The Pupil Premium is in the news again and had us reflecting on what really works to raise the achievement of disadvantaged students. The Sutton Trust Teaching and Learning Toolkit confirms our own experience: the most cost effective intervention is feedback.
One of the techniques we teach is paragraphing. I thought the one I’d share with you today would be the classifying paragraph, which is so useful in writing to argue, persuade or advise. And this is how we do it.
First we give the pupils perfectly formed examples to deconstruct (we know they’re perfect because we write them ourselves … not great literature but effective models). Then we share the structure that is being used. They have a go. And what do you know? Their little idea suddenly has a shape; they share their efforts immediately with the class – who now have the knowledge and skills to judge the paragraph against some pretty stringent criteria. Is there a topic sentence? Does the paragraph have a word or phrase at the beginning and the end that links with the surrounding text? Does it build an argument using comparatives and superlatives? Is a variety of sentence structures used? This peer feedback is essential so that students articulate what they have learned, have a good long time to reflect on their own and each other’s writing, are able to internalise models.
AfL anyone? Of course: what works for all students works for disadvantaged students.
Oh … and by the way, the second and third most effective interventions? Meta cognition and peer tutoring.