Diagnostic Tracking using Google docs

I have always found it useful to encourage students to rate their understanding of sub-topics at the end of a section. I find it helps students to identify areas they need to revisit in DIRT (dedicated improvement reflection time) and as the class teacher I can glance at these to get an idea of topics the whole class is struggling with. A great example of this type can be found on the TES website here.


Students indicate red for poor understanding, amber for intermediate, and green to show confidence in their understanding. To do this at a whole class level was demonstrated to me several years ago by a Head of Department at my former school. Here you record the red, amber and green (RAG) rating for the whole class on one tracking sheet. This gives you a great overall picture and if this is done throughout the course you can identify when the level of understanding is mastered so that it is safe to move on, or individuals struggling can be identified early on. If completed at the end of a course then it is very useful during the revision process. I have used assessment / diagnostic questions to make the RAG rating objective but my experience is that students are very good at both judging their understanding and at being honest enough to share that with the teacher (caution: this is not always the case, use judgement / knowledge of students). Since joining a Pixl school there are a wealth of tracking documents available for many subjects. The screenshot below shows an example from the Physics P1 course and topics that are not well understood and a student requiring intervention is identified:

tracking_pdf As you can see it’s not always as clean-cut as we would like but it certainly gives a starting point for revision. This was produced in Excel and was completed in class with students called up one at a time to RAG rate each sub-topic. What has really worked well with my current KS4 classes is to import this file into Google docs and share the link (editable link) with students who have then completed this as a homework. The spreadsheet looks a little different mostly because it is not possible to have vertical text as the column headings so this causes the spreadsheet to go off the page:


As you can see though we can still identify topics and students requiring more support as before but this can edited again and again by students as they conduct their own revision in the build up to their GCSE exams. Following an after school revision session this week it was very powerful to ask students to re-evaluate the file and many changed some reds to amber, and quite a few to green. There is the potential for one student to go in and delete all or change everyone to red, as many students pointed out, but so far this has not happened as students can see how helpful it is for all concerned. Here is link to a google sheet set up to RAG rate GCSE Science A.


Learning Cycle Lesson Plan

Following on from some fantastic CPD delivered by Alan Jervis, a colleague (Mr Robinson) and I were inspired to develop the learning cycle that was discussed into our own lesson planning tool. This has been well received in both interview lessons and recent lesson observations. I have a copy in my planner to help remind me of some of the aspects it is far too easy to forget. Forgive the wine / alcohol references in the plan but most teachers like wine 🙂


The cycle: Every lesson should include / start with assessment of prior knowledge, which can easily be combined with a starter activity as found in a previous post, they can be used to energise a class, or calm them down depending on the class being taught.

The learning outcome may take various forms such as WALT, WILF, All Most Some, or if appropriate, success criteria – my advice is to follow your own school policy. However, always share what you are trying to achieve in whatever form it may be. I have always found Blooms taxonomy helps and when possible try to hang a grade against what we are trying to achieve i.e. if we can do this you will be working at A grade.

The first three parts feels like any other lesson plan I have used but what makes this stand out for me are the next steps: Pouring In, Fermenting, Pouring Out, and Decanting. Pouring in is any activity which imparts knowledge, or allows students to access the knowledge, such as an information hunt (Teachers Toolkit pg 118). Next, students follow an activity to use the information in some way – this corrected practice (Geoff Petty) is an opportunity to develop their skills, and the teacher can get feedback on whether the pouring in has gone as expected. This corrected practice allows Pouring Out to take place – students demonstrate what they have learnt. And finally, decanting where misconceptions and blind spots are identified to inform future planning. Questioning should play a big part in this.

Around the cycle my colleague and I (clearly influenced by the 5 min lesson plan) built areas that we felt were useful or necessary because it is required e.g. we include literacy and numeracy because these are a statutory requirement in Wales.

I include a ppt of the lesson plan if anyone wants to use / adapt for their own use: learning_cycle_lesson_plan_2

I hope you find it useful.