Automatisation: You can tell they’ve learnt a thing when you don’t put it in the success criteria, and they do it anyway.

As the year draws to a close I’ve been thinking about my current students, where their work’s improved, and where it hasn’t.  One of the main things that they have made proper progress on is incorporating explicitly-taught vocabulary into their writing.  When I look at their work, even when I haven’t put ‘vocab’ as part of the success criteria, they have used the words I have taught them.  I get sentences from year eights who confuse ‘was’ and ‘were’, and write whole paragraphs without full stops, saying things like, ‘My first lesson was maths; I abhor maths’ and ‘I didn’t talk to him as he was obviously vexed’.  They even use the vocab outside the classroom: during an RE talk, one of the students was asked how they’d feel if someone insulted their religion.  They said, ‘morose’.  I dare to hope the vocabulary has entered their long term memory and become automatised.


I don’t feel like I need to explain what I have done, as all I have done is copy what’s written here.  I have tweaked the method a bit: the slide below is the way I test students at the start of the lesson.  Apart from that though, I have basically stuck to Jo’s blog, and taught the vocab I have found from googling things like ‘impressive vocabulary’.

So the words appears to have ‘gone in’, which is all well and good, but there are loads of other things that haven’t: varying sentence length and structure, use of language devices, variety of punctuation.  Why has the vocabulary been learned so much better than anything else?  On reflection, I think it’s probably a result of doing it every single week and every single day; they’ve been given way more time to practice using the vocab than they have any other thing I’ve taught them.  So, for next year, I’m going to: make my quizzes at the start of the lesson longer, so every day they practice a few key things and spend less time teaching new things until everything we’ve covered has become properly automatised into their writing.

Screenshot 2017-06-01 at 15.13.53.png





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