Implementation of Knowledge Organisers in Year 8 English lessons
Description of the innovation
As the GCSE examinations in English have moved to a linear set-up, pupils need to rely significantly on memory. They need thorough and in-depth knowledge of the texts they study, including contextual information and subject terminology, as well as the knowledge of the skills they need in order to succeed. I believe that these knowledge and skills can be built upon effectively in Key Stage 3. I wanted to conduct a research project to see if use of Knowledge Organisers (KO) and regular quizzing could improve pupils’ knowledge and therefore improve their assessment scores. The expectations were as follows:
• Pupils would be given a KO at the beginning of the unit which would categorise all the knowledge that pupils would need over the course of that unit.
• Each lesson would begin with a five-question knowledge recap pertinent to the ensuing lesson.
• Pupils would be encouraged to refer to the KO during lesson time to reinforce missing knowledge.
• Weekly 10-question quizzes would test pupils on a specific knowledge category.
• Homework would consist of quiz revision and completion of activities taken from the KO.
My research question was as follows:
What impact does the use of Knowledge Organisers and regular testing in English, used over one unit of work (six weeks), have on the written skills of Year 8 pupils compared to similar pupils who did not use them?
Summary of the evaluation
The school: The project took place in a mixed, comprehensive school in Brent, North West London. Among the 1,600 pupils enrolled, there is a large mixture of ethnic backgrounds and one in three pupils speak English as a second language or are bilingual.
The pupils: 173 pupils across six Year 8 English classes (age 12–13). All classes are mixed ability.
The measures: All pupils completed a pre-project and post-project writing test to determine levels of progress.
Summary of findings
As a whole, pupils who took part in the innovation made less progress than those who did not. Having said this, elements of the lesson design were popular with pupils and teachers alike.