This idea was sparked by a series of different things: a visit by a SEN specialist who looked at classroom displays, the need for children to take more responsibility from SOLO work in my lessons and the feeling that sometimes in Literacy, Success Criteria were often being repeated and children took less and less notice of them as time went on.
The Success Criteria
We had been doing a 2-3 week unit on formal writing, persuasive, on encouraging tourists to visit a holiday resort. The SEN specialist had said that all classes in our school needed more visual displays – and by that, they didn’t just mean that the writing should be colourful, it meant that ideas for children on learning walls should be visual, memorable and connecting – a bit like this:
Incidentally, I pinched that from another colleague and it works well. But I was after something else that also had the ‘visual’ aspect but addressed (what I saw in my class sometimes) as the ‘switching off’ that some of my students were doing when I would go on to doing a SC. Now, I do vary their introduction, from class knowledge/synthesis on board, to showing on Corkulous on the IPad to just plain putting them up on the board, but fundamentally, I felt there were times when the children just switched off with a SC. And I can kind of understand that. Our own insistence (or Ofsted’s?) that we use them in every lesson must ultimately be a turn off to some students – it just becomes part of the everyday background noise of school. So, I wanted to come up with something that a) could still be used in conjunction with a SC lesson to lesson and b) would force the children to take more responsibility for the application of key things in their learning.
Moving towards ‘Badgering’
This picture shows what I came up with. Remember this was for a unit of work based around persuasive, formal writing.
- Used with a unit of work for literacy
- Consists of no more than 4 key things for writing in that unit
- Has a strong visual aspect (in this case, BADGERS!)
The Badgers comes from the idea that these were 4 things that I would ALWAYS ‘badger’ the children about. It meant we all got to say ‘badgerbadgerbadgerbadgerbadger’ very quickly and stupidly every lesson (as Jim Smith always advocates in his RING mnemonic) which helps the children remember it and reinforce it in a positive way every lesson.
Here’s how it was used. As we moved from guided to independent writing it got used more and more. Eventually, over the course of about 4 lessons, it was used every lesson just before writing began. Because the headings have an element of generality but contained 2 key writing areas from that area, it could be used every lesson:
- Either based on prior learning, volunteering or just teacher’s wishes, 4 children were picked to have one of the four headings. The specific writing ones (impersonal language) might go to Higher Ability – but I didn’t find this was necessarily the case.
- The cards are laminated, on blu tak, so they got stick to the children’s whiteboards. This meant that big reminder was always in front of them. I made it clear that this was a main focus of their writing and that I would be looking to see evidence of it at the end of the lesson. If I did see it then I wouldn’t need to badger them anymore!
- I varied the children who got it from lesson to lesson, giving me a chance to focus on different children lesson to lesson. Children became more interested in having the ‘status’ of being one of these four children.
- There was ample evidence in writing outcomes that it did have an impact on the writing produced – more care was always taken in the focus area.
I’ve liked this so much that I intend to keep using it on the other units of writing I am going to do. It’s a small thing that doesn’t take too much time to set up and can be re-used repeatedly from lesson to lesson. It is fair to say that children took more notice of it than the SC, because when they had it they felt it was personal to them and it always fitted the learning of the writing we were doing.
So, keep badgering!