My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Phases of developing a classroom community

Phases? Stages? Steps
What it might look like
What might help
Setting up the community
  • Students get to know each other.
  • The class agrees the rules of the community
  • An inclusive and safe environment.
  • The community shares a common purpose.
  • Students get used to working with  different people.
  • A conducive physical environment
  • Establishing routines and rituals.
  • The what great learners do procedure.
  • Team building tasks.
  • Teachers facilitate agreements of rules.
  • Teachers make clear the academic, social and character values that they helps the whole community.
  • A variety of seating plans is used by the teacher
Develop the cooperation within the group.
  • Students are motivated to contribute.
  • Students work together on common tasks.
  • Students given some responsibility
  • Students allwoed to fail safely .
  • Opportunities to reflect together eg circle time.
  • Tasks are designed so that all can contribute.
  • Teacher debriefs the skills of co-opertaion, communication and values of fairness and kindness.
  • Non Judgemental feedback.
  • Praise good teamworking, sharing etc
Develop Trust
  • The class celebrates together.
  • Students seek feedback from one another.
  • Students speculate.
  • Students are confident enough to disagree
  • Students engage in adult to adult conversations
  • Students feel they have a say in proceedings.
  • Non judgemental feedback.
  • Praise individual contributes.
  • Praise reciprocity.
  • Students are taught how to divide tasks into roles.
  • Knowing about transactional analysis.
  • Critique protocols Kind, Specific and Helpful.
  • Feedback on student to student feedback.
  • Establish a No put down ZOne
  • Teachers share some intellectual control. Eg Offers choice
Develop Collaboration skills
  • Students take different roles to complete larger tasks.
  • Students consider the quality of collaboration
  • Students provide formal and informal feedback and help to one another.
  • Students publicly show their academic knowledge along side their skills and attributes.
  • Co-construction of success criteria
  • Teacher modelling of skills
  • Increasing the sophistication of the tasks.
  • Use of Rubrics
  • Use of authentic/ wider community tasks.
  • Project exhibitions
Maintain and Repair  the community
  • Students document progress on collaboration and communication skills.
  • Teachers and students honest about challenges faced.
  • roup reflection - Circle time
  • Quiet individual reflection
  • Community dwells on solutions rather than problems
  • Debrief the process regularly.
  • Provide non judgemental feedback
  • Team Building tasks
  • Target  setting for skills and attributes
  • Time
  • The option to pass
  • Teacher takes role of a coach.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Planning with Pedagogical Content Knowledge

This is taken  from "Understanding and Developing Science Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge" by John Loughran, Amanda Berry and Pamela Mulhall.

By way of working out what you know about the teaching of a concept we are better able to teach it. It is the relationship between our subject knowledge and how students learn is key to understand.

These questions  are part of the Content Representation (CoRe) tool that groups of teachers use in conceptualizing the content of a particular subject or learning intention.  Using CoRe has helped teachers to develop the fundamental concepts behind the ideas they are teaching (Threshold concepts?), deepens teachers pedagogical content knowledge which ultimately results in teachers greater confidence in their teaching and willingness to develop new approaches.   It is worthwhile noting that like "Lesson study" the participation in the process appears to be more valuable than the items ( in this case a matrix) produced.

The question asked of the teachers about the ideas being taught are as follows:

What are the Big ideas or concepts?
What you intend students to learn?
Why important to learn it?
What else might you know that they don’t intend them to learn yet?
What are the difficulties in teaching this idea?
What’s your knowledge of student thinking that influences your teaching of this idea?
What other factors influence your teaching of this idea?
What are your reasons for the selected teaching procedures?
How will you find out about student understanding or confusions on this idea?

Here is a detailed example on "Scientific explanations (theories) are tentative and not absolute." that the internet has graciously provided.

And one on "Empirical Consistency is the Basis for Scientific Explanations"

And another....on "Subjectivity in Science"

The first few chapters of the book are available here.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Falling in love again...

I think I've gone and done it again, I have fallen in love with PEEL, although it's probably more honest say falling more in love with PEEL.
The reason is simple, the alignment of their good learning behaviours and Graham Nuthalls research. 
1. Checks personal comprehension for instruction and material.  Requests further information if needed.  Tells the teacher what they don't understand.
The idea here is, linked to his idea that teachers can not tell if students are learning or not from the wherewithal of classroom activity, this is a call for students to be OK with not knowing, and to share this with the teacher. Thereby granting us access to the third world of students private world.
2.  Seeks reasons for aspects of the work at hand.
This is a classic strategy to find out how and where to connect the ideas being learned to bigger questions or problems. This is Nuthalls third premise of effective activities being built around big questions. 
3.  Plans a general strategy before starting.
and this is Nuthalls fourth premise that effective activities are managed by the students themselves.
4.  Anticipates and predicts possible outcomes.
Two systems operate simultaneously when learning. One is the working memory the other is a reasoning system inferring and deducing information. It's why learning can happen even if students have only been exposed to the full set of information about a "concept" a couple of time, but have had partial a couple of times too. Check out page 126 of Hidden Lives. 
5.  Checks teacher's work for errors; offers corrections.
Is this the epitome of students managing their own activities? 
6. Offers or seeks links between
     - different activities and ideas
     - different topics or subjects

     - schoolwork and personal life
Nuthall talks at length about the schema formed in the long term memory, and how these are intertwined with "how" we know it. This is often a good start point to begin to tackle alternative (mis) conceptions. 
7.  Searches for weaknesses in their own understandings; checks the consistency of their explanations across different situations.
For learning to happen students must meet the information in different guises and contexts. Again, I feel this useful in undermining alternative conceptions ( I have been corrected both times I have met Ian Mitchell from PEEL, who deeply understands that these errors in understanding may well be rooted in observation and logic),which can be challenged by developing students' skills in a variety of contexts, e.g. using questions during fieldwork and practical demonstrations.( from Jane Dove) 
8. Suggests new activities and alternative procedures.
Ditto, fourth premise. Indeed this is a category used in the research, as students manipulate the task presented to them by teachers. 
9.  Challenges the text or an answer the teacher sanctions as correct.
Ditto, students managing their activities. 
10. Offers ideas, new insights and alternative explanations.
11.  Justifies opinions.
12.  Reacts and refers to other students  comments. 
The final three all tie in with the first premise that social relationships determine learning. Nuthall, does indeed highlight many of the detrimental aspects of social relationship and offers this. "Some teachers have overcome this, by developing powerful learning communities". If the interactions of my students were peppered with these three behaviours I'd really think I was onto something...

I am not on  commission with PEEL, although I should be.  You can find them here www.peelweb.org it is a bargin to subscribe and gain access to the 1500 articles and ideas on offer.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Two Types of complimentary pre-assessment.


Broad PA (eg a multiple choice pre exam)
Specific PA (eg a hinge question or task.
Time period effective
Long Term
Short Term
Number of Learning Intentions examined
Well before a module is designed
End of a lesson in time for next lesson
module design
lesson planning
direction of a lesson
Quality of information
Yes or No or maybe information on learning intentions
detailed information on student ideas of specific concepts- narrow and deep
ease of Demonstrating “progress”
difficult - need to be  subject specialist to spot
Ease of demonstrating learning
Don't make me laugh
yes we are getting there
Ability to identify misconceptions
not really, although debatable if its useful for the students
Ability to reveal how students use knowledge
Who is this really for
Teacher and the System
Students and Teachers
Number of times each “concept” is tested
More than once
May be a single antecedent
will look like
A mess of ideas
Ease of interpretation
More than likely requires PCK
Useful as an interim check
Useful for “observers of your lessons”`
Who cares, the observer must be more skilled.
Who cares, the observer must be more skilled.