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Welcome to the OTLA 8 Action Research Sharing and Celebration event! #OTLA

Please bookmark this page and use it to navigate the event during the day. As you arrive, please feel free to make yourself comfortable for the day. Have a look at the content on this page and read through the OTLA 8 Project Summaries to help you decide where you want to go during our three presentation + reflection sessions.

We’ll open the room at 9.15am for a Zoom orientation and to give you a chance to check your technology. If you’ve not used Zoom before, check out this video for computer access and this video for device access.

Before we make a start at 9.30am, why not say hi and chat and introduce yourself on our Padlet meet + greet board. Please also remember to put your ‘ID badge’ on by renaming yourself on Zoom with your correct name and organisation. If you need a member of the OTLA team at any point during the day, look for the folks with (CCC) after their name.

We invite you to settle down and be inspired by the action research that has been happening in English, ESOL and Essential Digital Skills (EDS) this past year!

Click the link below to join us in the main conference room any time, or use the meeting ID: 864 1005 5711

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Don’t forget to use the hashtag #OTLA

Made with Padlet

Welcome: Considering our Roots and Networks as Action Researchers

9.30 – 10am

in the main room

During our first live session together you’ll hear from Claire Collins and Vicky Butterby from the OTLA Team, and Jaya Varsani from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF). Claire will introduce our agenda for the day and ensure that you feel settled in and ready to participate. We’ll then hand over to Jaya, who will congratulate you on your hard work on the projects and share with you any fresh opportunities and resources available for you to access through the ETF. Vicky will then talk you through what has been happening to your project reports, including where they will be published and how you can access them.

Our focus will then turn to our first collaborative reflective activity, where we be using the metaphor of a forest floor to consider how engaging in FE-based action research can help us grow together as a community. We’ll explore how action research can help us to make connections, develop relationships or reinvigorate networks both within and beyond our organisations, and ask how we might nurture and sustain the communities of practice we create through our work.

The importance of establising a community of practice

“A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods.”

~ Tim Flannery

 

 

Presentation + Reflection #1

10.05 – 11.20am

Choose one room to attend from the list below. You’ll get the opportunity to watch up to 3 presentations with some time for questions, too. Before returning to the agenda, you’ll also have some time in breakout rooms to explore your freshest thinking and collate your live golden nuggets using Menti.

Click the room names below for Zoom links, mentor names and details of the presentations.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86825971131

Meeting ID: 868 2597 1131

Mentor: Helen

  • The Weekly Read – City of Liverpool College. This project was designed to encourage learners to read a wider range of non-fiction texts outside of the classroom and to view English not so much as a barrier, but as a gateway to vocational achievement.
  • Thinking Aloud – South Essex College of Further and Higher Education. This project focused on how we could continue to promote a culture of inclusivity by supporting practitioners in learning more about neurodiversity with a view to generating a resource that would enhance learners’ reading skills.
  • Enhancing two-way feedback – York Learning – City of York Council. This project aimed to investigate how we could enable better two-way feedback with learners, drawing on digital tools that could be used in both remote and face-to-face teaching.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87974542736

Meeting ID: 879 7454 2736

Mentor: Catriona

  • Words and pictures: creative approaches to cross-curricular literacy – Leeds College of Building. This project set out to explore ways of encouraging reading for pleasure, with the ultimate aim of improving our students’ reading skills, overall literacy and cultural capital. Recent research has suggested that reading for pleasure has massive potential for developing literacy skills and ultimately social mobility (Cremin, 2019; Shanahan, 2019; Wilhelm, 2017). We discovered that there was enthusiasm from staff and students for one-to-one support and creative approaches to reading promotion.
  • How to create a ‘fast track’ L2 FS English curriculum model, with positive impact on attendance and achievement rates – North Lincolnshire Adult Education and Community Learning. This project allowed our service to evaluate and revise the way that we design and deliver our English Functional Skills, Level 2 curriculum. We are now able to successfully provide a condensed, intensive, and fast track English curriculum for individual learners who can complete the full Level 2 qualification in a total of 17 weeks.
  • Freewriting: a Key to Unlocking Our GCSE English Resit Learners – Preston College. This project explored breaking down barriers to writing and empowering learners to explore and trust their own thoughts and ideas. By responding to prompts, learners soon produced creative stories with relative ease, and some were able to write stories that meet the requirement for GCSE grade 5 and above.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86336628682

Meeting ID: 863 3662 8682

Mentor: Catherine M

  • Target setting to improve learning – Capel Manor College. This project highlighted the importance of keeping a focus on the student. Engagement and independent learning are increased through the personalisation of work and an interest in each learner as an individual. A constant focus on target setting can show students where they need to improve and allow them to stretch and challenge themselves but it is not the only effective method of increasing either engagement or achievement.
  • Development of IT skills within the ESOL classroom – Darlington College. This project centred on developing IT skills among low-level ESOL students enabling them to access aspects of IT to enhance their learning.
  • Developing High Level Vocabulary – Reaseheath College. The project intended to extend learners’ vocabulary enabling them to achieve in both English and their main subject area. Learners were introduced to high-value vocabulary with a range of strategies being used to aid their understanding and confidence in using the new vocabulary. English and vocational teachers worked together to reinforce and embed learning.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81138686655

Meeting ID: 811 3868 6655

Mentor: Cathy

  • Improving writing for ESOL students stuck at Entry Level 3 – New College Durham. This project aimed to help students who were having difficulty progressing from Entry Level 3 (E3) to Level 1 (L1) due to weaker writing skills. We trialled different strategies to develop writing and liaised with Functional Skills (FS) tutors. We learnt having an intense focus on writing skills benefits overall language learning and confidence.
  • Introducing participatory ESOL approaches into volunteer-led, informal ESOL settings – SAVTE. This project aimed to combine an understanding of adult learning theory with the use of participatory tools and techniques in community based English conversation groups, run by SAVTE Language Volunteers. The project aimed to identify an effective approach for the introduction of participatory approaches in informal, volunteer-led ESOL settings.
  • Can ESOL pedagogy be applied to GCSE and Functional Skills delivery to develop responsive teaching and learning? – Buckinghamshire College Group. This project aimed to utilise ESOL teaching methodologies, learning techniques and strategies to develop and enhance Functional Skills and GCSE English delivery to Study Programme and Apprenticeship students.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82161437801

Meeting ID: 821 6143 7801

Mentor: Catherine G

  • Supporting learners to develop their knowledge of digital terminology – Barnsley Adult Skills and Community Learning. This project developed teaching and learning strategies and resources to support Entry Level 3 digital learners to develop their knowledge and understanding of digital terminology, as this was proving to be a barrier in embedding this knowledge into their long-term memory.
  • Peer to Peer Fusion Skills Project – Haringey Adult Learning Service. This project investigated how a range of foundational skills can be supported and embedded in the development of essential digital skills through an informal learning approach.
  • Bridging the Gap – Westminster Adult Education Service. This project actively engaged learners with diverse needs and disabilities to access components of the Essential Digital Skills (EDS) qualification by simplifying them into bitesize tasks. Key to the success was the collaboration of EDS tutors with Diversity and Inclusion tutors who together reviewed and redesigned existing materials to better suit the needs of these learners.
Let's take a break

Why action research matters and what it can achieve: Professor Jean Mcniff

11.35 – 11.55am

in the main room

In this session, Jean McNiff presents ideas about how people around the world have benefited from using an action research approach in their work. She speaks about her own work across the years with medical staffs in Cambodia, and education staffs in the Gulf States, China, Iceland, America, Scandinavia and elsewhere. She brings it home to her work in Ireland and the UK, where she has supported community-based projects as well as supervised masters and PhD action research programmes for educators across the professions.

If you have time before the event, or are generally interested in exploring further; you might like to check out some of these related articles.

Action Research as a non-competitive space for developing and sharing practice

“When trees grow together, nutrients and water can be optimally divided among them all so that each tree can grow into the best tree it can be. If you “help” individual trees by getting rid of their supposed competition, the remaining trees are bereft.”

~ Peter Wohlleben

 

 

Presentation + Reflection #2

12noon – 1.15pm

Choose one room to attend from the list below. You’ll get the opportunity to watch up to 3 presentations with some time for questions, too. Before returning to the agenda, you’ll also have some time in breakout rooms to explore your freshest thinking and collate your live golden nuggets using Menti.

Click the room names below for Zoom links, mentor names and details of the presentations.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86825971131

Meeting ID: 868 2597 1131

Mentor: Lynne

  • Using simulations to build essential digital skills in prison learning – NOVUS. This project evaluates the use of simulations to support learners in developing digital skills in practical contexts previously excluded in prisons, for example performing online transactions, accessing social media. It also considers how prisoners with digital design skills can be involved as ‘learner-designers’ in the production of simulation prototypes.
  • English and digital tools in the prison classroom – NOVUS. This project explored how to improve the embedding of digital tools within English sessions across Novus’ provision. The project set out to research, design, and deliver a bespoke training offer for teachers of English across prisons in the West Midlands.
  • Supporting vocational trainers in prisons to embed EDS in their courses – NOVUS. This project investigated the barriers preventing vocational trainers from embedding digital skills in their course delivery. By creating a bespoke training package with vocationally contextualised resources, these barriers have been reduced and colleagues are better prepared, and more confident to support their own learners with the development of digital skills and awareness.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87974542736

Meeting ID: 879 7454 2736

Mentor: Dianne

  • Developing Resilience through Prose Writing – Hull College. This project aimed to consciously develop student resilience through the presentation and writing of prose in the GCSE English curriculum. We specifically focused on resilience as a curriculum theme and measured the impact of this on the learners.   Would developing the concept of resilience in the curriculum promote resilient thinking?
  • Improving writing through teaching grammar and style within the context of authentic texts – Leicester College. This project aimed to move away from the traditional pattern of teaching writing. It focused on supporting learners to use studied texts as a starting point for discussing their writing choices. Learning was scaffolded to evaluate and develop specific parts of learners’ writing. There was progress in the phrasing and structure of learners’ writing, as well as improvement in their confidence in these skills.
  • Mindset Over Mastery – Lincoln College. This project set out to investigate the effect of mindfulness activities on learner mindset and confidence. How important is the ability to remain calm and focused when writing compared to knowledge and skills? Which matters most – mindset or mastery?

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86336628682

Meeting ID: 863 3662 8682

Mentor: Lesley

  • Student-led strategies to motivate and engage lower-level GCSE English students – Chesterfield College. This project aims to create strategies to motivate and engage lower-level English students. Through a process of ‘testing’ different practices and resources, we are learning that there are several factors that contribute to motivation and engagement. These include giving students autonomy on how activities are carried out, who leads the participation, and who takes responsibility for the completion of the activities.
  • Tools for teaching (and how to spell them) – exploring English in vocational contexts – NOVUS. This project captured a range of reflections on the experience of teaching and learning English in the context of vocational training in prisons. It challenged tutors’ assumptions about learners and led to clearer insights into and development of support for the needs of learners.
  • Unlocking potential in English – Strathmore College. This project looked at how to support learners, who have become disengaged with English, to re-engage with their core literacy skills. “I can envisage a time when I will read for pleasure” – English Learner.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81138686655

Meeting ID: 811 3868 6655

Mentor: Chloë

  • ‘Teaching nuggets’: go-to resources for supporting ESOL and low-level literacy learners with digital skills – ACL Essex. This was a project to exemplify cross curricular collaboration between IT, English and ESOL colleagues in the creation of fun, easy to use resources that promote good digital skills and literacy teaching practice. These resources were intended to be complete and ready to deliver in any classroom.
  • Can language learning apps enhance the classroom experience for ESOL learners? – City of Bristol College. This project aimed to explore a digital language learning package to support ESOL learners in the city of Bristol. The digital tool decided on was FlashAcademy. The project team sought to gain honest, accurate feedback from their learners as to their experiences using the digital learning package, in addition to feedback from teachers on their impact. The project explored how to use the tools in and outside of the classroom in a blended learning format and through asynchronous activities. The project culminated in an event bringing all the project participants together: the managers, the teachers and the learners.
  • Supporting the Essential Digital Skills of ESOL and low-level English students – Islington Community Learning. This project road-tested a powerful, in-house PowerPoint resource aimed at supporting ESOL and lower-level English learners to develop their knowledge and confidence in the application of Essential Digital Skills (EDS). Students reportedly enjoyed being able to use these new skills in their learning, their everyday lives and even to submit better quality homework. A rewarding by-product of the project was that colleagues developed new approaches in their teaching and acquired and shared new digital skills of their own into the bargain.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82161437801

Meeting ID: 821 6143 7801

Mentor: Sheran

  • Using digital readers to engage and build confidence in reading  – Blackburn College. This project wanted to investigate how Microsoft Immersive Reader (IR) could be used to build reading confidence and help learners access more difficult texts. We began by exploring possibilities for classroom use and then moved on to explore its use with the help of Additional Learning Support (ALS) staff.
  • Targeting support for ESOL learners on vocational programmes – Boston College. This project was set up to evaluate the impact of a small-scale intervention designed to support non-native English speakers who were struggling to take full advantage of their vocational courses. We set up extra classes to focus on helping learners to develop the reading and writing skills needed to tackle their English, maths and vocational courses with more confidence. We intend to disseminate the most effective strategies to all curriculum areas to improve cross-college teaching of non-native English speakers.
  • Supporting learner ownership and the formulation of authentic goals – ELATT. With the launch of online Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) at ELATT, our aim was to ensure that learners and tutors had the tools and support they needed to formulate goals and to see value in the process.
Let's take a break

Action Research as a social practice; growing compassionate relationships

“Nevertheless, I have learned from this just how powerful a community of trees can be. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Trees could have come up with this old craftsperson’s saying. And because they know this intuitively, they do not hesitate to help each other out.”

~ Peter Wohlleben

 

 

Presentation + Reflection #3

2 – 3.15pm

Choose one room to attend from the list below. You’ll get the opportunity to watch up to 3 presentations with some time for questions, too. Before returning to the agenda, you’ll also have some time in breakout rooms to explore your freshest thinking and collate your live golden nuggets using Menti.

Click the room names below for Zoom links, mentor names and details of the presentations.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86825971131

Meeting ID: 868 2597 1131

Mentor: Sue S

  • Read More – Write Better: walking in a writer’s shoes and understanding perspective. – Macclesfield College. This project explored strategies to create classroom routines which encourage students’ engagement with and their reading of non-fiction texts. Students’ lack of reading experience is the elephant in the resit FE classroom. It quietly looms its head in all lessons – but what can we do about it? We focused on getting students to read more, to choose their reading material and to embed regular reading into every class. We found that embedding a reading routine into our lessons had a positive effect on our learners – helping lower their anxiety over reading non-fiction texts.
  • Thinking Folks – Newcastle City Learning. This project introduced Socratic dialogues as a pedagogical construct for ESOL tutors to use to develop their critical thinking skills by drawing on the lived experiences of BAME learners. The resulting conversations were soon described as ‘real’ talk by learners, which, in a process that not only developed the authentic use of English language, also enabled them to recognise the common bonds that make us all human. The project led to a curriculum rethink and a commitment to dedicating one day a week to participatory ESOL learning activities.
  • Arresting the digital tundra- a study in adult digital skills evolution – Northampton College. This project focuses on adults returning to study a digital curriculum; a new learning ‘space’, the Essential Digital Skills qualification (EDQS) where achievement depends on success in a digital examination. Our job is to navigate through the wasteland of adults’ negative experiences of education past (but not forgotten) and to inspire digital courage, confidence to experiment, and competence to master new skills. We found that spending time discussing learning at the outset, led to learners increasing their confidence in learning and taking risks, and improving retention.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87974542736

Meeting ID: 879 7454 2736

Mentor: Kirsty

  • Exploring digital approaches to reading and writing – Burton and South Derbyshire College. This project aimed to investigate the validity of new digital approaches deployed in the Learning Resource Centre (LRC), focusing on enhancing digital reading and writing development.
  • Developing reading in 16-18 year olds – College of West Anglia. This project focused on a small cohort of technology learners and explored their reading ability as well as their attitudes towards reading, with the aim of having a positive influence on both. We aimed to bridge the gap between vocational areas and the English department to normalise reading. We trialled a range of strategies and found that ‘Echo reading’ (Didau, 2021) and the use of an anthology of texts in GCSE English lessons, in particular, had a positive influence on learners’ reading habits.
  • Developing reading for pleasure – Suffolk New College. This project sought to address the negative feelings that some of our students have about reading. We wanted to nurture a love of reading and ‘reading for pleasure’ throughout our college by introducing a student book club. We found that the book club inspired a love of reading as well as improving students’ confidence and establishing new friendships.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81138686655

Meeting ID: 811 3868 6655

Mentor: Emily

  • Supporting second language learners in vocational courses – The Oldham College. This project brought vocational and ESOL tutors together to collaborate on embedding language learning in vocational programmes. Through regular consultation with learners, we developed responsive strategies and helped learners use vocational vocabulary more confidently. We have identified digital and spoken skills as our next areas for development.
  • Flipgrid for ESOL language development – Hopwood Hall. This project utilised the video discussion platform Flipgrid to empower and develop ESOL learners’ language development in speaking and listening. The aim was to enhance learners’ confidence in communication and digital skills. Flipgrid was found to be an effective way to do this.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82161437801

Meeting ID: 821 6143 7801

Mentor: Sonia

  • Improving feedback for assessments – Basingstoke College of Technology. This project aimed to explore whether feedback could be improved for GCSE and ESOL written tasks using a software extension called Mote. We predominantly chose a cohort of 16-19 year old GCSE resit learners for the GCSE research group. The ESOL group was a cohort of adults completing an ESOL Entry Level 2 Skills for Life qualification.
  • Task-Based Learning – City Lit. This project asked how task-based learning (TBL) might affect an immersive, productive and motivating experience for learners and promote the most in-demand common work skills such as problem-solving, collaborating and analysing. What is task-based learning and how does it differ across hearing and Deaf learning, ESOL and English, higher and lower-levels? Would task-based targets prove meaningful for learners and tutors alike and improve their involvement in recording and recognising progress and achievement in non-accredited courses (RARPA)?
  • Motivating Learners with Creative Writing – Myerscough College. This project was designed to motivate learners at our land-based FE college to have an enjoyment of English through using creative writing. Through a series of activities, workshops and competitions, learners were enthused into the subject.

Plenary: Creating the Canopy

3.20 – 4pm

in the main room

Our final session together on the OTLA 8 programme will be an opportunity to consider where we want to take our research next. Andy Convery will be discussing next steps and future opportunities for talking about your research. Some people like to shout loud and proud about what they’ve been discovering, whereas others prefer to find quieter outlets to share their work. In action research, all forms of communication are embraced, and we welcome you to share your work in ways that feel right for you.

We’ll finish the day with a final reflective activity, as we move up from the forest floor to the canopy. Here we will celebrate the richness that our fresh crop of action research has brought us, as we bring together our hopes, plans and share our future curiosities in a bid to further improve our teaching, learning and assessment practices for our next cohort of learners.

Action research as an curiosity igniter: There is joy in not knowing it all!

“Perhaps we are poorer for having lost a possible explanation or richer for having gained a mystery.”

~ Peter Wohlleben

 

 

Made with Padlet

Today’s Reflections

After today’s event, you will be able to access all the freshest thinking from each ‘tree’ room. To enlarge each set of Mentimeter slides, hover your cursor to the bottom left of the slide and click on the full screen button (two arrows facing away from one another).

Oak Tree Room

Horse Chestnut Room

Sycamore Room

Beech Room

Ash Room

Delivered by CCC on behalf of