Over the last few weeks I read ‘Why don’t students like school’ by Daniel Willingham. It was a very popular book when it was published in 2009. While I enjoyed the read and got some good ideas and notions out of it, this book has not made a big impact on my understanding of teaching. I found the suggestions quite common sense and straight forward and found the style a bit too narrative at times.
I realise that Willingham is a professor of Psychology with a specialisation in neuroscience; something I am clearly not. But as an experienced teacher I have seen first hand the many things that he points out in his book.
While reading I like to make visual booksnaps using Piccollage. This strategy allows the information to rattle around in my working memory a bit longer; I DO something with the info which means that it will (hopefully) be stored better in my long term memory. Willingham explains this in Chapter 1, page 10, “How thinking works”.
I print the booksnaps off and will refer to them occasionally to remind myself of what I have read. You can download all of them here in one PDF.
This book is also part of the holiday reading for the Twitter #edureading group.
All the info you need can be found here: sites.google.com/view/educational-reading-group/
Here are my booksnap notes: Continue reading
I have become part of a semester long professional development project called “Cultures of Thinking”. It is lead by Visible Thinking and Harvard Project Zero researcher Ron Ritchhart. It focusses on creating an environment where “a group’s collective as well as individual thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members.” .
One of the key components of this program is class observation – not to evaluate the teacher but to learn and become more aware of your own habits, cultures and teaching strategies. Our first day consisted of two sessions, in the morning we were introduced to the cultures of thinking program and questioning techniques. The second was a plenary session in which teachers from four schools came together to learn about how to objectively and non-judgmentally observe a lesson and how to record data so that it is useful for the person/school being observed.
My notes and relevant resources are below.
- See more at: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/cultures-of-thinking#sthash.Lw4Gagmy.dpuf (back)
Despite the efforts of the Individual Needs Department at my school, I still usually see Differentiation as a difficult to incorporate add-on.
I’ve been looking into the work of Carol Tomlinson and she has the following refreshing perspective on Differentiation;
Differentiation is not a set of strategies, it’s a way of thinking about teaching and learning Strategies are tools to accomplish the goals of differentiation. They are no more differentiation than a hammer and a saw are the house they help to build.
Here is a good summary of approaches to teaching and learning which will enable all learners to succeed: Continue reading
- http://www.caroltomlinson.com/2010SpringASCD/Rex_SAstrategies.pdf (back)
On the 29th of May we had a professional development day with Dylan Wiliam. He spoke to us about what works and what doesn’t work in education.
Below are 6 key points about how to improve teaching and learning according to Dylan Wiliam:
- Stop students putting their hands up to ask questions – it’s the same ones doing it all the time. Instead introduce a random method of choosing which pupil answers the question, such as lollipop sticks, and thus engage the whole class.
- Use traffic-light cups in order to assess quickly and easily how much your students understand your lesson. If several desks are displaying a red cup, gather all those students around to help them at the same time.
- Mini-whiteboards, on which the whole class simultaneously writes down the answer to a question, are a quick way of gauging whether the class as a whole is getting your lesson. This method also satisfies the high-achievers who would normally stick their hands up.
- A short burst of physical exercise at the start of the school day will do wonders for students’ alertness and motivation. As any gym addict or jogger will tell you, it’s all about the chemicals released into the brain.
- Ditch the obsession with grades, so that pupils can concentrate instead on the comments that the teacher has written on written classwork.
- Allow students to assess the teachers’ teaching – they are the ones at the sharp end, after all. Letting pupils have a say is empowering and, if handled constructively, is highly enlightening. (Source)
I have enjoyed skim reading the book “How people learn” by the National Research Council. It aims to give practical ideas on how to use current pedagogical research in the classroom.
The three key findings that the book presents are:
- Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.
- To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must:
(a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge,
(b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and
(c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application.
- A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.
It has a very interesting chapter about History teaching. You can download that chapter here: Continue reading
I am on a steep learning curve when it comes to criterion-referenced assessment. Like many teachers, I have used the standard norm-referenced assessment model for years. This is recognizable to everyone, for example: Question 1 asks for three main points. If the student identified the three points, three marks are awarded. In contrast to this, criterion-referenced assessment works with pre-defined criteria which describe increasing levels of success in understanding the curriculum. The more I read about it and work with it in the MYP and the IB DP, the more I see how using criterion-referenced assessment allows for a more sophisticated understanding and assessment of a student’s learning, skill and knowledge.
The example below shows what an MYP criterion (in “Individuals and Society”) looks like: Continue reading
Tonight’s #histedchat gave me lots of food for thought. The topic was “Context vs Concepts in History Teaching”. Concept based learning is something I am really interested in. I think it’s easy to say that it is important and ‘the way to go’ (of course it is!), but in my daily practice as a teacher, I am always wondering how I can better incorporate conceptual learning. This #histedchat gave me more food for thought.
Here is the Storify
Some things I found:
Here are the concepts from the Australian National Curriculum for History:
Historical knowledge and understanding
Historical knowledge and understanding requires mastery of the procedures, tools and methods of thinking that constitute the discipline of history. Continue reading
How to move your lessons from good to outstanding | Teacher Network Blog | Guardian Professional
An “Assessment for Learning” questioning technique to help teachers move from good-to-outstanding. It also helps address differentiation in the classroom and encourages teachers to take risks. Time to Pose, Pause, Bounce and Pounce!
How does it work? Continue reading