Teaching and Learning


JWA Teaching & learning bulletin

Half term 4 - 2017


Despite our trepidation at being filmed using the learning structures, it was clear that the experience was ultimately a positive one. It was so valuable to watch other teachers use the structures in different ways and to witness the engagement of the students. It is always a privilege to watch other colleagues in action and hopefully we will eventually build up a bank of videos covering many of the structures.

Outstanding Teaching and Learning at JWA

Something that's gone down quite well with Y9 is 'Question Master'. I give a student the bell at the start of each lesson and they can ring it at any time in the lesson to ask a question to another student of their choice relating to the topic we're working on. When I do it I give each 'question master' two questions to use in one half of the lesson, so two students will get to do it each lesson. The kids love being the question master and it lifts their attention when they hear the bell. Jack Burkill

A strategy I often use is 'be a great coach' because of my sporting background, where peer coaching is often encouraged. Mrs Sowerby uses this in a practical setting and to highlight that some students were coaches, she uses lanyards and laminated coach cards.  I liked the idea and in collaboration with her, adapted the structure for classroom use with the same principles. 

The strategy is great for teachers because the emphasis is put onto the students acting as coaches and takes the workload away from teachers, which that time can then be used to work with the coaches to develop their leadership and core skills. Just like in a practical pe lesson, coaches should be stood at all times whilst the others students remain seated, this gives the coaches a more powerful leadership position.

The students involved as coaches really like this structure because they have responsibilities and this allows some students to really shine. I know it's popular because students ask to be coaches regularly. The students chosen should be based on a good ability to grasp a certain topic area or if you want to choose random students, then that is also workable if regular contact is made between coaches and teachers to allow them to be one step ahead of the other students. I often call coaches away from the tables for a mini meeting where we discuss common problems occurring or where the learning is going next.

A similar process with lanyards, laminated cards and individual responsibilities can be used for 'speak for my team' which gives more kudos to the team member feeding back to teacher and the rest of the class. Chris Gray

Current Academy Focus
 Collaborative learning structures are based on four principles:

1. Positive Interdependence – is a gain for one a gain for another?

2. Individual Accountability – is individual public performance required?

3. Equal Participation–how equal is the participation?

4. Simultaneous Interaction – what percentage are overtly active at once?


For collaborative learning to be successful, these four characteristics (PIES) must be built into the activity itself (i.e. be part of the task design).

The principle is that any learning activity that lacks one or more of these key features is not cooperative learning, it is group work. The significance of this is that research has shown that cooperative learning is more effective than direct instruction; but unstructured group work is less effective than both.

With participation in the learning structures, engagement goes up, as does joy in learning and achievement scores.

Recommended resources/videos/websites

If you are interested in researching collaborative learning and the thinking behind it you could have a look at the following sites. Kagan is the pioneer of collaborative ways of working.

What is Kagan?