Pedagogical Shiny Things

"Once upon a time....", "A long time ago, in a land far, far away", "It is a truth universally acknowledged..." Nope, I'll cut to the chase; last week I happened to pop into a leisure centre attached to a school (they do that a lot here in Wales) and happened to notice some of the displays lovingly crafted for the new cohort of Year 7's.

Under the banner headline of "What SMART are you?" was a breakdown of the work done in transitioning Year 6 into Year 7 by getting the learners to "discover their SMART" by completing a questionnaire. This (so the poster informed me) would result in the learners "getting their own profile", which would "help them understand how they learn". The profiles looked like this:

Clearly this person is Number Smart, with this helpful commentary provided:
"Number Smart is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations. It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns. Number Smart is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives. Young adults with lots of number smarts are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments."
Now, I happen to know a few teachers in this school and some emails were swapped, and I started down the rabbit hole. I now know that in the standard school lesson planning form, there is a mandatory field for which "smarts" the lesson is going to address. And, as an added bonus, the school has designed a PowerPoint template that the staff are obliged to use that has different coloured slides (corresponding to the smarts) so that a teacher can flag to the pupils which "smart" is being used at any particular segment of the lesson. Oh, and the use of the PowerPoint template is mandatory.
The Rabbit Hole - Pedagogical Shiny Things
My professional interest piqued, I arranged to meet colleagues from this school to explore further. As it happens, the embracing of multiple intelligences was a new initiative for the school, replacing the long embedded VARK. However, as we discussed "learning styles" it became apparent that over the 15 years of experience these teachers had in this school, that a number of other interventions had been rolled out over the years:

  • Thinking Hats (lasted 2 years apparently)
  • Habits of Mind (lasted 3 years, but only "done" with years 7,8)
  • Brain Gym (lasted 1 year, rolled out across the entire school)
  • Kagan Structures (had a whole school INSET but never used)
  • Left / right brain theory (lasted 4 years, promoted heavily)
  • Solo Taxonomy (3 years in and still being promoted)
  • Purple pens of progress (2 years in and still being promoted)
  • WALT / WILFs / LOs - (4 years in and still mandatory for learners to write them down - and are included in the mandatory PowerPoint template)

What time-line of edumyths have you use in your school? What's the current "Pedagogical Shiny Thing?"

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