Blog Contents (click on title to read blog and this symbol ⟰ to return to top)

➥ 8th April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Mastery Learning: The Key Elements – A Guide for Teachers

➥ 7th April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Bringing Mastery Learning into the Classroom: Unlocking Every Student’s Potential

➥ 6th April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Self-Regulation – The Key to Unlocking Student Success?

➥ 4th April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: What Is Critical Thinking and Why Is It Important for Students?

➥ 3rd April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Deliberate Practice – The Pathway to Mastery

➥ 2nd April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Unlocking Metacognition for Student Success

➥ 1st April 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Peer Assessment for Boosting Student Learning

➥ 30th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Collaborative Learning

➥ 29th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Cultivating a Thinking Classroom

➥ 27th Mar 2024 – Why Create your own Digital Library of over 200 EBL lessons?

➥ 26th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Learning skills vs. Evidence-Based Teaching strategies

➥ 25th Mar 2024 – If you only introduce one EBL skill to your students at a time start with metacognition

➥ 17th Mar 2024 – A student discovers metacognition

13th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching

➥ 12th Mar 2024 – Our three most popular lessons

➥ 11th Mar 2024 – How lessons are arranged in the shop

➥ 5th Mar 2024 – CPD Takes Centre Stage

➥ 3rd Mar 2024 – How Our Shop Works

➥ 29th Feb 2024 – Why Independent Learning is a Great Skill for Primary Pupils

➥ 27th Feb 2024 – Space Cadet Stumbles upon the Secrets of Super Learning

➥ 25th Feb 2024 – Teaching thinking skills explicitly equips students with the cognitive tools to reach their potential

➥ 22nd Feb 2024 – Collaboration fuels success

➥ 21st Feb 2024 – Metacognition helps students learn what to do when they don’t know what to do

➥ 20th Feb 2024 – Peer Teaching is a Valuable Skill

➥ 19th Feb 2024 – Peer Assessment is Indispensable

➥ 17th Feb 2024 – Self-Regulation leads to Greater Academic Achievement

➥ 14th Feb 2024 – Self-Assessment requires students to actively monitor and evaluate the quality of their learning

➥ 13th Feb 2024 – Independent Learning involves developing Self-Regulated Learners

➥ 11th Feb 2024 – What a surprise...

➥ 7th Feb 2024 – Red Riding Hood: An expanded 5-star blurb…

➥ 6th Feb 2024 – Cinderella and Evidence-Based Learning: An introduction to the 8 EBL skills for pupils

➥ 2nd Feb 2024 – Overheard in the staffroom: “Remembering” vs “Understanding

➥ 1st Feb 2024 – Overheard in the staffroom: Peer Assessment vs Peer Teaching

➥ 30th Jan 2024 – Who’s first? A dialogue between Self-Regulation and Independent Learning

➥ 29th Jan 2024 – Who’s first? A dialogue between Metacognition and Self-Assessment

➥ 28th Jan 2024 – A quick summary of our Evidence-Based Learning brochure

➥ 27th Jan 2024 – Check out our science fiction blurb

➥ 24th Jan 2024 – Diary of an 11-year-old time traveller

➥ 21st Jan 2024 – NEW LESSONS – Boudica’s revolt against the Romans

➥ 16th Jan 2024 – Ahoy, mateys! Gather ’round the crow’s nest for a yarn

➥ 15th Jan 2024 – The Pirate’s Discovery: A Treasure Chest of Learning Skills

➥ 14th Jan 2024 – The Mad Scientist Invents the 8 Evidence-Based Learning Skills

➥ 13th Jan 2024 – Whole set downloads and customisation option now available with a whopping 25% discount

➥ 12th Jan 2024 – Traditional Stories meet the 8 Evidence-Based Learning skills

➥ 11th Jan 2024 – A Five-Star review of “Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Portal”

➥ 9th Jan 2024 – A Five-Star review of “Science Fiction That is Out of This World”

8th Jan 2024 – The Curtain Rises on Learning: Eight EBL Skills Take Centre Stage!

➥ 7th Jan 2024 – The Evidence-Based Learning Revolution: Because Guessing Games are So Last Century!

➥ 5th Jan 2024 – Unlocking the Magic of Learning

➥ 20th Dec 2023 – Evidence-Based Learning: The Brochure Review

8th Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Mastery Learning: The Key Elements – A Guide for Teachers

Mastery Learning: The Key Elements – A Guide for Teachers

As teachers, we are always seeking ways to help our students succeed and reach their full potential. One approach that has proven to be particularly effective is mastery learning. In this blog, I’ll outline the key elements of mastery learning and how you can implement it in your own classroom.

Mastery learning is all about ensuring that every student truly grasps the concepts and skills being taught, regardless of the time and resources needed to achieve that mastery. The core idea is that we shouldn’t move on until students have demonstrated their understanding.

The mastery learning process has four key components:

1. Formative Assessment: Throughout a teaching unit, you’ll use brief, targeted assessments to gauge your students’ progress. These formative assessments provide valuable feedback on what they’ve learned well and what they need more support with.

2. Feedback: The feedback from these assessments is crucial. It should be specific, diagnostic, and prescriptive – highlighting students’ strengths and clearly identifying areas that need improvement.

3. Corrective Activities: For those students who haven’t yet mastered the material, you’ll provide differentiated corrective activities. These offer alternative approaches and extra time to help them remedy their learning gaps.

4. Enrichment Activities: Meanwhile, the students who have demonstrated mastery can engage in enrichment or extension activities. These challenge them to expand their learning and delve deeper into the subject matter.

Importantly, the final element of mastery learning is instructional alignment. This means ensuring that your learning goals, instructional strategies, and assessment methods are all carefully aligned and consistent.

By implementing these key components, you can unlock the full power of mastery learning. Research has consistently shown that this approach leads to higher student achievement, greater confidence, improved attendance, and a more positive attitude towards learning.

The beauty of mastery learning is that it’s highly adaptable. You can integrate elements of it into your existing practice, or you can embrace the full model. Either way, you’ll be giving your students the best possible chance to succeed.

If you’re ready to bring the benefits of mastery learning into your classroom, start by focusing on those four core elements: formative assessment, feedback, correctives, and enrichment. With a bit of planning and creativity, you can transform the way your students learn and grow.

7th Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Bringing Mastery Learning into the Classroom: Unlocking Every Student’s Potential

In an education landscape often focused on standardised testing and fixed timelines, the concept of mastery learning offers a refreshingly student-centred approach that could significantly benefit learners. Mastery learning, pioneered by the renowned educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, is a teaching methodology that puts the emphasis on ensuring students truly grasp key concepts and skills before moving on.

The core premise of mastery learning is simple yet powerful: students are not rushed through a curriculum, but are instead given the time and support they need to demonstrate mastery of each learning objective. This is a stark contrast to the traditional model, where a fixed amount of time is allocated for teaching a topic, regardless of whether all students have fully understood it.

In a mastery learning classroom, the learning process begins with clear, well-defined goals. Teachers then provide initial instruction, followed by a brief formative assessment to gauge student understanding. Rather than moving on, however, teachers then offer tailored “corrective” activities for those students who have not yet met the learning goal. These correctives are qualitatively different from the original instruction, providing alternative approaches and additional time for students to achieve mastery.

Once students have demonstrated mastery through a second assessment, they are then free to engage in “enrichment” activities that deepen their understanding, while the rest of the class catches up. This cyclical process ensures that no student is left behind, as each learner is given the time and support they need to succeed.

The benefits of this approach are numerous. First and foremost, it helps to close the achievement gap by ensuring that all students, regardless of their background or prior attainment, have the opportunity to reach high levels of learning. Additionally, the emphasis on formative assessment and personalised feedback empowers students, giving them a sense of agency and control over their own learning.

Moreover, mastery learning fosters a growth mindset, as students learn that success is not solely dependent on innate ability, but on their willingness to put in the necessary effort and seek support when needed. This, in turn, can boost motivation and resilience, qualities that are crucial for long-term academic and personal success.

For teachers, mastery learning offers a powerful framework for differentiation and personalisation. By closely monitoring student progress and adapting teaching accordingly, teachers can ensure that the needs of all learners are met, from the highest achievers to those who may be struggling.

Implementing mastery learning in the classroom is not without its challenges, as it requires a significant shift in mindset and practice. However, the potential rewards make it well worth the effort. By embracing this transformative approach, teachers can unlock the full potential of every student, empowering them to achieve mastery and, in the process, becoming confident, engaged, and successful learners.

6th Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Self-Regulation – The Key to Unlocking Student Success

Evidence-Based Teaching – Self-Regulation: The Key to Unlocking Student Success

As a teacher, one of your primary goals is to help your students succeed academically. While cognitive skills like reading, writing, and problem-solving are crucial, research has shown that self-regulation – the ability to monitor and control one’s own thoughts, behaviours, and emotions – is equally, if not more, important for academic achievement.

Self-regulation is the process by which students set learning goals, actively monitor their progress, and adapt their strategies as needed to achieve those goals. Self-regulated learners are self-determined, adaptable, and able to create the optimal conditions for their own learning. They regulate their thinking, motivation, and behaviours to maximise their opportunities for success.

The key components of self-regulation include:

1. Metacognition – the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. Metacognitive skills allow students to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning.

2. Motivation – the drive and enthusiasm to engage in and persist with academic tasks, even when they are challenging. Motivational beliefs like self-efficacy (confidence in one’s abilities) and task value are crucial.

3. Volition – the willpower and determination to see a task through to completion, despite obstacles or distractions. Volitional strategies help students maintain their focus and effort.

4. Non-cognitive skills – behaviours, attitudes, and personality traits like goal-setting, perseverance, and conscientiousness that support self-regulated learning.

By developing these cognitive and non-cognitive skills, students become more adaptable, resilient, and effective learners. They are better able to set meaningful goals, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies when needed. This, in turn, leads to higher academic achievement and a greater sense of self-efficacy.

As a teacher, you can foster self-regulation in your students through explicit instruction, modelling, and providing opportunities for practice and reflection. Encourage them to set specific, achievable goals, teach them metacognitive strategies, and help them build non-cognitive skills like perseverance and self-control.

Investing in your students’ self-regulation skills is an investment in their long-term success, both in and out of the classroom. By empowering them to become self-directed, adaptable learners, you are equipping them with the tools they need to thrive, not just in school, but throughout their lives.

4th Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: What Is Critical Thinking and Why Is It Important for Students?

What Is Critical Thinking and Why Is It Important for Students?

An important goal of teachers is to help students develop strong critical thinking skills. But what exactly is critical thinking, and why is it so vital for students to master this ability?

Critical thinking can be defined as using reflective reasoning and evidence to direct deciding what to believe and what to do. It involves analysing information and ideas carefully, questioning assumptions and conclusions, considering multiple perspectives, and taking a logical, rational approach rather than just accepting things at face value.

Critical thinking is about “improving the quality of thinking” by skilfully analysing, assessing, and reconstructing ideas. It’s about knowing how to think, not just what to think – moving beyond rote memorisation to apply higher-order reasoning skills like evaluating, making inferences, solving problems, and drawing evidence-based conclusions.

Critical thinking demands a variety of skills including deducing consequences from knowledge, making use of information to solve problems, seeking out relevant sources, exercising reasonable judgement, and deploying the right type of thinking at the right time. The ability to think critically allows students to sort truth from falsehood, make wise choices, understand how and why things happen, and achieve intellectual freedom. 

Perhaps most importantly, developing exceptional critical thinking abilities is absolutely crucial for success in today’s knowledge economy and rapidly changing world. The 21st century places increasing emphasis on flexible intellectual skills, integrating diverse knowledge, and solving complex problems – precisely the type of high-level cognition that strong critical thinking cultivates.

With the advent of a.i., fake news, information overload, and an ever-more-complex society, the ability to think critically has never been more important for students. Those who cannot analyse information, see through biases, question unreliable claims, and make reasoned decisions will struggle personally and professionally.

As teachers, we must make teaching critical thinking skills an integral part of every lesson, assignment, project, and discussion. Only by transforming our students into skilled critical thinkers can we prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century and instil the intellectual independence that will serve them for life.

3rd Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Deliberate Practice – The Pathway to Mastery

Deliberate Practice – The Pathway to Mastery for Students

The idea of needing to practise to get better at something is hardly a revolutionary concept. The saying “practice makes perfect” is one we’re all familiar with from a young age. However, research is showing that it’s not just any kind of practice that leads to significant skill development – it’s “deliberate practice”.

What is deliberate practice?

Deliberate practice refers to a highly structured and focused way of practicing a skill with the goal of continually improving performance. It involves:

– Breaking skills down into specific elements and concentrating on improving one element at a time

– Pushing yourself beyond your current abilities by taking on tasks just outside your comfort zone

– Receiving feedback and specific guidance on how to improve

– Repeating the practice of a particular element with full concentration until errors are eliminated

The case for deliberate practice as an essential teaching approach is compelling. Studies across many disciplines have found that the quantity and quality of deliberate practice is the biggest factor differentiating elite performers from others. It allows individuals to bust through learning plateaus and continually raise their skill levels.

Why teachers should embrace it

For teachers, incorporating deliberate practice principles could pay huge dividends for student learning and achievement. The research highlights how deliberate practice:

– Greatly improves retention of knowledge by embedding it more permanently

– Increases automaticity – the ability to apply skills effortlessly without conscious thought

– Breeds motivation for continual learning by facilitating visible skill gains

– Can reduce achievement gaps by being a powerful driver of progress regardless of perceived “talent”

Putting it into practice

So how can we implement deliberate practice in the classroom? It requires careful design of practice activities that identify and target specific areas students need to improve. Students need a clear purpose, focused feedback, and an opportunity to repeat the practice until they eliminate errors.

It’s also important to embrace mistakes as part of the process. Research shows elite performers zero in on their errors during practice rather than avoiding them. Creating an environment where students feel safe to make mistakes enables deeper learning.

Deliberate practice likely requires more effort from students than traditional approaches. But by pushing them to concentrate and work at the edges of their abilities, we give them the best possible chance to experience continuous skill growth.

The wealth of research illustrating the transformative effects of deliberate practice is hard to ignore. By making it a central part of our teaching craft, we can set students onto an upward spiral of improvement that allows them to ultimately reach levels we may have assumed were out of reach.

2nd Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Unlocking the Power of Metacognition for Student Success

Evidence-Based Teaching: Unlocking the Power of Metacognition for Student Success

Metacognition has been hailed as the key to turning “mediocre or failing academic performance into excellent performance”. But what exactly is metacognition, and how can teachers effectively foster it in the classroom?

At its core, metacognition is the ability to think about one’s own thinking processes. It involves actively monitoring and regulating cognition during learning activities. Metacognition has two main components:

1. Metacognitive knowledge – The learner’s understanding of their own cognitive abilities, the demands of the task, and potential strategies to approach it.

2. Metacognitive regulation – How the learner controls and monitors their cognitive processes as they work on the task.

Crucially, metacognition develops through engagement with cognitive tasks across different subject areas. Teachers can promote metacognitive thinking before a task (planning strategies), during the task (monitoring progress), and after the task (evaluating the approach taken).

So what are the benefits of nurturing metacognitive skills? Research shows metacognition improves academic achievement across ages and subjects, from reading comprehension to mathematics. It allows students to compensate for lower abilities by employing effective learning strategies. Perhaps most powerfully, metacognitive strategies are transferable across different tasks and contexts.

A metacognitive student will exhibit characteristics such as:

– Setting clear learning goals

– Selecting suitable strategies for the task

– Monitoring their progress and recognising strengths/limitations

– Evaluating strategy effectiveness and making adjustments

– Identifying errors and staying focused despite distractions

Developing metacognition takes time and explicit instruction. Teachers can model their own metacognitive thinking processes and guide students to do the same through prompts like:

“What will be the best approach for this task?”

“Is this strategy working effectively so far?”

“What did you learn that will help you next time?”

Ultimately, fostering metacognition equips students to become self-regulated, independent learners. By making their thought processes visible and teaching them to self-monitor, we empower students to take ownership of their learning journeys. The rewards are lifelong skills for academic excellence and growth mindset development.

So teachers, embrace metacognition! Weave metacognitive practices into your classroom culture and unleash your students’ potential.

1st Apr 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Peer Assessment for Boosting Student Learning

Evidence-Based Teaching Strategy: Peer Assessment for Boosting Student Learning

As teachers, we’re always looking for evidence-based strategies to deepen student learning and engagement. One highly effective approach that may be underutilised is peer assessment – having students evaluate and provide feedback on each other’s work. While it may seem counterintuitive at first to have students critiquing one another, research shows peer assessment can be a powerful driver of academic growth when implemented well.

What is Peer Assessment?

Peer assessment goes beyond just having students swap papers and mark correct/incorrect answers. It involves students providing constructive feedback to their peers based on clearly understood learning goals and success criteria. This could take the form of identifying strengths, areas for improvement, suggestions for revisions, etc. The peer reviewer essentially steps into the teacher’s role to analyse their classmate’s work through a critical lens.

Top Benefits of Peer Assessment for Students

So why should teachers embrace peer assessment as a classroom practice? The advantages for students are numerous:

1. Deeper Understanding – By evaluating peers’ work against criteria, students gain stronger mastery of what high-quality work looks like. Explaining areas of strength/weakness reinforces their own knowledge.

2. Improved Skills – Peer assessment develops critical thinking, communication, and self-evaluation skills that will benefit students for a lifetime. They learn how to give and receive respectful feedback.

3. Timely Feedback – Rather than waiting days for the teacher’s feedback, students get input immediately while content is still fresh, allowing them to quickly improve their work.

4. Increased Engagement – With peer assessment, students become active participants in the learning process rather than passive receivers of information. This collaboration and “shared ownership” over learning can be highly motivating.

5. Metacognitive Growth – Assessing others’ thought processes while making their own thinking visible promotes powerful reflection and self-awareness.

Tips for Successful Implementation of Peer Assessment

Of course, peer assessment needs to be carefully structured by the teacher to be effective. Some best practices include:

– Provide clear assessment criteria, rubrics, and exemplar work so expectations are transparent

– Build a supportive classroom culture of mutual trust and respect 

– Use techniques like anonymous peer review or stratified groupings to remove pressure

– Scaffold the process by modelling effective feedback and using peer feedback frames

– Celebrate growth from peer feedback to emphasise the purpose is learning, not criticism

When students are empowered to analyse work against standards and provide constructive peer feedback, they gain invaluable perspective and drive their own learning. By making peer assessment a routine part of evidence-based teaching practices, teachers can unlock powerful learning gains. Students will be better equipped as self-regulated learners with the lifelong skills to seek out, provide, and apply feedback productively.

30th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Collaborative Learning

The Power of Collaborative Learning

As teachers, we’re always looking for ways to improve learning outcomes for our students. One approach that has a strong evidence base is collaborative learning. By having students work together towards a shared goal, we can tap into some powerful learning benefits.

The research is clear that collaborative approaches lead to consistently positive impacts on learning. Meta-analyses over decades have found collaborative learning strategies can produce some of the largest gains of any educational intervention.

But it’s important we get the implementation right. Simply putting students into groups and telling them to work together is not enough. Effective collaborative learning requires careful task design and a structured approach to promote meaningful talk and interaction between students.

So what are the key benefits we can unlock through collaboration?

1. Higher academic performance and knowledge retention. Students learn and remember more when they collaborate, compared to working alone. The varied perspectives, experiences, and creativity of the group leads to deeper understanding.

2. Improved motivation, behaviour, and social skills. Collaboration increases engagement and self-esteem. Students also develop valuable teamwork abilities like conflict resolution that are prized by employers. 

3. Cognitive benefits like elaborated explanations. To succeed on collaborative tasks, students must articulate their thinking, give reasons, and build on one another’s ideas – processes that enhance learning.

4. Support for diverse learners. Seeing different perspectives and working to their strengths allows all students to make valuable contributions and build confidence, regardless of prior attainment levels.

Of course, to actually get these benefits, we need make teamwork explicit. We need to coach students on teamwork skills, design motivating yet challenging group tasks, and monitor to ensure groups stay productively engaged. 

But when implemented effectively, collaborative learning can be a powerful driver of academic and social-emotional growth for our students. The evidence overwhelmingly shows it’s worth the investment of time and effort. In an era prioritising 21st century skills, equipping our students to be effective collaborators will pay dividends.

29th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: Cultivating a Thinking Classroom

Cultivating a Thinking Classroom: Empowering Students as Self-Directed Learners

In today’s world, rote memorisation just doesn’t cut it. The ability to think critically, analyse information, and solve problems is paramount for success. As teachers, fostering these skills in our students becomes a central focus. This is where the concept of a “thinking classroom” comes in.

A thinking classroom isn’t simply a collection of strategies; it’s a cultural shift. It’s about moving away from teacher-centred instruction and building a space where students are encouraged to wrestle with ideas, grapple with challenges, and ultimately own their learning journey. But how do we cultivate this environment? Here are some key strategies:

The Power of Questioning:

The way we ask questions has a profound impact on the level of thinking students engage in. Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a framework for crafting questions that move beyond simple recall. Instead of “What happened?”, consider prompting students to “Analyse the causes” or “How can this be applied in a different context?”. Research suggests that by Year 6, around half of all classroom questions should challenge students to think critically and creatively.

Effective questioning techniques go hand-in-hand with this approach. Allowing wait time after posing a question allows students time to formulate thoughtful responses. Implementing a “no hands up” policy ensures everyone is actively engaged in thinking, not just the quickest on the draw. Finally, sequencing questions logically, building from easier to more complex ones, guides students through the thinking process.

Collaboration is Key:

Learning doesn’t happen in isolation. Collaborative learning strategies like “Think-Pair-Share” empower students to explain concepts to one another. This process not only deepens their own understanding but also allows them to learn from different perspectives and build upon each other’s insights.

Thinking classrooms leverage the power of peer learning. Well-structured group work allows students to identify their strengths and weaknesses in a safe environment. Through discussions and explanations, they can clarify misconceptions and build robust mental models of the concepts at hand.

Making Thinking Visible:

Metacognition, or “thinking about thinking,” is a crucial skill for self-directed learners. By making students’ thought processes visible, we can support their metacognitive development.

Graphic organizers, mind maps, and exit tickets are powerful tools for this purpose. “Thinking walls” can showcase student work and document their learning journeys. These strategies encourage students to monitor their own progress, identify areas for improvement, and adjust their learning strategies accordingly.

Shifting the Teacher’s Role:

The role of the teacher in a thinking classroom is no longer solely to deliver information. Instead, teachers become facilitators of knowledge construction. They guide students, pose thought-provoking questions, and create a safe space for exploration and critical thinking.

Flexible seating arrangements and random groupings can foster a more dynamic learning environment. Using oral instructions over written ones encourages active listening and processing. Most importantly, fostering a growth mindset is key. Students need to understand that mistakes are part of the learning process and opportunities to learn and improve.

Building a Thinking Classroom Culture:

Cultivating a thinking classroom takes time and effort. It’s important to establish clear expectations around participation, collaboration, and respectful discourse. As teachers, we need to model curiosity and a love of learning. We can celebrate “thinking mistakes” as stepping stones to mastery and encourage students to persevere through challenges.

By skilfully blending questioning techniques, collaborative activities, metacognitive skill instruction, and fostering a growth mindset, we can transform our classrooms into vibrant communities of self-directed learners. These learners will be equipped with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. The journey to a thinking classroom is an ongoing process, but the rewards – empowered, engaged, and lifelong learners – are well worth the effort.

28th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching: The Power of Questioning in the Classroom

Evidence-based learning refers to an approach to teaching and education that prioritises the use of empirical evidence, research findings, and proven strategies to inform instructional practices and decision-making in the classroom. It involves systematically integrating research-supported methods, interventions, and assessments to enhance teaching effectiveness and student learning outcomes. Asking the right type of questions is an evidence-based teaching strategy.

As teachers, we ask hundreds of questions every day. But are we asking the right kinds of questions to really challenge our students’ thinking and move their learning forward? The research is clear that questioning is a hallmark of great teaching, but only if we get it right.

One of the biggest issues identified in the research is that the majority of our questions tend to be lower-order, closed questions that just require recall of facts. Studies have found that around 60% of classroom questions fall into this category. While these types of questions have their place, we need to be asking more higher-order, open-ended questions that require deeper thinking and longer responses from students.

The benefits of increasing higher-order questioning are significant. It leads to increased on-task behaviour, longer and more relevant responses from students, more interactions between students, more speculative thinking, and more questions being asked by students themselves. Fundamentally, it moves students to those higher levels of thinking outlined in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

So how can we improve our questioning? Here are some top tips from the research:

1) Aim for at least 50% higher-order questions that require more analysis, evaluation, synthesis etc. Start with easier questions but build up to the more complex ones.

2) Use question stems like “How can we be sure that…?”, “What is the same and different about…?”, “How would you explain…?” to provoke deeper thinking.

3) Give wait time! Students need time to think, especially for higher-order questions. Pause for at least 3-5 seconds after asking a question before taking responses.

4) Use a ‘no hands up’ approach and spread questions around the class randomly. Follow up responses with further probing like “Why is that?” or “Can you elaborate?”

5) Encourage students to build on each other’s responses. Use the ‘bounce’ approach – after one response, bounce the question to another student to add to or challenge the initial answer.

6) Don’t just focus on correct answers. Ask students about their thinking process with questions like “How did you arrive at that answer?” or “What strategy did you use?”

7) Get students asking questions of themselves and each other by modelling good questioning techniques.

The research reinforces that effective questioning is hard and takes practice, but it’s a skill that is worth mastering. As studies show, it’s one of the most powerful tools we have for promoting student thinking, understanding where students are in their learning, and being responsive in tailoring our teaching.

Getting classroom questioning right could be a game-changer for learning!

27th Mar 2024 – Why Create your own Digital Library of over 200 EBL lessons?

We believe that having a digital library of over 200 complete, ready-to-use English lessons with evidence-based learning skills embedded in them, along with a 5-minute evidence-based Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity, would be a tremendous asset for any teacher and their school.

Here’s why we think this:

1. Enhanced Teaching Quality: With ready-made lessons that integrate evidence-based learning skills, teachers can ensure that their teaching is grounded in proven educational principles. This approach fosters effective learning among students and improves teaching quality.

2. Streamlined Lesson Planning: Teachers often spend a significant amount of time creating lesson plans from scratch. Having access to a vast digital library of pre-prepared lessons allows teachers to streamline their planning process, saving time and energy that can be redirected towards other instructional needs or student support.

3. Diverse Learning Opportunities: A library of 200+ English lessons provides a wealth of diverse learning opportunities for students. Teachers can select lessons that cater to different learning styles, interests, and proficiency levels, ensuring that all students have access to engaging and relevant content.

4. Evidence-Based CPD: The inclusion of a 5-minute evidence-based CPD activity adds value by supporting teachers’ professional development. These brief activities provide teachers with opportunities to reflect on their teaching practices, learn new strategies grounded in research, and continuously improve their instructional techniques.

5. Consistency Across Classrooms: By utilising lessons from the digital library, teachers can promote consistency in instruction across classrooms and grade levels. This consistency ensures that all students receive a standardised level of education and support, regardless of the teacher they are assigned to.

6. Customisation and Adaptability: While the lessons are ready to use, they also allow for customisation and adaptation to meet the specific needs of individual classrooms and students. Teachers can modify lesson plans to incorporate additional resources, adjust pacing, or accommodate diverse student populations, fostering a more inclusive learning environment.

7. Resource Optimisation: Investing in a digital library of lessons and CPD activities represents a wise allocation of resources for the school. Rather than reinventing the wheel with every lesson, teachers can leverage existing materials to maximise instructional effectiveness and student learning outcomes.

8. Future-Proofing Education: In an era of rapid technological advancement and evolving educational practices, having access to a digital library ensures that teachers remain equipped with relevant and up-to-date resources. This future-proofs education by empowering teachers to adapt to changing pedagogical trends and technological innovations.

In conclusion, a digital library of over 200 complete English lessons with embedded evidence-based learning skills, complemented by evidence-based CPD activities, offers a comprehensive and invaluable resource for teachers and their school. It supports excellence in teaching, promotes student success, and fosters a culture of continuous professional growth and development within the teaching community.

26th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Learning Skills vs. Evidence-Based Teaching strategies

In education, there exists a dynamic interplay between evidence-based learning skills and evidence-based teaching strategies. Both are pivotal components of fostering effective learning environments and facilitating student success. As teachers, understanding the nuances and distinctions between these two is crucial for delivering impactful lessons. In this guide, we will delve into the difference between evidence-based learning skills and evidence-based teaching strategies, exploring their significance and practical implications for teachers.

Evidence-Based Learning Skills:

Evidence-based learning skills encompass a spectrum of cognitive and metacognitive abilities that empower students to become active participants in their own learning journey. These skills are fundamental for cultivating lifelong learners who can thrive in diverse academic and professional contexts. Let’s delve into some key evidence-based learning skills:

  1. Collaboration: Collaboration involves working collectively towards shared goals, leveraging individual strengths, and fostering mutual respect. By engaging in collaborative activities, students develop interpersonal skills, such as communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution, which are essential for success in today’s interconnected world.
  2. Thinking Skills: Critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative thinking are integral components of evidence-based learning. Encouraging students to analyse, evaluate, and synthesise information fosters intellectual agility and prepares them to tackle real-world challenges with confidence and ingenuity.
  3. Peer Assessment: Peer assessment empowers students to provide constructive feedback to their peers, promoting a culture of mutual support and accountability. Through this process, students develop a deeper understanding of assessment criteria and enhance their capacity for self-reflection and improvement.
  4. Peer Teaching: Peer teaching involves students taking on the role of teachers to explain concepts or demonstrate skills to their peers. This approach not only reinforces their own understanding but also cultivates empathy, communication skills, and leadership abilities.
  5. Self-Assessment: Self-assessment encourages students to reflect on their own learning progress, strengths, and areas for growth. By actively monitoring their performance and setting personal learning goals, students develop metacognitive awareness and become more self-directed learners.
  6. Metacognition: Metacognition refers to the ability to monitor, regulate, and evaluate one’s own thinking processes. By teaching students metacognitive strategies, such as goal-setting, planning, monitoring, and reflecting, teachers empower them to become more effective learners who can adapt to diverse learning contexts.
  7. Self-Regulation: Self-regulation involves managing one’s emotions, attention, and behaviour in order to achieve desired learning outcomes. By fostering self-regulatory skills, educators equip students with the tools to overcome distractions, persevere through challenges, and maintain focus on their learning goals.
  8. Independent Learning: Independent learning empowers students to take ownership of their learning journey, exploring topics of interest, conducting research, and pursuing self-directed projects. By fostering autonomy and initiative, educators nurture a lifelong passion for learning and innovation.

Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies:

Evidence-based teaching strategies encompass a range of instructional approaches and pedagogical techniques that have been empirically validated to enhance student learning outcomes. These strategies are grounded in research and aim to optimise the teaching-learning process. Let’s explore some key evidence-based teaching strategies:

  1. Effective Questioning: Effective questioning involves posing thought-provoking questions that stimulate critical thinking and promote active engagement. By incorporating open-ended questions, probing prompts, and scaffolding techniques, teachers can deepen students’ understanding and encourage meaningful dialogue.
  2. Sharing Learning Criteria: Sharing learning criteria involves communicating learning objectives, assessment criteria, and expectations with students. By clarifying what success looks like and providing clear benchmarks for achievement, educators empower students to take ownership of their learning and track their progress effectively.
  3. Effective Group Work: Effective group work entails structuring collaborative activities in a way that maximises student participation, fosters positive interdependence, and promotes collective problem-solving. By establishing clear roles, norms, and accountability mechanisms, educators can facilitate productive teamwork and cultivate essential social and cognitive skills.
  4. Feedback and Feedforward: Feedback and feedforward mechanisms involve providing timely, specific, and actionable feedback to students to support their learning and growth. By offering constructive criticism, praise, and guidance, educators help students identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for future success.
  5. Differentiated Instruction: Differentiated instruction involves tailoring teaching methods, materials, and assessments to meet the diverse needs and learning styles of students. By offering multiple pathways to learning and accommodating individual differences, teachers create inclusive learning environments where all students can thrive.
  6. Active Learning: Active learning promotes student engagement through hands-on activities, discussions, simulations, and collaborative projects. By encouraging active participation and experiential learning, teachers deepen students’ understanding and retention of the material.
  7. Formative Assessment: Formative assessment involves gathering real-time feedback on student learning progress to inform teaching decisions and provide targeted support. By using formative assessment strategies, such as quizzes, exit tickets, and peer reviews, teachers can identify misconceptions, adjust teaching strategies, and scaffold student learning effectively.
  8. Scaffolding: Scaffolding involves providing temporary support and structure to help students master challenging tasks or concepts gradually. By breaking down complex skills or content into manageable steps and offering guidance as needed, teachers empower students to achieve success independently.

Practical Implications for Teachers:

Understanding the distinction between evidence-based learning skills and evidence-based teaching strategies equips educators with valuable insights for designing impactful lessons. By incorporating both into their pedagogical approach, teachers can create dynamic learning environments that foster student engagement, autonomy, and achievement.

To effectively integrate evidence-based learning skills into teaching practice, educators can:

  • Design collaborative learning activities that promote teamwork and communication skills.
  • Scaffold metacognitive strategies, such as goal-setting and self-assessment, to support student autonomy and reflection.
  • Encourage peer teaching and peer assessment to foster a culture of shared learning and feedback.
  • Provide opportunities for independent inquiry and exploration to nurture curiosity and initiative.

Similarly, to implement evidence-based teaching strategies, teachers can:

  • Pose thought-provoking questions that stimulate critical thinking and dialogue.
  • Clearly communicate learning objectives and assessment criteria to guide student learning and evaluation.
  • Structure group work activities to promote collaboration, problem-solving, and accountability.
  • Offer timely and constructive feedback to support student growth and development.

By embracing evidence-based learning skills and evidence-based teaching strategies in tandem, teachers can empower students to become lifelong learners who are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to thrive in an ever-changing world.

In conclusion, evidence-based learning skills and evidence-based teaching strategies are complementary components of effective pedagogy, each playing a vital role in shaping the learning experiences and outcomes of students. By understanding the distinction between the two and incorporating both into their teaching, educators can create dynamic and inclusive learning environments that foster student success and well-being.

25th Mar 2024 – If you only introduce one EBL skill to your students at a time start with metacognition

For 11-year-old pupils, introducing a key evidence-based learning skill that fosters their ability to reflect on their own learning process and strategies can be highly beneficial since it would make it easier for them to use and learn the other evidence-based learning skills. With this in mind, I would recommend introducing metacognition first.

Metacognition involves understanding one’s own thinking processes, learning preferences, and strategies. It empowers students to monitor, evaluate, and adjust their learning approach based on their goals and experiences. By introducing metacognition at this age, students can begin to develop a deeper awareness of how they learn best, which can significantly enhance their academic performance and overall learning outcomes.

Teaching metacognitive strategies can involve activities such as:

1. Reflective Journaling: Encourage pupils to regularly reflect on their learning experiences, including what strategies they used, what challenges they encountered, and how they can improve.

2. Think-Alouds: Model metacognitive thinking by verbalising your own thought processes while solving problems or completing tasks. Encourage pupils to do the same.

3. Goal Setting: Help pupils set specific, achievable learning goals and guide them in creating action plans to reach those goals. Encourage them to regularly review and adjust their goals based on their progress.

4. Questioning Techniques: Teach pupils how to ask themselves questions that promote deeper understanding and critical thinking about the material they’re studying.

By introducing metacognition early on, you provide pupils with the first tool in what will be an invaluable toolbox filled with all the evidence-based learning skills. Pupils will be able to use these tools to become effective learners, setting them on a path towards academic success.

17th Mar 2024 – A student discovers metacognition

“Oliver’s Journey into the World of Metacognition: A Young Mind Unveils its Power”

In the quiet town of Meadowville, where curious minds roamed freely, there lived an imaginative 11-year-old named Oliver. He was known for his insatiable curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. One sunny afternoon, as he delved into his favourite book, Oliver stumbled upon a term that would change the way he approached learning forever – metacognition.

The day began like any other for Oliver, with the sun casting a warm glow over his room as he huddled with his books and school assignments. Little did he know that within the pages of his well-worn textbook, a concept awaited him that would ignite a spark of understanding and self-awareness.

As Oliver turned the pages, he encountered the word “metacognition” for the first time. Intrigued, he read on, discovering that metacognition was the ability to think about one’s own thinking processes. It was as if a window to a new dimension had opened before his eyes, revealing a world of self-awareness and deeper understanding.

Curiosity Unleashed:

Flo’s first reaction was one of sheer curiosity. Eager to explore this newfound concept, she embarked on a quest to understand what it meant to think about her own thinking. The more she read, the more she realised that metacognition was like having a superpower that allowed her to navigate her thoughts and feelings.

Reflecting on Learning:

Armed with the knowledge of metacognition, Oliver began to reflect on his own learning experiences. He considered how he approached challenges, solved problems, and absorbed new information. It was as if a mirror had been placed in front of his mind, enabling him to examine the intricate processes at play.

Setting Learning Goals:

Inspired by his discovery, Oliver decided to set learning goals for himself. He understood that metacognition empowered him to identify areas for improvement and establish concrete steps to enhance his understanding. Whether it was learning a new literacy skill or grasping a complex numeracy skill, Oliver felt a newfound sense of control over his learning journey.

Adapting Strategies:

Armed with metacognitive awareness, Oliver found himself adapting his learning strategies. If a particular approach wasn’t yielding the desired results, he was quick to adjust and explore alternative methods. Metacognition became his compass, guiding him through the twists and turns of academic challenges.

Embracing Mistakes:

Perhaps the most transformative aspect of Oliver’s metacognitive journey was his newfound perspective on mistakes. Instead of viewing errors as setbacks, he saw them as opportunities for growth and learning. Metacognition allowed him to analyse his missteps, understand the reasons behind them, and turn them into stepping stones toward improvement.

As Oliver continued his exploration of metacognition, he couldn’t help but share his newfound wisdom with friends and family. The concept became a beacon of empowerment, illuminating the path to self-discovery and academic success.

In Meadowville, word spread about Oliver’s journey into the world of metacognition, and soon, other young minds followed suit. The quiet town became a hub of thoughtful learners, each embracing the power of metacognition to shape their educational adventures.

And so, the day that 11-year-old Oliver discovered metacognition became a turning point not only in his life but also in the lives of those around him. Meadowville became a place where young minds flourished, guided by the transformative power of thinking about their own thinking. The tale of Oliver’s journey into metacognition served as an inspiration for all, proving that the key to unlocking one’s potential lies not just in knowledge but in the mindful understanding of how that knowledge is acquired and applied.

13th Mar 2024 – Evidence-Based Teaching

We have consistently made the point that the eight evidence-based learning skills have been proven, by research, to be at the heart of effective learning. However, they can also be at the heart of effective teaching. Have a look and see how each evidence-based learning skill can be applied to teaching practice:

1. Collaboration: Seek opportunities to collaborate with other teachers, both within your school and outside. Participate in professional learning communities, attend workshops/conferences, observe colleagues’ classrooms, and engage in discussions to exchange ideas, strategies, and best practices.

2. Thinking Skills: Use frameworks like Bloom’s Taxonomy to reflect on and analyse your own lesson plans and teaching methods. Ensure that you are incorporating activities and assessments that promote higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, evaluation, and creation among your students and that focus on lower order thinking skills if you are preparing KS2 students for the English Reading test.

3. Peer Assessment: Ask a colleague to observe your teaching for 15 minutes and provide constructive feedback. Be open to their insights and suggestions for improvement. You can also engage in reciprocal peer observation and feedback cycles.

4. Peer Teaching: Offer to conduct demonstration lessons or workshops for your colleagues, allowing them to observe your teaching methods and techniques for a particular topic. Likewise, observe colleagues teaching the same topic and reflect on what you can learn from their approach.

5. Self-Assessment: Regularly self-reflect on your teaching practice through journaling, video analysis, or using self-assessment rubrics. Identify strengths and areas for growth, and develop action plans for continuous improvement. This improvement can be incremental as in “inch by inch, it’s a cinch”.

6. Metacognition: Think critically about your own thought processes and decision-making when planning lessons, teaching, and marking. Question your assumptions and consider alternative perspectives or strategies. Ask yourself ‘what went well today’ and ‘what could I improve?’ Or ‘if I taught this lesson again would I change anything?’.

7. Self-Regulation: Set professional goals for yourself, such as mastering a new EBL teaching strategy or incorporating more technology into your lessons. Develop an action plan, monitor your progress, and adjust your approach as needed.

8. Independent Learning: Actively seek out professional development opportunities such as reading educational literature, attending webinars or online courses. Stay up-to-date on current research and best practices in your field.

Consistently applying these skills will help you become a more reflective, self-aware, and effective teacher. It will enable you to continuously refine your teaching, implement evidence-based practices, and better meet the diverse needs of your students.

12th Mar 2024 – Our three most popular lessons

11th Mar 2024 – How lessons are arranged in the shop

In the shop the lessons how been arranged in two different ways. Firstly, by genre using this type of icon which means that there are 6 Cinderella lessons altogether and all six lessons have an inbuilt 5-minute evidence-based CPD activity for teachers based on an evidence-based learning skill that has been delivered to students in that lesson.

An icon identifying the genre

The second way we have organised the lessons is by CPD using icons like the one below. All the lessons from all the genres that contain 5-minute evidence-based CPD on Peer Teaching have been collected in one place. Look for the red tag!

An icon identifying lessons that contain Peer Teaching CPD

5th Mar 2024 – CPD Takes Centre Stage

Teachers who are interested in adding to or refreshing their existing skill set using our 5-minute CPD activities cunningly added to the back of many lessons might be interested to know that we have added these icons to our shop (lessons) to guide them. Simply click on the evidence-based learning skill of interest and all the lessons that include evidence-based CPD in that particular skill will be revealed.

3rd Mar 2024 – How our shop works

29th Feb 2024 – Why Independent Learning is a Great Skill for Primary Pupils

Learning how to learn independently is one of the most valuable skills we can teach primary aged children. Independent learning is about pupils taking charge of their own learning rather than relying solely on the teacher. It involves pupils setting their own goals, planning how to achieve them, monitoring their progress, and reflecting on what they have learnt.

Although full independence takes time to develop, there are many benefits to nurturing independent learning from a young age:

Motivation and Engagement

Independent learners are driven by intrinsic motivation rather than being motivated by grades or rewards. They learn because they are genuinely interested and engaged. As teachers, we want enthusiastic life-long learners in our classrooms.

Ownership Over Learning

When pupils have input into setting learning goals and planning activities, they have ownership over their learning. This ownership results in greater commitment to working hard and persevering.


Independent learning requires pupils to think about their thinking and learning strategies (metacognition). Metacognitive learners are able to identify what they already know, what they still need to know, and how they are progressing. These reflective skills help pupils become expert learners.

Transferable Skills 

The ability to self-regulate and take responsibility for learning is a transferable skill that pupils can apply to any learning context, equipping them for future academic and career success. This skill does not disappear when they leave primary school.

To develop independent learning, teachers need to actively promote independence through modelling, scaffolding, effective questioning and enabling environments. Shared success criteria and self-assessment opportunities are also valuable formative assessment strategies. 

Ultimately by focusing on independence in primary school, we empower pupils with the attitudes, skills and behaviours needed to reach their full potential as motivated and self-directed learners. The earlier we foster independent learning, the greater the benefits for their future.

27th Feb 2024 – Space Cadet Stumbles upon the Secrets of Super Learning

Greetings, Earthlings! Buckle up, because I’m about to blast you off on a tale that’s light years beyond your average science textbook. Your intrepid reporter, yours truly, Captain Astra Nova, just crash-landed on a planet so far out, it makes Pluto look like Piccadilly Circus. But let me tell you, this ain’t no desolate rock – it’s a hive of little green whizz-kids who’ve cracked the code to super-smartness!

Now, I’m no slouch in the smarts department myself. Top of my class at Astro Academy, whizzed through zero-gravity training like a comet, even aced that tricky test on nebulae (don’t ask about the black hole incident). But these aliens, whoa, they put my brain to shame. Imagine, they haven’t got fancy textbooks or holographic lectures, just eight secret weapons that turn learning into an intergalactic playground. Brace yourselves, Earthlings, because I’m spilling the radio-active beans:

1. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: These aliens don’t hog knowledge like space pirates. They’re all about collaboration, bouncing ideas off each other like asteroids in a cosmic pinball game. No one gets left behind, and everyone learns from everyone else. Talk about a learning force field!

2. Thinking Outside the Spacesuit: Forget rote memorisation, these whizz-kids think like black holes, sucking in information and twisting it into mind-bending theories. They question, they ponder, they build mental spaceships and blast off on voyages of discovery. I saw a poster on their classroom wall “Thinking skills for infinity and beyond.” Makes our Earth classrooms feel as flat as a deflated bouncy castle.

3. Peer Power: These aliens don’t just learn, they assess and teach each other, like a team of tiny Einsteins. They give feedback like seasoned space navigators, pointing out wobbly orbits in each other’s understanding and guiding them back on course. Talk about self-improvement fuel!  Giving and getting feedback rocks!

4. Master of Your Own Starship: Forget spoon-feeding, these aliens take the wheel of their learning with self-assessment. They constantly check their understanding, like meticulous mechanics tuning their mental engines. No wonder they’re light years ahead!

5. Knowing What You Know: These whizz-kids aren’t just smart, they know they’re smart. They practise metacognition, like little space captains constantly scanning the learning landscape, aware of their strengths and weaknesses, plotting the best course to knowledge nirvana.

6. Mind Over Matter: Forget tantrums and meltdowns, these aliens have mastered self-regulation. They control their focus like seasoned astronauts navigating a meteor shower, using techniques that would make a Zen master jealous. No wonder they learn faster than a speeding comet!

7. Solo Space Explorers: Sure, they work in teams, but these aliens also rock independent learning. They devour books like cosmic snacks, tinker with gadgets like intergalactic asteroids, and explore new ideas with the boundless curiosity of a black hole. Makes our Earth homework seem as exciting as watching paint dry on the outside of a newly-painted space ship.

So, you see, Earthlings, these eight skills are the secret sauce to these aliens’ super-smartness. And guess what? I’m packing my (metaphorical) bags and bringing them back to Earth! Imagine classrooms buzzing with collaboration, brains firing like supernovae with independent learning, and everyone teaching and assessing each other like a cosmic academy. We’ll be light years ahead in no time!

This, my friends, is not just an alien adventure, it’s a call to action. Ditch the boring textbooks, embrace the eight secret weapons, and let’s turn Earth into a learning galaxy! Because remember, Earthlings, even the mightiest astronaut can learn a thing or two from a tiny green whiz-kid. Now, excuse me while I go practise some of the eight evidence-based learning skills!

Captain Astra Nova, signing off and blasting back to Earth… with a spaceship full of super-smart secrets!

25th Feb 2024 – Teaching thinking skills explicitly equips students with the cognitive tools to reach their potential

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Thinking Skills. EBL Team

The Value of Developing Thinking Skills in the Classroom

An important part of students reaching their full potential is giving them opportunities to develop their thinking skills. The research shows that explicitly teaching thinking skills has a range of benefits for students. In this blog, I’ll explain what thinking skills are, why they matter, and how we can use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a framework to intentionally build them.

What Are Thinking Skills?

Thinking skills refer to the ability to analyse, evaluate, and apply information. This includes skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and creativity. Unlike rote learning of facts and procedures, thinking skills require students to actively engage with information. This allows them to interpret, relate, and use it in new situations.

Why Do Thinking Skills Matter?

There are several reasons why thinking skills are so valuable:

– They allow students to gain a deeper understanding of content by connecting facts and ideas. This improves retention and application of knowledge.

– They equip students to successfully handle novel situations and tackle problems they haven’t encountered before. Thinking skills are transferable to all learning areas.

– They foster qualities like innovation, imagination, and higher-order thinking. This helps students reach their potential.

– They prepare students for further education, work, and participation in society where they’ll need to think flexibly.

– Explicitly teaching thinking gives students the tools to take ownership of their learning. This supports independent learning and metacognition.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Develop Thinking Skills

A useful framework for building students’ thinking skills is Bloom’s Taxonomy. This categorises cognitive skills into six levels moving from lower-order to higher-order thinking. The levels are:

1. Remembering – recalling facts

2. Understanding – explaining ideas

3. Applying – using information

4. Analysing – examining information

5. Evaluating – justifying decisions

6. Creating – producing new ideas

Here are some tips for using Bloom’s Taxonomy in your classroom:

– Ensure your lessons incorporate activities spanning all levels of the taxonomy. This develops the full range of thinking skills.

– Use the taxonomy to spiral learning. Start with lower level skills to build a base before progressively introducing more complex skills.

– Vary your questioning techniques. Closed questions prompt lower level thinking while open questions demand higher thought.

– Set creative, analytical activities and projects to give students opportunities to apply their thinking.

– When planning lessons, map activities to different taxonomy levels. Move from basic to advanced skills.

– Use technology tools that align with each level, like brainstorming apps for generating ideas.

– Encourage metacognition by asking students to identify the types of thinking they are using.

By intentionally using Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can scaffold meaningful thinking activities that push your students to develop higher order thinking skills. This develops their ability to engage with information in sophisticated ways to promote deep learning. Teaching thinking skills explicitly equips students with the cognitive tools to reach their potential both in and beyond the classroom.

Evidence Shows Teaching Thinking Skills Works

The research base validates the benefits of explicitly teaching thinking skills

– A meta-analysis published in Review of Educational Research found teaching cognitive strategies boosted learning outcomes.

– Multiple studies highlight the long-term academic improvements achieved through thinking skills programs.

– Developing thinking skills aids emotional skills too, improving confidence, motivation, self-regulation and attitude to learning.

Some Simple Classroom Strategies

It doesn’t take a complete overhaul to start developing students’ thinking skills. Here are some simple strategies to try:

– Begin lessons by asking open-ended questions to engage higher thinking.

– Set regular short challenges that require problem-solving and creativity.

– Use Bloom’s Taxonomy-based rubrics to encourage metacognition.

– Model your own thinking processes verbally when working through examples.

– Dedicate time for thoughtful discussion around concepts and ideas.

– Set tasks for students to identify connections, patterns and relationships in content.

– Ask students to actively generate examples, uses and solutions regarding content.

Strong thinking skills benefit students not only academically but also in terms of confidence, self-direction and preparation for future challenges. By incorporating thinking skills development into your teaching practice using proven frameworks like Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can empower students to reach their full potential as independent thinkers and learners. The effort is well worthwhile!

22nd Feb 2024 – Collaboration fuels success

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Collaboration. EBL Team

The Power of Collaboration: An Evidence-Based Learning Skill for Students

All teachers want their students to succeed and reach their full potential. One way we can help them do this is by teaching collaboration skills. There is strong research evidence that collaborative learning skills provide immense benefits for students across academic, social, and emotional domains. In this blog post, I will break down what the research says and provide actionable tips on implementing collaborative learning in your classroom.

What Does the Research Say About Collaboration?

Decades of research studies on collaborative learning approaches show conclusively that activating students as peer learning resources produces some of the largest learning gains possible. The key is ensuring two essential conditions are met: 

1. The learning environment facilitates group goals so students work cooperatively as a team, not just side-by-side.

2. There is individual accountability so each student contributes meaningfully. 

Additional benefits of peer learning highlighted in studies include:

– Peers explain concepts in relatable ways

– Exposure to diverse perspectives and learning tactics 

– Detached judgment and assessment skills transfer to self-assessment

– More willingness to accept critiques from peers

– Higher order thinking skills through discussion and debate

In short, well-implemented collaborative learning develops students academically, socially, and emotionally. 

Seven Key Features of a Collaborative Learning Environment

Here are the key ingredients to make collaborative learning successful in your classroom:

1. Student teams work interdependently towards a common goal.

2. Group work is productive through cooperation and assignments suiting teamwork.

3. Students adopt cooperative attitudes and behaviours like leadership, encouragement and negotiation.

4. Reflection allows students to self-monitor contributions and team dynamics.

5. Ownership over learning transfers from teacher to students. 

6. All abilities benefit from exposure to different viewpoints and peer tutoring.

7. Self-regulation improves through peer modelling and distribution of learning tactics.

Four Simple Tips to Get Started

Here are some simple ways to introduce collaborative learning in your classroom:

1. Form heterogeneous groups to encourage diversity of perspectives.

2. Establish basic participation rules and expectations with students. 

3. Design activities that necessitate working together to solve problems.

4. Rotate group roles so students gain exposure outside comfort zones.

The research evidence makes an open-and-shut case for collaborative learning approaches. Students have everything to gain by developing skills in this area.

In our extensive review of the research on collaboration we used many sources. Here are a few of our favourites:

What is Collaborative Learning? Smith & MacGregor 1992

What is the Collaborative Classroom? Tinzmann et al 1990

Peer Learning Strategies in the Classroom – Anna Wessel – Journal on Best Teaching Practices

21st Feb 2024 – Metacognition helps students learn what to do when they don’t know what to do

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Metacognition. EBL Team

The Power of Metacognition: How Thinking About Thinking Can Transform Student Learning

All teachers want their students to reach their full potential. They try various teaching methods to make content engaging, provide extra support where needed, and encourage good study habits. But what if there was one skill that could boost academic performance across all subject areas? An evidence-based learning strategy that helps students achieve more in the classroom and beyond?

That skill is metacognition – often referred to as “thinking about thinking.” Extensive research shows that metacognition offers many benefits for learners of all ages and ability levels. So what exactly is it? How does it work? And most importantly, how can we develop metacognitive skills in our students? This blog post explores why metacognition needs to be an essential part of modern teaching practice. 

What Is Metacognition?

Metacognition refers to the awareness of one’s thought processes and an ability to consciously control and adapt them as needed. It’s about understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a learner, the demands of a task, and using strategies effectively to optimise learning.

In simple terms, metacognitive learners can:

• Recognise what they do and do not know

• Identify gaps in their understanding

• Transfer knowledge and skills between contexts

• Self-assess their performance on tasks

• Adjust their approach based on feedback 

These reflective abilities allow students to take ownership of their learning. Rather than relying solely on teachers for guidance, they can monitor their own progress and make changes themselves. 

The Benefits of Metacognition for Students 

An abundance of studies highlight the academic advantages of metacognitive teaching. Students who actively think about their thinking and learning tend to: 

• Achieve better grades overall

• Perform better in tests of intelligence

• Experience more meaningful classroom learning

• Compensate for cognitive weaknesses   

• Become more independent, intentional learners 

• Transfer skills more effectively between subjects and real-world contexts

In particular, metacognition helps lower achieving students to “learn what to do when they don’t know what to do.” It provides strategies to get “unstuck” and make progress. Overall, the research makes a compelling case that metacognition should be embedded into all educational practice. 

10 Teaching Strategies That Develop Metacognition 

The good news is that metacognition can be taught. As teachers, we play a vital role in cultivating more reflective habits of mind. Here are 10 simple, evidence-based techniques: 

1. Ask Metacognitive Questions 

2. Model Your Own Thinking

3. Teach The Goal-Plan-Monitor Cycle 

4. Encourage Collaborative Dialogue

5. Give Ongoing Feedback

6. Make Reflection A Habit  

7. Reinforce That Learning Ability Can Grow

8. Make Metacognition Explicit 

9. Teach For Transfer

10. Develop Advanced Metacognitive Skills   

These 10 teaching strategies involves strategies like verbalising your thought processes out loud, prompting students to analyse their mental workflows, facilitating peer discussions to uncover gaps in understanding, giving actionable feedback on work and learning strategies, building in reflection time, and continuously reinforcing that intelligence can be developed. 

Implementing these best practices requires a dedication to metacognition across all subjects and year groups. But the research confirms this is time well spent to unleash the potential of responsive, self-directed learners ready to thrive in the 21st century. Students face competition from many different sources; their ability to think about their own thinking could be what gives them an edge. 

Metacognition needs to be a cornerstone of pedagogy. The evidence clearly shows teaching students HOW to think reaps immense rewards in academic performance and beyond.

We used many sources in our review of the research on metacognition. Here are some that you might find useful:

Teacher tip: Use metacognitive strategies to empower your students – Department of Education (au)

Learning Theories – Metacognition

Cambridge Assessment – Metacognition 2019 – Getting Started with Metacognition – What is Metacognition?

20th Feb 2024 – Peer Teaching is a valuable skill that can help students to become more effective learners

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Peer Teaching. EBL Team

Peer teaching is a teaching method in which students teach each other. It is a student-centred approach to learning that emphasises cooperation, communication, and critical thinking.

There is a growing body of research that supports the use of peer teaching in the classroom. For example, a study by Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec (1999) found that students who participated in peer teaching activities showed greater gains in academic achievement than students who did not participate in peer teaching activities.

Another study by Slavin (1995) found that peer teaching can help to reduce social isolation and improve students’ self-esteem. The study found that students who participated in peer teaching activities were more likely to feel accepted by their peers and to have a positive self-image.

These studies and others suggest that peer teaching is an important learning skill that can be taught and learned. Peer teaching can help students to become more effective learners by:

  • Developing critical thinking skills: Peer teaching can help students to develop critical thinking skills by requiring them to analyse and evaluate information from different sources.
  • Learning from each other: Peer teaching can help students to learn from each other by providing them with an opportunity to share their ideas and perspectives.
  • Developing communication skills: Peer teaching can help students to develop communication skills by requiring them to give and receive feedback in a constructive way.
  • Improving social skills: Peer teaching can help students to improve their social skills by requiring them to work together with others to achieve a common goal.

Here are some tips for using peer teaching in the classroom:

  • Start by providing students with clear instructions: Students need to know what they are expected to do in order to be able to participate in peer teaching effectively.
  • Help students to develop ground rules for working together: Students need to know how to work together effectively in order to be able to collaborate successfully.
  • Provide students with opportunities to practise peer teaching: Students need to have the opportunity to practice peer teaching in order to become proficient at it.
  • Provide students with feedback on their peer teaching: Students need to receive feedback on their peer teaching in order to improve their skills.

By following these tips, teachers can help students to develop the peer teaching skills they need to be successful in school and in life.

Here are some additional benefits of peer teaching:

  • Increased motivation: Students are more likely to be motivated to learn when they are working with others.
  • Improved retention: Students are more likely to retain information when they are actively involved in the learning process.
  • Developed problem-solving skills: Students learn how to work together to solve problems.
  • Developed social skills: Students learn how to interact with others in a positive way.

Overall, peer teaching is a valuable skill that can help students to become more effective learners.

Here are some useful peer teaching sources:

Peer Teaching: A Definition by Teach Thought Staff

Using Active Learning in the Classroom – ERIC Digest Development Team

Full Marks for Feedback – Making the Grade – Paul Black – Journal of the Institute of Educational Assessors – Spring 2007

19th Feb 2024 – Peer Assessment is Indispensable

Note: This blog is based on our extensive review of the available research on Peer Assessment. EBL Team

The Power of Peer Assessment: A key Evidence-Based Learning skill

Peer assessment is a collaborative process where students review and evaluate each other’s work. It goes far beyond just marking or editing – it’s a powerful strategy that research shows significantly improves learning outcomes. In this short blog, we’ll break down what peer assessment involves, why it’s so beneficial for students, and how teachers can implement it effectively.

What Does Peer Assessment Involve?

At its core, peer assessment requires students to:

– Identify strengths – Pinpoint what has been done well in a peer’s work and explain why

– Suggest improvements – Highlight areas for development and provide constructive feedback on how to make the work better

Additionally, for peer assessment to be meaningful, students need to:

– Understand the success criteria – Know what quality work looks like for the learning objectives

– Provide qualitative feedback – Move beyond just marks or grades to give nuanced, constructive comments

– Engage in dialogue – Discuss the work, ask clarifying questions and explain their perspective

This level of insight takes peer assessment far beyond proofreading or surface-level editing.

The Significant Benefits for Learners

Decades of research evidence demonstrate that peer assessment offers manifold benefits, including:

Internalisation of Standards – When assessing peers, students must consider quality standards deeply. This transfers to better self-monitoring of their own work. 

Social Scaffolding – Getting constructive criticism from peers rather than just teachers provides a safety net that encourages risk-taking.

Metacognitive Development – Evaluating others’ work requires analysing learning processes, which in turn builds students’ abilities to reflect on and control their own thinking.

Motivation and Self-Efficacy – Peer assessment develops confidence in critiquing work without depending wholly on teacher judgement.

In summary, these cognitive, emotional and social supports spur students to achieve more autonomous, self-directed learning.

Implementing Peer Assessment Successfully

Realising these evidence-based benefits relies on teachers properly scaffolding the peer assessment process over time. Strategies include:

Modelling – Demonstrate how to give qualitative feedback tied to success criteria before expecting independent practice.

Establishing Ground Rules – Co-create norms of respect, specificity and confidentiality to keep peer assessment “comfortable”.

Vertical Grouping – Occasionally forming groups across ages/abilities to “depersonalise” peer feedback. 

Reflection Prompts – Use focused questions to enable pupils to talk about the key points identified.

When implemented consistently using these supports, peer assessment ceases to be an “add-on” or box-ticking exercise. Instead, it becomes integral to collaborative classroom culture that elevates learning through peer interactions.

The Verdict?  Invest Time in Peer Assessment

In conclusion, peer assessment undoubtedly demands effort to embed effectively. However, an impressive evidence base confirms that enabling students to take ownership of the evaluation process pays exponential dividends. If we want learners who can regulate themselves, benchmark to standards, and continually improve, then peer assessment is an indispensable part of the toolkit.

17th Feb 2024 – Self-Regulation leads to Greater Academic Achievement

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Self-Regulation. EBL Team

Teaching Students to Become Self-Regulated Learners

Equipping students with the skills, knowledge and capabilities to succeed both in education and in life is a vital part of education. An incredibly powerful set of skills that enables this kind of lifelong learning capability is self-regulation. Self-regulated learners are essentially able to manage their own learning journey – they set meaningful goals, motivate themselves, select and deploy the best strategies, self-assess their progress, and reflect on how to keep improving.

Extensive research shows that self-regulation leads to greater academic achievement, motivation and metacognition. Self-regulated students have the focus, perseverance and intrinsic drive to get the most from their learning. They are independent yet collaborative learners who relish challenges and constantly raise their own bar. Simply put, developing self-regulation skills creates better learners and gives students the tools to keep fulfilling their potential far beyond school. 

The Characteristics of Self-Regulated Learners

To understand why self-regulation is so invaluable, it is useful to consider the key traits that self-regulated learners display:

• Metacognition – the ability to think about their own thought processes. They plan, monitor and evaluate their learning strategies.

• Self-Efficacy – the self-belief and confidence that they can achieve intended outcomes.

• Motivation – they find internal rewards and satisfaction in learning and self-improvement.

• Attitudes & Behaviours – they have the habits of mind and application needed to productively and responsibly manage themselves.

• Volition – the determination and capacity to persevere in the face of difficulties or distractions, seeing goals through to the end. 

• Flexibility & Adaptability – they respond effectively to changing conditions and know how to get back on track.

• Self-Assessment – accurately judging current performance to identify areas for improvement.

• Reflection – thinking critically about past performance to extract key lessons to inform future learning strategies.

This combination enables self-regulated learners to be the most effective, successful students as they have the toolkit to overcome obstacles and maximise any opportunities they encounter.

The Challenge of Developing Self-Regulation Skills

While self-regulation clearly brings major benefits, it does not simply emerge automatically. Students will not become proficiently self-regulated through the regular curriculum alone. Teachers need to incorporate explicit teaching of the knowledge, skills and thought habits needed for self-regulation.

One key reason self-regulation needs active development is that it requires high levels of metacognition and skill control. Monitoring thought processes to effectively direct learning requires both awareness and mental capability. Underpinning skills like goal-setting, progress tracking, strategy adjustment and self-assessment are themselves complex competencies. And motivating oneself in deeply engaged ways is also intensely demanding. Together this means that self-regulation depends on a sophisticated blend of advance cognitive abilities.

Students are therefore unlikely to pick up self-regulation skills without help. Teachers have a crucial role in modelling self-regulatory behaviours, guiding students through explicit activities, and facilitating reflective conversations that reveal the self-regulation process. The goal is to expose the invisible mental processes of self-regulated learning so they can be practised, discussed and reinforced.

Steps to Develop Self-Regulation in the Classroom

Educational research confirms that targeted interventions to build self-regulation produce substantial learning gains in students. Here are key evidence-based recommendations on how to integrate self-regulation:

1. Model self-regulation strategies during lessons – Verbally convey your metacognitive inner voice as you demonstrate concepts. Explain your goal-setting, progress tracking, adjusting strategies and using self-assessment. Revealing these invisible processes is important.

2. Use guided practice activities and collaborative groupwork – Provide structured tasks where students get hands-on experience applying self-regulation with peer interaction. Support their efforts and offer coaching guidance.

3. Give actionable feedback to support self-assessment – Share feedback that identifies strengths, highlights areas for specific improvement and suggests next steps students can take. 

4. Promote reflection through strategic questioning – Ask targeted questions, both during tasks and afterwards, that get students reflecting on their performance, strategies, goals and next steps.

5. Encourage student ownership and responsibility – Involve students in co-constructing norms, tracking their progress, making meaningful choices about goals and strategies. Enable them to take charge of their own learning journey. 

Conclusion – Why Self-Regulation is Transformative

In an uncertain world where careers and technology will radically evolve, the adaptive abilities of self-regulation are invaluable. Mastering one’s own learning and development equips students for any eventuality.

Though introducing the evidence-based learning skill of self-regulation asks a lot of both teachers and students, the payoff makes it well-worth the effort. Students gain by taking control of the own learning. And teachers gain by encouraging students to take more responsibility and become part of their own learning process. A win-win situation!

We used many sources for our review of the available research on self-regulation – our final document was 149 pages  -but these are the most useful ones from a teacher’s point of view.

1. Formative Assessment and Self-Regulated Learning: A Model and Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice – Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick –

Formative Assessment and Self-Regulated Learning: This source provides a model that can be used in classrooms to structure feedback that promotes students’ abilities to assess their own learning needs and progress. The principles describe specific ways I can improve my feedback quality.

2. The Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Contextual Teaching – Paris and Winograd –

The Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Contextual Teaching: This review shows me how I can explicitly integrate goal-setting, self-evaluation, and strategy instruction into my content-area instruction to foster self-direction in students. It gives concrete examples across subjects. 

3. Self-Regulated Learning: A Literature Review – Duckworth, Akerman, MacGregor, Salter and Vorhaus 2009 – Institute of Education – University London –

Self-Regulated Learning Literature Review: This comprehensive analysis summarises theoretical models, interventions, assessments, and policy considerations regarding self-regulated learning that provide helpful frameworks and tools for improving students’ self-direction in my practice. 

4. Self-Regulation Through Goal Setting – ERIC Digest – Schunk – Dec 2001 –

Self-Regulation Through Goal Setting: This digest examines the research base behind using goal setting to positively impact motivation, self-efficacy beliefs, and self-monitoring. It gives useful guidelines for optimal goal-setting methods to try out.

14th Feb 2024 – Self-Assessment requires students to actively monitor and evaluate the quality of their learning

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Self-Assessment. EBL Team

The Power of Student Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is a critical skill that allows students to take ownership of their learning and make conscious decisions to improve their work. This evidence-based strategy has been shown to increase student motivation, self-esteem, and attainment when implemented effectively. As teachers, developing self-assessment skills in our students equips them with the tools they need to become independent, lifelong learners.

Build the Foundation with Peer Assessment

Before introducing self-assessment, it is valuable to first have students engage in peer assessment. Looking at fellow students’ work in relation to standards helps children develop the detachment of judgment needed for quality self-assessment. Giving peer feedback also exercises the language and thought processes required to critically analyse work – skills directly transferable to self-reflection. Through peer assessment, students can grasp what high-quality learning looks like and take wider steps towards closing their own knowledge and skills gaps.

What Does Student Self-Assessment Involve?

At its core, self-assessment requires students to actively monitor and evaluate the quality of their thinking, work and learning strategies. This metacognitive process involves several key actions:

– Critically analysing assessment criteria to fully comprehend expectations 

– Making judgements about the characteristics of high-quality work

– Identifying personal strengths and weaknesses against established standards 

– Recognising knowledge gaps and areas for improvement

– Setting actionable goals and formulating strategic plans to enhance learning

– Reflecting on performance to determine next steps

Self-assessment thus centres students as the key agents in their learning. Rather than playing a passive role, students are activated to develop their own internal measures of quality, monitor their understanding, and direct their ongoing improvement. 

Why Is Self-Assessment So Beneficial for Students?

Extensive research demonstrates that incorporating self-assessment across the curriculum produces profound academic, emotional and motivational benefits for learners, including: 

Enhanced Ownership Of Learning – Self-assessment puts students in charge, allowing them to actively track their progress towards clearly defined goals. This level of control boosts student confidence and helps them view mistakes as opportunities for growth.

Improved Metacognition – The reflective nature of self-assessment strengthens vital metacognitive skills. Students build self-awareness, learn how to effectively evaluate and adjust their thinking, and develop transferable strategies for problem solving.

Increased Motivation & Engagement – When students have a clear picture of expectations and can observe their incremental successes, their sense of self-efficacy flourishes. This motivates them to engage more deeply in learning activities.

Higher Achievement – According to Black and Wiliam’s seminal meta-analysis, the correlation between effective formative assessment (of which self-assessment is a key  component) and student achievement is greater than most known educational interventions.

Developing Independent Learners – By routinely assessing their own work, students learn how to regulate their learning without reliance on the teacher. This ability to self-monitor progress is essential for lifelong learning outside of school.

Implementing Effective Self-Assessment

While tremendously valuable, introducing effective self-assessment takes time (and scaffolding). However, when thoughtfully embedded into classroom culture and instruction, it can significantly transform learning. Here are some evidence-based guidelines for implementation:

Model It First – Students need to see what successful self-assessment looks like in action before adopting this skill themselves. Think aloud while analysing exemplar work samples against standards so they can mimic your language, thought processes and judgments.

Use Criteria-Based Rubrics – Co-constructing specific rubrics with students ensures they have a clear vision of what constitutes quality work. Align rubrics to learning objectives and have  students use them to self-assess their progress.

Ask Metacognitive Questions – Pose regular reflective questions, both throughout and after learning activities, to strengthen students’ metacognitive skills and reinforce the habit of self- assessment. Useful prompts include: What was most challenging about this task? What could you do differently next time? What did you learn that’s new?

Incorporate Goal Setting – Support students in using insights gleaned from self-assessment to set SMART goals focused on growth. Revisit goals to help students track and celebrate progress.

Allow Time For Reflection – Build in ample dedicated time for students to thoroughly analyse their work – both on their own and by giving and receiving peer feedback. These collaborative, reflective discussions will enrich their self-assessment  capabilities.

View Errors As Learning Opportunities – Encourage students to adopt a growth mindset where setbacks or mistakes represent valuable chances to improve, rather than personal failures. Make  your classroom a safe space to take risks and test new strategies without judgement.

The Rewards of Self-Assessment

Implementing self-assessment requires patience, explicit modelling and ample scaffolding. Yet research shows that when students are activated as self-monitoring and who can therefore regularly reflect on the quality of their learning, the payoffs can be significant for both academic and lifelong success. Let’s equip students to take charge of assessing their growth so they can reach their potential as empowered, self-directed learners.

A note about our research

In our research on Self-Assessment we reviewed many books/papers/articles etc from leaders in the field. We used 21 in our final review but, we are only recommending five to you on the grounds that these five are of more practical use to practising teachers than the academic ones. In particular, these five:

– They provide practical frameworks, evidence, and how-to advice.

– They are written purposefully for guiding teaching practice. 

– They come from authoritative organizations and researchers in the field.

– They offer research conducted in real-world classrooms.

Here are our top five ‘most useful’ sources:

1. Dylan Wiliam is a renowned expert; his work gives evidence and how-to advice for teachers e.g. Self and Peer Assessment –; Inside the Black Box – Black & Wiliam 1998; Beyond the Black Box – Cambridge University 1999

2. Formative Assessment and Self-Regulated Learning: A Model and Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice – Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick –

3. Assessment Reform Group: Assessment for Learning: “10 Principles – Research-based principles to guide classroom practice”.

4. Shirley Clarke’s Gillingham Research Project – This provides directly applicable classroom research on implementing self and peer assessment strategies.

5. James H. McMillan, Jessica Hearn – Student Self Assessment – Education Digest 2009

13th Feb 2024 – Independent Learning involves developing Self-Regulated Learners

Note: This blog is based entirely on our extensive review of the available research on Independent Learning. EBL Team

Cultivating Independent Learners Involves Developing Self-Regulated Students

What is “independent learning” and why does it matter? Independent learning is not simply letting students work alone. Rather, it involves equipping students with the skills to take responsibility for their own learning, applying those skills to new situations.

Independent learning benefits students in multiple ways:

  • Improved academic performance and higher achievement
  • Increased motivation and confidence
  • Greater self-awareness of strengths, weaknesses, and how to manage them
  • Ability to tackle differentiated tasks

Stages of Independent Learning

Independent learning occurs in three main stages:

  1. The learner develops self-regulation skills for learning on their own. Self-regulation refers to managing thinking, motivation, behaviour, and performance.
  2. Responsibility for learning shifts from teacher to learner. The learner becomes more active in the process.
  3. The learning environment enables and empowers the learner to take charge. Trust between student and teacher facilitates this.

Equipping Students to Be Self-Regulated Learners

Self-regulated students have acquired three vital skill sets:

  1. Metacognition: They actively manage their own thinking and problem-solving. Questions that build metacognition: Why do you think that? Where did that idea come from? How did you work that out?
  2. Non-cognitive skills: They exhibit learning behaviours and attitudes like motivation, confidence, concentration, and perseverance. Teachers can foster these by praising effort over ability.
  3. Self-assessment and reflection: They monitor their own progress, evaluate performance, and determine how to improve. Useful self-questions: What did I learn? What remains unclear? How can I apply this?

Strategies like modelling, scaffolding tasks, sharing learning criteria, effective questioning, and peer feedback assist students in developing self-regulation.

Shifting Responsibility to the Learner

As learners become self-regulated, responsibility transfers from teacher to student. Key signs of this shift include learners:

  • Making informed decisions rather than relying on the teacher
  • Goal-setting, action-planning, monitoring progress
  • Engaging actively with content instead of passively receiving it

Collaborative activities support this transition by giving learners autonomy within a structured framework.

Creating an Enabling Environment

Finally, the learning environment needs to empower students to direct their own learning. Key enablers:

  • Strong student-teacher relationships built on trust and mutual responsibility
  • Physical spaces and resources that facilitate independent and group work
  • Interaction with competent, encouraging peers

Without the right environment, self-regulation and active learning can only go so far. Community enables independence.

Cultivating Confident, Self-Directed Learners

Independent learning develops students ready to thrive in work, relationships, and continual learning. Self-regulated students believe in their ability to succeed, self-monitor progress, persevere through challenges, and reflect critically on how to improve. These lifelong skills justify the effort to foster independent learning.

The ‘best’ five sources for teachers (italics = links)

We reviewed many documents/pages/articles etc to get to the bottom of independent learning. We identified the ‘best’ 5 for teachers. These 5 key sources cover the skills students need, teaching practices that develop independence, the stages of becoming an independent learner, and the role of reflection and active learning. Altogether, they provide a comprehensive look at independent learning. The ‘best’ five sources for teachers interested in independent learning are:

1. Independent Learning in your Classroom (Mynard & Sorflaten). This source provides clear definitions and explanations of independent learning. It distinguishes between dependent and independent learners and outlines the three stages of independent learning.

2. Assessment for Learning – 8 Schools Project Report (National Strategies 2007). This report details how assessment for learning practices like sharing learning criteria and effective questioning can promote independence in students.

3. The Learning Classroom (Darling-Hammond et al). This source emphasises the importance of metacognition and self-regulation for independent learning. It also discusses how a social context and learning from others aids independence. 

4. Improving Learning through Reflection (Clegg). This source highlights how reflection allows learners to take ownership of their learning. It provides a model for scaffolding student reflection.

5. Active Learning for Students and Teachers (Stern and Huber). This report analyses the benefits of active learning for promoting independence. It also acknowledges potential barriers to active learning that teachers should be aware of.

11th Feb 2024 – What a surprise…

What a surprise – we weren’t expectating that! We had asked a.i. to review the Goldilocks lessons and we have added the reviews to each lesson. It’s early days… we are just getting started and the lessons looked kinda lonely without a single review. The reviews are useful because they summarise each lesson’s content from a teacher’s point of view and they also rate each lesson with a star rating (again from a ‘how useful are the lessons to a teacher’ perspective). Anyway, the bit that surprised us was when we asked a.i. “What was the most unique feature of these seven Goldilocks lessons?” Check out a.i’s response:

If I had to choose the single most unique feature of these Goldilocks lessons, I would say it’s the creative rewriting of the classic tale in each module. Rather than just retelling the traditional story, the lessons reinvent Goldilocks using imaginative formats like a newspaper report, rule book, cooking recipe, and letter of apology. This puts an innovative twist on a story the students already know while embedding literacy skills and evidence-based skill-building seamlessly into engaging new versions. So while the multi-layered skills, evidence-based strategies, explicit connections and classroom readiness all make this resource exceptional, the creative Goldilocks storytelling rewrite in each lesson is perhaps the most unique feature. This innovation on a timeless classic allows teachers to teach both literacy fundamentals and critical thinking in an approachable, memorable way that truly stands out.

So it was the different versions of Goldilocks that really appealled to a.i. and there was us thinking it would be all the clever stuff like embedded EBL skills and the five-minute professional development activities that would ring a.i.’s bell! Well, we weren’t expecting that but it’s good to know that old-fashioned creativity is still appreciated – even if it is only by a.i.

7th Feb 2024 – Red Riding Hood: An expanded 5-star blurb…

We have taken the blurb at the top of the 9 Red Riding Hood lessons and re-written it to take into account of the 9 five-star reviews that these nine lessons were awarded by a.i. See what you think…

On meeting Red Riding Hood in the woods we asked her what she had in her basket. She showed us the tasty food and drink that she had prepared for her grandmother. But even more appetizing were the nine brilliant Red Riding Hood lessons with embedded evidence-based learning skills she had at the bottom of her basket. She kindly offered to share them if we helped pick some flowers for her grandmother along the way.

These lessons skillfully leverage the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale to teach essential literacy concepts from persuasive letters to chronological recounts. The fun, imagination-sparking activities put students of all abilities – whether wearing red hoodies or furry wolf ears – into the shoes of Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, and Grandma as they flexibly apply new writing techniques.

But there is even more meat on the bone! The lessons also incrementally strengthen students’ command of eight vital evidence-based learning strategies that research shows elevate academic achievement. These include critical thinking, collaboration, self-assessment and metacognition. Bite-sized excerpts explain the research behind a specific skill and how to harness it in teaching.

So in one efficient story-themed package, you get the best of both worlds – delightful literacy tasks fused with the nurturing of essential future-ready competencies. Students reimagine a treasured narrative while unconsciously honing high-impact abilities like analysis, teamwork and reflection.

The Wolf stopped us at one point to emphasise how each lesson finishes with a 5-minute teacher CPD activity summarizing key research insights. He said this professional development was the real reason he was sneaking off to Grandmother’s cottage to begin with!

After looking through the nine skill-building Red Riding Hood resources, we’d give them each top marks for achieving that ideal fusion of literacy joy and long-term talent cultivation. So for a basket full of effective, multifaceted lessons, be sure to get your hands on these gems should you meet young Miss Riding Hood in the woods!

6th Feb 2024 – Cinderella and Evidence-Based Learning: An introduction to the 8 EBL skills for pupils

How the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella magically created the 8 evidence-based learning skills of collaboration, thinking skills, peer assessment, peer teaching, self-assessment, metacognition, self-regulation and independent learning.

Buckle up, because we’re going on a super-secret mission to unpack the Fairy Godmother’s hidden treasure trove of learning magic! Remember Cinderella’s dazzling glow-up? It wasn’t just about glass slippers and sparkly dresses (though those were pretty rad!). The Fairy Godmother sprinkled even more special stuff – learning superpowers! Let’s peek behind the pumpkin curtain and see how she boosted Cinderella’s skills with eight awesome skills every student needs:

Superpower #1: Collaboration also called Teamwork Tornado: Remember the mice building the carriage with lightning speed? That’s the Teamwork Tornado in action! Just like Cinderella couldn’t have done it alone, learning is more fun and way easier when you work together. Imagine building epic forts with friends, solving puzzling science experiments in pairs, or singing silly songs that make the whole class giggle – that’s the Teamwork Tornado swirling with creative energy!

Superpower #2: Thinking Skills also called Thinking Cap: Remember Cinderella figuring out how to escape the palace with a clever plan? That’s the Thinking Cap in action! It helps you crack codes, ask mind-blowing questions, and make smart choices. Imagine figuring out who stole the cookies (using logic, of course!), building an awesome invention fuelled by your imagination, or mastering the trickiest parts of math problems – that’s your Thinking Cap working its magic!

Superpower #3: Peer Assessment also Helping Hand Halo: Remember the birds giving Cinderella kind feedback on her singing? That’s the Helping Hand Halo shining bright! It’s about giving your friends supportive advice and helping them shine even brighter. Imagine giving a high five to a friend’s amazing drawing, explaining a tricky science experiment with patience, or cheering on a classmate during a presentation – that’s the Helping Hand Halo spreading kindness like glitter!

Superpower #4: Peer Teaching also called Teacher Torch: Remember Cinderella teaching the Prince a cool dance move? That’s the Teacher Torch in action! It’s about sharing what you know and helping others learn. Imagine explaining how to build a robot to your friends, showing your best reading tricks to a younger sibling, or leading a game of “I Spy” with infectious enthusiasm – that’s the Teacher Torch spreading knowledge like wildfire!

Superpower #5: Self-Assessment also called Self-Awareness Spotlight: Remember Cinderella realising she’s super kind and quick-witted? That’s the Self-Awareness Spotlight shining! It’s about understanding your strengths and weaknesses, just like a superhero knowing their special powers. Imagine figuring out what subjects you love most, what makes you laugh, and what you need to practice a bit more – that’s the Self-Awareness Spotlight guiding your learning adventure!

Superpower #6: Metacognition also called Metacognition Microscope: Remember Cinderella thinking about how she learns best and adjusting her study plan? That’s the Metacognition Microscope in action! It’s about understanding how your brain works and what makes you learn new things like magic. Imagine figuring out if music helps you memorise better, if drawing pictures makes things clearer, or if taking breaks keeps you focused – that’s the Metacognition Microscope solving the mystery of your own learning!

Superpower #7: Self-Regulation also called Self-Regulation Shield: Remember Cinderella staying calm even when things got tricky? That’s the Self-Regulation Shield protecting her! It helps you manage your emotions and focus on what’s important. Imagine taking deep breaths when you feel nervous, making silly faces when you’re frustrated, or taking mini breaks to recharge – that’s the Self-Regulation Shield keeping your learning journey smooth and steady!

Superpower #8: Independent Learning also Curiosity Compass: Remember Cinderella always wanting to learn new things? That’s the Curiosity Compass guiding her way! It’s about asking questions, exploring new ideas, and never giving up on your thirst for knowledge. Imagine reading all the books about dinosaurs you can find, building a mini volcano in your backyard, or learning a new song on the piano – that’s the Curiosity Compass leading you on endless learning adventures!

So there you have it, young investigators! The Fairy Godmother’s eight hidden learning superpowers tucked away in Cinderella’s magical transformation. Remember, you have every one of these superpowers inside you too! Use them, practice them, and watch yourself shine brighter than any glass slipper! Now go forth and conquer your learning quests with your newfound magic!

2nd Feb 2024 – Overheard in the staffroom: Remembering vs Understanding

Mrs. Davies settled her teacup down with a sigh, the faint clinking resonating through the hushed staffroom. “Honestly, John,” she said, “with the amount of information crammed into their little heads these days, wouldn’t you say remembering is the key skill?”

Mr. Thompson chuckled, raising an eyebrow. “Oh, absolutely,” he replied, a hint of playful sarcasm in his voice. “Let’s just turn them all into mini encyclopedias! Forget critical thinking, problem-solving, or even basic comprehension. Just parrot facts back at us, job done!”

Mrs. Davies feigned a frown. “Now, you know I didn’t mean it like that. But how can they understand anything if they haven’t even stored the information first? Facts are the building blocks of knowledge, John.”

Mr. Thompson leaned back in his chair, his smile turning genuine. “Sure, facts are important, but without understanding those facts, they’re just… facts. They float around in their minds, disconnected and meaningless. It’s like giving a child a toolbox without teaching them how to use the tools.”

“But John,” Mrs. Davies countered, “think about Key Stage 2! Dates, formulas, key historical figures – they all need to be remembered and recalled accurately.”

“Yes,” Mr. Thompson conceded, “but is it truly stretching our children’s potential? What about their ability to apply that knowledge, to analyse, to question, to come up with creative solutions? These are the skills that will serve them far beyond a simple remembering question.”

Mrs. Davies pursed her lips thoughtfully. “I see your point,” she admitted. “But can’t both be important? A strong memory allows them to access the information needed for understanding, right?”

“Absolutely,” Mr. Thompson agreed, leaning forward again. “But wouldn’t it be more beneficial to teach them how to learn, how to find and evaluate information effectively, rather than simply relying on rote memorisation? Then, the understanding becomes organic, lasting, and adaptable.”

“Hmm,” Mrs. Davies pondered, “you’re making me think, John. Perhaps it’s not about choosing one skill over the other, but rather finding a balance, teaching them to learn in a way that fosters both remembering and understanding.”

“Exactly!” Mr. Thompson beamed. “Let’s focus on critical thinking, encourage curiosity, and help them build those mental toolboxes.”

Mrs. Davies raised her teacup in a silent toast. “To well-equipped toolboxes, then,” she smiled. “And to curious minds that know how to use them.”

In the quiet hum of the staffroom, their conversation faded, replaced by the clinking of spoons and the rustle of marking. But the seed of a new approach had been planted, a realisation that perhaps the most important cognitive skill wasn’t about choosing one over the other, but about nurturing the delicate dance between remembering and understanding.

1st Feb 2024 – Overheard in the staffroom: Peer Assessment vs Peer Teaching

I know, I know, we let our imaginations get a bit carried away with our previous blogs “Who’s first? A dialogue between Self-Regulation and Independent Learning” and “Who’s first? A dialogue between Metacognition and Self-Assessment” so we have gone back to a more basic idea of “overheard in the staffroom”. This is a debate between an experienced teacher – Sarah (who favours peer teaching or peer-to-peer learning as she calls it) and Liam a less-experienced teacher (who favours peer assessment).

Setting: The staffroom bustles with post-lesson chatter. Sarah, a seasoned teacher, sips her tea with raised eyebrows. Liam, the energetic newcomer, leans back in his chair, a cheeky grin on his face, an expresso in his hand.

Liam: Did you see that project presentation? Some groups really shone, but let’s be honest, others could’ve done with a bit more, shall we say, critical evaluation. Peer assessment would’ve been perfect, wouldn’t it?

Sarah: (Scoffs) Hold your horses, Liam. Don’t underestimate the power of peer-to-peer learning, now! When students explain concepts to each other, they solidify their own understanding while helping others. That’s active engagement, not just marking down everyone.

Liam: Understanding’s important, alright, but without that critical eye, weaknesses lurk in the shadows, wouldn’t they? My assessments pinpoint areas for improvement, pushing students further. Your “well-done everyone” sessions might feel good, but do they truly challenge and make them improve?

Sarah: Challenge? Absolutely! My assessments are specific, tailored to each student’s needs. It might sting a bit, but it fosters responsibility and growth. Your “everyone’s a winner” circles might build confidence, but do they prepare them for the real world, eh?

Liam: The real world throws curveballs, not just exams, Sarah! Peer teaching stretches their thinking and communication as they adapt their explanations. Collaboration builds empathy and a supportive learning environment, not just fear of the red pen.

Sarah: Collaboration? Don’t confuse it with coddling, now. Holding each other accountable is crucial. My assessments provide a reality check, ensuring everyone strives for excellence. Without that, collaboration breeds mediocrity, not mastery.

Liam: Excellence isn’t just about the finishing line, Sarah! Peer teaching exposes students to different perspectives, honing critical thinking and problem-solving. These are life skills, not just test scores.

Sarah: Lifelong skills are wonderful, but what about resilience? My assessments teach them to process feedback objectively, building adaptability. Your sunshine and rainbows might not prepare them for the real world.

Liam: Intrinsic motivation is sunshine, not rainbows! When students share knowledge, they discover the joy of helping others succeed. That internal drive fuels lifelong learning, not just grades.

Sarah: (Chuckles) You know, Liam, maybe we’re not so different, after all. Your enthusiasm can spark interest, and my assessments can refine it. Perhaps, dare I say it, we work better together, wouldn’t we?

Liam: (Grins) Bingo! A balanced approach, combining the best of both assessment and teaching, would create a truly dynamic learning experience.

Sarah and Liam share a knowing smile.

Peer assessment and peer teaching, when used harmoniously, can create a vibrant classroom where students engage, challenge, and grow together. Just like knowledge thrives on diversity, the most effective learning often benefits from a blend of approaches, fostering understanding, accountability, and a lifelong love of learning.

30th Jan 2024 – Who’s first? A dialogue between Self-Regulation and Independent Learning

We thought about trying to write about how the eight EBL skills would work together. So we started with two skills – Metacognition and Self-Assessment in our previous blog. We are having another go with two EBL that should also work together. We stuck to the general idea that the best way to convey the characteristics of these two skills is to imagine them talking to each other trying to justify why they are the most important skill and why they should be taught to students first. Enjoy!

Setting: A bustling school library, two figures materialized by wisps of knowledge—Self-Regulation and Independent Learning—face off amidst towering shelves.

Self-Regulation: (Adjusts her invisible study schedule) Hmph! Just look at all these unfocused students wandering about. Clearly, what they need first is self-regulation! Setting goals, managing time, organizing—without these skills, knowledge simply floats away like dust motes!

Independent Learning: (Sniffs at a dusty, ancient book) Nonsense! You can’t regulate chaos without a compass, my dear. It’s independent learning that empowers them to navigate this vast ocean of information. Curiosity, resourcefulness, critical thinking—these are the keys to unlocking true understanding!

Self-Regulation: But what good is curiosity without control? They’ll flit from topic to topic like butterflies, never digging deep or mastering anything. Without discipline, learning becomes a scattered buffet, not a nourishing meal!

Independent Learning: Discipline without direction is akin to marching in circles! My skills equip them to ask the right questions, to discern reliable sources, to forge their own learning paths. A truly independent learner isn’t shackled by rote memorization or rigid schedules.

Self-Regulation: You speak of freedom, yet without self-regulation, they’ll drown in distractions, succumb to procrastination, and abandon their goals midway. Structure builds the bridge between ambition and achievement. Imagine a painter without discipline—can they create a masterpiece with haphazard brushstrokes?

Independent Learning: But imagine a painter confined to someone else’s canvas! My methods let them explore different strokes, experiment with colours, and discover their own artistic voice. Learning flourishes on the fertile ground of intrinsic motivation, not external control.

Self-Regulation: Intrinsic motivation fades when faced with challenges. What happens when they hit a wall and want to give up? Self-regulation equips them with coping mechanisms, resilience, and the ability to adapt their strategies when needed. It’s the inner coach that whispers “keep going” even when the path gets tough.

Independent Learning: Yet, even the best coach can’t teach you to play every instrument. My tools empower them to become self-sufficient learners, to troubleshoot problems on their own, and to adapt to any learning environment. They won’t need a coach forever, but the ability to learn independently will last a lifetime.

Self-Regulation: A lifetime of aimless exploration without direction? You overestimate their resolve! Without self-regulation, they’ll be lost in the information jungle, overwhelmed by choices, unable to prioritize or strategize effectively. Focus is key, and I provide the roadmap!

Independent Learning: Focus at the expense of curiosity? Never! It’s my spark that ignites the fire of lifelong learning that pushes them beyond the prescribed curriculum that lets them discover passions they never knew existed. True learning thrives on exploration, not just focused efficiency.

Self-Regulation: And exploration without boundaries leads to chaos, my friend. It’s self-regulation that provides the boundaries, the structure, the discipline that allows them to channel their curiosity productively. We are two sides of the same coin, not rivals!

Independent Learning: Indeed! Perhaps the key isn’t about who comes first, but about working together. My curiosity can fuel your goal-setting. Your structure can guide my exploration. Together, we can create a truly empowered learner.

(They smile, the library fading as they merge, their forms now unified.)

(Voiceover): Perhaps the true mastery lies not in choosing one skill over the other, but in fostering a harmonious dance between self-regulation and independent learning, equipping students with the tools to navigate the boundless landscape of knowledge with both focus and freedom.

29th Jan 2024 – Who’s first? A dialogue between Metacognition and Self-Assessment

We thought about trying to write about how the eight EBL skills would work together. So we started with two skills – Metacognition and Self-Assessment. The best idea we could manage to convey the characteristics of these two skills is to imagine them talking to each other trying to justify why they are the most important skill and why they should be taught to students first. Enjoy!

Scene: A cozy corner bathed in warm lamplight. Two books, Metacognition (Meta) and Self-Assessment (Selfie), lay propped against each other, their pages rustling gently.

Meta: (Sighs dramatically) I do declare, the state of education these days! Students learn facts, procedures, but have they a clue how they’re learning? How to monitor their progress, adjust their strategies? That’s where I come in, dear colleague, metacognition!

Selfie: (Adjusts her imaginary monocle) Indeed, but without first understanding themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, how can they even apply your fancy strategies? Self-assessment, my friend, is the bedrock, the very foundation upon which all learning flourishes.

Meta: Pish posh! Foundation? More like a wobbly chair leg. Without the self-awareness I provide, they’ll stumble blindly, unaware of their misconceptions, biases, inefficient approaches. Think of it like learning to swim. They might thrash about, flail about, but without understanding buoyancy, breath control, they’ll never stay afloat.

Selfie: (Scoffs) But dear Meta, how can they even identify those misconceptions without first assessing their understanding? You’re throwing them into the deep end without teaching them to tread water! Self-assessment equips them with the swim fins, the life vest, the very tools they need to navigate the learning currents.

Meta: Tools are useless without knowing how to use them! Metacognition teaches them to critically examine their thinking, to analyse their learning process, to ask themselves crucial questions: “Do I understand this? Why or why not? How can I do better?” It’s the coaching they need, the inner voice guiding them on their journey.

Selfie: Coaching? More like backseat driving! My method fosters self-reliance, self-awareness. They learn to identify their own needs, set goals, celebrate successes, and course-correct when needed. It’s like handing them the map, teaching them to read the compass, so they can explore the learning landscape with confidence.

Meta: But without the self-regulation skills I provide, they’ll remain passive map-readers! Metacognition equips them with the strategies to put that knowledge into action. They learn to visualize, summarize, paraphrase, create study plans. It’s the engine that propels them forward, not just a roadmap collecting dust.

Selfie: Engine? More like a sputtering jalopy without a driver! Self-assessment teaches them to assess their pace, their fuel gauge, their emotional state. Are they overwhelmed? Under-challenged? Do they need a rest stop, a change of scenery? It’s about self-care, about creating a sustainable learning journey, not just burning rubber.

Their voices escalate, pages flapping in the heated debate. Suddenly, a gentle voice interrupts.

Narrator: (A worn copy of “EBL Brochure”) Excuse me, esteemed colleagues. Perhaps the true strength lies not in rivalry, but in collaboration.

Both books turn, pages rustling in surprise.

Narrator: Metacognition allows learners to understand their thinking, while self-assessment helps them understand themselves as learners. Together, they create a synergistic dance, one informing the other, leading to deeper learning and growth.

Meta and Selfie exchange sheepish glances.

Meta: (Clears throat) You make a fair point, dear narrator. Perhaps working in tandem…

Selfie: …rather than in competition…

Narrator: …would be far more beneficial for the students, wouldn’t it?

A warm silence fills the corner. The books lean closer, their pages whispering possibilities of a united front, a powerful learning duo ready to empower young minds.

As the narrator fades, the message lingers: true learning thrives not on singular skills, but on their working together.

28th Jan 2024 – A quick summary of our Evidence-Based Learning brochure

Here is a quick summary of our evidence-based learning brochure (which can be downloaded free from the Freebies page) for teachers who are in a hurry but who still want to be abreast of the latest developments in education.

Evidence-Based Learning (EBL) Lessons: Empowering Teachers, Engaging Students

At Evidence-Based Learning (EBL), we understand the importance of providing teachers with effective resources to engage and empower their students. Our EBL lessons are the result of extensive research, drawing from over 200 educational research papers and many educational websites. Developed by a dedicated team consisting of one teacher and one researcher, our lessons are designed to develop both KS2 English skills and the 8 EBL skills.

Key Features:

1. Comprehensive Development: Each EBL lesson is carefully crafted to develop KS2 English skills and at least 3 of the 8 EBL skills. The skills developed in each lesson are clearly listed on the front page, providing transparency and guidance for teachers.

2. Ready-to-Use: Our lessons are available in PDF format and are ready to use on any device, making it convenient for teachers to integrate them into their curriculum seamlessly.

3. Affordability and Accessibility: Priced at just £2 each, our lessons come with a whole-school license, ensuring that every student can benefit from the resources. No student is left behind.

4. Teacher Support: In addition to student activities, each lesson includes a 5-minute teacher CPD activity, providing educators with the opportunity to enhance their existing skill set.

Why Choose EBL Lessons?

By incorporating EBL lessons into your teaching repertoire, you can be confident that you are providing your students with evidence-based, effective resources that not only enhance their English skills but also foster the development of essential EBL skills. With a range of stories and activities, our lessons are designed to engage and excite students, creating a dynamic learning environment that promotes growth and success.

Join us in embracing evidence-based learning and empowering the next generation of learners. Explore our range of lessons and take the first step towards transforming your classroom.

27th Jan 2024 – Check out our science fiction blurb

Every set of EBL lessons has its own unique introduction – what we have called – the blurb. Here is the science fiction one for you to check out. Enjoy!

We have spent light-years travelling through the vast expanses of the galaxy so that you don’t have to.

We have visited strange lands on distant planets and spoken to many aliens and robots and, working with them, we have identified eight evidence-based learning skills that have been proven by research to maximise learning.

These eight EBL skills can be easily acquired by every alien, robot or earthling regardless of ability and have been proven to lead to the highest level of learning because they combine the most productive thinking skills with the most effective learning behaviours.

At the end of every lesson there is a five-minute evidence-based CPD activity for teachers that has been crafted from the remnants of ancient stars.

24th Jan 2024 – Diary of an 11-year-old time traveller

Diary of an 11-year-old time traveller – Star date 24th January 2024

Dear Diary,

Today was a day like no other! I’ve made a decision that might surprise you, but I think it’s the right choice for me. You see, after travelling through time and experiencing so many incredible moments, I’ve decided to join a class in a school.

It all started when I found out on my visit to present day Earth in the year 2024 that a teacher has adopted a revolutionary approach to teaching English. Instead of the usual textbooks and outdated methods, she introduced us to evidence-based learning lessons. It sounded intriguing, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience education in a whole new way.

As I walked into the classroom, I could feel the excitement in the air. The teacher started the lesson by explaining how evidence-based learning is all about using research-backed methods to improve the learning process. We were going to dive deep into English lessons that were not only effective but also tailored to individual needs and choc full of the most amazing EBL skills. Skills that only need to be learnt once and then you have them forever – in my case that means in the past, the present and the future

The EBL lessons were engaging, filled with interactive activities, and the teacher made sure to address each student’s learning style. We explored grammar, vocabulary, and language skills in a way that made it fun and memorable. It felt like I was not just learning English skills but truly understanding them in a way I never had before.

I must admit, joining a class and being a part of this evidence-based learning experience made me appreciate the value of a structured educational environment. The collaboration with classmates, peer assessment, peer teaching etc and the guidance from a dedicated teacher, and the whole evidence-based approach have made me excited about learning in a way I haven’t been in a long time.

So, here I am, embracing this new chapter in my time-travelling adventures. I’m still going to explore the wonders of the past and future, but now I’ll also carry the evidence-based learning skills with me. Who knows, maybe I’ll use this newfound knowledge to change the course of history positively.

Until next time, Diary, when I’ll share more about my experiences in this curious blend of time travel and evidence-based learning.

Yours in time and learning,

Zoltan, the younger

21st Jan 2024 – NEW LESSONS – Boudica’s revolt against the Romans

We would like to annouce the addition of four new lessons to the EBL shop. These lessons are Boudica I – Who was Boudica, Boudica II – Boudica’s Four Battles, Boudica III – Why Boudica Revolted and Boudica IV – The Battle of Watling Street. These lessons have a unique blend of KS2 English and KS2 history. Fully-scaffolded activities include report writing and newspaper report writing and there are of course many opportunities for collaborative learning and thinking skills development.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here is a.i’s review (which is of course 5 stars ★★★★★ lol).

Based on reviewing the four Boudica lessons provided, there are several key reasons why using them would allow a teacher to effectively combine teaching both English and history skills:

  1. The lessons interweave factual historical content on Boudica’s rebellion against the Romans with varied English language activities like comprehension questions, vocabulary building, newspaper writing, and analytical writing. This allows students to simultaneously build both content knowledge and English skills.
  2. The narrative format of presenting Boudica’s story (a compelling one for students) lends itself well to developing English skills in areas like reading comprehension, summarising key ideas, descriptive writing, etc. Students are more engaged with developing English skills when the content is interesting.
  3. The lessons progressively build knowledge on Boudica’s life and rebellion. This allows the English skill activities to increase in complexity across the four lessons as students’ core knowledge grows. Scaffolding both content and English skills allows for accessible yet challenging interdisciplinary learning.
  4. The mix of reading, writing, analysis, vocabulary and comprehension activities provides students opportunities to develop a diverse range of interconnected English skills, all grounded in the history content. This is more impactful than teaching the subjects separately.
  5. The independent learning activities, like writing a first-person narrative from Boudica’s perspective, enable very effective blending of analytical history skills with creative English expression.

In summary, the varied activities, compelling narrative format, scaffolding of information and skills, and opportunities for analytical and creative synthesis of learning make these lessons an excellent vehicle for blended English and history learning. The interdisciplinarity strengthens both subjects.

Based on my review of the content and analysis of why these Boudica lessons allow for effective blended teaching of English and history skills, I would give this bundle of four lessons 5 stars.

Here is my reasoning:

  • The lessons clearly interweave the teaching of the two subject areas in an engaging, well-scaffolded, and mutually reinforcing manner. This interdisciplinary approach gets the full 5 stars.
  • The activities show thoughtful variation to allow students to develop a diverse range of English skills, fully utilising the rich historical narrative. The range and interconnectedness of activities is excellent, earning 5 stars.
  • The increase in complexity across the 4 lessons indicates expert-level curriculum planning to push and prepare learners. The intentional scaffolding across lessons merits 5 stars.
  • The content slides are informative without being overly text-heavy, supporting comprehension. Visuals are used effectively. The materials optimise learning, earning 5 stars.
  • Opportunities for analysis and creative synthesis of the historical narrative indicate student-centred activities that could highly engage learners. This creativity and balance of skills gets 5 stars.

Overall, the clearly interwoven combination of subjects, supportive and sequentially challenging materials, and emphasis on synthesising understanding meets pedagogical best practices for engagement and efficacy. This excellent interdisciplinary approach deserves a full 5 star rating. I would strongly recommend this bundle to teach both English and history in an impactful manner.

16th Jan 2024 – Ahoy, mateys! Gather ’round the crow’s nest for a yarn…

Of course, if there’s one thing we like more than a pirate story is a pirate story written in pirate-speak! Honetly, we couldn’t resist it (although probably we should have).

Ahoy, mateys! Gather ’round the crow’s nest for a yarn that’ll make yer brains shiver and yer curiosity set sail for uncharted waters! This ain’t yer usual tale o’ pirates and plunder, mind ye. This be a story of buried treasure that glitters far brighter than any doubloon – a treasure called… the 8 Evidence-Based Learning skills!

Now, Pegleg Pete, our salty hero, wasn’t much for schoolin’. He craved gold, not grammar, and his map led him not to dusty libraries, but to a skull-shaped island whispering promises of pirate booty. With pickaxe in hand and parrot screamin’ encouragement, Pete dug like a fiend, picturing chests overflowing with jewels and enough rum to float a galleon.

But instead of gold, his shovel clanged against somethin’ wooden. Disappointment hung heavier than an anchor, but when he pried open the chest, his eyes went wider than a kraken’s gullet. Inside, nestled like pearls in an oyster, were eight magical scrolls, each inscribed with a skill that sounded stranger than a siren’s song.

The first scroll spoke of “Collaboration,” a secret map to workin’ together like a well-oiled ship’s crew. Pegleg Pete, used to hogging the loot, scoffed, but when he tried it, something clicked. Suddenly, his crew’s harebrained schemes weren’t just jibberish, but a treasure trove of possibilities. They solved problems faster than a dolphin through a reef, their teamwork smoother than silk on a mermaid’s tail.

Next came “Thinking Skills,” a lantern to light the path of critical thinkin’. No more bein’ fooled by scurvy landlubbers and their flashy trinkets! Pegleg Pete learned to analyse, question, and ponder, turnin’ a suspicious map into a precise treasure hunt. He even deciphered ancient riddles that left his parrot squawkin’ in disbelief.

And so, each scroll yielded a new gem: “Peer Assessment,” a lookin’ glass to see his work through fresh eyes; “Peer Teaching,” a magic compass to guide his mates; “Self-Assessment,” a telescope to chart his own progress; “Metacognition,” a spyglass to understand how he learned; and “Independent Learning,” a wind in his sails to explore on his own.

With each skill honed, Pegleg Pete wasn’t just a pirate, he was a learnin’ machine! He outsmarted krakens, out sailed storms, and even built his own parrot-powered flying ship (though the landing gear, taking off, and flying needed some work). Soon, his crew wasn’t just after gold, they were after knowledge, each quest a chance to test their newfound skills.

Pegleg Pete, the one who once craved buried treasure, now saw the real riches lay in his crew’s minds. He traded doubloons for dusty books, built a crow’s nest library, and encouraged his mates to read and learn. Their island haven became a school of pirates, and Pegleg Pete, their proudest (and slightly singed) teacher.

So, me ‘earties, the next time yer lookin’ for treasure, remember Pegleg Pete’s tale. The greatest riches ain’t buried in sand, they’re buried in yer brain! Set sail for the seas of learnin’, hone yer 8 skills, and watch yer world sparkle brighter than any gold doubloon! Now, who’s ready for a kraken-themed lesson? Arrr!

15th Jan 2024 – The Pirate’s Discovery: A Treasure Chest of Learning Skills

You know how much we love our pirate lessons on this site so it is probably more likely that a pirate, Captain Morgan to be precise, found the eight evidence-based learning skills. Needless to say this is a blog we rather enjoyed writing me ‘earties! Aarrrr!

Once upon a time, in a distant land filled with adventurous spirits and unexplored territories, there lived a daring pirate named Captain Morgan. Captain Morgan was renowned for his relentless pursuit of treasure, and tales of his daring escapades echoed through the Seven Seas. Little did he know, however, that his greatest discovery awaited him beneath the surface – a treasure far more valuable than any glittering jewels or precious metals.

One day, as Captain Morgan sailed the azure waters in search of a fabled buried treasure, he stumbled upon a mysterious island shrouded in secrecy. With his trusty map in hand, the seasoned pirate eagerly explored the sandy shores, convinced that he was on the brink of uncovering riches beyond imagination.

To his surprise, as Captain Morgan’s crew dug deeper into the sandy soil, they unearthed a peculiar chest. Instead of the gleaming gold coins and sparkling gems they had anticipated, the chest revealed a set of eight shimmering gems of a different kind – the evidence-based learning skills.

1. Collaboration: The Team’s Strength – The first gem in the chest illuminated the importance of collaboration. Captain Morgan realised that working together as a team was more valuable than any individual achievement. His crew members flourished when they combined their skills and knowledge, becoming an unstoppable force on their quest for knowledge.

2. Thinking Skills: The Navigator’s Compass – The second gem highlighted the significance of thinking skills. Captain Morgan discovered that critical thinking and problem-solving were the true navigational tools guiding them through the vast ocean of learning. These skills allowed his crew to navigate challenges with finesse and intellect.

3. Peer Assessment: The Crew’s Feedback Loop – The third gem emphasised the power of peer assessment. As the crew members evaluated each other’s contributions, they grew stronger and more proficient. Constructive feedback became a compass, guiding them towards continuous improvement.

4. Peer Teaching: Knowledge Shared, Knowledge Gained – The fourth gem shone a light on the benefits of peer teaching. Captain Morgan realized that sharing knowledge among the crew enhanced everyone’s understanding. Each member became both a student and a teacher, fostering a culture of shared wisdom.

5. Self-Assessment: The Captain’s Reflection – The fifth gem underscored the importance of self-assessment. Captain Morgan discovered that reflecting on his own performance and setting personal goals propelled him towards greater achievements. The ability to evaluate oneself became a valuable skill in the treasure chest of learning.

6. Metacognition: Sailing Beyond the Surface – The sixth gem illuminated the concept of metacognition. Captain Morgan understood that thinking about one’s thinking was like navigating uncharted waters. Developing metacognitive skills allowed the crew to delve deeper into their own understanding, enhancing the overall learning experience.

7. Self-Regulation: The Captain’s Rudder – The seventh gem revealed the significance of self-regulation. Captain Morgan realized that maintaining discipline and staying focused were essential for success. Like a ship sailing through stormy seas, self-regulation became the captain’s rudder, steering the crew towards their goals.

8. Independent Learning: The Crew’s Autonomy – The eighth and final gem highlighted the power of independent learning. Captain Morgan acknowledged that each crew member had the potential to be a self-directed learner. Encouraging autonomy allowed them to explore new horizons and uncover hidden treasures of knowledge.

As Captain Morgan and his crew marvelled at the radiant gems, they realised that the true treasure was not buried in the sands of a forgotten island. Instead, it lay within the hearts and minds of those who sought to expand their understanding of the world.

With newfound wisdom, Captain Morgan set sail once again, not in pursuit of glittering treasures, but in a quest for lifelong learning. The evidence-based learning skills became the compass guiding them towards a future filled with knowledge, growth, and the endless possibilities that lay beyond the horizon. And so, the tale of Captain Morgan and the Treasure Chest of Learning Skills became a legendary story told to inspire generations of eager learners who sought wisdom over wealth.

14th Jan 2024 – The Mad Scientist Invents the 8 Evidence-Based Learning Skills

We reviewed over 50 years of educational research looking for what “worked” but instead of describing this long and often tedious task what about if we instead imagine a Mad Scientist invented them. See what you think…


In the mysterious realm of education, where innovation and discovery are the driving forces, there exists a tale that transcends the boundaries of traditional teaching methodologies. In this narrative, we delve into the whimsical world of a mad scientist whose eccentric experiments inadvertently led to the creation of the 8 evidence-based learning skills. As teachers, we are constantly in pursuit of effective teaching methods, and the peculiar journey of this scientist unveils a treasure trove of pedagogical insights that have the potential to transform our classrooms.

Chapter 1: The Eccentric Laboratory

Our story begins in the dimly-lit laboratory of Dr. LaToya Quirk, a scientist whose unconventional approach to research often raised eyebrows in the scientific community. Driven by an insatiable curiosity, Quirk set out on a quest to unlock the secrets of effective learning. Little did she know that her eccentric experiments would yield a groundbreaking discovery.

Chapter 2: The Accidental Alchemy

One fateful day, as Dr. Quirk tinkered with her concoctions and contraptions, a serendipitous accident occurred. A potion meant to enhance memory and concentration instead triggered a cascade of cognitive enhancements that transcended the boundaries of traditional learning. Unbeknownst to Dr. Quirk, she had stumbled upon the alchemy of evidence-based learning.

Chapter 3: Collaboration: The Catalyst for Growth

As students imbibed the elixir, a remarkable transformation unfolded. Collaborative sparks ignited among them, giving birth to the first evidence-based learning skill – collaboration. The mad scientist’s accidental creation had unlocked the potential for students to work together harmoniously, fostering an environment of shared knowledge and mutual understanding.

“Mmm… I suppose two heads are better than one.” she was heard to mumble.

Chapter 4: Thinking Skills: A Cognitive Symphony

The elixir’s influence didn’t stop there. Dr. Quirk observed a surge in thinking skills among the students. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity flourished like never before. The mad scientist marvelled at the unintended consequence of her potion, realising that it had unearthed the second evidence-based learning skill – thinking skills. ‘I think therefore I can’, became the name of her new cat.

Chapter 5: Peer Assessment and Peer Teaching: The Dual Revelations

As the elixir continued to weave its magic, Dr. Quirk noticed students naturally assuming roles as assessors and teachers within their collaborative groups. Peer assessment and peer teaching emerged as the third and fourth evidence-based learning skills, demonstrating the power of a learning community where students actively participate in each other’s growth and learn with and from each other.

Chapter 6: Self-Assessment: The Mirror of Mastery

Intrigued by the unfolding spectacle, Dr. Quirk introduced reflective exercises to the students, prompting them to assess their own progress. The elixir’s influence paved the way for the fifth evidence-based learning skill – self-assessment. Students became architects of their own learning journeys, acknowledging strengths and identifying areas for improvement or “magic marking” as she preferred to call it.

Chapter 7: Metacognition: Navigating the Depths of Understanding

Dr. Quirk’s laboratory became a haven for metacognitive exploration. Students, now armed with heightened awareness of their thinking processes, engaged in metacognition – the sixth evidence-based learning skill. They learned to monitor, control, and optimise their cognitive strategies, becoming more adept learners in the process.

Chapter 8: Self-Regulation and Independent Learning: The Culmination

The elixir’s transformative effects reached their zenith as students exhibited enhanced self-regulation and a newfound passion for independent learning. Dr. Quirk marvelled at the culmination of her accidental creation – the seventh and eighth evidence-based learning skills. Students, once dependent on external guidance, had become autonomous learners capable of navigating the vast seas of knowledge.

Conclusion: Sharing the discoveries with the world

Dr. Quirk’s decided that her discoveries were so important that she needed to share them with the world. So, she set up a website and embedded the eight EBL skills—sometimes three, sometimes four—into over 200 Key Stage 2 English lessons.

‘There,’ she said, stepping back and admiring her work. ‘That should do it!’

13th Jan 2024 – Whole set downloads and customisation option now available with a whopping 25% discount

We have added some new stuff to the shop. You can now download each set of lessons in one click. So, for example, you can download the whole 12 science fiction set of lessons but even better there are two options – yes two! I knew you’d be impressed. These options are buy all 12 science fiction lessons in pdf format OR buy all 12 lessons in pdf AND Word.doc versions. Both options have a wapping 25% discount! Unbelieveable. This means that you can customise any resource to meet the needs of your students. Here is what the science fiction options look like for example:

12th Jan 2024 – Traditional Stories meet the 8 Evidence-Based Learning skills

Picture this: your classroom erupts not with the usual groans of grammar lessons, but with the excited cacophony of budding heroes crafting their own stories. Dragons soar, robots whirr, and mischievous mice scheme, all inspired by the familiar whispers of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Jack’s beanstalk. But amidst the magic, something deeper is happening. These children, through the lens of traditional stories, are quietly honing skills vital for academic success and beyond. Enter the eight evidence-based learning skills – magical powers, if you will, that empower young minds to take charge of their learning.

1. Collaboration: As Jack scales his beanstalk, so too do your students climb the challenge of collaborative work. Students learn to work together in harmony because they have learned an essential piece of magic – two heads are better than one!

2. Thinking Skills: From analysing traditional stories to exploring science fiction stories, these familiar worlds become playgrounds for critical thinking. Children decipher cause-and-effect, brainstorm solutions, and pose “what if” questions that send imaginations soaring.

3. Peer Assessment: Cinderella finds her voice, and so do your students. Peer assessment encourages active listening, respectful critique, and the art of giving and receiving feedback. Suddenly, learning becomes a team sport, where everyone builds each other up.

4. Peer Teaching: Remember Goldilocks’ trial-and-error porridge quest? Peer teaching offers similar opportunities. Children become mini-guides, explaining plot devices, character development, and even grammar, transforming classmates into co-conspirators in the learning process.

5. Self-Assessment: Red Riding Hood may have underestimated the wolf, but your students won’t! Self-assessment equips them with the tools to reflect on their progress, set goals, and identify areas for improvement. No more damsels in distress here – these learners are in control.

6. Metacognition: What’s going on inside Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage? Metacognition invites children to think about their own thinking. Strategies like visualising, questioning, and self-monitoring become second nature, empowering them to learn, not just memorise.

7. Self-Regulation: Is Jack recklessly climbing the beanstalk? Self-regulation teaches him (and your students) the importance of managing time, setting priorities, and staying focused. From crafting timelines to silencing dragons, these skills translate beyond the classroom, building lifelong resilience.

8. Independent Learning: Finally, our heroes reach their ultimate goal – independent learning. Armed with the skills unlocked by familiar tales, children become self-directed explorers, confidently navigating new knowledge and challenges. The world becomes their open book, waiting to be read and written by their own capable hands.

So, teachers, next time you download a traditional story from our website, remember the magic within. It’s not just about happily-ever-afters; it’s about unleashing the superpowers of learning. Let’s transform our classrooms into vibrant landscapes where classic tales become springboards for lifelong skills, nurturing a generation of confident, collaborative, and self-aware learners. After all, who knows what epic stories they might write next?

11th Jan 2024 – A Five-Star review of “Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Portal”

Teachers – Unleash the Power of Fantasy Stories in Your Classroom

I recently discovered a fantastic fantasy stories resource that I believe could be an invaluable addition to any primary classroom. It’s called “Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Portal” and it uses fantasy tales and their unique qualities to develop key learning skills. 

Here’s why this resource is so invaluable:

1. Fosters higher order thinking – The series of open-ended questions on elements like character, setting, and plot promotes critical analysis, evaluation, and creativity.

2. Encourages collaboration – Students work together to read passages and discuss answers, learning from each other. This boosts communication abilities. 

3. Drives metacognition – Students self-reflect on what questions they found easy or challenging. This awareness is proven to significantly increase learning capability.

4. Range of skills developed – In one neat package, it manages to build collaboration, thinking skills, and metacognition – 3 of the 8 essential evidence-based learning skills.

5. Engaging fantasy theme – The fairy tale theme provides an extremely engaging way for students to develop these higher learning abilities. Fantasy sparks imagination.

As you can see, this resource capitalises on the wonder of fantasy stories to craft an extremely multifaceted learning experience. Students build social, analytical and reflective skills in an enjoyable fictional world. The ability to immerse and transport students while teaching invaluable abilities makes this resource a must-have for any teacher.

So if you want to take your students’ learning to the next level in an engaging way, I could not recommend this fantasy resource enough. Unleash the power of fantasy in your classroom today! 

Based on the diverse learning benefits I highlighted, I would give the fantasy stories resource a 5 out of 5 star rating.

To summarise: the key reasons it deserves full marks are:

– Promotes higher order thinking skills

– Facilitates valuable collaborative learning

– Drives metacognitive reflection

– Covers 3 key evidence-based learning skills

– Provides an extremely engaging way to learn

Very few teaching resources manage to combine such a potent blend of critical analysis, creativity, social abilities, and self-reflection – and do it in such an enjoyable way through fantasy tales. Unlocking imagination to teach real skills is masterful.

Given the multitude of learning enrichment it provides, the breadth of essential skills fostered, and the engaging fantasy theme that sparks creativity, I would readily provide a perfect 5 star rating. Students will thrive developing these abilities.

So for its diverse educational virtues, multifaceted learning, and creative theme, the fantasy stories resource earns top marks across the board. It’s a dream resource for any teacher to have in their back pocket. No need to go down a rabbit hole just click on this picture, avoid the Mad Hatter, and go straight to this lesson.

9th Jan 2024 – A Five-Star review of “Science Fiction That is Out of This World”

Teachers – Discover a Fantastic Science Fiction Resource for Your Classroom

I recently came across an excellent science fiction resource that I think could be extremely valuable for any primary classroom. It’s called “Science Fiction That is Out of This World” and it aims to teach key learning skills through science fiction stories.

Here’s why I believe this resource is so great:

1. It develops 4 of the 8 key evidence-based learning (EBL) skills – The lesson focuses on building collaboration, thinking skills, self-assessment, and metacognition. These are proven through research to help maximize student learning.

2. Uses stories as a teaching tool – By basing the activities around science fiction stories, it provides a highly engaging way for students to develop higher level skills. Stories are an ideal way to get students interested and able to manipulate ideas.

3. Contains teacher CPD – There is a 5 minute CPD activity for teachers on metacognition, helping you boost your own skills. It explains the evidence behind the activities in an easy to digest way.

4. Encourages peer learning – Students collaborate on tasks like designing a poster. This allows them to learn from each other and has many benefits over just working alone.

5. Promotes metacognition – Students are guided to reflect on how they learn best – from creating a poster with a peer or assessing it with a peer. Building this awareness supercharges learning.

As you can see, this brilliant resource ticks so many boxes. Through fun science fiction stories, it manages to develop key EBL skills, higher order thinking, collaborative abilities, and metacognitive awareness. The range of learning it fosters is extremely impressive.

So if you’re a teacher looking to take your students’ learning to the next level, I couldn’t recommend this highly engaging science fiction resource enough! The skills it builds will serve students extremely well, both in education and in life.

Based on the many benefits I highlighted above, I would give this science fiction resource 5 out of 5 stars.

The key reasons I would rate it so highly are:

– Develops 4 of the 8 vital evidence-based learning skills

– Provides an engaging way to build thinking skills through stories

– Encourages peer collaboration and metacognitive reflection

– Contains research-backed teacher CPD element

Very few classroom resources manage to hit so many boxes when it comes to enriching students’ learning and thinking abilities. This science fiction resource truly fosters the advanced skills that will help students tremendously in their education and beyond. It earns top marks across the board.

So for its sheer range of learning enrichment, as well as being an interactive and fun way to build higher order skills, I would not hesitate to give this resource a perfect 5 star rating. I believe most teachers who try it out would agree – it’s a fantastic tool for any classroom. Click on the picture below to jet to this lesson at warp speed.

8th Jan 2024 – The Curtain Rises on Learning: Eight EBL Skills Take Centre Stage!

Forget Hollywood premieres – the most gripping drama is unfolding just beyond the classroom door. Raise the curtain on “The Learning Play,” a vibrant production where eight essential learning skills strut their stuff under the spotlight!

Meet the Cast:

1. The Director: Collaboration. This energetic ensemble piece thrives on teamwork. Actors brainstorm scripts, bounce ideas off each other, and share the stage with confidence, weaving an unforgettable performance of understanding and shared knowledge.

2. The Lead Investigator: Thinking Skills. Curiosity fuels this character’s every move. From analysing hidden motives to dissecting plot twists, critical and creative thinking take centre stage, leaving the audience mesmerized by the depths of analysis.

3. The Critic with a Heart: Peer Assessment. Not just offering applause, this role delivers constructive feedback with a gentle touch. By analysing each other’s performances and offering suggestions for improvement, actors hone their self-awareness and refine their craft.

4. The Understudy: Peer Teaching. Ever ready to step in, the understudy takes the lead with confidence. Guiding peers through rehearsals, explaining scenes, and sharing expertise, this role empowers everyone to shine individually and collectively.

5. The Introspective Monologue: Self-Assessment. In a quiet but powerful scene, the actor reflects on their performance. Identifying strengths and weaknesses, they set goals for personal growth, ensuring a captivating stage presence in every act.

6. The Mindful Narrator: Metacognition. This meta-character steps outside the scene to analyse the bigger picture. Reflecting on learning strategies, adjusting approaches, and adapting to challenges, they ensure the play flows flawlessly, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

7. The Emotional Conductor: Self-Regulation. When nerves threaten to steal the show, this character takes a deep breath and regains control. Managing distractions, overcoming frustrations, and maintaining focus become an inspiring act of resilience, allowing the performance to reach its full potential.

8. The Solo Performer: Independent Learning. In a dazzling display of autonomy, this actor takes their character on a personalised journey. Researching historical contexts, exploring alternate interpretations, and delving deeper into their role makes for a captivating showcase of self-directed learning.

As the final curtain falls, “The Learning Play” leaves a lasting impression. Each EBL skill has played its part, turning a classroom into a vibrant stage where knowledge takes centre stage, creativity explodes, and every pupil leaves with a standing ovation of self-assurance and a thirst for continuous learning. So, grab your script, step into the spotlight, and join the cast! The stage is set for a remarkable performance of your own.

7th Jan 2024 – The Evidence-Based Learning Revolution: Because Guessing Games are So Last Century!

Ah, education, the realm where, for centuries, teachers have gathered knowledge of the practice of teaching through a mystical process known as “educated guessing.” You know the result – the teacher presents, pupils listen (or pretend to), and when the SATs rolls around, they cross their fingers and hope that their guesses align with the divine wisdom of the examiners.

But hold onto your mortarboards, folks, because there’s a revolution brewing in the world of education! Evidence-based learning is here, and it’s about to turn the age-old guessing game into an ancient relic of the past.

Goodbye, Crystal Balls

You see, evidence-based learning is like the Gandalf of education. It’s not about crystal balls, magic wands, or the luck of the draw; it’s about solid, reliable evidence. In a world where everyone seems to have a crystal ball these days, who wouldn’t prefer evidence?

Why Evidence-Based Learning is the Future

1. No More Educational Hunches:

Ever had a teacher who seemed to teach based on a hunch? “I have a feeling this will be on the test.” Admit it; we all have. Evidence-based learning kicks hunches to the curb. It says, “Show me the data!” If it works, great. If not, let’s try something else.

2. Learning from the Masters (and Data):

Why rely on the wisdom of one teacher when you can harness the collective knowledge of thousands? Evidence-based learning taps into research, studies, and mountains of data to figure out what truly works. It’s like having the world’s greatest teachers on speed dial.

3. Goodbye, Ineffective Strategies:

Remember the hours spent on rote memorization techniques that left your brain feeling like overcooked spaghetti? Evidence-based learning identifies these ineffective strategies and banishes them, saving you and your pupils from brain strain.

4. Farewell to Wild Goose Chases:

Have you ever chased an elusive learning method that promised to turn your pupils into genius’ overnight? Evidence-based learning separates the gold from the glitter, so you’re not chasing after educational rainbows.

5. Teachers Become Superheroes:

With evidence-based learning, teachers aren’t just teaching; they’re research-based superheroes. Armed with data and evidence they tailor their teaching to fit individual pupils’ needs, unleashing the power of personalised learning.

6. It’s Not Just Theory; It’s Practice:

Evidence-based learning isn’t just about theories. It’s about putting those theories to the test. It’s like science class for teaching and learning, minus the safety goggles.

7. The Future of Success:

Evidence-based learning isn’t just a trend; it’s the future of education. In a world that demands critical thinking, adaptability, and innovation, why leave your future to chance?

So, there you have it, folks. Evidence-based learning isn’t just another fad; it’s the rocket ship that will launch education into the 21st century and beyond. Say goodbye to the guessing games of old and embrace a future where learning is backed by hard evidence. The crystal ball might be collecting dust, but your path to success is clearer than ever.

5th Jan 2024 – Unlocking the Magic of Learning: How English Lessons Make Evidence-Based Learning Skills Fun!

Do you remember the magic of your favourite childhood storybook? The way it transported you to far-off lands, ignited your imagination, and left you with a sense of wonder? Well, what if I told you that the very same magic could be found right in your English lessons? No, it’s not a fairy tale; it’s the real deal. In the enchanting world of evidence-based learning, our eight trusty companions – collaboration, thinking skills, peer assessment, peer teaching, self-assessment, metacognition, self-regulation, and independent learning – are your keys to unlocking the magic of education.

Once Upon a Classroom

Picture this: a bustling English classroom, filled with curious minds and a passionate teacher. The stage is set for an epic adventure. The first character to step onto the scene is Collaboration, the team player. It knows that the best stories are woven together with diverse threads. In English lessons, students collaborate to explore texts, analyse themes, and develop their ideas collectively. It’s not about going solo; it’s about the synergy of ideas.

Next up is Thinking Skills, the sharp-witted detective. With a magnifying glass in one hand and a pondering expression on its face, it’s always ready to dive deep into the heart of the narrative. English lessons encourage students to think critically, learn new English skills, and uncover the hidden meanings within the text. It’s a mental treasure hunt!

Peer Assessment and Peer Teaching, the dynamic duo, enter the stage. They’re here to break down the walls of traditional learning. In English lessons, students take the reins, evaluating each other’s work and even stepping into the role of the teacher. It’s a classroom where everyone’s a star, both on and off the stage.

Self-Assessment is the reflective artist, always striving for self-improvement. In English class, students learn to evaluate their own progress, set goals, and chart their course toward literacy greatness. It’s like a personal journey of self-discovery.

Now, meet Metacognition, the mindful guru. It’s all about understanding how we learn and think. In English lessons, students reflect on their reading strategies, delve into their thought processes, and become more aware of their learning style. It’s like unlocking the secrets of your own mind.

Self-Regulation is the conductor of this educational orchestra, ensuring harmony and balance. In English lessons, students learn to manage their time, stay focused, and overcome distractions. It’s the art of keeping the show running smoothly.

Last but not least, there’s Independent Learning, the adventurous explorer. It thrives on curiosity and self-reliance. In English lessons, students are encouraged to dive into science fiction stories, fantasy stories and explore new genres, and discover the joy of learning on their own terms. It’s like setting sail on a literacy voyage of discovery.

The Grand Finale

As our characters take their bows, we see that English lessons are more than just stories like Alice in Wonderland and Red Riding Hood; they are the backdrop for a grand adventure where evidence-based learning skills come to life. Collaboration, thinking skills, peer assessment, peer teaching, self-assessment, metacognition, self-regulation, and independent learning are the stars of the show, illuminating the path to academic excellence.

So, next time you teach an English lesson, remember that you’re not just teaching literacy skills; you’re uncovering the magic of education. These skills are not just part of the story; they are the heart of the narrative, and you are the navigator of your students’ literacy adventures. Embrace these adventures, and let the magic unfold!

20th Dec 2023 – Evidence-Based Learning: The Brochure Review

Our brochure is available to download on the Freebies page. We thought you might like to read a third-party review to get you into “I must download this brochure now” spirit. So here it is…

The brochure provides a clear and comprehensive overview of the EBL lessons and their key features. It effectively communicates how the lessons develop both English skills and evidence-based learning skills. Some key positives:

– The front page grabs attention with lively characters illustrating what the lessons offer. This sets the fun, engaging tone.

– It succinctly lists the 8 key EBL skills developed across the lessons, linking this to research.

– The visuals showing lesson pages and characters help teachers quickly understand the format and content.

– The sections on cognitive overload and using simple stories to build skills without overloading pupils are informative.

– The few one-liners from characters make it more engaging without being gimmicky.

– The structure and order provide a logical flow of information to inform teachers on the value and format of the lessons. 

– Key facts are summarized at the end for a quick overview.

– The inclusion of testimonials and conclusions make a convincing case for the lessons.

Overall it does a great job quickly and clearly communicating key selling points to teachers in an appealing, professional way. The vibrant tone matches the nature of the lessons. The brochure achieves its aims very effectively.

7th Dec 2023 – Evidence-Based Learning: What’s in a name?

The term “Evidence-Based Learning” places emphasis on the research and evidence behind these skills. However, it is the learning skills themselves that are at the core of this approach. A better name that captures this would be “Evidence-Based Learning Skills” or even Learning Skills (that are evidence based). The skills are what enable students to benefit from our review educational research.

When we refer to Evidence-Based Learning Skills, we mean the specific skills and techniques that are supported by over 50 years of research into effective learning methods. Without equipping students with these essential skills, there would be little value in consulting the evidence in the first place. Ultimately, it is these learning skills that are vital for students both now and in the future. The “evidence-based” bit highlights that these techniques are grounded in extensive research rather than anecdotal ideas. But make no mistake – the skills themselves take centre stage here, empowering students to learn and succeed and have the confidence to face the future.

5th Dec 2023 – Five-minute CPD (metacognition)

This is a typical five-minute CPD activity for teachers who want to refresh, or add to, their existing skillset. Basically, there is a quote (with a source) supporting metacognition, a reflective question, eight practical strategies for introducing metacognition in a classroom and a simple action step to move forward. All in all this simple page represents Evidence-Based Teaching in action. It is at the end of the lesson entitled “A Nice and a Nasty Pirate”.

26th Nov 2023 – Hello facebook

It has taken us a while to get the hang of Instagram – evidencebasedlearners – and we like it! It has been a great way to get the message of evidence-based learning across and so we have now gone one step further and today we have launched evidence based learning on facebook. Tra-la!

1st Nov 2023 – Bulk buy discount of 50%

If you wake up one morning and decide that the one thing you must do that day is to dowload every lesson from this website then hold on! Not only will we save you the trouble of downloading all 223 lessons (or there-abouts) each evidence-based learning lesson individually because we will put them all on a USB stick and send it direct to you by Special Delivery but we will also give you a whooping 50% discount at the same time! Yes, that means every lesson is only £1 each. Unbelievable. A real win-win. Contact me at and we’ll get you sorted asap.

31st Oct 2023 – Ready to print digital lessons

All lessons available on this site are in PDF format. This means that they can be used on any device and they are also ready to print as required.

30th Oct 2023 – TL;DR

In keeping with the spirit of the times – too long;didn’t read – we have tried to reduce the whole ethos of what we are about to some simple graphics. So without more ado, here goes…

22nd Oct 2023 – Say hello to the emoticons

When pupils use evidence-based learning lessons is it is an obvious point to say that they must know which particular skill they are using. So as well as, of course, actually practising the skill we felt that we needed to make it super-obvious which skill is involved. So in every evidence-based learning lesson available on this website each skill has been denoted by its own emoticon. So, drum-roll please…

17th Oct 2023 – Some evidence for each Evidence-Based Learning skill

Collaboration is the key to success in the 21st century. When students learn to work together effectively, they are better able to solve problems, to generate new ideas, and to achieve their goals. Tony Wagner

Thinking skills are the most important skills that students can learn. They allow students to learn new material, to solve problems, and to make informed decisions. Robert J. Marzano

Peer assessment is a powerful tool for learning and improvement. When students assess each other’s work, they have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills, to learn from their peers, and to give and receive constructive feedback. James Hattie

Peer teaching is a powerful learning tool that can benefit both the teacher and the learner. When students teach each other, they have the opportunity to deepen their own understanding of the material and to develop their communication and collaboration skills. Robert E. Slavin

Self-assessment is the key to self-improvement. When students learn to assess their own learning, they can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies to improve their performance. Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam

Metacognition is the key to lifelong learning. When students learn to think about their thinking, they can develop the skills they need to learn effectively and efficiently in any situation. John Flavell

Self-regulated learners create the maximum opportunities to learn. Self-regulated learners will focus on a task and bring to it the right thinking, attitude, strategies and behaviours to get that task done. Research Brief – Self-Regulated Learning

Independent learners are more likely to be successful in school and in life. They have the skills they need to take charge of their own learning and to achieve their goals. Barbara Oakley

15th Oct 2023 – Evidence-Based Teaching in action

“teachers and leaders see improving teachers’ practice as a priority…”

Independent Review of Teachers’ Professional Development in Schools – – May 2021

Nearly all our lessons have a five-minute CPD activity at the end of them for teachers to add to, or to refresh, their skill set. The CPD activities only take five-minutes and each one is based on an evidence-based learning skill that is in that particular lesson. Furthermore, and this is the clever bit, each CPD activity uses a formula of evidence + reflection = action step(s). Using this simple formula ensures that teachers can make a change in their classroom that is backed by research and will improve teaching practice. This really is evidence-based teaching in action.

Every lesson with a five-minute CPD activity included has a brilliant little red symbol on it so that the CPD activity can be easily identified. Here is an example:

Grandma Wasn't Grandma - Red Riding Hood - KS2 English Evidence Based Learning lesson

10th Oct 2023 – Social media: evidencebasedlearners on Instagram

Of course, no self-respecting website would be complete without a dip into the world of social media! So without further ado we have dipped our toes, cautiously, and I mean cautiously, into the world of Instagram. And, guess what! We loved it. Instant feedback on posts, comments, 2,700 followers! What is there not to like lol.

We try to post something new and relevant to evidence-based learning lessons with their amazing 8 EBL skills every day. There is not room to do much on a single post so we have limited ourselves to getting the 8 evidence-based learning skills better known.

At the moment we are running a series of posts that compare a pupil with one of the 8 EBL skills to a pupil without that particular skill so, for example, a pupil with metacognition will have a range of strategies; a pupil without metacognition will rely on trial and error and guesswork. I think “without metacognition” neatly sums up our trial and error approach to Instagram posts!

7th Oct 2023 – Halloween lessons added to our Freebies page but you can download here

We had added two free Halloween-themed grammar lessons to our freebies page to bring some seasonal cheer. But we thought if you have taken the time to read our blog you can download these lessons now by simply clicking on the graphic of your choice – or even both if the mood takes you! The first lesson is for lower KS2 (years 3 and 4 UK or grades 2 and 3 US) and the second lesson is for upper KS2 (years 5 and 6 or grades 4 and 5 US). Both resources are complete lessons with no preparation required. Essentially, the lessons introduce and expans upon three key parts of a sentence – subject, verb and prepositional phrase. Students work collaboratively to make notes on the topic with the aim of peer teaching the topic to their peers.

4th Oct 2023 – Top lesson searches from Google for September

As a user (or potential user) we thought we would share some stuff from Google namely the top two lessons that people have been looking at on this site in September! So drum roll please – pull the curtain back – here are the two most popular lessons for September:

2nd Oct 2023 – Take a peek at our TES shop

If you’ve got a spare moment or two and hey, what teacher hasn’t lol we thought you might like to take a peek at our eblresources shop at We have got all sorts of evidence-based learning reources on it that will gladden your hearts (honestly). The eblresouces shop is where we like to showcase resources that although, in the main, are not complete lessons they are still EBL skills based. Just click on the picture below and you’ll see what we mean.

1st Oct 2023 – How evidence-based learning lessons arrived on your doorstep

Hello and welcome to October! It is hard to put our story of how evidence-based learning lessons arrived on your doorstep into words without running off the edge of the page and boring the life out of everyone because the whole process was 10 years in the making! But, for all our sakes, we need to give it a go because you have a right to know where these EBL lessons came from.

Initially, we thought we could use three words – research, identify, write – to describe how evidence-based learning lessons arrived rather impressively on your doorstep but that didn’t work as well as we hoped because even we didn’t know what the three words meant after we had written them.

Then we thought we could use a snappy catch-phrase like “Evidence-Based Learning is the Future of Teaching and Learning” mmm, maybe not.

Finally we thought we would try and summarise how evidence-based learning lessons arrived on your doorstep graphically. So, here goes – see what you think. I know, I know we should stick to writing EBL lessons and leave the graphics to somebody else. Never mind, at least we tried. And, if, just if, the graphic makes things a little clearer to someone somewhere it will have all been worthwhile.

The graphic says "After reviewing the last 50 years of educational research we identified the 8 skills proven to maxiimise learning and so we wrote 200 English lessons with these skills embedded in them".

29th Sept 2023 – A huge evidence-based learning welcome

Right, that’s got the ‘we won’t be blogging every day because we’d rather go for quality over quantity’ (at least that’s what we are telling ourselves) message out of the way let’s start by giving all our users a huge evidence-based learning welcome!

However, before we start blogging in earnest we’ve had a quick snapshot of the users of the site today and overnight and while the majority of them are UK (and US) based some are definitely not and so to the top four countries that are using this site today we would like to say…

“Welcome to evidence-based learning – the home of evidence-based learning lessons.”

“Bienvenido al aprendizaje basado en evidencia, el hogar de lecciones basadas en evidencia.”


“Bienvenue à l’apprentissage basé sur les preuves – le lieu des leçons d’apprentissage basées sur les preuves.”

27th Sept 2023 – A quick word about our blogging abilities (or lack of)

Writing over 200 KS2 English lessons (which we have been doing for years) has paled into insignificant compared to writing our first real blog (which we are starting in earnest today).

First we had to ask ourselves what IS a blog? After looking at many blogs on the internet we still did not have a clear answer to that question. So we will just have to plough on and hope we get there in the end. You never know, we just might pull it off. If we don’t, we will have to sign up to a blog-writing course. Whatever happens, we can only assume that shortly we will either be the sort of people that can write a blog or be the sort of people waiting for an, as yet unknown, advance in the world of blogging that rewards raw talent for what it is – raw talent.

Once we have somehow learnt how to write blogs – entertaining and informative ones – either through our own hard work or some miracle as yet unknown to blogging science – we will be blogging all over the place.  

However, the very first thing we need to insist on is that we will not write a blog every day. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, some days there is just NOTHING to write a blog about AND secondly, it is not every day you have the time. It is a case of ‘Is the dog wagging the tail or the tail wagging the dog’ – or to be more accurate ‘Is the blog running you or are you running the blog?’

We could have written a blog explaining that we have spent the last 10 years researching and writing 200+ KS2 English lessons that have the 8 key evidence-based learning skills embedded in them – but that is not what blogs are for (we think). So all we can promise is that there will be blogs on some days and these blogs will (hopefully) be worth waiting for. But be prepared that not all blogs will have tail-wagging dogs in them. So lower your expectations and be prepared to be overjoyed to see a blog on any day of the week regardless of how long it has been since the last blog or the last full moon.

25th Sept 2023 – Goodbye Canstock and hello a.i.

It seems fitting for our second blog to pay tribute to the fine folks at Canstock – the Canadian graphics company – with whom we have worked with for over 10 years. Not only did they have an excellent stock of graphics but they also had excellent customer service if anything went wrong. You might have noticed that I am using the past tense. Yes, sadly, after September 30th Canstock are ceasing trading. Costs are rising and revenue is falling. A situation many companies (and people) are familiar with today.

Canstock can be seen as a victim of the a.i. revolution. At the moment a.i. is being seen as a blessing and a curse but using a.i. and getting the best out of it is something we will return to many times in these blogs but before we go, we wish a fond farewell to all our friends at Canstock for the last time.

If you have looked at Canstock’s website and other graphics companies’ websites you will notice was something missing from Canstock that some of the other companies have – an a.i. option. If you are looking for a particular graphic say of a monkey eating a banana on a skateboard and they don’t have it their a.i. engine will generate it for you. Describe the graphic you want, click on the create button, and voila the graphic (that didn’t exist up to that moment) appears. Don’t like it – click on re-generate as many times as you want until you are happy with the outcome.

Our first blog – 24th Sept 2023

After what seems like years and years and years in a small office writing KS2 lessons, under little pressure, we have launched this new evidence-based learning website. Maybe we exaggerated when we said small – because we really meant tiny! We also exaggerated when we said little pressure. If you call having to think about what to have with ten tea breaks a day without putting on weight no pressure then perhaps this is the job for you!

Our team of researchers and writers – well there are only two of us actually – have been more than happy to work around the clock for years because to be honest what else can you do all day that allows you to drink so much tea?

Over 230 KS2 lessons and some 2,500 graphics later, the website has launched with – yes, you guessed right – over 230 KS2 lessons. To be truthful the 2,500 graphics might be an exaggeration. Some of them were doubles that we already had. Others were just the wrong graphic that did not match the text in any shape or form.  At £2 a graphic, you can only imagine how quickly we ran through our graphic allowance but we wanted to make the best graphics available to you.

We hope you think that both the time – ten years – and the vast expense on the graphics was well worth it.

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