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Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning at Millbrook: 


The ‘Seven-step model’ a framework to develop independence in learning 1. Connection Activating prior knowledge: Key Questions - What is the essential knowledge and how will you ensure all pupils have it before you move on? Activating prior knowledge can help students link learning to existing knowledge, make connections between topics and enhance their critical thinking skills. It can be done by sharing examples of previous learning, correcting mistakes, reviewing what they found difficult or asking them what they remember about the topic so far. It can also help teachers to ensure that lessons are appropriately pitched and build on the secure foundation of prior understanding. If teachers are not 100% certain of prior knowledge: Stop – Reteach – Ensure students are confident of the earlier step before moving on.


Explicit strategy instruction:

Key Questions - What is the new knowledge or new technique that you are teaching? How can this be transmitted most effectively?

Cognitive Load Theory identifies the limited capacity of our working memory has a. If students are presented with too much information at once they can become overloaded which stops learning because brain can no longer process all the information being presented. New learning should be ‘chunked’ or broken into small steps either by teaching one step at a time (until the learners are secure) or removing any irrelevant material  and just focusing on what your students need to know.

Explicit instruction is not just ‘teaching by telling’ – learners have to be engaged in the process.

For example:  A teacher might model a strategy for summarising a paragraph by initially ‘thinking aloud’ before giving the pupil the opportunity to practise this skill.

Engaging in effective questioning techniques is one of the most powerful tools a teacher can use to enhance student learning and encourage them to explore a topic in more depth. Questions allow teachers to:

  • Establish how well a class is engaging with material
  • Determine whether to dedicate more time to explore a topic
  • Improve their students’ metacognition
  • Encourage their students to be inquisitive themselves
  • Enhance student learning by requiring them to practice retrieval

Effective Questioning

Use ‘No-Hands up’ questioning to challenges engagement of all.

Use TTYP to give take up time for all

Well-focussed Questions:

  • Establish how well a class is engaging/understanding
  • Consolidate understanding
  • Determine whether to twist or stick
  • Improve metacognition
  • Inspire inquisitiveness
  • Practice retrieval


Modelling of learned strategy:

Key Questions - How will you model how to complete the task? How you will model your thought processes as you do this?

Consider how you will explicitly demonstrate perseverance, resilience and learning from mistakes you have made in the past.

Modelling is not Showing! It is much more interactive and should actively draw on learners’ ideas and address their misconceptions.

Use the I do, We do, You do approach to facilitate independence.

Worked examples, demonstrating how to solve a problem, and thinking aloud are all modelling strategies that teachers can use to aid student learning. This is because it allows students to focus on the specific task at hand, reducing the overall demand on their cognitive load.

Use a visualizer to model worked examples.


Memorisation of strategy

Key Questions - How will you check to see if pupils have understood what you have taught them?

Stop every now and then to gauge whether students are understanding the learning material. This can be done by asking students to summarise the information, asking questions about the material, what their opinion is, or asking them to make a presentation. This allows you to identify any misconceptions and clarify any points that your students are still struggling with.

Note: Avoid just asking one or two pupils and assuming that this reflects the understanding of the whole class.


Key Questions – What support doe the learners need to access this learning? How will it be used? How can the learners access it when they need it?

A scaffold is a temporary support that is removed when it is no longer required. It is important in facilitating students’ mastery of a concept as it gradually shifts responsibility in the learning process from the teacher to the student. The temporary support it provides helps students reach higher levels of skill acquisition and comprehension that would have not been possible without assistance and should be available for as long as the learners feel that they need it. This requires effective assessment to gain a precise understanding of the pupil’s current capabilities.

  • Support can be visual, verbal, or written. 
  • Writing frames, partially completed examples, knowledge organisers, essay prompts, bookmarks, structure strips and sentence starters can all be useful.
  • Reminders of what equipment is needed for each lesson and classroom routines can be useful.
  • Scaffolding discussion of texts: promoting prediction, questioning, clarification and summarising



Guided Practice:

Key Questions - What support will you put in place initially for all pupils? How will those in need of extra help be supported in a way which promotes and sustains their confidence and competence once the scaffold is removed?

It’s not enough for a student to learn information once. Students need enough time to ask questions, practise retrieval, or get the help they need in order to take ownership of new learning for themselves. They have to keep rehearsing it through summarising, evaluating, or applying this knowledge. If teachers rush this process, then students’ memory on lesson material will be diminished.


Independent practice

Key Questions - Pupils will need varying amounts of guided practice, how will you plan for them all to have the opportunity to engage in independent practice, and what will this look like?

By practising or "overlearning" a task, students develop greater fluency and automaticity in the skill they’re trying to learn. Overlearning can help students recall this information automatically, keeping the space in their cognitive load free for new learning.

Allocating temporary groups can allow teachers to set up opportunities for collaborative learning, for example to read and analyse source texts, complete graphic organisers, independently carry out a skill, remember a fact, or understand a concept.

The aim of the mastery curriculum is to challenge learners to apply their now understanding in new ways on new situations. The focus should therefore be on clarifying, reinforcing and applying existing skills rather than continually moving on.

You can develop independent learners in your classroom by encouraging students to:


  1. Review

Structured reflection:

Key Questions – How can students be helped to recognise their new understanding

Learners need to know what they know. This is especially important after the learning process when they need to know what they know now. Active refection allows them to make connections between new information and old knowledge, enhancing their understanding of a topic.

Individually or in small groups, support pupils to think about what went well and what they would do differently next time. Also encourage them to reflect on how their emotions and motivation levels affected their performance in the task.

Technology applications, such as online quizzes can prove effective. 



Key Questions – What has gone well? What could go even better?


  • Closes the loop in the learning process
  • Validates learning by valuing effort and achievement
  • Identifies and addresses misconceptions
  • Helps children to improve on their previous best
  • Note: feedback should inspire thought or action – learners should do something as a result of the feedback they receive

Supporting pupils and scaffolding their learning in this way can help every pupil move from dependence to independence. Not only that, but by improving pupil performance, we can develop their belief in their own competence and in turn, their motivation to achieve. Whether it is improved homework, revision, or similar, the benefits are likely to pay off for our pupils.