Professor Daniel Willingham looks at multi-tasking and concludes that even though kids today may like to multi-task, there's no reason to think that they are different than previous generations; they don't *need* to multi-task to be engaged and, like everyone else, kids today can't do two things at once as well as they can do one.
What’s the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, “Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wed
Mel Riddile's insight:
Chunk size is critical to student learning and retention. In most classrooms the chunk size is much too large. We need smaller, digestible lesson segments with frequent checks for understanding and formative assessments.
New teachers have an opportunity to create a classroom where students feel secure, valued & successful. Veteran Cheryl Mizerny shares ideas that work for her.
"As teachers begin this school year, their thoughts undoubtedly turn to the classroom climate they want to establish and maintain. One question that I am often asked (especially by newer teachers) is what kind of classroom management program I use. My answer is that I don’t.
What I prefer instead is to develop a classroom that does not require a system to handle misbehavior because it so rarely occurs. No checkmarks on the board, no list of consequences, no rewards. Just engaged, productive, friendly students."
Mel Riddile's insight:
Good instruction minimizes bad behavior.
Where there is a vacuum, negativity will fill it. Master teachers create procedures and routines in which there is no down time.
They create an emotionally safe and inviting environment in which it is easy to do the right thing.
Master teachers know that the beginning of a lesson sets the tone. A consistent beginning of a lesson allows the teacher to focus on learning by making behavior automatic.
Just because a question comes from a higher grade level doesn’t make it rigorous. And rigor is surely not an absolute but relative criterion, referring to the intersection of the learner’s prior learning and the demands of the question. (This will make mass testing very difficult, of course).
To me, rigor has (at least) 3 other aspects when testing:
learners must face a novel (-seeming) question,
do something with an atypically high degree of precision and skill
both invent and double-check the approach and result, be it in math or writing a paper.
The novel (or novel-seeming) aspect to the challenge typically means that there is some new context, look and feel, changed constraint, or other superficial oddness than what happened in prior instruction and testing. (i.e. what Bloom said had to be true of any “application” task in the Taxonomy).
I'm particularly struck by what Dan Ariely calls "The Ikea Effect" - people value something more because of the labor they invested into creating it. This idea was reinforced by a study published last month that showed that students tended to be less interested in learning new things if they felt that their teacher told them everything they needed to know.
Professor Daniel Willingham describes why content knowledge is essential to reading with comprehension, and why teaching reading strategies alone is not sufficient that students read with good comprehension.
A recently released longitudinal study reveals that "an engaged student from a low socio-economic background will have better opportunities in life than a disengaged child from a more privileged background."
On a recent school visit, I was discussing student engagement with a group of school leaders when a member of the group offered the following observation: "I think teachers are reluctant to turn the class over to a guided activity because they are concerned about classroom management."
Teachers cannot teach if they cannot manage classroom behavior. They know that and we know that. Unless we build teacher capacity to engage students in guided group activities, they will be reluctant to "stop talking" because they are afraid they will lose control. In other words, teachers must be taught what to do when they stop talking and students are working.
Remember, the brain that does the work does the learning. If we expect to dramatically increase the amount of student work and simultaneously decrease the amount of teacher talk, we must build the capacity of teachers to check for understanding and facilitate group processes while keeping all the students on-task.
Most teachers make the big mistake of spending too much time with a few individuals and while they are "fixing" those few students, the rest of the class gets off-task. It does not take long for teachers to figure out that this is not working and they revert back to their comfort zone and a teacher-centered style of instruction.
Furthermore, the natural tendency to "fix" struggling students actually has the unintended consequence of creating "dependent" students, who quickly learn that, if they wait until the teacher stops talking to raise their hand, the teacher will come over and do their work for them. So, not only are were losing control of the class, but we are creating dependent learners who will not even attempt to complete the assignment because they know the teacher will bail them out.
Years of implementing a school wide instructional framework taught me that our teachers had to have a strategy for keeping students on-task and engaged while they circulated through the room. Fred Jones’s Praise, Prompt, and Leave (PPL) strategy is one that we found particularly useful for strengthening student engagement.
Keys to Implementation of PPL
We asked teachers to:
Begin the year using groups of two (collaborative pairs), which were easier to manage and easier to keep on-task.
Chunk the lesson or task into smaller segments.
Keep the outcome in mind. The goal was not to fix students, but rather to ensure that they were on-task and that the students demonstrated understanding of the task at hand.
Don't let too many students get to far off course! When needed stop the group activity and re-teach a key point. The only way the teacher knows whether students are off course is to circulate throughout the classroom checking for understanding.
Motion creates emotion. An effective teacher moved around the classroom with ease and did not get stuck instructing one or two students.
Every 10-12 minutes of group activity refocus the students and point out any key concepts or share your observations.
Follow a simple three step process:
Praise - Point out where the student is and what the student has done so far.
Prompt - Tell the student what to do next and that you will be back to check on them.
Leave - Spend as little time with each student as possible. The goal is to check on the understanding of all students not to re-teach a few students.
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