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, 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.