Wigney."

We came to the KWL chart.  It seemed this one had been chosen by a child who was really only interested in putting up a suggestion rather than thinking about how it might be helpful.  Nonetheless, she was making a contribution to the discussion and sharing her ideas.  When I asked her how she thought this procedure could help, she was unsure and couldn t explain it. 

Another child, Taeyah said;

 "We can t really use it because we didn' t really do any learning on the day (paused here - I wanted to jump in and say "Hey!  We learn something every day!" but I refrained, allowed the wait time for her to think, and then she went on) -… well, we might have learnt things but that s not what the day was all about."

Sophie: "KWL is more for when we are learning topics."

Tom: "It won' t really work but the PMI would.  You could say the Plus, Minus and Interesting things of the day".  With that he got up, pulled the PMI card off our display and put it on the board with the others.

Tom had made a good link - the KWL and PMI both have three columns and look quite similar.  The PMI would also work well for this activity.

The rest of the class agreed with this, so it was decided that this time the KWL would not really help us plan for our writing.  The child who suggested it was thanked for contributing it.

This discussion about how to use the procedures went on for around 25 minutes.  At the end of this, the children had no hesitation whatsoever about what they were going to use.  I had no templates organised, so I told them they had to draw up their own procedures.  Everyone got to work immediately and stayed on task for the remaining 40 minutes, working on their procedure and then moving on to the writing of the letter.  Only two children needed support with moving from the procedure to the letter - I suggested to Lauren that she probably needed to think about getting some of her letter done as she had done half of her fish bone and there was only 15 minutes remaining.  The other child is new to our class this term and he is still very much settling in.  He also has significant diagnosed difficulties with following more than one instruction at a time.

Three children had decided to do the Think, Pair, Share.  I asked the class if there was anyone who was making a list that might like to then become involved in the Think, Pair, Share.  Several children were doing a list.  Only Emily wanted to join the group, so now they had four.  They made their own list, went to a partner, then all got together on the floor to share their ideas - independently of me instructing them at each step.

Sophie used the shell container to trace around to make the circles for her Venn Diagram - she independently thought of this.

Brayden: "Mr Painter is a tricky one to spell".

The usual thing for me to say is "have a go at sounding it out."  I thought about how I could help him without giving him the spelling myself - I was thinking about the time they wrote letters to Mr Painter and wanted Brayden to remember this too.

Teacher: "Have a think about where you might have written his name before."

Brayden: Pauses.  Thinks.  Finger in air, says "Writing book". 

With my prompt, Brayden remembered we wrote our drafts for our letter to Mr Painter in our writing books.  He got out his book and copied the name onto his Venn Diagram.

When Jesse was finished his writing, I asked him to edit his work and perhaps use a dictionary.  I had not asked this of him before, but I knew he was very capable of it.  James overheard this conversation.  When he finished, he didn t ask, he went and got a dictionary and was checking the spelling of the word chocolate .  He recorded it in a red pencil on his writing on top of his first attempt at spelling it.

Soon after others were getting dictionaries off the shelf and checking their work.  Several were trying to look up the word Chinese as they had made Chinese Dragons on the day, but unfortunately it was not in this childrens version of a dictionary!

Jesse and Zoe were finished.  They came to me with their work.  I simply said to them, "Can you please work out how to move on now."  Without hesitation they packed up and moved on to busy beetle early finishers activities.  They needed no help to work out it was beetle activities they could do, not butterfly (beetles are for literacy, butterflies are for maths).  When others finished, they did the same, this time without coming to me.

The children had been very unsettled earlier in the week leading up to their fun day .  They were unconsciously excited and were very rowdy and quite off task.  This Friday morning, the children were as on task and engaged I ve seen them.  They are proving what good learners they certainly can be. 

We reflected about the use of the procedures the following Monday and this is what the children had to say in answer to the question How did the procedure help with your work?

Tom: Because you, um,  make a plan before you do your work and it gives you nearly everything you did on the fun day.

Lauren W: Because we had everything down already and it helped us to write it on the letter.

Taeyah: It helped us organise our ideas and then put them down and then when we forgot what we did, well kinda forgot, we could look on our procedure.

Nathan: It helped writing stuff down before you were writing the letter.

Sophie: It helped us if you did a Venn diagram to remember what we did with Mr Painter and Mr Wigney and remember what you did.

Brayden: Because if you just said write a letter you won' t be able to think what you did and the procedure could help you what you did on the other day.

Caelan: The thing, the procedure helps us to plan before our work and helps us and makes us think better and we get to copy it onto our work.


Journey 2: Using different teaching procedures  (Posted 13/2/2017)

In this article by Ian Mitchell, Ian describes how to use different teaching procedures. It is important for students to know why they are using particular procedures for different tasks. In a following article, Sarah Foley  shows how she has practised this in her classroom. (Ed)

There are well over 200 generic teaching procedures documented by PEEL and each of these is intended to stimulate and support particular aspects of quality learning. (All of the procedures can be found in Teaching for Effective Learning: the complete book of PEEL teaching procedures and PEEL in Practice the online database). It is important that students understand the links between the procedure and learning. This has two aspects; the first is that students build understandings that procedures such as Venn diagrams have purposes in terms of types of thinking and learning behaviours as well as an understanding of the value of these. The second is that they understand and displays the particular aspects of thinking/ learning behaviours intended by the procedures being used and link these to the content at hand.

Many teaching procedures require at least some GLBs (Good learning behaviours - Journey 1): a procedure such as P.O.E. (Predict, Observe, Explain) or Think Pair Share, for example, will fail if students are not prepared to offer and defend ideas and listen and react to the views of other students.

Some ideas:

2.1  There are many aspects of quality learning and different teaching procedures promote different aspects

Concept maps promote linking, POEs promote retrieval and restructuring of prior views, for example. When selecting procedures, you need to think about the aspects of learning that you want for this lesson; the way the procedures are grouped into 8 groups as well as the list of teacher concerns on the database are two ways of doing this.

2.2  Select teaching procedures that will promote aspects of effective learning relevant to the activity/topic (PEEL principle 9) and debrief on both the teaching procedure and the aspects of learning. In other words, start talking about aspects of effective learning/GLBs after they have experienced them, not before (PEEL principle 11)

When we began PEEL, we began by talking to students about learning in general, this failed badly and we quickly learnt students had to experience good thinking/learning before we could talk about it.

2.3  Expect that the first time you use a new procedure it may not go as smoothly as it will with a little more teacher and student experience

For example, you get better at selecting a set of terms for a concept map with practice. Moreover the first time students do one, they often see the purpose as to get every term linked, not to think about each term with each of the others. This means you commonly lose a bit of time the first time you use a new procedure. Capitalise on this teacher and student learning by trying to use any one procedure more than once during the year.

2.4  Often students need to see an example of the output from a new teaching procedure to be able to get a sense of what they are going to do.

Student need to be able to imagine the destination. They do a better concept map if they have seen one with terms linked to many others, they do a better (more creative) piece of translating content points into a creative story if they see/hear a couple of examples of writing that is creative.

2.5  Where needed, acknowledge that you are asking them to think more/harder, look for opportunities to point out the value of this

Concept maps (to continue with this example) require quite a bit of thinking, students may grizzle at this. it is better not to dismiss these complaints out of hand, agree that, in one sense you are calling for more and take opportunities to show how they have benefited (for example by clarifying something they had not understood).

2.6  PEEL procedure require energy, so variety is important ( PEEL principle 8)

The issue here is the same as in 2.5, we learnt early in PEEL that we needed more variety when setting tasks that required more thinking - we literally ran into problems setting concept maps too frequently when we first became aware of them - use a range of procedures that stimulate linking.

2.7  Teaching procedures reported as useful early in the year include ones that get students offering ideas and questions (PEEL principle 1)

These are not the only ways of getting off to a good start, but they do allow teachers to build a sense of shared intellectual control by valuing and using students contributions and questions.

2.8   Build to the point where students can be asked to choose which procedure to use from a short list

This takes several months as students need to be familiar with a range of procedures, but several teachers then get students to decide on what they will use to, for example, plan a piece of writing. When making this use of procedures, the term teaching procedure is much less appropriate, we are still searching for a better label: procedures, learning tools and thinking routines have all been used.


Students select their own procedures by Sarah Foley   (Posted 6/2/2017)

One of our 10 Journeys of Change is students building the range of procedures that they use. Early on, these procedures are teacher selected, but Sarah has got her class to the point where the students can now make sensible suggestions and decisions about which procedures would be appropriate for a particular task. (Ed)

This term the theme for Year 8 is Challenge. In Communication and Culture we look at a variety of challenges including:

  • The concept of personal challenge and examples of people who have overcome extreme personal challenges
  • Local challenges - what challenges do communities face (alcohol, violence, litter, having adequate facilities etc)
  • Global challenges- famine, poverty, access to clean water and sanitation facilities

A part of the term also involves reading the play version of Two Weeks with the Queen. 

When we had finished reading the play the students complete a variety of activities designed to help them investigate the plot, themes in the play and analyse the characters in greater detail. 

 At the beginning of the session I told the Yellows (Sarah's class is 8 Yellow) that the first job we needed to do was make a list of the main events that happened in the story.  I asked them how we could best do this. After providing the students with some wait time Jaymee said We could do a think - pair - share (their favourite response, usually pretty safe) 

Yes, we could do that Jaymee, well done.  Why would a think - pair- share help us in this situation?

It could give us ideas if we are stuck and can t remember,

Great Trent, thanks,

Or if we have missed some of the story if we were away, other people can fill us in, Jared added.

Great, any other ideas?, I asked.

So we can remember on our own in the think part, added Meaghan, so we do the hardest thinking and remembering on our own.

Fantastic Meaghan, that s right.  Any other ideas apart from a think - pair - share?.  There was silence at this point. O.K. think - pair - share it is, go for it guys.

The Yellows spent the next two minutes thinking and writing on their own before pairing up and sharing their ideas.  Each pair then joined with the other pair on their table and they shared as a tribe.  Following this we shared as a whole class groups.

After asking for responses from each group we ended up with the following list:

  • Luke getting sick on XMAS day
  • Luke Colin and the nurse playing cricket in the hospital
  • Colin and Alistair trying to break into Buckingham Palace
  • Griff dying
  • Colin getting sent overseas
  • Colin letting the tyres down of cars outside the hospital
  • Colin not liking his Christmas present of new school shoes
  • Finding out Griff is gay
  • Colin coming back to Australia
  • Luke having tests in Sydney
  • Colin making friends with Ted

I told the Yellows that this was a great list, but not everything was a main event.  We discussed the idea of a main event being something that keeps the story moving along. 

As a class we decided to remove:

  • Luke Colin and the nurse playing cricket in the hospital
  • Colin not liking his Christmas present of new school shoes
  • Colin letting the tyres down of cars outside the hospital

Great, I said. Now we are left with a great list of main events.  All these things help keep the story moving forward.  Then I asked But - what is the problem with our list?.

Not enough answers?, Rob offered unsurely. 

Hmmmm, I said, I think we have a comprehensive list up there. 

Can we have some wait time?, asked Reece.

Yes!!! Great idea, have a minute.