November 24, 2013 — Improving Student Learning, Leadership, Professional Development, Professional Learning Tagged professional reading
When we place the learner at the heart of everything we do, our focus as teachers shifts in a most fundamental way.
* from the delivery of information to fostering students’ engagement with ideas
Instead of covering the curriculum and judging our success by how much content we get through, we must learn to identify the key ideas and concepts with which we want our students to engage, struggle, question, explore, and ultimately build understanding. Our goal must be to make the big ideas of the curriculum accessible and engaging while honoring their complexity, beauty, and power in the process. When there is something important and worthwhile to think about and a reason to think deeply, our students experience the kind of learning that has a lasting impact and powerful influence not only in the short term but also in the long haul. They not only learn; they learn how to learn.
We have two chief goals:
* creating opportunities for thinking
* making students’ thinking visible
David Perkins “learning is a consequence of thinking. Retention, understanding, and the active use of knowledge can be brought about only by learning experiences in which learners think about and think with what they are learning…Far from thinking coming after knowledge, knowledge comes on the coat tails of thinking. As we think about and with the content that we are learning, we truly learn it.”
When we reduce the amount of thinking eg ask of our students, we reduce the amount of learning as well. We need to remember that thinking may still be invisible to us. To make sure thinking isn’t left to chance and to provide us with the information we needin order to respond to students’ learning needs, we must also make their thinking invisible.
Enabling students to show thinking gives the teacher insight into understanding and misconceptions.
Good “essential questions”:
What’s the story?
What’s the other story?
How do you know the story?
Why know/ tell the story?
Where’s the power in the story?
Students’ questions all the more important: “I judge my students not by the answers they give, but by the questions they ask” Paul Cripps Wyoming
“What makes you say that?” – a non-threatening way of eliciting thinking process.
We make students’ thinking visible through our questioning, listening and documenting so that we can build on and extend that thinking on the way to deeper and richer understanding.
The section ‘As patterns of behaviour’ gets to the crux of an idea that has been milling around in my head recently. The notion that it is the routine, daily things that teachers set up in their classroom that create habits and effect learning powerfully. That is why I have been developing a Daily Planning tool, which tries to highlight and synthesise the key aspects that we are focusing on as a school, and place them front and centre in all of our teachers’ minds. I realise though that the aspects I have highlighted so far are the ‘what’ of the curriculum, and the routines set out in this book address the ‘how’. I will need to come back to explore this section in more detail.
November 23, 2013 — Leadership, Maths, Professional Development, Professional Learning
November 21, 2013 — Australian Curriculum, EALD, English, Improving Student Learning, Leadership, Literacy Block, Professional Development, Professional Learning
This one looks great for providing clear explanation of explicit teaching and differentiation in the areas of Spelling, Reading, and Punctuation and Grammar. We have identified the need at our school for more focus on explicit teaching in terms of sentence structure, and differentiation is continually an important factor in meeting the wide ranging needs of individuals and cohorts within any class.
November 21, 2013 — Reading, Research
October 18, 2013 — Assessment, Feedback, Improving Student Learning Tagged Feedback, Goal setting, self assessment
Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic, Timebound, Agreed
October 18, 2013 — English, Professional Learning, Reading Tagged questions, Reading
October 17, 2013 — English, Literacy Block, Professional Learning, Reading Tagged Reading
Novice readers are unable to recognise when to access prior knowledge. Explicit teaching of this skill required. Here meta cognitive thinking is really important – thinking about one’s thinking.
A key aspect of meta cognition is self-management – which consists of: evaluation, planning and regulation. Evaluation refers to analysing the task characteristics and personal abilities that affect comprehension. “Planning involves the selection of particular strategies to reach the goals that have been set or chosen. Regulation is the monitoring and redirection of one’s activities during the course of reading to reach the desired goals.”
Instruction about meta cognitive thinking led to increased comprehension and performance.
By providing reading materials related to field trips or current areas of study, a student’s field of knowledge about that topic can be expanded.
Exploring the task
Selection of texts will depend on what the teacher is expecting students to do with the text. If independent reading is required then the text needs to be something matched to their performance level. If teachers want students to access more complex texts they have to teach the text. The Australian Curriculum is about increasing the rigor of what students can read through high-quality instruction. The teacher has an important role here – not just setting the work.
Explicit teaching and a supportive framework is required. Opportunities for students to practice strategies with others, discuss ideas and listen to how more able readers interpret and think about texts, and then apply these strategies (gradually) more independently are really important factors in a quality teaching program.
As apprentices, students need to have thinking made visible. There are a number of components that can be modelled, including comprehension, word solving, text structures, and text features.
Comprehension – teachers can model- visualising, inferring, summering, predicting, questioning or monitoring. These should be used as appropriate to the text being explored not curricular used with a certain number of weeks allocated to each strategy. Readers have to learn to notice clues that trigger specific, useful cognitive strategies. Students need to see these as problem solving strategies to be used when meaning breaks down.
October 15, 2013 — English, Reading Tagged Reading
Motivation is a very powerful factor. The following factors impact motivation positively:
5. Thematic units
Avoid these 5 practices because they have a negative effect:
2. Excessive control
3. Difficult lessons
4. Frequent individual work
5. Disconnected units
Two other factors that teachers have a high degree of control over are: curricular organisation and social interactions. The first helps ground relevance by establishing purpose in lessons, design of units and choice within investigations are important. “To propel learning forward we need students to engage in incrementally more demanding (but not impossible) tasks – in the company of others who are learning and with expert guidance close at hand when the group gets stuck.”
Goal setting is another dimension that can impact strongly on learning. Teachers can promote deliberate practice through goal setting with students when they link goal-setting activities back to the established purposes. Goal setting should be a regular part of the instructional design process.
“Thinking about one’s thinking is essential for pairing the known with the unknown and us a critical factor in distinguishing a novice from an expert.
October 15, 2013 — Professional Learning, Reading
“Understanding how texts are complex will help us all teach and teach students based on high expectations rather than exist with the tyranny of low expectations.”
“When teachers analyse texts for the levels of meaning or purpose, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands, they can plan appropriate instruction and guide learners’ development”
Visual attention to print is essential in the development of reading but not a given among emergent readers. Studies show that young readers attend to print 3-7% of the time. This can be increased through an adult’s verbal inquiries and gestures – nonverbal interactions resulted in more fixations on print than the verbal ones. Furthermore a child who is read to for 10 minutes a day attends to print significantly more.
“Variances among the students in our classrooms cannot result in lowered expectations for their learning, especially by systematically denying them access to the kinds of rich text experiences of others. Instead, we must find ways to scaffold their reading experiences by differentiating instruction and providing accommodations and modifications as warranted. These are teaching concepts that we have known for decades…”
This makes me realise why I was stumped a few years ago by an AP who challenged us to start differentiating our practice.
At that school it was all words, brought back from conferences that the select few were able to attend. Instead of actually describing ways to differentiate and support learners, and actually model good practice, we were left wondering what was expected.
To me at that time, I worried that this differentiating would mean dumbing down curriculum. Yes, obviously we have to recognise the different abilities and skills of students in our complex classes. Having a clear picture of the current skills and abilities of students in a class, a thorough knowledge of the curriculum expectation at that year level, and being able to locate and access resources that will suit students at different levels are all key factors. As is a knowledge of how to teach important, relevant strategies explicitly to students, so that they can gradually develop skills that they will then apply with automaticity. This is the challenge.
From my new perspective I see that the main challenge for a school is to:
• collect relevant, diagnostic data
• identify starting points for whole class instruction
• identify individual students, and cohorts that have particular needs
• have a clear plan (scope and sequence) of what is important for the particular year level(s)
• make this “flight plan” clear for students and people who can support student learning (parents, support staff)
• involve students in self assessment and short term, specific, measurable (SMARTA) goal setting
• resources appropriate for students at different levels that will allow them to practice particular strategies
• know what the important and relevant strategies are that will benefit students and understand how to best teach these.
Reading this text has reaffirmed my strong belief in the importance of:
• modelling what good readers do
• explicitly teaching strategies
• providing structured opportunities for students to practice using a variety of strategies
• providing a range of texts to support students at different levels
• providing opportunities for students to work with others for structured support
• have a clearly communicated plan to show students the direction of learning
• involve students in the assessment process
• provide opportunities for students to have a degree of choice and decision making within a framework
• setting assignments that provide scaffolding but also the necessary challenge to stimulate and enthuse
• multi-media, visual texts, and group collaboration projects (especially global ones) can all provide opportunities to transform learning
October 7, 2013 — Thinking