Two simple things….

Inset went well today.  There were two parts to it.  Today I’ll discuss the first part …….. I had one of the teachers feed back on her Philosophy for Children training and then I followed up with questioning techniques and how we need to be more aware of higher order questions, planning them into our lessons and training the children to use them for discussions in class.

We discussed ‘talk’ and how important it is to give opportunities for talk in the classroom. This was coupled with the fact that we need to expand the children’s vocabularies and expose them to new words while teaching them how to access new words.  We looked at statistics such as how there can be a difference of up to 30 million words spoken between families from low income and higher income earning families.  Further, how often the nature and impact of these words differed significantly.  This moved into how for every negative comment it takes up to 10 ‘attaboys!’ to reverse its impact.  Again we looked at the statistics in how the ratio of negative to positive comments can differ dramatically between households of differing incomes and what impact this has on those children.

At the very beginning of the year, my headteacher’s blog (to parents) focused on the ‘dinner table’ talk and about how we need to bring back these conversations.  I have been trying to encourage our parents to focus on conversational skills with their children and much of what we have been doing in school has centred on creating opportunities for ‘talk.’

It is essential for us to get back to these key basics…..questioning and ‘talk.’ Two simple activities but ones that provide instant impact.

Differentiation can be achieved simply by thinking about and planning our questions to elicit higher order thinking. Just by changing the phrases we use or the way we approach questioning techniques, can raise the attainment and motivation of all our pupils.

How do you use ‘talk’ effectively in your school? Are questions central to the daily lesson plans?

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