Modelling tasks to pupils

One thing that I mistakingly thought when I started training as a teacher was that if I gave an instruction to a class, such as ‘write a paragraph on x’ they would know what I meant and what they needed to do. It is not that simple.

I have since discovered that it is essential to train your pupils to do what you want them to do. Pupils do not simply know what is meant by ‘write a PEEL paragraph’ or ‘summarise the information’. Therefore I model most of the tasks that I set, especially if it is the first time that I have done that kind of activity with a group. One way that I find modelling the easiest and most effective is by writing examples. Sounds so simple!

With KS3, this is often writing a sentence or a short paragraph with a point and a reason. If I ask a class to do this, I will always do one as an example with them first. It sounds so simple, but I honestly didn’t even really think about these sorts of thing when I was starting out.

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By showing pupils exactly what you are expecting them to create supports them in creating their own work. If you ask a pupil do something that they have never seen before, how are they meant to know what it should look like?

For KS4, if I am modelling a task I will often match it up with a mark scheme or success criteria, so that it is obvious what gets the pupils the marks. Pupils need to know what to aim for. If they have never read an A grade answer, it is very difficult for them to create an A grade answer.

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These longer answers are sometimes prepared before the lesson, or sometimes created together with the pupils. The two handwritten examples were written with my Year 10 class in an exam feedback lesson. Collaboratively, they worked out from their next steps what a perfect answer would look like.

Essay plans are also a great way to model to pupils. Without writing the whole essay, pupils can contribute their ideas and share their different strengths which furthers the abilities of all pupils.

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With my KS5 classes, I often ask individual pupils or groups of pupils to focus on different areas of content or exam technique and become experts and then share with the rest of the group. This encourages independent learning and puts the responsibility on them. Also, when they share their ideas with the rest of the group (often by writing on the whiteboard), it opens up a discussion and ideas can be developed further.

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