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.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A Simple task with big Impact.

The activities I would like to highlight here all take place within the first 10 minutes of a lesson commencing. Two of them have long been hard wired into my practice and I some what take them for granted. So the one I want to highlight is something that I picked up in Geoff Pettys inspiring "Evidence based teaching." It's not something new, in fact it is standard practice on any TEEP course I run, but, it has not made it into my classroom on a regular basis until this year. The beauty of Geoff Pettys book is that it gives activities a pedagogical purpose and backs up if effectiveness with evidence from either Hattie or Marzano.

The strategy is very simple, the simplest of the three by some way. All that is required is a visual representation of the learning that is about to happen.My interpretation of this can be seen in the examples I have used in the last two days. Anecdotaly the impact of this is profound. during one course a teacher complained that (since she had been late and missed the overview of the day) she could not see the overview as it had been obscured by another display and that she felts disorientated, as she not know what was going on. I have noticed my students increasingly asking me "are we now onto X ?", and I regularly see their eyes glancing up and down it.I feel it is well used, no less by me who uses it to clarify lesson plans in the morning, so that I have a very clear purpose and direction to the task chosen and in planning for managing transitions during the lesson. The effect size of this strategy is 1.27 . Needless to say this is a positive result. If you need more information on effect sizes you need to buy either Geoff Pettys book or John Hatties "Visible learning". In fact I would say every teacher needs these inspiring books.

The other two strategies are on the surface just as simple but in reality some of the most difficult tasks a teacher must do. Firstly is setting goals, or learning intentions or learning objectives. This is so hard, research shows tht teachers tend to write these as tasks rather than what will be learned. The effect size for this is 0.51. Again a worthwhile pursuit at the beginning of a lesson.

Finally a task issued at the start at the beginning of recalls prior learning. Petty recommends using questions here but any cognitive task will help, for example rank in order the most important facts from last lesson, as opposed to a word search of keywords. It is the connection and the search for meaning that is important not the simple recall. The effect size for this is 0.91.

When I read Petty the word "Wow!" stumbled from list as he points out the doing all three has a total effect size of 2.66. All in the first five minutes! Since reading this at least 90% of my (non enquiry) lessons begin in this way.

I believe it is the combination of these help students throughout the lesson: Where have they been, where are they going to and how are they going to get there. It's the foundation of comment only marking on a whole class basis. If I now ask my students what are they learning about then most of them will look to the graphical representation of the lesson first and then look at the outcomes displayed. It's very presence is giving them a pedagogical (albeit content based) purpose to each activity. Again consider an anecdote, if you want the students to do a presentation or a test, they know from the beginning and it' not just sprang upon them, they know from the start and in the context of their learning. It's all there for them in Technicolor!