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At the end of the year when the older students have left, and the year 8s are on their trip, there is a little more time to listen to the wider education noise. But with the background scraping of chairs and tables from the management team in the floor above, and the building work in the playground, it is difficult to hear it.  This is my quick look at what has happened this year.

Changes to GCSE grading, assessment objectives and learning outcomes have taken up most of the chat in our staff room, but there have been other interesting discussions. Over the last few months, core maths and the new Chinese inspired regional Maths Hubs have been humming away in the background. Find all current consultations here.

There have been consultations chundling on.  Some with very few responses; for on the prohibition of teachers (there were 30 responses).  But also qualifications for 14-16 year olds and performance tables, the A level reform, national curriculum review, GCSE subject content and the ‘next in line GCSE’ subjects.

There are things I’ve had to look up this year, having sat in on meetings where acronyms were used that I had not heard before.  Here are two that are not commercial products.

DIRT

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Image credits: John Bridgeman @Gripweed1

DIRT is a way for students to act upon the feedback that you have given as their teacher. It is a structured approach to training them to be better at deciding what they need to do, but also make them more accountable for doing it. It is a bit of a cult. There are lots of pictures on twitter of DIRTy pens (don’t google it, you’ll get lots of pictures of pig sties) and DIRTy colours like this from @CaldiesEnglish courtesy of @UKEdchat.

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So far the DIRTiest voices like David Didau (@LearningSpy) and Alex Quigley (@HuntingEnglish) have been Secondary School English teachers. Their experiences are also reported on UKedchat.com.

In principle DIRT is about getting students better at reflecting on their own performance. Being better at using your comments and feedback to progress not tomorrow, or in 2 month time but NOW. So it is not subject limited at all.

More recently, there is a Maths community that are using these techniques too. For example check out does DIRT work in Maths by @redorgreenpen.

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SOLO

First described by Kevin Collis and John Biggs back on the 80s SOLO is (like Bloom) another way of creating a way classifying learning outcomes in terms of their complexity. The different levels have different names, but here is an easy 4-minute video by Emily Hughes (@ilovemathsgames)‬ using lego as an analogy!

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I saw this example from Dan Brinton ‏(@BelmontTeach‬) of combining this SOLO approach with a “so that” approach championed by Zoe Elder ‏@fullonlearning

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The thing for me though that was most significant this year was taking students outside, and doing maths with them. Real maths outside, not counting car colours, or finding how people get to school, or looking for shapes in roof tiles. But doing something that needed maths, like building a dome, or a catapult, but maths that you owned. It took a few weeks to train them to work in the way I wanted, but that was useful for the inside lessons too. Getting back to maths with a purpose, maths is a tool that makes life easier; maths moves mountains (or at least catapults water balloons).