As a coach, I regularly use the simple tool of scaling with colleagues. After using it in one to one meetings with students, I wondered if its efficacy would be relevant in the classroom. This blog is intended to share that learning, seek feedback and warm the brain up as the summer concludes!
10 being the up most, I asked students to scale things like effort during an activity. Then we would discuss how they could boost that effort. This involved setting small goals like writing a paragraph before a certain time, writing more neatly or referring back to the their notes if they were stuck. It was important that we made the ways to move up the scale explicit and achievable and that students had choice. As we used the tool more, students who had scaled themselves 8, 9 or 10 would share what was going well for them. These mini goals were recorded and students would continue working. After sometime, we would revisit our scaling sheets and do it again. I would invite students to share if they wished. Sometimes there would be a notable change in the energy in the classroom after this opportunity for reflection. Scaling as a tool requires honesty and the students were incredibly open with and to the process. These scaling intervals would range in the amount of time they required, 2 minutes to maybe 8 depending on discussion time and familiarity. With reluctant learners or those lacking confidence, I often had one to one conversations which began with questioning what had made them choose 3 instead of 1 or 0.
In the never ending quest to improve the quality of group work in my classroom, I developed the BLISS scaling sheet. When introducing this resource to a class, a ‘think, pair, share’ activity makes it real with questions like:
- If a group is being supportive, what would you see?
- How would you know if a group is sharing ideas?
- What would you hear and see if students are listening to each other?
- If a group was failing to be independent, what would you see?
The BLISS scaling tool is ineffective if these more abstract attributes are not broken down into behaviours students can recognise. During the group activity, I would clap my hands and this would invite the groups to reflect. This can be followed by a class discussion using questions like:
- Who has felt their group is being very independent?
- How do they know and what made it happen?’.
Alternatively, I might sit with a particular group and discuss their reflections and assist in goal setting if required. You can ask students to note timings for each scale and the same sheet can be used over a series of lessons to track how well the group has worked.
Making it easy: less preparation time and more impact.
I still use the BLISS sheet, but I realised that students can draw their own scales very quickly and it serves as a record in their exercise books and is evidenced beside the work that is its context. I don’t plan what we will scale as that depends what is happening so it might be resilience, independence, concentration or I might invite students to choose.
The key to using scaling is to ensure that students are familiar with the language and know how it translates into behaviours in order to avoid meaningless targets like, ‘be more independent’. It is essential to return to the scale as the mini goals students have set themselves will be worthless and won’t result in a behavioural change without an opportunity to reflect on progress.