Tag Archives: pedagogy

My booksnap notes of: “Why don’t students like school?” By Daniel Willingham

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. Willingham is a professor of Psychology with a specialisation in neuroscience, and I appreciated having these ideas about how the brain learns presented in such an accessible way, although it was a bit too narrative at times for my liking.

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

Cultures of Thinking PD program, with Ron Ritchhart

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.” a.

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.

Continue reading

  1. See more at: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/cultures-of-thinking#sthash.Lw4Gagmy.dpuf  (back)


Please-climb-that-tree1Despite 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. a

Here is a good summary of approaches to teaching and learning which will enable all learners to succeed: Continue reading

  1. http://www.caroltomlinson.com/2010SpringASCD/Rex_SAstrategies.pdf  (back)

Dylan Wiliam on assessment

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.IMG_3291

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)

Continue reading

“How People Learn” Effective teaching in History

86f80dff7d4c3ca38804855513f857d1I 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Good learning, criterion-referenced assessment, feedback and learning objectives

learning curveI 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


Concept based learning in History

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

Pedagogy Science | Pedagogical Reflections

    • Teachers and educational organisations need to ensure that the pedagogy which we  employ and condone is grounded in evidence-based research.
    • Pedagogy needs to become more scientific
    • Hattie looks to ‘highlight that which truly makes a difference’ and identifies  particular practices which – backed by extensive research – are most likely to  enhance student learning. His first point, however, establishes the role of  teachers as a key source (30%) of variance in student achievement – second only  to the student themselves (50%). This means that, according to Hattie, the home,  school, principal and peers make very little difference to student achievement.
    • Hattie then goes onto list the influences in order of effect on student  achievement: 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

Using Social Networking to Build 21st Century Skills – Finding Common Ground – Education Week

  • 21st century skills are critical thinking, communication, collaboration and  creativity
  • For those of us who have been educators for a long time we have always taught  our students how to think critically, communicate with others, collaborate on  projects and be creative.
  • Today’s students are surrounded by many more distractions than we ever thought  were imaginable. Those new tools that educators often see as distractions need  to be used to positively engage the social network generation.
  • With an increase in handheld devices, does the social network generation have  the same communications skills that we do? Or do they just communicate  differently?
  • Whether we like it or not that is how students communicate with each other  these days. They actually thrive on connecting with their peers in numerous  ways.
  • The truth is, I have become a huge fan of Twitter and I’m inspired by some of  the tools that my students have in our schools.
  • We built an instant community of learners and ended up creating our very own  professional development session that lasted about an hour.
  • I had the opportunity to follow up with some educators in one-to-one  conversations. They sent me blogs that I never would have found on my own. If  you’re an educator who loves education and connecting with other educators, you  should seriously consider joining Twitter.
  • Using these amazing resources allows us to really teach students to think  critically, communicate with others, collaborate on projects and be creative. In  addition, students will see that we are not behind the times because we are  suing tools that we know students enjoy and use every day.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.