Using Dedicated Independent Reflection Time (DIRT) to help students make progress in practical work

This year I’ve looked again at the use of Dedicated Indepednent Reflection Time in my teaching. My first conclusion is that is it still vital, perhaps more so, but the way in which I was applying it was beginning to dismantle and fail. Perhaps too many elements or not a clear enough system that meant things got forgotten. Here is my last post from 2015 on how I was using DIRT in Drama and from where this new version has evolved from.

DIRT is to practical work what Fix-It time is to written work. However, the trouble with practical work though is that, unlike written work, it doesn’t have an tangible outcome. Practical work exists for the moment and once it is over it is gone. Fix It time in written work is a moment when students engage with reflection, make changes to their work and develop their understanding by reviewing feedback. All of that is visible because it happens to an existing piece of written work through annotations and notes. As practical work is not tangible, we need to find a tangible way of at process so it represents the same thing as Fix It time.

So I have refined and streamlined the process to share it with you.

The process now runs over a three lesson cycle. I have 1 double practical lesson with my GCSE students once a week, so my three lesson cycle runs over three weeks.

The cycle works like this:

  • Stage 1: Students work in groups, creating material and rehearse.
  • Stage 2: Students share their performance work so far, receiving peer feedback via a pro format which is stuck into their books (post-it note feedback has gone I’m afraid). Their sharing is also marked teacher with detailed feedback for the students.
  • Stage 3: Students review their peer and teacher feedback, along side their own self assessment, using the new DIRT sheet.
  • Stage 4: Students review their DIRT sheet and continue to work.

slide1The DIRT sheet looks very different from the last version but takes the important element and provides excellent evidence of progress over time in practical work.

Students begin by populating three boxes with feedback from peers, from the teacher and from their own period of self assessment. To help them I provide the students with a student friendly assessment criteria that covers the kind of movement and voice key terms one would expect students to be using at different levels and how they would be employing them.

From that, students draw out three priorities to set as targets and work toward until the next sharing.

Priority one being the most common piece of feedback between their own self assessment, the peer assessment and the teacher assessment. Priority two and three following on from that premise.

Common targets I’ve seen range from things like complete more research to help understand your character to change your tone of voice when angry.

For the duration of the rehearsals until the next sharing students use this document to track their progress, to set targets and to guide their learning. The time between each sharing is quite short so the targets become quite focused and easily tracked. In that respect, the completion of each target should early have an impact on the students grade.

I’ve attached the peer-assessment-sheets that I use, as well as the new-dirt-sheet itself and for my assessment I use print outs of the assessment criteria from the syllabus and the old fashioned method of taking written notes as they perform!


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