The term pedagogical purpose designates an learning activity an extra benefit rather than just delivering a bit of learned content. Meaning that by definition it is shared by the teacher with the learners. The idea came from PEEL in Australia. Check out its website ( www.peelweb.org) for excellent classroom based examples. So why include them in your lesson plan?
1. It encourages metacognition,and therefore will develop learner skills or build learning power as Guy Claxton would say. For example if a strategy is good for making comparisons such as venn diagrams, then by signaling this purpose the teacher creates awareness in their learners. This leads to the next benefit of...
2. Increased independence of students. Having a pedagogical purpose in every day lessons will assist students in enquiry based or problem based learning lessons. They will have a wider range of "tools" to get unstuck and learn by themselves.
3. On task behaviour and the quality of work improves as students take each task seriously, after all each task has a purpose.
4. Teachers plan better lessons as they stop planning "busy" task and start including focussed learning activities, which are easier and more productive in creating feedback loops to exploit.
5. It increases teacher reflection on their classroom. Asking why strategies work will lead to asking how can I adapt this strategy which will eventually lead to creating your own.
6. The next natural step in this process is Action research which is well documented as a very effective form of professional development. So rather than sharing anecdotes with your PLN, you can share and discuss objective data based analysis of the new things you are trying on your classroom.
7. Teachers will dismiss the notion of having a teachers toolkit that they can dip into. Pedagogical purposes are an engineering factory allowing teachers to become more autonomous.
8. It's flexible so can be used with pre and post diluvian strategies. Infact it may be more beneficial when using web 2.0 tools to prevent them becoming the new PowerPoint, I.e. The educational equivalent of colouring in.
9. Pedagogical purposes broaden the feedback a teacher can give. The research by Black and Williams indicates that good feedback should indicate where the students are, where they should be heading and how to get there. It is this final steps that pedagogical purposes fit best.
10. They help develop a teachers pedagogical content knowledge, so teachers can develop multiple strategies to teach the same topic, understand and identify the misconceptions students are likely to have. Ultimately teachers are better equipped to teach, unteach and reteach.
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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.