"In reading tests at school, girls tend to be ahead of boys, in all age groups and in all countries. But in young adults, there is suddenly no longer any difference between men’s and womenR…"
Multiple factors in test design, such as fictional vs. factual texts, short vs. longer continuous texts, and in motivation, e.g., perceived immediate value which plays a role in young men's responses to tests -- all these can have a signficant role in test score variability for males vs. females. (Article discusses mainly studies in Norway and northern European countries, but conclusions seem appropriate generally.)
An excellent summary of how the "Maker" movement works in terms of pedagogy, learning processes, and assessment Article by Nigel Couts.
" Learning to learn with a MakerSpace January 8, 2017 Making, Maker Centred Learning and STEAM fit neatly alongside Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) for many schools. Commonly this approach includes a constructivist view of knowledge and teachers seek to establish conditions which allow students to explore questions and ideas with greater independence than may occur in the traditional classroom. Learning becomes a collaborative partnership between teachers and students with a clear focus on a learner centric approach. These core beliefs are enacted through a combination of scaffolds such as those developed from the research of Harvard’s 'Project Zero’ where cultural forces, thinking routines, and an awareness of habits of mind focus the learner’s efforts on developing positive dispositions for learning while building deep understandings. In such an approach to learning Making becomes a pathway to developing the dispositions required for success in the 21st Century and a way of demonstrating one’s competence within a creative and collaborative environment."
"“Order.” “Clarity.” “Predictability.” These were the words students and colleagues used to describe Karen’s classroom and teaching style. The other word that kept coming up was “expectations.” Karen had clear expectations of students. Students knew what to expect in her class. Indeed, these evaluations seemed to hold with my own observations. Karen did have very clear expectations, communicated effectively and upheld relentlessly in an admirable fashion. But somehow these expectations, the clearest manifestation of what Karen’s classroom was like, seemed to be standing in the way of creating a culture of thinking. How could that be? Why would having such clear expectations for students’ behavior and performance inhibit their development as thinkers?"
"According to Dr Mahboob, the real obstacle is understanding your motivation and what you want to achieve. "People have this belief that it is challenging and daunting when you are an adult. What it comes down to is your level of investment in learning that language," he said."
"Few people enter the teaching profession because they are passionate about controlling behaviour or disciplining prospective pupils. Most become educators because they want to make a positive difference in students’ lives. However, countless well-intentioned yet potentially ill-prepared teachers find themselves in situations during the school year where they feel compelled to use forms of intimidation, manipulation, bribery, yelling, scolding, or even false praise to make students behave. These archaic classroom management techniques often backfire— as they did for me early in my teaching career—and result in students losing respect for and disliking the teacher.
"Due to the struggles I had faced with managing behaviour in my first two years of public school teaching, I was approaching burnout and feeling somewhat defeated. Since I am convinced that teaching is my vocation, I was determined to stay in education and learn from my mistakes to improve my practice. Instead of continuing with the traditional, stereotypical classroom management methods, I realised that I needed to develop my “classroom leadership”. Through a combination of personal experience and perusing countless articles and book chapters of educational experts like Doug Lemov @Doug_Lemov, author of “Teach Like a Champion” and Michael Linsin an author who writes blog posts on smartclassroommanagement.com, I feel like I have identified the three most essential “classroom leadership” tenets: removing extrinsic motivation and threats, maintaining consistent procedures and consequences, and communicating with parents or guardians on a regular basis. Initially, I struggled in these areas, but when I was able to implement them with fidelity, I found that I was much more successful in curbing inappropriate behaviour while motivating students to learn."
Have you ever implemented a project, only to realize that students don’t really understand the connections between their product, the process, and the key skills? Within our project design, reflection is a key element that helps us support students as they work to understand the why, what, and how of their learning within the project.
It is obvious to me that, in most cases, the wider range of experiences that the children had led to better performance in the classroom; in every subject the children could draw on something that they had done in their life that was relatable, whether it was kayaking on lakes or flying a kite. Conversely, in the schools that I have worked at, in disadvantaged areas (my current school falling into this bracket) the lack of life experiences hampered what the children could relate to. In English, for example, they couldn’t use their five senses to help write a story about the beach or the mountains as they hadn’t experienced the freshness of the air or the salty taste of the sea. In Maths, they struggled with estimating measure as they had never just sat with a bucket and sand, filling it up, emptying it and building sandcastles or played in water with different sizes of container, just for the fun of it.
A very explanatory article that may help in getting started with the maker-centered education movement.
"Both teaching and learning in the maker-centered classroom highlight the importance of learning with and from others, with an emphasis placed on sharing knowledge, expertise, and information. There is an added element of figuring it out that takes place in the maker-centered classroom—wherein young people are encouraged to tinker, prototype, iterate, and experiment throughout the making and learning process."
"Compassion should play a role in every aspect of learning. Collaboration clearly hinges on the capacity for each member to interact with compassion for the needs of their collaborators. Understanding that a classmate finds contributing to group discussion requires empathy, taking action to gently include that person demands compassion. Critical thinking on the lessons of history is nothing unless we learn from our past and look with compassion for how we make things better. Communication without compassion for our audiences and our subjects is bound to have reduced impact and our creative energies unless directed to making the world a better place are somehow lacking."
Compassion may be teachable and might speak to bullying.
Whether you are a technologist working on the next great learning app or a teacher trying to figure out how to engage your students, Pokémon Go offers a powerful model that has quickly changed the way users behave and engage with digital content.
"Last year I took a group of students to Cuba to produce documentaries about the island nation's culture and history. The main objective was learning how to produce documentaries, but one of my students learned a much more powerful lesson through the process. After completing her project, she posted it publicly to YouTube and received critical comments from someone living in Cuba. The feedback from an audience member in another country profoundly affected her, making her aware of what she was missing in her piece, and the impact that her work can have on others.
"No test, grade, or teacher evaluation could have come close to helping her learn that deeply, and it made clear to me how important it is for teachers to reexamine why and how we grade our students if we truly care about their success."
Using real-life, real-time partners, whether prearranged or by happenstance, as in this case, is a great way for students to receive authentic formative assessment.
"Because PBL is about more than learning content, PBL teachers should investigate and experiment with multi-model strategies for assessing their students' learning skills."
One experience with authentic evaluation starts this article:
"Last year I took a group of students to Cuba to produce documentaries about the island nation's culture and history. The main objective was learning how to produce documentaries, but one of my students learned a much more powerful lesson through the process. After completing her project, she posted it publicly to YouTube and received critical comments from someone living in Cuba. The feedback from an audience member in another country profoundly affected her, making her aware of what she was missing in her piece, and the impact that her work can have on others."
Valuable insights into grading creative projects in PBL.
Students hate assessment and don't understand it. The authors say, "Instead, we need to train students to become effective users of feedback, just as we train them in essay writing and critical thinking. Setting this goal, of course, is much easier than specifying how to achieve it. Recently, we looked for solutions by systematically reviewing the academic literature on students’ engagement with feedback. Our review unearthed an assortment of interventions that academics have described. Some were tried-and-tested teaching practices reappropriated with this purpose in mind, such as self-assessment and peer assessment. Others were rather more innovative, and included new ways of using technology to deliver feedback, workshops for developing “feedback literacy” and portfolios for students to track trends in their feedback over time.
"....Becoming a proficient feedback user requires several skills, not just one. It relies on an ability to accurately judge your own abilities and to recognise your own behavioural and psychological reactions to criticism. It needs an understanding of how the assessment process works, and being able to take the perspective of your assessor. It involves setting achievable goals for the future, and planning how you’re going to meet them. And it depends on being motivated to change, and enthusiastic about doing so.
"Hence, there will never be a single silver bullet for getting students to use their feedback. Instead, the solution will undoubtedly require a many-pronged approach, tackling different parts of the problem in different ways throughout students’ higher education careers. Most importantly, it will require us collectively to create learning environments in which students’ active participation in the feedback process is both expected and valued. To really achieve this goal properly, we need a cultural shift in higher education, moving away from the notion of feedback simply as something we give away to students and towards one that sees it as a two-way street, with shared responsibilities and expectations. This will be complicated in political landscapes, such as that of the UK, where teaching quality is measured against students’ endorsement of statements like “I have received detailed comments on my work.” But the crucial point is that this will be mutually beneficial to academics and students."
"PRINCIPLE 1 Students’ beliefs or perceptions about intelligence and ability affect their cognitive functioning and learning. PRINCIPLE 2 What students already know affects their learning. PRINCIPLE 3 Students’ cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development. PRINCIPLE 4 Learning is based on context, so generalizing learning to new contexts is not spontaneous but instead needs to be facilitated. PRINCIPLE 5 Acquiring long-term knowledge and skill is largely dependent on practice. PRINCIPLE 6 Clear, explanatory, and timely feedback to students is important for learning. PRINCIPLE 7 Students’ self-regulation assists learning, and self-regulatory skills can be taught. PRINCIPLE 8 Student creativity can be fostered. PRINCIPLE 9 Students tend to enjoy learning and perform better when they are more intrinsically than extrinsically motivated to achieve. PRINCIPLE 10 Students persist in the face of challenging tasks and process information more deeply when they adopt mastery goals rather than performance goals. PRINCIPLE 11 Teachers’ expectations about their students affect students’ opportunities to learn, their motivation, and their learning outcomes. PRINCIPLE 12 Setting goals that are short term (proximal), specific, and moderately challenging enhances motivation more than establishing goals that are long term (distal), general, and overly challenging. PRINCIPLE 13 Learning is situated within multiple social contexts. PRINCIPLE 14 Interpersonal relationships and communication are critical to both the teaching– learning process and the social-emotional development of students. PRINCIPLE 15 Emotional well-being influences educational performance, learning, and development. PRINCIPLE 16 Expectations for classroom conduct and social interaction are learned and can be taught using proven principles of behavior and effective classroom instruction. PRINCIPLE 17 Effective classroom management is based on (a) setting and communicating high expectations, (b) consistently nurtur- ing positive relationships, and (c) providing a high level of student support. PRINCIPLE 18 Formative and summative assessments are both important and useful but require different approaches and interpretations. PRINCIPLE 19 Students’ skills, knowledge, and abilities are best measured with assessment processes grounded in psychological science with well-defined standards for quality and fairness. PRINCIPLE 20 Making sense of assessment data depends on clear, appropriate, and fair interpretation." http://www.apa.org/ed/schools/teaching-learning/top-twenty-principles.pdf
"In 2015, the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson accepted the National Academy of Science's most prestigious award. His acceptance speech makes the argument for ensuring that science plays a big role in policymaking. Inspired by the short and eloquent Gettysburg Address, Dr. Tyson makes his case in just 272 words."
This short article and video indicate several ways that virtual education can be superior: from college prep work that could not be offered in a local high school to inner city schools where it's hard to keep teachers on site, from far-flung rural homes to over-crowded schools. The entry of online-courseware entrepreneurs, who sell curricula to school districts, is also changing the education game. Might there really be a chance to change the industrial assembly line version of education?
"Society confronts educational change in an odd, entirely counter intuitive manner. On one hand we acknowledge that education can and should do a better job of preparing our children for the future while on the other we cling to the models of education that we knew. This led educational writer Will Richardson to state that ‘the biggest barrier to rethinking schooling in response to the changing worldscape is our own experience in schools’. Our understandings of what school should be like and our imaginings of what school could be like are so clouded by this experience that even the best evidence for change is overlooked or mistrusted."
"Papert’s seminal work, Mindstorms, is both a manifesto and a blueprint for EdTech. Few books explain so lucidly the transformative potential of computers in promoting student-centred learning. Fewer still provide practical steps for realising this potential.
"A central focus of Mindstorms is how computers are primed to support mathematical thinking. Using clear language and practical tools, Papert lays out a compelling case for putting computers at the heart of school mathematics."
A nice tribute to and explanation of Papert's work. Learning by doing is not just for maths!
Our first task needs to be understanding the culture that comes to our class with the students. Their history with schooling will frame how they begin to engage as a group. The particular mix of personalities, dispositions, beliefs, values, norms and attitudes present will begin to emerge. This is the clay with which we must begin to shape that classroom culture we imagine and just like an artist we must understand the material we have to work with. This idea of working with the already present culture of the class is critical, efforts to impose a culture on any group through authority is doomed to fail. A culture of respect can not be constructed on a foundation of fear.
The point at which we imagine we have understood the culture already at play is also the ideal time to stop and look again. Culture is not easily read and the danger at this early stage is that our initial impressions will prove false. Sociologists understand the difficulties of reading a culture form a privileged position of power or authority and who is a more privileged reader of classroom culture than the teacher. Exploring what the students have to say about the culture of the classroom and learning to truly listen to what they have to say with both their voices and their actions is critical. So to is understanding how the students read us by what we say, what we value and what we do.
How best to teach vocabulary? Organized by semantic set? By theme? This article has some interesting research:
"The answer depends, to some extent, on the level of the learner. For advanced learners, it appears to make no, or little, difference (Al-Jabri, 2005, cited by Ellis & Shintani, 2014: 106). But, for the vast majority of English language learners (i.e. those at or below B2 level), the research is clear: the most effective way of organising vocabulary items to be learnt is by grouping them into thematic sets (2) or by mixing words together in a semantically unrelated way (3) – not by teaching sets like ‘personality adjectives’. It is surprising how surprising this finding is to so many teachers and materials writers. It goes back at least to 1988 and West’s article on ‘Catenizing’ in ELTJ, which argued that semantic grouping made little sense from a psycho-linguistic perspective. Since then, a large amount of research has taken place. This is succinctly summarised by Paul Nation (2013: 128) in the following terms: Avoid interference from related words. Words which are similar in form (Laufer, 1989) or meaning (Higa, 1963; Nation, 2000; Tinkham, 1993; Tinkham, 1997; Waring, 1997) are more difficult to learn together than they are to learn separately. For anyone who is interested, the most up-to-date review of this research that I can find is in chapter 11 of Barcroft (2105)."
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