Does P4C help you? Pupil voice February 2018

Year 3 (age 7-8)

  • "P4C makes me a good learner because it gets your brain thinking about big ideas."
  • "P4C helps people do the right thing."
  • "When you do P4C you get to say what you really think about things."
  • "It helps you get better at participating.  People have powerful ideas and they are all in your mind.  You can't just sit there, you have to say something - you really really want to!"

Year 6 (age 10-11)

  • "It helps you so you know other children's viewpoints. If they have a different viewpoint, for example about religion, it's good to know so you don't offend them."
  • "It could link to jobs. In some jobs you have to understand and respect people's viewpoints."
  • "It could help you in life decisions, it could help you understand the consequences."

Ideas into your brain...

I often ask pupils and teachers how often they change talk partners; a typical answer is ‘not very often’.  Let’s switch things up!  When we try it, and ask the children what they think, they say:

  • “I like the idea of switching talk partners because then you learn more about others and their thoughts.”  (Yr5)
  • “I like that! I like talking to different people. Once I had someone who just sat there for a whole term!”  (Yr1)
  • “You swap seats and other people come and put other ideas into your brain.”  (Yr4)

Philosophy for Children Level One (validated by Sapere)

Dates:           Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March 2018

Trainer:          Topsy Page

Venue:            Manley Park Primary School, Whalley Range, Manchester

Course fee:    £300   discount available for group bookings or low income

Philosophy for Children is an active learning technique which gives children an opportunity to discuss big ideas and difficult topics in a safe and structured way. Promoting high quality talk, critical thinking and reasoning, P4C has been proven to improve academic outcomes for children as well as develop their social skills and resilience. P4C is a participatory methodology which gives children a voice. It is increasingly recognised as something which can transform educational settings and children's experience of education. 

 To book a place on this course please contact me via this website. 

 Limited places.

Talk promise

Many schools and teachers … fail to make students aware of the ground rules for effective dialogue.
— Robin Alexander 2004

Schools can benefit from implementing a talk agreement, promise, or pledge.  It might include commitments like, “We will show we are listening by looking at the speaker.”  When the pledge becomes high profile in the school, the impact is striking.

talk promise visual research 2017 - before.jpg
talk promise visual research 2017 - after.jpg

Who's working harder?

Again and again I see teachers working harder than students. The teacher explains a concept – sometimes in depth, sometimes in several different ways, sometimes repeated three or four times … while the children passively wait until they are asked to do some work.  Why?  These students could be doing most of the talking.

This paper by Steven Reinhart resonates with my current thinking about teaching and learning: Never Say Anything A Kid Could Say.

I loved what Stephen says about his changing understanding of what makes effective teaching:

My definition of a good teacher has since changed from "one who explains things so well that students understand" to "one who gets students to explain things so well that they can be understood."

Paired talk – your new (old) best friend

Paired talk, when done well, is one of the most effective techniques a teacher can use.  It provides an opportunity for children to try out ideas, and to orally rehearse, whilst avoiding the “rabbit in the headlights” moment of being asked to speak when unprepared. It immediately changes the ratio of teacher talk to pupil talk.

But done badly, it leaves children feeling left out, it is unfocussed, it wastes learning time.

In my Talk Audits over the past year I have observed over 80 classrooms and I have concluded that this is something a lot of teachers could do better.  In one class during a paired talk exercise, I counted six children not talking.

I think teachers are so busy ‘getting on with the learning’ that they are missing the basics of paired talk – that pupils are actually paired, and actually talking.  Simply checking and addressing these basics will have a huge impact.

Philosophy for Children Level One course (validated by Sapere)

 Dates:           Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 July

Trainer:          Topsy Page

Venue:            Manley Park Primary School, Whalley Range, Manchester

Course fee:    £300             discount available for group bookings or low income

Philosophy for Children is an active learning technique which gives children an opportunity to discuss big ideas and difficult topics in a safe and structured way. Promoting high quality talk, critical thinking and reasoning, P4C has been proven to improve academic outcomes for children as well as develop their social skills and resilience. P4C is a participatory methodology which gives children a voice. It is increasingly recognised as something which can transform educational settings and children's experience of education. 

 To book a place on this course please contact me via this website. 

 Limited places.

What do children think of Hands Up?

Pupil Voice is an important part of my Talk Audits; here are some recent responses when I asked Key Stage 2 children their opinions about Hands Up:

My hand is always tired!

Hands Up isn't fair because some people sit back and let others do the work.

I prefer random selection because it's fairer.

Sometimes more thinking time is needed.

Your hand gets tired when someone else is speaking.

Lolly Sticks are better than Hands Up because anyone could get chosen; we all have to have an answer. It gets everyone in the class thinking, not just one person.

2017 Communication Trust report shows schools must prioritise talk

This report talks about a generation of children and young people are growing up in a world where good speech, language and communication skills are increasingly vital for life … There continue to be significant numbers … who do not have access to the support they need and whose future life chances are consequently placed at risk … These young people need prompt, concerted action from national and local government, and from schools…