How our science department improved learners’ understanding of core concepts
Claire Crichton-Allen, Curriculum Lead for Science at Matthew Moss High School in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, explains how and why the app Tassomai can help secure pupils’ knowledge of the basics…
The impact of using Tassomai
At Matthew Moss, we take a humanistic approach to education, which makes us slightly different from comparable high schools. However, exam results are still very important to us. After all, exam results are not just a benchmark for the performance of our school and our staff, but an important stepping stone for the future of our learners.
One of the recent focuses of our Science department was to increase our learners’ ability to apply the core concepts we teach them to different settings and in unfamiliar contexts. We wouldn’t want to just drill the material into them as though we were an exam factory.
This is especially important in the run-up to the exams when we focus on developing those all important skills of application and evaluation. The recent changes to GCSEs make developing that application of content to unfamiliar situations all the more important.
We’d heard good things about Tassomai and we decided to give it a try - but by the time we had rolled it out, it was just before the Christmas break. I realised the sooner we got everyone on board, the better. It became my personal mission to bombard learners with reminders, to the point where I was even emailing people on Christmas Day!
We created a leaderboard and our message was "come back after Christmas and be on this leaderboard!" We got parents involved and convinced everyone how important it was to compete. Basically, I think learners realised they'd be nagged to death if they didn't engage with it!
Our 2018 results were magnificent, the best GCSE science grades the school had seen. Over 7% of our learners got the highest possible grade and over half of the cohort were above 55.
Science Faculty Headlines: Results 2018
Average grade = 55-
Average grade points = 4.83
Average residual = +0.43
How and why the Saturday revision clubs got started, and their impact
We open the school for a morning session, called D6, on a Saturday. It is really well attended. Learners from all years can come in for free and get extra revision and tuition for the morning. The twist is that our ‘tutors’ are not professional tutors, but sixth-form college students who choose to do this for a bit of extra pocket money, rather than opt for a traditional weekend job - and the school pays them.
We leapt on Tassomai as a means of making D6 viable and more impactful for those learners wanting to focus on science revision: our learners get most errors or misconceptions ironed out through the program’s daily practice and correction algorithms. Through Tassomai, we have a detailed report of exactly where the persistent problems lie. In D6, learners show their 'peer-tutors' their Tassomai data insights so they can get instant tutor lesson planning on the fly; the ‘tutors’ can be really effective and focused, even though they don’t have a teacher’s expertise in discovering and diagnosing the gaps.
The benefits for all pupils – from all starting points
Tassomai is great because it is so adaptable and works across the entire classroom. One of the first times we realised the impact Tassomai was making was with individual learners. A colleague of ours often talks about a particular student who simply wasn’t engaging with the material. Just to put it into context, before implementing Tassomai, this student was achieving a grade 3 and a grade 4. After introducing Tassomai he got a grade 8 and a grade 7, and we truly believe that Tassomai contributed to this success. Prior to that, the student was of the opinion he would never get an 8 in Science. After finding out about the results, he came running to my colleague shouting: “Miss! Tassomai works!”
The benefits for teachers and SLT in terms of planning and assessment
Without Tassomai, we’d still be at risk of suddenly realising very far down the line that basic core concepts have not been internalised and cannot be applied. With Tassomai, we minimise the risk of finding ourselves in a situation where we have to take the whole group back to square one a few weeks ahead of the exams.
As teachers, Tassomai gives us the opportunity to receive real-time feedback on the progress of students, identifying their individual strengths and weaknesses. This establishes a stronger sense of control, and you always know exactly where each student is at with their revision. The option for parents to access the tool is amazing as well because it encourages students, teachers and parents to work collaboratively to achieve the best results.
Finally, as teachers we are under ever-increasing pressure to collect a vast amount of data for our assessments. This is why it’s great that Tassomai provides teachers and managers with the most granular data about individual students, as well as insights into performance across classes and departments, supporting exam preparation, marking and regulatory audits. The teacher portal significantly lowers the marking and administrative workload for us teachers, giving us more time to focus on direct interaction with students.
If you will, this tech innovation is a great way to ‘take the robot’ out of teaching.
For more information on the Tassomai app, click here.