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05.03.19From the Editing Room: Matthew Gray’s Check for Understanding

Matthew Gray, working his magic…

John Costello is Team TLAC’s lead video editor (not to mention a soon-to-be PhD in Education) He recently cut a gem of a clip of Matthew Gray teaching English–and Checking for Understanding–at Oasis Academy South Bank in London. We’re excited to share the clip with you. But I’m also excited to share a series of reflections about the clip that John has written–about the PD support from Matthew’s school, about a similar video we showed at a workshop Matthew came to and how Mathew and colleagues used it, even about how John edited and produced the video. This will all happen in several posts John’s going to share over the next few weeks. For starters, though, here’s the outstanding clip and John’s reflection on it. John writes:

I really happy to share this crisp, clear, outstanding clip of Matthew Gray’s teaching:

Oasis Academy Matthew Gray CFU from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.


In the clip, Matthew is wrapping up an analysis of Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess” with his class. He starts with a 5 question Do Now to make sure all students are on the same page. He gives students one minute to fill out the open response for question one, and when he affirms his students are ready he signals for them to move onto the four multiple choice questions.

I love how clearly he Names The Lap when he states explicitly what work he’s checking before he Circulates. You can tell that he’s tracking the data because he immediately picks up that eight students struggled with question number 5. He picks one of those struggling students, Elias, and Show Calls his work for the class. When he takes the student work he’s still polite, but he doesn’t belabor the process. Matthew quickly Normalizes the Error–“It’s a mistake that I made when I first read the poem”…we loved that– and then we’re off to correcting a common error in the room.

In the poem, a Duke is entertaining visitors and pauses before a portrait his recently deceased wife. Believing that her friendly demeanor hinted at infidelity, the Duke casually implies that he “gave commands” to have his wife executed. Although the Duke himself is a simple villain, over-inflated with pride and bursting with paranoia, the poem is challenging to comprehend at first. Readers have to reconstruct the timeline of events piecemeal from a narrator who is only slowly revealed to be unreliable.

In question 5, which you can read on the screen 45 seconds into the clip, choices B and C were correct and A was incorrect. Matthew Expects Error, recognizing that it’s difficult at first to understand that the Duke’s paranoia discredits any reliable assessment of his wife’s behavior. Then he lightly excavates the error, asking students with the right answer to explain why A is wrong.

Dan provides the clearest rational for why A is wrong, and Matthew has him repeat it a second time so the class can Own and Track the correct analysis.

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Oasis Academy, a non-selective school in the heart of London. Matthew and Josh Goodrich, Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning, came to our CFU workshop in December and we got this footage of Matthew a few months later. It’s rare to see a teacher demonstrate such clean CFU technique from start to finish, we’re so excited to see more from Matthew and Oasis in the future!