Do You Have a Moment for Knowledge? Our Greatest Friendship… Inspired by my recent reflections as a Professional Teacher and a small way of contribution to give something back to our Professional Body: The Chartered College of Teaching   Dame Alison Peacock

We Are Only Great Because Of What Has Come Before Us… If this is true we can never be great in the future, nor in the present too… Greatest comes from looking back, what has been truly learnt by its remembrance of achievement over time, that moment we reflect, think. What has been learnt never settles, waiting patiently to connect to a friend, colleague, relative, a stranger, and or even a misguided. Knowledge shines over humanity and acts to enable us to sense things we could not without, but we must be conscious of the shadows cast, and enter with caution so not to add misconception to the thoughts of others.

There have been great moments in time, history tells us that, but the greatest moment I think is the moment we live in, dynamically shifting in a myriad of directions over the course of time, unpredictable, and unprecedented at times, and our attention is naturally drawn to KNOWLEDGE, our light-force if you like, to guide us, to guide our thought, we must forgive those who choose to ignore knowledge and seek out ignorance in the darkness of absence, but let us not underestimate our knowledge, our guiding light, that is by our side, morning, noon, and night…throughout our lifetime before we hand the torch on to others when it is our time to do so.

Thank You KNOWLEDGE, for your presence and persistence, for the times I thought I was done with you at the age of 16, thank you as I have realised through acquisition,  you have always been my greatest friend who I call home in my precious mind. I pause for a moment of reflection…

These are my thoughts but I am humbled by the thoughts of others as I appreciate and acknowledge they have been the tools to shape my thought, so I too, thank all the kind human beings who have imparted to me and the who’s contributions to KNOWLEDGE which has shaped many other minds of thought…


And at this pivotal moment in time, with regards to this message of great importance from Dame Alison Peacock, especially this, especially to this our noble profession, may I be so humbled and ask only one thing, support The Chartered College of Teaching and play an active role in raising our professional status, and quite rightly, attracting fine future teachers and retaining existing, so we have a generation of professionals passing on our truly universal friend to all, KNOWLEDGE, to the generation who will pass to the next and so on, our moment will live on in memories of others.

I will just leave you with two recent quotes:

from The Chartered College of Teaching 2018 for anybody reading this blog, who are either thinking of joining the Pedagogy Profession, “Welcome to the best job in the world.”

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from Alexandra Wilson “In just 3 months I’ll be defending and prosecuting in the Courts of England and Wales. I’m 24. I’m mixed-race. I’m from Essex. I’m not posh. I worked hard and NEVER listened when people said the Bar wasn’t for people like me. THIS is what a barrister looks like.”

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“If you have a spare half-hour or so, you could read Memorable Teaching from cover to cover. I doubt you’ll find an education book with more useful insights per minute of reading time.” – Dylan Wiliam – Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, UCL @dylanwiliam 

“These are just some of my reflections from Peps Mccrea’s genius book. I can only describe the contents of this book like going to the opticians for my regular check-up and having the optician telling me, after my eye test, I need to purchase new lens for my glasses, now I see better and with Peps’ insights I and my students will be better at learning in the future.” @mrdavidjoyce65  July 2019 Thanks to @PepsMccrea

What does our “memory architecture” consist of?

“Memorable teaching is about building deep, powerful and lasting understanding, by making students more confident and independent, by making you more informed and effective.” (Peps Mccrea)

So, as teachers, where do we start? Firstly, we must understand how our brains work in the first place and then apply this knowledge to a simple model, in a contextual way, to understand how we achieve memorable teaching, our goal.

figure 1

How we learn (figure 1) Ambition Institute @Ambition_Inst

Our brain comprises of two interacting components, Working Memory (WM) and Long-term Memory (LTM) and their actions are at the heart of how we learn. Our LTM is where we store knowledge, this in turn, represents our view of the world around us and who we are. This knowledge is dynamic; it is constantly being updated or deleted as a result of thinking and interactions with our environment. Peps draws a useful analogy that “our LTM is more like a forest than a library.” All teachers want to increase the life chances of their students, the best way we can achieve this is to help them develop more powerful LTM.

To develop a more powerful LTM requires knowledge, comprehensive and organised, to allow depth; and we want students to access their LTM easier so they build on their learning when faced with new information, we want durability, we want it to last, not be forgotten. Pep reminds us of our responsibility as teachers is to help our students build deep and durable LTM, to build enduring understanding (see figure 2)

Figure 2

How do we achieve Depth and Durability? We need to know how WM works…

WM facilitates three interacting processes:

  1. Attention We select what to focus on for further thinking.
  2. Short-term memory We temporarily hold these foci in our mind.
  3. Elaboration We attempt to make sense of these objects of focus, drawing on our LTM, and modifying that LTM as a result

The interactions of these three processes in the context of LTM will determine what is learn, whether that is a lot or little, however, we can shift the learning in a favourable direction by having a greater understanding how the actual process works so our teaching has the highest impact on our students’ learning.

We need to think of LTM as the Knowledge and WM as Thinking, that way, the more we know, the better we will think and this idea has become known as The Matthew Effect, as teachers, we must see ourselves as the catalyst for this effect, but first we need a set of memory-oriented teaching principles to guide our practice that acts as the desired catalyst with high potency.

How does Mccrea suggest that we manage information and streamline communication?

As teachers working in an environment rich in information, from multiple sources, it is important we use our expertise and energy to decide what to focus our thinking on next, where best invest our attention.

If attention is our friend then distraction is a foe. Distraction can come in many forms, you might already be thinking low level disruption in the classroom, students talking but not about the learning, however, it goes much deeper than that, remember, attention drives thinking, so whatever information you present to your student must make them think the shortest route to your learning intention, and Pep refers to this as a desirable. Everything else is a distraction. Teachers must eliminate/minimise distraction and maximise desirables. If it does not add to the learning then it will subtract learning, not desirable.

Firstly, to minimise distraction you need to know what they are, for example:

Physical environment

  • Displays – Unless the information is desirable, regularly used or in the moment, then it will be a distraction for the student and will subtract from the learning.
  • Clocks – Can trigger inappropriate thinking; if you need one put it at the back of the classroom facing away from their viewpoint.
  • Music – Unless it offsets a greater distracting sound then it is a distraction.

We need to be conscious of these entities, what things add and what things subtract so our students’ attention is focused on the information that will get them to the learning intention the shortest possible route.

Social environment

Well established classroom routines will have a big impact on desirable thinking, Do Now for example, Specific, Concrete, Sequential and Observable instructions ensure focus, the silence provides no interruptions, no distractions, and thinking is focused on the task. Peps talks about Interruptions are the enemy of critical explanation & discussion; they slow learning and increase mistakes. Building a culture of strong discipline encourages desirables and reduces distraction. Having a No Phone policy reduces the distraction. Probably the most common distraction is by the teacher, I’m guilty of it and I make a conscious effort to regulate it, what am I talking about, feeling the urge to talk when my students are in silence, working independently and as of a result I have interfered with my students’ thinking.

Learning tasks and activities

Pep goes on to talk about Learning tasks and activities and the fact they can themselves be a distraction:

  • Redundant information – Only include text & images which are really needed on activity slides/worksheets and including our economy of language, do not use unnecessary words in our expositions/explanations, concise will lead to focus, focus has our attention, attention dictates our thinking, we want our thinking taking us on the shortest route to the learning intention.
  • Real-life context – A big misconception teachers have acquired in recent years is that somehow putting the learning intention into a real-life context makes it easier to learn, it does not. Why? Because it levies additional burden on mental processes e.g. adding to cognitive load. Only use if it actually helps them to understand quicker/better or is part of their learning outcomes.
  • Unnecessary complexity – Beware of embedding learning into a game or even a poster/PowerPoint; these methods do more damage as the learners’ thinking is distracted e.g. Using PowerPoint their attention is drawn to fonts, colours/sizes, inserting pictures/videos etc, and shifts the learning pathway (shortest possible route) away from the learning intention.

We are reminded of the challenges we teachers face in a digital world which has evolved at such an alarming rate and is prevalent in all of our lives on a daily basis.

The key takeaway message (see figure 3) for teachers is “eliminating distractions is a liberating practice. It frees up more time to spend on desirable thinking. How do we make the most of the time and information we are left with?”

Figure 3

How does he suggest that we regulate cognitive load?

We must understand what we mean by cognitive load before we can think about how we can regulate a person’s thinking. Cognitive load is how much information we can process in our WM at any given moment in the present. The challenge then becomes not only managing what our students are thinking but also how hard they are thinking. “Learning happens when people have to think hard.” Coe

Our WM has evolved to process 2-3 big ideas at once, evidence-informed research beyond this performance rapidly declines, and this is referred to as overload by default. This phenomenon has a constant presence in our practice and we must respect it and act accordingly knowing the implications it will have on the learner if we break the rules. Because teachers are experts a lot of knowledge is familiar to them and it can be tricky deciding how much information you will give to their attention, too little and they will not learn, too much and they will not learn. Pep refers to this as Expert induced blindness. The answer is obviously a balancing act to ensure you have the right amount. As my practice has developed over the years I find it most helpful to think backwards from the learning intention; what information do I need to answers that, what did I need to know to get to that and keep going backwards until to you get to the start of the task. The rationale I use is I need to think like a novice at the beginning and by the end (learning intention) I am thinking like an expert. Pep reminds us that we are continually exploring unfamiliar materials with our students and giving those tasks which they cannot do yet and this is the risk we need to consider and put in suitable control measures to avoid the hazard, cognitive overload. Using Stop & Jot frees-up cognitive load by the students writing down the key information you want them to know and thus removing from their WM. Turn & Talk promotes it’s retrieval from LTM so not using WM. If we can keep cognitive load reduced (less information in their heads) then the learner can use more of it to think and manipulate the information/knowledge we want them to learn.

The demand put on the WM can be regulated by adjusting the following factors:

  • Complexity – number of elements at any given time and how they interact
  • Dependency – How much prior knowledge/skills are required?
  • Autonomy – How much are we asking students to do in their heads?
  • Familiarity – The ease the students can recognise and navigate the activity

Peps recommends several more strategies for regulating load and to what degree they are effective:

  • Decomposition – Chunking (breaking down into small pieces)
  • Recycling structures – Do Now, I Do, We do, You do, Exit Tickets, Cold Call, Show Call, Stop & Jot, Stretch Task, Mastery Quizzes, etc
  • Outsourcing – leaving visible Persistent examples or important knowledge

Substituting LTM – Knowledge Organisers, writing frames, exemplar models (this only works short-term so the goal is to remove the scaffold)

by David Joyce July 2019 @mrdavidjoyce65

Further reading

Responsive Teaching

Further reading

Former PGCE student wins prestigious award

Enthuase-awardsFormer King’s PGCE Science student David Joyce has won an ENTHUSE Evidence Award in recognition of his exceptional work to support science teaching and the significant impact he has made on the discipline. David, who studied for his PGCE in the Department of Education & Professional Studies, was one of only seven education professionals to receive this prestigious national award. Professor Justin Dillon, who teaches on the PGCE Science programme, attended the ceremony which was held at the Wellcome Trust on Tuesday 18 June.

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This gallery contains 21 photos.

Excellence in school science teaching recognised The winners of the inaugural ENTHUSE Celebration Awards were announced last night at a prestigious ceremony at the Wellcome Trust in London. Seven exceptional teaching professionals, who have made a significant impact on the science teaching in their schools, were recognised for their excellence. The ENTHUSE Celebration Awards …

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Boomwhackers sing out for science kids

BOOMWHACKERS, Slinky springs and vibrating bugs made an appearance at the Belfry during National Science and Engineering Week.

Bright sparks from The Warwick School shared their passion for science through hands-on activities and demonstrations from 4pm each day during the week which ran from March 9 to 18.2012


SCIENTIFIC: Connor McFarlane REGM20120316F-003_C1 Photos by Grant Melton

Year 9 pupil Myles Jenkinson who was demonstrating the Slinky and a Newton’s cradle said: “It’s been exciting and informative.

“Young people like coming and having a look.”

Hannah Murray, Becky Smith and Tasfia Ahmed, all Year 9 pupils, drew attention by making music from colourful boomwhackers, plastic tubes tuned to musical pitches by length and used for percussion performances.

Hannah said: “When we whack them on the table they make a loud noise. It really draws people in.”

Members of the public could attempt to play well-known tunes with the vibrant tubes.

All pupils were on hand to explain the way the experiments worked. The exhibits were part of a Science Museum pack but these pupils were the only ones to be putting on a display in the UK.

David Joyce, Key Stage 3 science co-ordinator at The Warwick, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage with the people of Redhill.

“The response has been great. It’s positive, positive, positive.”

The school won a national WISE award last year in recognition of its work to encourage female students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Mr Joyce said that science is integral to the school and for National Science and Engineering Week they ran a whole host of treats including sci-fi films at school dinner time.
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What an ENTHUSEiastic Wellcome I received from Dr Hilary Leevers

The Association for Science Education ASE Summer Conference 2013
Hertfordshire University, United Kingdom

What an ENTHUSEiastic Wellcome I received

 Hilary Leevers and David Joyce ASE Summer Conference 2013
Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust,
the UK’s largest medical research charity.
I was delighted to join in the debate with this interesting lady at one of the many inspiring MyScience Research Strand of the conference; it was a pleasure to meet Hilary and I look forward to having a meaningful collaborative working relationship with the Wellcome Trust.
What an intellectual and inspiring conference; congratulations ASE. By David Joyce
A Summary of the sessions I attended:
  • Different forms of CPD delivery and how to maximise their impact on science teaching and learning, Dawn Jones and Dr Alison Rivett, Science Learning Centres
  • What influences participation in science and mathematics? Evidence from the Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics Education,  Louise Archer, King’s College/TISME
  • Student assessment of Inquiry Learning, Chris Harrison, King’s College London
  • Institute of Physics PIPER Workshop, Dr Anne Bowker and Professor Justin Dillon, King’s College London
  • Classroom Assessment – exploring the teaching and learning and classroom environment to make formative assessment work, Chris Harrison, King’s College London and Sally Howard, University of Warwick
Programme – ASE Summer Celebration Conference 2013
Thursday 27 June
Friday 28 June 
0930 – 1000
  •  Welcome to the ASE Summer Celebration Conference 2013 ASE President, Lord Martin Rees
1000 – 1100
  • ITCH and ITCH ROCKS – Exploring Science in Children’s fiction and Book Signing Simon Mayo, BBC Radio Presenter and author
  • Pedagogical patterns: curriculum planning made simple, Tony Sherborne, Centre for Science Education, SHU
  • Supporting Scotland’s STEM Education and Culture, Stuart Farmer, Robert Gordon’s College
  • CLEAPSS session 1 Reduced and microscale chemistry, Bob Worley, CLEAPSS
  • Whose job was it to bring the sparklers to the party? Ed Walsh, Cornwall Learning
  • Using the outdoors: Let’s Go science trails Jeannette MorganAZSTT
1000 – 1230
  • How Schools are using action research on practical work, new technologies and research and development to improve student outcomes, Carol DavenportJulie JordanAlison Redmore, Matt Hamilton, David Struthers, Jules Gordon, Sarah Torrance, National Science Learning Centres
11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Break
1130 – 1230
1230 – 1330 Lunch
1330 – 1500
  • Science Education – The next ten years- The key challenges facing schools (What would you do if you were Secretary of State for Education?) Dale Bassett and Stella Paes, AQA
1330 – 1430
  • Teaching the science of the future, David Swinscoe The Royal Society
  • What do you need to move science forward in your school? Jeannette Morgan
  • Assessment in primary science – where next? Derek Bell, Campanula Consulting 
  • Medics in Science, Tom Warrender
  • CLEAPSS session 2 Practical Activities with radioactives, Ralph Whitcher, CLEAPSS
  • Working in partnership to enrich and enhance teacher professional development in STEM, Janice Griffiths,Roni Malek, Bryan Berry, Katie Ball Science Learning Centres 
1430 – 1530
  •  ‘I can explain!’ – developing children’s scientific literacy (KS1 and KS2), Ali Eley
  • Poppy and Daisy grow up, Caroline Galpin and Peter Sainsbury
  • Work scientifically and with industry ambassadors, Joy Parvin, CIEC Promoting Science 
  • Science and numeracy, Claire Seeley
  • Creating a website as a tool to support professional learning for teaching argumentation in science, Shirley Simon and Dr Paul Davies, IOE
1530 – 1600 Coffee Break
1600 – 1700
  • A coherent approach: accountability in science education, Hannah Baker,  the Wellcome Trust
  • Let’s get Mathematics in science sorted, Richard Needham, ASE and National Science Learning Centre
  • Dry ice workshop from WOW science, Sue Martin
  • Science week and beyond, Sarah Earle, Bath Spa University
  • Thinking on your feet: football and physics, Charles Tracy, Institute of Physics
  • Everyone loves a ladybird, Helen Roy, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, NERC
  • Input from local Teaching Schools and SLEs, Shazia Lydon, Challney High School for Boys and Jan Stevens, Parmiters School
0930 – 1030
1100 – 1200
  • The 80:20 divide, Lord Martin Rees and Professor Robin Millar, chaired by Annette Smith, CEO ASE
  • School science: challenging perceptions, Stuart Naylor, Millgate House Education
  • Primary science pop-up showcase, arranged by Steve Marshall, Barnet Local Authority
  • Biology in the Real World-Branching out: Am I an ape? Dr Jeremy Pritchard, University of Birmingham
  • Update from Ofsted, Brian CartwrightOfsted’s National Adviser for Science
  • What influences participation in science and mathematics? Evidence from the Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics Education,  Louise Archer, King’s College/TISME
  • Field network system: Using mobile and wireless technology to enhance the collection, collation and interpretation of field data, Trevor Collins, OU and David Morgan, Field Studies Council
12.00 – 13.30 Picnic Lunch and #ASEchat tweet-up
1330 – 1530
  • Primary science teacher awards, PSTT
1330 – 1445
  • Science Education – The next ten years-What do the policy makers think? Panel of guest speakers chaired by Warwick Mansell, Arranged by AQA
1330 – 1430
  • Linking Science, Art and Nature, Heather Gilbertson, SLC East of England
  • Biology in the Real World-Branching out: What can we learn from nature’s athletes? Dr Zoe Self
  • Partnerships in science teacher education, John Oversby ATSE
  • Student assessment of Inquiry Learning, Chris Harrison, King’s College London
  • Using mobile technology to teach science, Richard Needham, ASE and National Science Learning Centre
1430 – 1530
  • Institute of Physics PIPER Workshop, Dr Anne Bowker and Professor Justin Dillon, King’s College London
  • Primary science, Lynne Bianchi, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Biology in the Real World-Branching out: Bees’ feet, conical cells, genetics and natural selection, Katrina Alcorn
  • Learning science to change health-related attitudes and behaviour: research findings from the LifeLab programme, Marcus Grace, Southampton University and Holly Aiston
  • Improving science education: a view from the Department for Education Vanessa Pittard, DfE arranged by NAIGS
15.30 – 16.00 Coffee Break
1600 – 1700
  • York Science – embedding assessment to improve learning, Mary Whitehouse, University of York
  • Improving science in primary schools, Jane Turner, Primary Science Quality Mark and Kathy Schofield, AZSTT
  • Make the link, Mark Windale, Centre for Science Education, SHU
  • Resourcing school science project, Richard Needhamand Marianne Cutler, SCORE
  • Teaching schools and School Direct, ATSE
  • Outdoor Learning and Sustainability Education,  Margaret Fleming and Richard Dawson, arranged by NAIGS
  • Classroom Assessment – exploring the teaching and learning and classroom environment to make formative assessment work, Chris Harrison, King’s College London and Sally Howard, University of Warwick

List of CPD Twilight Sessions I will be offering remotely for educators on the move:

What will you be doing for your own CPD 2013-2014?

I will update this post when I confirm dates; I am keen to stream live the sessions and archive for reflective use. As always I will upload resources I use for the CPD sessions and please pass on; “Knowledge is useless unless it can be passed on.” by David Joyce

Academic year 2013-2014

  • Metacognition
  • Evidenced based pedagogy and learning
  • Co-operative learning
  • Personalising learning: Revision and Study Skills
  • Model learning: Graphic organisers
  • Action research: What is it? Why do it? How to do it?
  • Effective feedback: Embedding formative assessment
  • Self-belief and learning
  • Raising the Game: Learning from the students’ prospective
  • Leading change
  • Creativity, Group work and ICT
  • Generating success criteria
  • Problem-solving approaches
  • ‘BLOOMS is not fit for purpose in your classroom’ Using SOLO Taxonomy
  • Questioning
  • Pursing your goals: Becoming an outstanding teacher
  • Improving your team