“For homework, it’s a brilliant tool which has then spilled out into the classroom. I started using it as a homework device and now it has spread out like wildfire into the whole area.”
– Stuart Cousins, Deputy Headteacher
We spoke to Stuart Cousins, Deputy Head at All Saints Catholic College in Huddersfield, about how he uses Doddle to tailor and support his teaching in the classroom. From encouraging independent learning in year 7 to offering his students targeted, personalised support based on feedback from Doddle homeworks, he told us about the ways he uses Doddle.
Doddle – not just for homework
A big issue Stuart faces at All Saints is making the most out of the homework he sets – for students and staff. “It’s about turning around homework for the staff, having relevant homework, and having something that gives you a quantifiable assessment that’s separate to the standard lesson follow-up ‘...and for homework finish this off.’”
That’s where Doddle comes in: Stuart sets his geography classes presentations on Doddle to introduce a topic, and then covers that area in their next lesson. Sounds like the flipped classroom! And his students have really taken to it:
“We did 4- and 6-figure grid references and I let them prepare before the lesson, and one girl turned up with a step-by-step guide based on what she’d read on Doddle. Another boy used that and ended up doing twenty minutes of the lesson, inviting about half a dozen others up to the board like I would in a kind of team-teach environment. Then from that they wrote their own ‘mapskills revision guide' for their own revision, using Doddle presentations.
Suddenly, a lesson that’s normally quite mechanical became very interactive; the youngsters were in charge, I was making sure they weren’t making mistakes. We didn’t talk about the idea of ‘along the corridor up the stairs’, because they’d read about it and could tell me about it already.”
Sounds brilliant! But how do Stuart’s students feel about their new role in the classroom?
“The kids love being the fountain of knowledge. When that child walks in saying, ‘Look what I’ve done’ – 2 sides of A4 paper with detailed notes on what I’d asked her to read, you think, ‘This is engagement, this is focus, this is accessing the curriculum as it should be, this is outstanding practice.’ Before they’ve even walked through the door they’ve progressed.”
Empowering teachers and students
As well as tightening up the link between work done at home and in the classroom, Doddle helps Stuart use his teaching time more effectively and increase his students’ awareness of their learning levels.
In his Doddle markbook, Stuart sees the results from homeworks across his class broken down by question, so he can tailor his lessons accordingly and offer targeted support early on.
“I’ve looked at the results that have come through and on one section they were clearly very confused. There were 5 students who were seriously struggling; it made it so clear. I could see what the issues were, and I could focus my efforts on supporting them – they said they keep getting this wrong. I said, ‘Yes I can see that; what do you think the solution is?’ And together we worked through to a positive outcome and building their self-confidence and geographical knowledge.”
In addition, the formative homework quizzes in Doddle provide instant feedback when students get an answer wrong, so Stuart’s students can take control of their own learning, self-assess, learn and move forward.
“The youngsters are talking about where their level is and what they’ve understood, what they’ve struggled with and whether they’ve now got an understanding of it. I would imagine that their test results and understanding would be far higher than those who’ve done it the more traditional way.
I can say, ‘Right, and where did you slip up?’ They’ll be able to tell me, ‘I slipped up on the maths ones but I know what I did wrong; this is what I did wrong.’ So I’m now having a dialogue about their assessment rather than spending time marking it, and can focus on preparing activities that can accelerate learning and consequently their progress.”
With Doddle, Stuart can make more informed teaching decisions to get the most out of the contact time he has with his class – all based on the dialogue he has with his students and the results in his Doddle markbook.
“You can become far more diagnostic in the way you administer your lessons, so the homework has a direct impact on what you do in the lessons. In one lesson I abandoned what I was doing and said, there’s no point going any further here, we need to go back a step. But then we shot off and did other topics far quicker, so the pace of learning is faster with Doddle and Ofsted are very, very conscious of that. Pace is as important as progress, and if you haven’t got either progress or pace then you aren’t going to get good or outstanding in your lessons.
With Doddle, what I like is the tracking, assessment, flexibility and freedom it’s given me to track progress more effectively as well as delivering lessons Ofsted can grade as good and outstanding."