1.Teamwork experiment - Trial of explicit teaching of teamwork in year 7 before issues arise led to significant improvement of the overall quality of work as well as improved teamwork. Comparison of assessment data with previous year group suggests it is worth amending SOW to include explicit instruction. Update: As pupils go into their final practical assessment of the year, their awareness of team work skills has meant that they were able to choose their own groups. Pupils no longer looked for friendship groupings but actually discussed the skills needed for successful group work and evaluated each member's strengths and weakness. They then re-arranged the groups to make sure that everyone had a skill to contribute and everyone had someone they could learn from. This work will run for a few more weeks yet, so I am unable to conclude what the effect of this will be on their attainment. However, this level of explicit acknowledgement of group skills and personal evaluation is far more sophisticated than previous cohorts have demonstrated so I am hopeful of improved attainment.
2. Community/Social justice - Three different conditions applied to social justice project whilst teaching year 8 carousel: Not addressed, implicit and explicit. In final phase I took a full lesson out of the SOW and replaced it with a character education lesson about Utopia, social justice and philanthropy. I successfully used a hinge question to link to the actual project. Initial discussion quality improved. Direct comparison of the three conditions after the third assessment revealed a massive improvement in three of the success criteria when character education had been taught explicitly:
Overall, I have been very pleased with the results of my research. I will go on to include explicit instruction about group work in my revised year 7 SOWs for next academic year and ensure all assessments for this group have success criteria related to group work included in them. For the year 8s I will amend the current SOW to include the lesson about social justice and philanthropy for use in the next academic year and ensure all teaching staff understand the benefits of doing this in department meetings.
I committed to explicit teaching of team building skills in Spring 1 and inclusion of team building on the success criteria in Spring 2 and I have now analysed the data from this.
In Spring 1, when the assessment task was introduced, approximately half the lesson was given over to discussion of what good team work looked like. I have only spoken about this previously in reference to particular problems that have already arisen, so it was a new approach to consider this element BEFORE there were any issues. Pupils worked in their assessment groups to identify problems which might arise given who they were tasked with working with. This information was then fed back to the whole class. Pupils were very honest in identifying the failings of other pupils, not quite as candid in about the difficulties they may present others with! Usual complaints consisted of behaviours such as 'messing about', 'wasting time', 'not contributing' and 'always disagreeing'. They then expected me to offer solutions to these problems. However, I insisted they came up with solutions themselves. Because of this, I saw the emergence of pupils taking responsibility for their own behaviour and understanding that their reactions to others were as crucial for success as the initial actions of their peers. I found it very helpful at this point to remind pupils what their overall aim was and that their success depended on being able to work together. This led to pupils offer each other solutions to engage group members and group members committing to minimum standards acceptable to all. The pieces they had created by the end of the assessment showed a marked improvement in participation and sharing of roles compared to groups of similar ability in the last academic year. This was a surprise to me as I had expected the main outcome to be less falling out and petty squabbling.
So, for Spring 2, I wanted actual evidence I could track. You can see on the assessment sheet I have included below that two of the eight success criteria were related to teamwork. Based on my experience of the work of previous cohorts , I would have expected most pupils to achieve green on these two criteria at this time in the academic year. However, when it came time to assess I was very surprised to report that the majority of pupils attained purple in both teamwork criteria, with only a handful attaining green. Out of four year 7 classes, I only had two pupils who attained less than green. This is an astounding improvement which also impacted on the quality of the actual drama pieces.
As a result of this research I will be including at least one reference to team work in all assessments in year 7 next year and I will continue to discuss it explicitly with pupils in preparation for assessments.
My major problem has been understanding how to create a project which is not only relevant but manageable, based on my KS4-heavy timetable which does not allow me to experiment due to time constraints.
Having read some case studies of how other schools have taught this, they seem to have approached it from a whole-school angle. They include such things as:
Research has concluded that the best way to teach CE is through real-life situations and experiences; however, this would not work for me teaching English, so I had to think of the 'next best thing', which would be teaching through a text.
For their GCSE pupils in yr9-11 study the text 'Blood Brothers' by Willy Russell, which is an ideal text through which to teach CE. It contains:
Thinking about Character Education made me question what I think good character actually is. It is defined as the aspects of personality which a) can be evaluated morally and b) is responsive to upbringing, reasoning and coaching.
In our lives, most of us will value the CHARACTER of a person interesting, rather than their PERSONALITY. For example, on dating websites, the character trait of HONESTY is valued more highly to someone who has an EXTROVERTED PERSONALITY! This is interesting, as we can work on and improve our character, while it's difficult to change our personality traits.
SO what does it mean to have good character? That can be broken down into 4 categories:
In English, the pupils are expected to use many of these values in their writing, particularly when they are evaluating characters from Literature.
The main moral virtues seem to be compassion, kindness, honesty, empathy and integrity.
When examining characters in texts, we try to ensure that the pupils not only look at the physical description but also try to evaluate their actual character by looking at their words, actions and relationships with other characters. I feel that my project needs to be something which would give the pupils more tools with which to undertake this task
The Importance of Character Education
After having undertaken the online Future Learn Course on Character Education, I learned about what it is but more importantly why it is a vitally important part of education.
It is clear that it is a notion that can be taught to pupils both explicitly (with lessons dedicated to virtues) and implicitly (through the values held by the ethos and culture of the school and its staff. This involves we as teachers modelling these virtues, to provide pupils with the tools to flourish in life.
having a good character will enable pupils to:
After analysing the various virtues and linking them with Drama learning objectives and particular schemes of work, I decided to focus on two specific virtues:
Rationale: The University of Kent looked at the skills required by graduates based on a number of surveys undertaken by Microsoft, Target Jobs, the BBC, Prospects, NACE and AGR and other organisations. They summarised that teamwork was second only to verbal communication skills in its desirability. Other studies consistently show the same top two soft skills that employers are looking for in candidates.
This means that an improvement in this skill will add value to Drama lessons for KS3 pupils who do not go on to study Drama at KS4.
Additionally, when pupils first start Drama in year 7, team working skills are often at the heart of any behaviour management problems that arise. This applies equally to high achievers as well as the less able with high achievers often getting very frustrated that their mark depends on other pupils effort and behaviour. An improvement in this skill usually comes over time as pupils make the link themselves, but some pupils do continue to struggle with it throughout their Drama studies. A more stable development of this virtue in year 7 would give all pupils the opportunity to progress even further in other Drama skills that cannot be explored fully without adequate teamwork skills thus leading to higher achievement overall.
Action: Whilst I often draw parallels to the world of work colloquially, I have never taught teamwork as a specific skill as the majority of pupils eventually make the link themselves. I decided to take a stepped approach to its introduction:
a. Spring one half term, I am going to ensure I give examples of good teamwork skills when grouping for assessment.
b. Spring 2 will see the addition of teamwork as part of the success criteria and I will teach it in a more explicit way.
In this way I should be able to compare attitudes to team members and the affect on achievement.
2. Community/Social Justice
Rational: We all agree that pupils should be less selfish and self centred but how can we get them to consider the injustices other people suffer in a meaningful way? They are aware the future belongs to them, but do they understand their responsibility to it?
Art is a meaningful way of commenting on the world and, sometimes, offering solutions. Creation is right at the top of Bloom's taxonomy. Therefore it follows that creating art should be the best way to engage pupils to learn about world injustice and community issues.
Action: These virtues link very closely with a Docu-Drama SOW currently taught to year 8. As year 8 are on a carousel, I have the opportunity to apply three different conditions to my research.
a. Teach the SOW as usual with no mention of civic duty
b. Explain what civic duty is, possibly include it in the success criteria
c. Dedicate a full lesson to the explicit teaching of civic duty, especially community and social justice
I will then compare the achievement of pupils and the quality of the work from these three conditions to evaluate the success of these three approaches.
Our group was unanimous in agreeing that character education was worthy and would be beneficial to our pupils, but how does that link into our subject areas and add value to them? My proposal was, therefore, to find out if teaching character education explicitly will improve outcomes in my subject area.
In order to find out, I first needed to find curriculum links to the character virtues. In the list of virtues published by The Jubilee Centre, the virtues are grouped under four main headings: Moral, Civic, Performance & Intellectual virtues.
Being a Drama specialist, I initially thought that I would find most symbiotic virtues in the performance group. However, on closer inspection, all the groups had virtues that I have historically tried to embed in my SOWs.
Here is a table of my conclusions regarding virtues that will benefit learning outcomes for pupils in Drama:
To find out more about the initial research we have undertaken as group, and where our basic knowledge of the elements of character education stem from, follow the link below to The University of Birmingham's research centre.
The Jubilee Centre have been analysing Character Education, what it consists of and how it can be applied to learning, since 2012. As a TLC group we have all found their information and conclusions invaluable in helping us to decide which areas to explore and research.