At Rivers, we like to create learning continuums to help make learning more visible. A learning continuum is a visual representation in the classroom, listing the learning intentions for the topic or genre being explored. For example, in literacy it may be information texts, or in numeracy it may be multiplication and division.
By Jenny Beket, Year 5 Teacher & Curriculum Leader at Rivers International School Arnhem
Visible learning is important for teachers in order to gauge whether or not they are having an impact on student learning. It encourages pupils to become their own teachers, as well as allowing moments for teachers to assess the learning in an informative way throughout the learning process. By making the learning intentions explicit for the children, they have ownership over this learning process. We generate learning intentions based on the curriculum and scheme we are following, and incorporate Rivers skills along the way. These intentions are stuck onto the wall, in order of difficulty. They are also shared with the children in the form of a table printed on a piece of paper or google doc.
The Learning Journey
At the start of the topic or genre, children self assess where they think they are in terms of each of the learning intentions. They colour in the boxes on the table using a colour coded system (red, orange, green and blue). The teachers also use pre-assessments and benchmark tests to see for themselves where the child is at. This way, both teachers and pupils have ownership over the learning process.
Children will sit with the teacher and choose 3 of these learning intentions to focus on. The other learning intentions are also explored, but these 3 will get extra attention. Each time they perfect one of these skills/ learning intentions, they remove it and stick it onto a star chart, and replace it with a new target. This process continues throughout the topic or genre.
Meeting the needs of every child
The continuum is not restrictive. If a learning intention can be extended in a ´sideways manner´ we do so. This involves dipping into similar learning intentions from the year group below (the child needs support) or the year group above (the child needs extension). That way, children are constantly being monitored and catered to in terms of ´where they are at´ in their learning journey in this subject. They are not confined to the learning intentions of a year group, hence the term stages not ages.
At the end of the topic, the learning intentions are re-assessed to look for progress, but formative assessment is ongoing throughout, during day to day lessons and interventions.
This is how we use learning continuums in Year 5 and we enjoy seeing the children taking ownership over their learning.