It is part of my natural curiosity to challenge what are held as “truth “particularly in Education.
I’d like to think I do this questioning in respectful and a courteous manner but when you suffer from enthusiasm like I do, questioning can be taken as “criticism” or worse still “cynicism”.
What I like to do is to make things better, this means playing with ideas to see what we learn.
Here’s a classic example.
In the middle of 2017 The Victorian Education department identified ten evidence based teaching practices that they say have the highest impact on student’s performance. They called them HITS which stands for High Impact Teaching Strategies. (Cute!)
I am always a little worried about the term “Evidence Based” as any half literate teacher with access to Google can just about find evidence of anything…
Like this website for the Pacific NW Tree Octopus, which can be given as a research assignment to see if students REALLY check out the sources of their learning.
Created in 1998 by Lyle Zapato this is brilliant high impact activity that will assess whether your students truly understand the nature of evidence.
Some teachers like Matthew Weathers in his Biola University Nature of Mathematics class could actually make you question whether you were sane or not!
I am sure that the Victorian Education Department is sane and they are sure that the following strategies rock.
Highly regarded educational researchers and resources, including Hattie, Lemov, Marzano, and the Teaching and Learning Toolkit – Australia (Education Endowment Foundation, 2015), have used slightly different methodologies to measure effect size and identify HITS. Despite their varied approaches and terminology, all agree on a number of powerful strategies. These strategies are reflected in this HITS resource and the AITSL Standards and the Classroom Practice Continuum.
So with the judicious use of teaching heroes names, two acronyms, the recommendation of a bunch of people with doctorates and more acronyms after their names plus a high powered government authority who measures your standards and we have REAL GOOD TEACHING STUFF!
Evidence Based here means that these strategies will improve students’ scores.
My question is: What have they left out that will make it even better?
What follows here is my teaching practice based activities that you can use to get these boxes ticked AND improve your students’ performance. These are not evidence based but purely subjective stuff that I have used and know to work.
The best evidence based strategies are those that work for you on Monday morning, or better still those that turn year 9R into human beings last period Thursday afternoon when you have a splitting headache and job contract issues and a deputy decides to “… drop in for a visit” unannounced.
Here are the Ten HITS. Today we are looking at the first two setting goals and Structuring Lessons:
· Setting goals
· Structuring lessons
· Explicit teaching
· Worked examples
· Collaborative learning
· Multiple exposures
· Metacognitive strategies
· Differentiated teaching
What the document says
Lessons have clear learning intentions with goals that clarify what success looks like.
Lesson goals always explain what students need to understand, and what they must be able to do. This helps the teacher to plan learning activities, and helps students understand what is required.
• Based on assessed student needs
• Goals are presented clearly so students know what they are intended to learn
• Can focus on surface and/or deep learning
• Challenges students relative to their current mastery of the topic
• Links to explicit assessment criteria
What I think
This is a basic “KUDOS” or what Carol Ann Tomlinson, guru of differentiation calls a Know/Understand/Do. It is absolutely essential for teachers to have their Kudos’s lined up before they start teaching but I am not so sure that the student needs to know them!
To me the art of teaching is to take students on a discovery tour and delight them with the new learning they will uncover often against their fears.
Most of the time I believe the goals for every lesson are always the same
1. What the system wants,
2. What the student needs and
3. How can I find a hook that links these two together?
This can be tricky because working with difficult children means that they almost invariably do not want to learn what the system asks them to. This means I need to find something that changes their mind often without them knowing what I am trying to do.
Here’s the amazing Johnny Wells from Texas showing you how it’s done.
It’s Johnny’s belief that all lessons are a mixture of content, thinking styles and intrinsic motivation; a hell of a challenge but a goal worth pursuing.
The point that I make here is that telling the student what the goal is, is okay if the kid is motivated, understands the content so far and is capable of thinking their way through the process.
If they have none of those, the goal is to capture their curiosity.
Johnny’s knowledge goals here are to have the students understand…
1. How to use a thesaurus
2. The parts of speech.
3. How alliteration works
4. What an onomatopoeia is.
None of these is going to motivate too many students.
His action (Do) goal is to have students make a Berenstain Bears’ book using a different letter, which too many kids would be a bridge way too far.
The knowledge goal is the really interesting one because it is the whole point of the activity. That is do they now know more than they did about:
1. How to use a thesaurus
2. The parts of speech.