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Ideas to Think About

  

Week of 9/19

 

From On Becoming a Leader

When students are trained to recognize recurring elements and common themes in art, literature, physics and history, they arelearning about the kind of creativity that leads to visionary solutionsThey learn to tolerate ambiguity and to bring order out of apparent confusion. Intellectual integrity is paramount, and reasoning processes are just as important as the conclusions to which they lead[They have] the kind of sideways thinking and cross-classifying habit of mind that comes from learning, among other things, the many different ways of looking at literary works, social systems, chemical processes, or languages[T]he attributes of excellenceall depend on communication skills and sensitivity to peopleEverything we do depends on the successful transfer of meaning from one group to another.


Week 5/22

 

Have you considered reciprocal teaching in your tool belt of strategies? Developed by Palinscar and Brown (1984), they identified four key processes for effective reading comprehension: formulating questions based on the text, summarizing the text, making predictions about what will come next, and clarifying difficulties with the text (steps are not always done in this order). These processes are explicitly taught to students with the teacher modeling the process initially, then coaching and scaffolding students as they use these strategies. As students become more familiar with the processes, the teacher’s support fades, allowing students to take increasing control. Eventually, students are expected to use this process in small groups to collectively read through text, and later as an independent strategy.

 


Week of 5/15

 

Are you building a cognitive apprenticeship in your classroom? As educators, we need to deliberately bring the students' thinking to the surface, to make it visible, whether it's in reading, writing, or problem solving. Our thinking must be made visible to the students and the students' thinking must be made visible to us.


Week of 5/8

 

Have you ever looked through assignments to determine the level of processing each requires of students? It is likely that an assignment might require both surface and deep levels of processing, but have you tried to determine where the greater emphasis is in the assignment?

Have you ever defined independence and its supporting and inhibiting conditions? Have you identified the most independent students in your class? What actions do they exhibit that made you identify them as independent?

  • Divide a sheet of paper into three columns and make a list of these actions in the center column.

  • In the left-hand column, identify things that make it hard for other students to engage in these behaviors. What stands in the way?

  • In the right-hand column, identify things you do or could do that would provide opportunities for or facilitate the behaviors you identified in the center column.

 


Week of 5/1

 

"As opposed to wait time, for which effects have been found when time is increased somewhere between three and five seconds, think time is not necessarily measured in so short a time span. The time given for thinking should be “the period of time that will most effectively assist nearly every student to complete the cognitive tasks needed in the particular situation” (p. 2). Think time comprises wait time, but also “pause time” to allow students to take in information or consider what has just happened before responding, time to complete tasks, and post-response wait time to allow others to jump into the conversation." ― from "Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools" 

 

 

Week of 4/11

 

Have you ever collected data on students' questions?

Pay attention to the questions your students ask over the next week. Are they about learning or about the work? At the end of each class period, make a quick estimate of how many were work related and how many were about the learning and ideas being studied.

What does this information reveal about how your students are approaching the lessons and class activities you have designed? How might you push students to be more focused on the learning? Focus on the learning. Talk with your students about the distinction between work and learning. Tell them that because your goal is always to focus on the learning, they should let you know if they aren't clear where the learning is in a given assignment. Make sure you introduce new assignments and tasks by highlighting their purpose and what you want students to learn.

Give thought to your own language and the use of the words “work” and “learning.” Identify key understandings. Developing true understanding of anything is a complex, ongoing endeavor.


Week of 4/11

 

Are you familiar with the Teaching for Understanding (TfU) framework?

 

It delineates four essential elements to which teachers need to attend:

 

Generative topics: focusing the curriculum around big, generative ideas worth understanding.
Understanding goals: identifying a small set of specific goals for understanding (as opposed to a list of things they want students merely to know.
Performances of understanding: designing a sequence of ever more complex performance tasks that require students to use their skills and knowledge in novel contexts.
Ongoing feedback: providing a steady stream of ongoing feedback and assessment information that students can use to improve their performance.

 


Week of 4/4

 

Jerome Bruner (1996): “Being able to ‘go beyond the information’ given to ‘figure things out’ is one of the few untarnishable joys of life. One of the great triumphs of learning (and of teaching) is to get things organized in your head in a way that permits you to know more than you ‘ought’ to. And this takes reflection, brooding about what it is that you know. The enemy of reflection is the breakneck pace—the thousand pictures” (p. 129).


Week of 3/28

 

Are we viewing mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, to grow, to rethink?

Are we providing more descriptive feedback that informs learning?

Are we rejecting the naive theory that “if I just keep students busy and on task, then they will learn” in favor of the more complex, “If I keep students focused on the learning, then I will be better able to monitor and assist their development of understanding?


 

Week of 3/21

 

How are we teaching for understanding vs. knowledge? Encouraging deep vs. surface learning strategies? Promoting independence vs. dependence? Developing a growth vs. a fixed mindset? Are we asking students, “Is your work done?” or “Where are you in your learning?

 


Week of 3/14

 

What kinds of thinking are of value? What are we after? For example: Asking questions, identifying puzzles, and wondering about the mysteries and implications of the objects and ideas of study. Making connections, comparisons, and contrasts between and among things—including connections within and across the discipline as well as with one's own prior knowledge. Building ongoing and evolving explanations, interpretations, and theories based on one's ever-developing knowledge and understanding. Examining things from different perspectives and alternative points of view to discern bias and develop a more balanced take on issues, ideas, and events. Noticing, observing, and looking closely to fully perceive details, nuances, and hidden aspects and to observe what is really going on as the foundational evidence for one's interpretations and theories. Identifying, gathering, and reasoning with evidence to justify and support one's interpretations, predictions, theories, arguments, and explanations. Delving deeply to uncover the complexities and challenges of a topic and look below the surface of things, recognizing when one has only a surface understanding. Being able to capture the core or essence of a thing to discern what it is really all about.

 


Week of 2/29

 

Do our students have time to process new information? Students need time ot ask themselves questions such as:

 

  • ​Do I agree?
  • What might I be missing?
  • What else do I need to know?
  • What assumptions are being made?
  • How can I apply this in my life?

Teaching metacognitive skills should be a routine part of our teaching, not taught as a separate skill.

 

 


Week of 2/29

 

What if...

 

What if schools took the development of students' intellectual character as their highest calling?

 

What if understanding and application of skills and knowledge rather than the mere acquisition of knowledge were the goal?

 

What if students were really engaged in their learning rather than merely complaint in the process of school as it is done to them?

 

What if students had more control of their learning?


Week of 2/21

 

“The messages in ‘Visible Learning’ are not another recipe for success, another quest for certainty, another masking of untruth. There is no recipe, no professional development set of worksheets, no new teaching method, and no band-aid remedy. It is a way of thinking: ‘My role, as teacher, is to evaluate the effect I have on my students.’ It is to ‘know thy impact’, it is to understand this impact, and it is to act on this knowing and understanding. Is requires that teachers gather defensible and dependable evidence from many sources, and hold collaborative discussions with colleagues and students about this evidence, thus making the effect of their teaching visible to themselves and others.

Powerful, passionate, accomplished teachers are those who:

focus on students’ cognitive engagement with the content of what it is that is being taught;
focus on developing a way of thinking and reasoning that emphasizes problem-solving and teaching strategies relating to the content that they wish students to learn;
focus on imparting new knowledge and understanding, and then monitor how students gain fluency and appreciation in this new knowledge;
focus on providing feedback in an appropriate and timely manner to help students to attain the worthwhile goals of the lesson;
seek feedback about their effect on the progress and proficiency of all their students;
have deep understanding about how we learn; and
focus on seeking learning through the eyes of students, appreciating their fits and starts in learning, and their often non-linear progressions to the goals, supporting their deliberate practice, providing feedback about their errors and misdirections, and caring that the students get to the goals and that the students share the teacher’s passion for the material being learnt.”

(P19-20, ‘Visible Learning for Teachers’ by John Hattie)

http://www.huntingenglish.com/2014/03/29/edu-quote-john-hattie-powerful-teachers-3/

 


 

Week of 2/8

“Children grow into the intellectual life of those around them. Dispositions must be enculturated that is, learned through immersion in a culture." Qualities such as being reflective, imaginative, curious, creative, and so on—are often classified as dispositions. A disposition is an enduring characteristic or trait of a person that serves to motivate behavior. Skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, communication skills, the ability to analyze information, and curiosity and imagination which have been discussed by Tony Wagner and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills are deemed important in today's world. Tes Sizer refers to dispositions as the residuals of education - what is left long after what has been practiced and memorized are long forgotten.

What kinds of models do our students see? What kinds of opportunities do they experience? What kinds of thinking are being valued, privileged, and promoted on a day-to-day basis? 

 


Week of 2/1

 

H.S. testing season has seen some of our most vulnerable learners sit for 5+ hours to complete an exam. Endurance is not built via testing. It is built through powerful learning opportunities. Powerful learning opportunities invite all students to the learning, having a low threshold for entry and a high ceiling so that learners can take themselves as far as they wish. There are 4 key qualities to powerful learning opportunities. They a

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el Application: Applying, organizing, interpreting, evaluating, or synthesizing prior knowledge to solve novel problems or form new judgments.

Meaningful Inquiry: Creating new understandings and insights that go beyond the obvious and extend one’s current understanding.

Effective Communication: Expressing, representing, justifying, supporting, and communicating ones ideas, understandings, methods, and processes effectively using disciplinary tools, symbols & language.

Perceived Worth: Having value and purpose beyond merely doing work for the teacher. At the high end, these efforts may have utilitarian, aesthetic, or personal value & connect learning to the larger world. 

 

Adapted from: Ritchhart, R. (2015). Creating cultures of thinking: The 8 forces we must master to truly transform our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 


 

Week of 1/25 


As the first half of the year draws to a close, here are some ideas to think about...

How have you created a culture of thinking? That is, how has the group's collective thinking as well as each individual's thinking been valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular day-to-day experience of all group members?

Now, with that particular experience in mind, what were some of the practices or ingredients that helped shape, promote, advance, and sustain that group?

Let's take this sense of purpose and propel the learning forward. This not only provides a sense of direction and a goal for students and educators alike, but also imbues the group's efforts with personal and collective meaning.


 


  

 

Week of 1/4

Happy New Year. I was speaking with a colleague of ours and they were discussing the importance of immersing students in content/academic thought. They have been raising their students expectations of what they could read, assimilate and enjoy both in and out of school. The plan has been for the reading to become the expectation in their classroom. It adds a richness and breadth to student knowledge, preparing them for future endeavors. 
Some ideas to encourage more reading include: 

  • Introducing content/academic specific websites such as BBC Science or National Geographic. QR codes can be posted around your classroom so students can access these quickly on their smartphones/mobile device. 
  • Encourage your students to borrow subject-specific academic books from the library. 
  • Place books and reading material in students’ hands yourself and ask them to regularly update you on their reading. 
  • Send home subject-specific reading lists at the beginning of term for parents to purchase.  
  • Set up a subject-specific Twitter or Facebook account and use this to send students links to useful pages.
  • Set up a class blog (there are many free blogging platforms to choose from, but WordPress is very easy to use and reliable). Students can then be given the responsibility of writing articles for the blog that relate to the topic being studied.

 


 

Week of 12/14

A new report on writing instruction has been published (http://bit.ly/1TG6Rsk) and some key findings include:

  *   Interactive Writing Processes, which involve the student writers communicating orally or in writing with one or more persons at some point between receiving an assignment and submitting the final draft.

  *   Meaning-Making Writing Tasks, which require students to engage in some form of integrative, critical, or original thinking.  Based on the researcher's description of what these kinds of tasks looked like, it appears that they are specifically talking about learning transfer.

  *   Clear Writing Expectations, which involve instructors providing students with an accurate understanding of what they are asking their students to show that they can do in an assignment and the criteria by which the instructors will evaluate the students' submissions.

 
Week of 12/7

Probing Student Responses

Socratic questioning is still a key component of great teaching. The overall purpose of Socratic questioning is to challenge the accuracy and completeness of thinking. Six levels of question are considered important:

1. Getting students to clarify their thinking

Why do you say that?

What do you already know about that?

That’s a really interesting point – could you explain further?


2. Challenging and probing students about assumptions

Is this always the case?

Do you agree or disagree with this?

What is that response based on?


3. Demanding evidence

Why do you say that?

Can you give me an example of that?

Is there reason to doubt this evidence?

How do you know this?

Can you support that statement with evidence?


4. Looking at alternative viewpoints and perspectives

What is the counterargument for …?

Can/ Did anyone see this another way?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

An alternative view of this is What do you think about that?


5. Exploring implications and consequences

But if happened, what else would result?

How does affect …?


6. Questioning the question

Why do you think I asked that question?

Have you got any questions about my original question?

Why was that question important?

Which of your questions turned out to be the most useful?


Adapted from:
Allison, S. & Tharby, A. (2015). Making every lesson count: Six principles to support great teaching and learning. Llandysul, Ceredigion: Homer Press.

 


Week of 11/30

More from Making Every lesson Count...Are you ‘scaling up’ (p21)?  This is about making the work slightly harder than they (the students) actually need to know.  This is a great way of raising student aspirations, as the most difficult "stuff" they need to know is not the most difficult "stuff" they know – and this makes them feel good. A rule of thumb is to take into account the expected knowledge, concepts and skills in your subject and teach your classes just beyond that point.

 


Week of 11/23

I discovered this read via Twitter and it has many interesting examples of the ideas which we are trying to implement. Entitled, Making Every Lesson Count, the book delves into the ideas of challenge, explanation, modeling, deliberate practice, feedback, and questioning. I have included a link to the author's blog (Andy Tharby) below. In this particular entry he discusses the following:

Assess what matters. Whether we like it or not, assessment drives what we teach and how much importance we give it. That is why I love the idea of assessing threshold concepts (those areas of knowledge so crucial that, according to Meyer and Land, they ‘transform perception of a given subject’ once understood). In writing, for instance, I think mastery of sentence structure might be one, whereas an over-focus on punctuation is a red-herring.

Find the heart of the topic. It is easy when reading a weighty text to expect students to learn everything. You must be able to make 10 points about these 10 characters, these 10 themes and these 10 events! What this tends to lead to is watered-down knowledge (probably due to the overloading of the working memory). I have found it more effective to pick five vital quotations from the text and build all understanding on these. It seems risky, but quotes seem to provide a foundation onto which broader and deeper knowledge can be systematically constructed.

Ask fewer but better questions. Sometimes I find myself asking too many questions, yet every now and then I stumble across one that elicits amazing responses. ‘Is Lady Macbeth frightened or frightening?‘ was this week’s winner with the year 8s. Questions that cut straight to the heart of the matter are like gold dust. I need to discover more of them.

Balance exposition with practice. Getting the balance between the two right is so key. Teacher explanation and modelling are vital, yet the effect can fizzle out if they are not detailed enough or too detailed. Similarly, time must be built in for lots of practice, yet if there is no new input or feedback this practice can become counterproductive and lead to the embedding of sloppy skills.

https://reflectingenglish.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/a-simple-classroom-in-a-complex-world/


Link to graphic: http://whatisyourworldview.com/teaching/2015/9/13/making-every-lesson-count


Week of 11/16

The power of technology is derived from the students and teachers. We do not want tech people who can teach; we want teachers who can use tech. The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by educators to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. It needs to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. Here are some tech-based formative assessment tools which may meet your needs in the classroom:

Socrative

  • Ask open-ended questions and vote on the results
  • Create your own quizzes and have them graded
  • View students results in real time

 
EDpuzzle

  • EDpuzzle also collects data as students watch and interact with the video
  • Take a video from Youtube, Khan Academy or TeacherTube and crop it to use only what you need for your lesson, record your voice on top to explain, add clarifications, or add a video introduction.
  • Embed quiz questions along the way, to check for student understanding, track who watched the video, prevent skipping, and see quiz results through the simple to read student reports
  • Allow your students to create their own video lessons, to create a deeper learning experience

 
Pear Deck

  • Put inquiry at the center of your lesson and create self-motivated learners Ask  questions that spark curiosity and challenge intuition instead of just delivering       facts
  • Learning happens when we think and grapple with problems on our own. Learning also happens when we collaborate and share

 
Kahoot!

  • Works on any device with a web browser
  • Access information for all students, see how they answer for each question and how fast
  • Students can create their own games for classmates to play

 
Gradecam

  • Give students immediate personal feedback
  • Grade assignments with any web or document camera
  • Transfer scores into any electronic gradebook

 


Week of 11/9

After pretesting and assessing where students are we should (examples of good questions and questioning):

From Ralph (1999a, 1999b) and cited in Moyer & Milewicz (2002)

  • Prepare important questions ahead of time.
  • Deliver questions clearly and concisely.
  • Pose questions that stimulate thinking.
  • Provide children with enough time to think about and prepare their answers.
  • Avoid asking questions that require one-word answers.

 

From Vacc & Bright (1999)

  • Ask questions that require critical thinking (e.g., ask students to compare different solution strategies).
  • Ask probing questions that refer specifically to what a student says, does or thinks in order to gain further information about students’ solution strategies (e.g., “How did you know how many nickels and how many pennies to put down?”).
  • Ask followup questions for both incorrect answers and correct answers.

 

From Cohen, Steele, & Ross (1999)

  • Follow up answers with constructive feedback that communicates high expectation that a student will be able to master the material being questioned if they do not yet understand it.


http://www.edutopia.org/blog/pretesting-students-kwl-ben-johnson

http://www.apa.org/education/k12/student-thinking.aspx


Week of 11/2

Diagnosing students' prior (pre-instructional) knowledge is critical to successful teaching for several reasons.

  1. Teachers often think that their students know more than they really know (Diakidoy & Iordanou, 2003; Eckert, Dunn, Codding, Begeny, & Kleinmann, 2006).
  2. Teaching has a greater chance of leading to learning when strategies are informed by students' current understandings of the concepts and theories being taught (e.g., Carpenter, Fennema, Peterson, Chiang, & Loef, 1989; Fennema et al., 1996).
  3. Student learning does not occur in a vacuum. Students do not come to school as empty vessels, but rather come with considerable pre-instructional knowledge related to the topics taught in school. Learning builds on and is related to this prior knowledge (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Gelman & Lucariello, 2002; Piaget 1926, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1954; Piaget & Inhelder, 1969; Resnick, 1983). We all interpret new information in terms of our current knowledge.

Student pre-instructional knowledge is based on intuitions, everyday experiences, and/or what they have been taught in other contexts. Such pre-instructional knowledge is generally referred to as preconceptions. Since most knowledge is organized into domains such as mathematics, science, art, history, etc., it's not surprising that preconceptions are organized the same way.

The selection of an appropriate teaching strategy depends on whether a preconception is an anchoring conception or a misconception. When students' preconceptions are consistent with the concepts being taught, these preconceptions are termed anchoring conceptions. In this case, the students' prior knowledge does not interfere with learning, but instead becomes the base onto which the learner can build new knowledge. When an anchoring concept is present, learners link new information to what they already know and learning becomes a matter of conceptual growth or assimilation. (Piaget 1926, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1954; Piaget and Inhelder, 1969; Resnick, 1983).

However, when students' preconceptions are inconsistent with, and even contradictory to concepts in the curriculum, they are termed alternative conceptions or misconceptions. These misconceptions interfere with learning for several reasons.

  1. Students use their prior knowledge to interpret new experiences. If the prior knowledge is incorrect the interpretation of a new but related concept is likely to be incorrect.
  2. Misconceptions can be entrenched and tend to be very resistant to instruction (Brewer & Chinn, 1991). This happens because, learning, in such cases, is not simply a matter of adding to the students' knowledge. Rather, it is a matter of radically reorganizing or replacing the students' knowledge.
  3. If new information that students hear is incongruent with what they already believe to be true, they may disregard it entirely and learn nothing in class (Sewell, 2002). Conceptual change or accommodation has to occur before learning can happen (Carey, 1985, 1986; Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982; Strike & Posner, 1985, 1992). It is the teacher's job to bring about this conceptual change.

The fact that students have alternative conceptions (misconceptions) means that, in many cases, the errors they make are not random. Rather, student errors can reveal a world of systematic misconceptions that can be commonly held (Brown & Burton, 1978). To be able to make sense of student errors, and uncover their underlying causes, teachers must know what students are thinking.

Alternative conceptions (misconceptions) are quite common in both children and adults for a couple of reasons. As we look for meaning and try to understand our experiences, it is only natural that not all the ideas we develop are correct. Moreover, some concepts/theories in different content areas are counter-intuitive and can be very difficult to grasp. This makes our understanding of them flawed or incomplete.

  


Week of 10/26

The purpose of administering diagnostic tests (pretesting) is to try to determine what students already know about the concepts and skills to be covered by instruction. The tests are not graded. The tests can determine if differentiated instruction is need, and discover students' preferred learning styles as well as their strengths, weaknesses, and misconceptions. Diagnostic tests are designed to closely follow what will be asked on a summative assessment Just as in developing fluent readers, screening, diagnosing, and progress monitoring are essential. Knowing students’ strengths and weaknesses can help you better plan what to teach and how to teach it.

Types of Diagnostic Assessments

  • Pre-tests (on content and abilities)
  • Self-assessments (identifying skills and competencies)
  • Discussion board responses (on content-specific prompts)
  • Interviews (brief, private, 10-minute interview of each student)

We must know beforehand what will be tested (and taught). Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding by Design state that there is no reason why we would ever begin instruction without having the final exam already prepared and aligned to the correct learning objectives. As educators, we cannot afford to just teach and teach, and then create the test over what we believe that we have taught the students.

The best pretests cover exactly the same objectives as the test, perhaps different questions, but not necessarily so. Is it wrong to show the students what will be on the final exam before you prepare them for it? Is it wrong to show a pole vaulter the height of the bar before he tries to catapult over it? With comparable pre and post tests teachers, students, parents, etc. principals, can determine exactly what a teacher has added to that student.


Week of 10/19

Seymour Sarason’s book “And What Do YOU Mean by Learning” delves into the idea of the meaning of learning. The lack of a consistent idea has been the cause of many issues in his estimation. In his work, he states the following:

Learning is not a thingit is a process that occurs in an interpersonal context and is dynamically comprised of factors whose strength is never zero. Those factors have labels such as motivation, attitude, cognition, affect, self-regard. I try on these pages to distinguish between contexts of productive and unproductive learning. Absent wanting to learn, the learning context is unproductive or counterproductive. Is it not noteworthy that the word or concept of learning probably has the highest of all word counts in the diverse literature in education and yet when people are asked what they mean by learning they are taken aback, stammer or stutter, and come up with a sentence or two which they admit is vague and unsatisfactory?

State exams and many other assessments test how much knowledge our students have “absorbed.” Occasionally, and certainly not enough, we assess what they can do with this knowledge. Mr. Sarason also said,

Test scores have their uses but knowing scores tells you absolutely nothing directly illuminating of the content and contexts of learning.

Sarason, Seymour. (2004). And What Do YOU Mean by Learning?. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann.

Richardson, W. (2011, August 11). And What Do YOU Mean By Learning (Part 2). Retrieved from http://willrichardson.com/post/8776565863/and-what-do-you-mean-by-learning-part-2  


Week of 10/12

Learning That Lasts
It's hard not to rescue kids when they beg for help. But an instructor's altruistic instinct can get in the way of learning. In a Wired Magazine piece, "Telling You the Answer Isn't the Answer," Rhett Allain explains why letting students engage in productive struggle is the unpopular and necessary approach to instruction:

What if a person was having trouble doing a pull up for exercise? Instead of giving them some other exercise, I could help them by doing the pull up for that person. Right? No, that wouldn’t actually be useful.  However, if I push on the person's feet a little bit, they can still struggle and still exercise.

Allowing productive struggle to occur consumes more class time. But, retention is undermined when learning is frictionless. Purposeful struggle today means less re-teaching tomorrow.

Add to this the five central tenets of constructivism (Grennon Brooks & Brooks, 1993), and you have the potential for an engaged, inquiry-based classroom.

First, constructivist teachers seek and value students' points of view. Knowing what students think about concepts helps teachers formulate classroom lessons and differentiate instruction on the basis of students' needs and interests.

Second, constructivist teachers structure lessons to challenge students' suppositions. All students, whether they are 6 or 16 or 60, come to the classroom with life experiences that shape their views about how their worlds work. When educators permit students to construct knowledge that challenges their current suppositions, learning occurs. Only through asking students what they think they know and why they think they know it are we, and they, able to confront their suppositions.

Third, constructivist teachers recognize that students must attach relevance to the curriculum. As students see relevance in their daily activities, their interest in learning grows.

Fourth, constructivist teachers structure lessons around big ideas not small bits of information. Exposing students to wholes first helps them determine the relevant parts as they refine their understandings of the wholes.

Finally, constructivist teachers assess student learning in the context of daily classroom investigations not as separate events. Students demonstrate their knowledge every day in a variety of ways. Defining understanding as only that which is capable of being measured by paper-and-pencil assessments administered under strict security perpetuates false and counterproductive myths about academia, intelligence, creativity, accountability, and knowledge.


Week of 10/5

In David Perkins’ book, Making Learning Whole, he describes the purpose of ongoing assessment. The basic idea was “is assessment early and often not just as topics wind down. Assessment in this spirit does not concern assignment of grades or evaluation of whether instruction was effective. It’s assessment designed squarely to feed into the learning process and make learning stronger” (Perkins, 2009, P. 83). The assessment strategies below can be utilized at any point in a lesson.

Directed Paraphrasing
Ask students to choose a partner. Then have them turn to their partner and paraphrase the meaning of a vocabulary term you may have used or retell an event or a key point of the lesson.

Misconception Check
Offer students’ misconceptions about a specific concept or process. Invite them to agree or disagree and explain why. Then give students informative feedback so they know the next steps to take to improve learning.

Why? Think and Explain
Introduce a problem with an incorrect solution. Ask students to explain their thinking about why the answer is wrong. You could also provide several answer choices with one being correct, and then have students select the most appropriate response and provide reasonable support for that choice.

 


Week of 9/28

When planning lessons, keep in mind the following framework:

​Where are your learners starting from?

Where do you want them to get to?

How will you know when they are there?

How can you best help them get there?