SHINE and LbQ making a difference in North East classrooms

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In a classroom filled with children of varying abilities it can be tricky for teaching staff to keep track of who’s struggling.

What if students could be instantly told if their answer is correct and offered guidance if it’s not? And what if their teacher had a live progress report on every child in the class?

In a nutshell, this is what Learning by Questions (LbQ) can offer, through a bank of question sets accessed through a tablet computer app.

SHINE is working with LbQ to bring this innovative teaching resource into the classrooms of 50 North East schools.

We visited one, Lanchester EP Primary School, to find out what pupils and teachers think of the new teaching method.

SHINE and LbQ

Learning by Questions is an award-winning tablet computer app, containing thousands of questions written to fit into the school curriculum. The app marks students as they go, giving immediate feedback and allowing teachers to keep track of the whole class and pinpoint any areas of weakness. Children get the chance to have another go at a question if they get it wrong, with tips and advice to help them on the way.
SHINE has teamed up with LbQ to bring the app into the classrooms of 50 schools in the North East.
Those schools will have two teachers equipped with a set of 32 tablet computers, plus a three-year LbQ teacher subscription with access to question sets across all years and subjects. They also receive training and software support.
To find out more about the project, click the link below.

Click here to visit the LbQ website for more information
A pupil at Lanchester using LbQ

Some may frown at the idea of children using tablets rather than paper in a classroom but watching the children of Lanchester EP Primary School taking part in an LbQ lesson, it is striking how energised the room feels.

It is as though the lesson that has been super-charged, with the children able to progress at a faster rate than they would with more conventional methods.

Ask them what they think, and the youngsters are unequivocal.

“I like how Learning by Questions encourages everyone to have a go at it so you know that if you get it wrong, you can always retry it and have another chance to get it right,” says one Lanchester pupil.

“Even if you get an answer wrong, it’s not like a test where you don’t know if you’ve got it wrong or right. You know if you’ve got it wrong so you can keep retrying and retrying,” says another.

“I like Learning by Questions because of the annotating,” adds a third eager student, explaining: “You don’t need to memorise the answer, you can write it down and keep on looking back.”

A fourth child adds: “It’s a lot more fun than just working on a normal piece of paper.”

Mark Stephenson, Year 3 teacher at Lanchester, has taught at this County Durham school for more than two decades.

He is a passionate advocate for LbQ having seen the difference it has made in his classroom.

“I'd certainly say to anybody, try it, get somebody out, have a look at it, try it yourself, because you will be amazed at just how easy the children pick it up, but also, how easy it is for staff as well.”

Mark Stephenson

“Using Learning by Questions has made the teachers’ job a lot easier,” he says, explaining that LbQ makes it far simpler to ensure all the children are on track during lessons.

“As for the planning side, you’ve got thousands of questions sets already there for you,” he adds.“ The question sets are all matched into your objectives for your year group and it’s very easy to find something that you can then use within your lesson.”

Mr Stephenson’s pupils adapted to the new teaching method very quickly. “The children love the interactive side of it,” he says. “They love the annotation side of it. They love that nobody’s looking over their shoulder, or if they’ve got something wrong, that it’s not the end of the world. They’re quite happy to problem-solve, and work and adapt and try to get the answer right.

Using his own tablet computer, Mr Stephenson can see quickly if the class is struggling on a question. He can then pause the software and talk everyone through it.

“The pause button to bring everybody back in, on task, is a fantastic feature. We love the live feed, as well, so that we can see just who’s doing what and at what question.

“If there’s a particular question that’s caused a problem we can pause it for everybody.

“We can fire questions out to everybody but it also means that we can watch who is doing what particular question and if they’ve got a particular difficulty, we can go straight to that child, so it’s very centred towards their learning rather than the children themselves feeling, maybe, under a little bit of pressure.”

Mr Stephenson says staff who were originally wary, have quickly taken to the new teaching methods.

“At first, it was, ‘oh, this is something that is going to be quite scary’ but as soon as they’ve tried it once they love it and they’ve loved adapting different things for their own use for their class, as well.”

There are still spaces available for schools in the North East to join the SHINE project.

Mr Stephenson says: “I’d certainly say to anybody, try it, get somebody out, have a look at it, try it yourself, because you will be amazed at just how easy the children pick it up, but also, how easy it is for staff as well.”

Schools in the region with a free school meals intake above the national average can apply to participate in the SHINE LbQ programme. Each school will be provided with two classroom sets of subsidised digital tablets in a storage cabinet, KS2/3 software to deliver instant feedback during lessons, training and ongoing support over a three-year period. Click here for more information.