Zooming in and out

For some years now I have been using what I call The Grade Ladder with students to help them understand the skills required to perform at different grades. This isn’t particularly original and has been around for quite while. I first encountered the terms ‘evaluate’, ‘analyse’, ‘explore’, ‘explain’ and ‘identify’ in GCSE English specifications but it’s obvious at even a cursory glance that these skills are underpinned by Bloom’s Taxonomy.  grade ladder

So, to IDENTIFY, students had to be able to give an opinion and support it with textual evidence; to EXPLAIN they had to show they understood the relationship between their point and their evidence. It is important to specifically teach the use of the word ‘because’ to ensure this happens. Students could demonstrate their ability to EXPLORE by giving alternative explanations – tentative language becomes important here (it could mean this, but it might also suggest this…) In order to ANALYSE students have to make links and connections with specific details. I encourage them to focus on a word or phrase and try to show what it makes them think about or feel. Finally, to EVALUATE students have to say how and why a particular technique is effective.

Easy enough, I thought and gamely plodded on with the trusty grade ladder for next year or so feeling very pleased with myself. However, after conducting some student voice on its effectiveness I was dismayed to discover that students complained that they still didn’t fully understand some of the terms: analyse and evaluate in particular.

Calamity! What to do? In my gropings for some way to shore up a crumbling edifice I came up with ZOOMING IN & OUT. I asked students to think about camera shots and how films are put together. They easily grasped that analysing was like using an extreme close up and that evaluating was like using a wide or establishing shot. When film makers zoom in they get us to focus on tiny details and when they zoom out they reveal the big picture. Hey presto! Everyone’s confidence (not least mine) is buoyed up and everyone’s happy.

The presentation below on using Zooming In and Out to write about Of Mice and Men might help illustrate anything which seems unclear.

View more presentations from didau.
Here’s the updated Reading Skills Ladder:

Related posts

James Theobold has written a great post on how GCSE markschemes also intersect neatly with the SOLO taxonomy.

Forget the answer, what’s the question?

Creativity analysis and comparison

Challenging Bloom’s Taxonomy

18 Responses to Zooming in and out

  1. […] Getting to grips with PLTS So, what are learning spies? – getting students to observe each other Zooming in and out – a techniques for explaining how to get A&A* grades out of students in English A return to […]

  2. […] Stuff you’ve said The Learning Spy – End of Term on How to have a successful lifeThe Learning Spy – End of Term on What’s the point of assessment?The Learning Spy – End of Term on Differentiation: to do or not to do?The Learning Spy – End of Term on More DIY learningThe Learning Spy – End of Term on Zooming in and out […]

  3. Laura_Suths says:

    Hi LearningSpy! This is so simple yet brilliant! I have turned it into a lesson for my Year Ten who are preparing for dreaded Controlled Assessment on ‘An Inspector Calls.

  4. […] Spy, who has written posts on Creativity, Analysis and Comparison, Using Learning Continuums, Zooming In and Zooming Out, and 40 Ways to Introduce Learning Objectives (now 50). I found these posts very helpful in […]

  5. […] posts Zooming in and out But is it art? Post a Comment    (0) Comments   Read […]

  6. […] to select a suitable quotation from those I’d prepared earlier and gave them 10 minutes to Zoom In and Out in response. I made a point of saying that I wanted them to take a risk and write something I would […]

  7. Nicola says:

    Hi Learning Spy!

    Thank you for posting this – think the updated Reading ladder is BRILLIANT – will be laminating it and putting it up in my classroom!

    Thanks again


  8. […] to explain the skills of analysing and evaluation using camera shots. I called the technique “Zooming in and out“, and it made something that many students previously found incomprehensible into something […]

  9. […] ways to teach analysis and evaluation for some time now. A few years ago I stumbled on the idea of zooming in and out which has gone viral and made its way into the teaching zeitgeist. In case you’ve managed to […]

  10. […] ways to teach analysis and evaluation for some time now. A few years ago I stumbled on the idea of zooming in and out which has gone viral and made its way into the teaching zeitgeist. In case you’ve managed to miss […]

  11. […] ways to teach analysis and evaluation for some time now. A few years ago I stumbled on the idea of zooming in and out which has gone viral and made its way into the teaching zeitgeist. In case you’ve managed to miss […]

  12. […] On the topic of analysis. David Didau has been discussing the processes for teaching analysis skills. If your students have not been PEE, PEED, to within an inch of their literacy lives, maybe they have been TEPE’d to death? Maybe it is worth considering led on the idea of zooming in and out. […]

  13. Harriet says:

    Could this be used for descriptive writing – in order to show a far more interesting narrative POV?

  14. edugeist says:

    […] by David Didau’s excellent blog on ‘zooming in & out’ I began using novel pictures of pensioners engaged in exuberant break dancing positions to make the […]

  15. edugeist says:

    One of my favourite articles on your site. I’ve referenced this article in my blogpost on using figurative language as a teaching tool at http://edugeist.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/38/

    Keep the articles coming!

  16. The hippy generation’s favourite philosopher, Alan Watts, used to talk about being in a dark room and having either a pin-sharp torch or a search light by which to see. The pin-sharp torch light revealed great detail but as you moved from spot to spot, you didn’t get a sense of where you were.You were left with episodic images, however precise. The search light, by contrast, lit up a much larger area giving a real sense of the room. But, the images were rather low resolution and no details could be perceived.

  17. […] reading the following blog posts by David Didau (@learningspy), here and here, I am now convinced that there is another way, a way that avoids many of the issues listed above. […]

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