Subject Area: History
Teachers: Milan Jayasuriya (MJA), Tom Haward (THA), Jim Smith (JSM) with Sunny Gunessee (SGU) supporting
What impact will the use of effective visual images on forming the sequencing of questioning have on the development of verbal responses from Y9 students?
As a subject team we recognised the importance of questioning, the subject is heavily based around source analysis. The impact of effective questioning can have a stimulating effect on the mind. The ability to develop empathy and an understanding of circumstances in that particularly period of time as well promote learning and progress throughout a lesson. The team understood that by using visual images in more astute manner alongside effective sequencing of questions, you can help students to deepen their understanding. So we decided to focus on sequencing of questions Y9 students to try and ensure students were being challenged in a way which would prepare them suitably for GCSE History.
The aim of the lesson study was to show how utilising visual images/sources with correct ordering of questioning could allow students to scaffold their responses which eventually become more sophisticated when they verbally respond. The task was proposed to be used at the beginning of the lesson as an input but had staff suggesting different points would be better for their classes. It started with simple images and gradually became more difficult with the questioning moving from unistructural and multistructural questioning towards relational and extended abstract questioning (solo taxonomy).
Images and sources came from the topic ‘Nazis: A Warning from History’ and ranged from propaganda posters, photographs and satirical cartoons. These were collated and presented in similar ways to try and ensure consistency throughout but was not necessarily used at the same points during the lesson, as it became clear each teacher wanted to use them at separate points in the lessons.
It became evident that images/sources needed to be used at the same point during the course of the lesson to promote a consistent approach to how it impacted on the progress of students and development of lesson. This conclusion was met after the initial discussion of IRIS videos, that questioning via the images all came at different points and instead tried to ground it by being in the same place to have similar impact.
The most important element of using visual images to develop sequencing of questioning were: ensuring the entry point of images are accessible, that images provide progressive challenge by becoming more obscure and getting students to formulate their own question is a good way to start the activity. The importance of questioning being concise and clear in language also demonstrated what impact it had in responses from students as they could misinterpret the main focus of the source, this reinforced previous findings from research completed by a member of the lesson trio.
We evaluated the impact of our lesson study by noting how Y9 students (and in particularly disengaged boys) had become more able to express their ideas at length and begin to use more specialist’s knowledge and terms to further their understanding. We were able to evaluate this outcome by noting how written responses had become improved. What was evident was how the more challenging students in terms of behaviour seem to engage more with this scaffolded approach to questioning through simple to more complex images to further their understanding. It was also evident that most able students seem prefer to come in to articulate their ideas at the more complex stage of images. But it also demonstrated that less able students who were being scaffolded up to the top level then became capped through the wording of the questioning to demonstrate relational or extended abstract questioning.
Through the use of IRIS technology, it created discussion around how to utilise such techniques with the new A Level syllabus as the scheme of work is being created and such an activity will be planned into lessons to try and address the most able issue of questioning and visual images as well the ‘glass ceiling’ effect on less able students to access the top end. To ensure success with this in the future planning of lessons, it seems vital that the wording of questions is considered when pitching them at students, this will require astute planning of questions in order to ensure all students can be ‘taught to the top’. This might ensure that relational and extended abstract questioning can be worded in a variety of ways to ensure all students can access the top level.
On reflection whilst writing this lesson study the trio are now aware of the more analytical nature of IRIS technology and will be implementing this into the next History lesson study.
It has also led to a deeper and sophisticated understanding that the use of visual images requires more breaking down in how to unpick the finer details of images. As a lesson trio we accept that as we move towards a style of ‘Teaching to the top’ there are issues of language which need to be unpicked lower down the school to ensure students can access the higher qualities of top end verbal and written responses.
What was your experience of the enquiry process?
The History team ultimately saw this process as valuable as it led to more constructive dialogue about pedagogical practice and begin to think more critically and analytically about teaching pedagogy by examining the ‘devil in the detail’. Exploring questioning and use of images allowed us as a History team to understand the benefits of more collaborative practice and having of a critical dialogue about teaching and learning without the judgement. It has also raised a deeper understanding about the language used in formulating questions as well raise an issue around how are we improving formal register lower down in the school within History.
As the team have now completed their first lesson study, there is a much clearer understanding around focusing on small number of students which specific concerns as opposed to the large group that was decided upon. This would be the biggest change for the lesson study as the History team could have gone into more details by just focusing on specific group of students and examined the impact more meaningfully, possibly using close case analysis as a tool for this.
Further work, sharing & dissemination
The History team have decided they are going to do a lesson study with KS5 students due to the new specification and how this can be factored into the planning and examine how less able students respond to more sophisticated worded questioning at a lower level in order to raise their standards to the ‘teach to the top’ expectations. This will be achieved through a closer examination of literacy and paying closer attention to modelled answers. The History team has also said they would like to do exactly the same focus on modelled answers with KS3 students (Y7) and in particularly students termed the “most able”.