At Castle View School our model of Teaching and Learning is based upon Alistair Smith’s ‘Accelerated Learning Cycle’. At the heart of our model are the four stages of the Accelerated Learning Cycle, around which lessons at Castle View are planned:
- Connect: all new learning is built upon what the learner already knows or understands, and therefore it is important to connect our learning – whether this means starting our lessons with an inspiring and thought-provoking activity, re-capping and embedding learning from a previous lesson or just giving our learners a sense of the ‘big picture’ so they know where today’s lesson fits in with the grand scheme of things;
- Activate:students are introduced to new knowledge, information, and ideas during the activate phase of a lesson. It’s important that students explore these ideas to develop a deep understanding;
- Demonstrate: this stage gives students the opportunity to ‘show what they know’ and use the knowledge and ideas they have gained in new ways, from answering an exam question or writing an essay, to conducting a debate, performing a drama or inventing and building something completely new; and
- Consolidate: ensuring all new ideas and skills are embedded and secured with opportunities to consolidate, re-cap, and enhance the learning that has taken place.
The Accelerated Learning Cycle is underpinned by continuous assessment for learning. Students’ understanding is checked before, during and after every activity. This enables teachers and teaching assistants to pick up on any misunderstandings or misconceptions as the lesson progresses, and re-shape the lesson accordingly.
When planning activities, we try to ensure that a range of aspects are included, from collaborative group work, independent learning time and literacy and numeracy practice, to planned questioning and the use of new technologies.
Finally, we believe in setting the right conditions and behaviours for learning to take place – both from the perspective of the teacher and the learners. This includes behaviour management and personalising learning through differentiation from the teacher, but, just as important, making sure we encourage all students to adopt the right habits of mind for learning to take place – becoming reflective and resilient members of their class who take responsibility for driving their own learning. We also believe in recognising students’ effort and determination and ensure that praise and reward plays a key role in encouraging students to do their best.