Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#Educoach Chat 7/25: Visible Learning: Chapter 5 Prep

Hattie begins chapter five of Visible Learning for Teaching with an interesting title, "Starting the Lesson."  I've found myself often teaching in a continuum: together students and I pose the learning goal(s), create a prioritized menu of activities, chart students ready for conferences, list students who need peer support, answer questions and then everyone goes about their learning actions, checking in when necessary.  So the idea of a singular lesson has somewhat disappeared in my classroom as I embrace project base learning. Yet as I read this chapter title, I surmise that I'll leave the chapter with a focused look at the balanced approach to instruction including lessons, projects and units--not one or two, but a combination of all three approaches and probably more.

At the end of the chapter, I found myself wanting to institute a similar academic continuum as noted above, yet I want to tighten up that continuum so that goals, processes and evaluations are more explicit and intentional. Every decision we make as teachers impact students' learning, and as Hattie's research demonstrates our thoughtful, targeted decisions about classroom climate, processes, disposition and assessment are integral when it comes to orchestrating our work for student success.

Below I've listed a large number of Hattie's research-based recommendations for the classroom environment and learning endeavors.

  • Fair and Caring: Teachers care about and believe in their students.
  • Passion: Teachers are passionate about learning and want to "turn you on."
  • Ability to ask questions and say, "I don't know" or "I need help."
  • Trust: optimal teacher-student relationship
  • Students know they are listened to.
  • Students know that the purpose of the class is to learn and make progress.
  • Reasonable sense of control and safety so students can partake in the learning process with confidence.
  • Mindful teachers who understand and are aware of all that is going on.
  • Students who have been taught how to work in groups, and have the chance to practice, reflect on and refine those skills often.
  • High relational trust among the school community (principals, students, teachers, parents) leads to greater improvement on standardized tests. Relational trust includes respect for the roles each person plays, competence in carrying out one's role, personal regard and care for one another, and integrity--the consistency between what one says and does. 
  • An atmosphere that acknowledges that failure and error are stepping stones to learning and should be embraced.
  • "Less teacher-dominated talk, and more student talking and involvement." Too much teacher talk puts teachers in the focal point of the classroom rather than students--teachers become the owners of content, not students.
  • "The more important task is for teachers to listen."  Listening "requires not only showing respect for others' views and evaluating the students' views. . .but also allows for sharing genuine depth of thinking and processing in our questioning, and permitting the dialogue so necessary if we are to engage students successfully in learning."
  • Foster "dialogic talk" which "aims to promote communication with and between students, to demonstrate the value of the views of the students, and to help participants to share and build meaning collaboratively." Purposeful dialogic talk includes reviewing what has gone on before, repeating student answers, asking questions to stimulate recall, paraphrasing a student's response so the class can gain a better understanding, encouraging students to think and remember what has been discussed, collective tasks--learning together, reciprocal--listening to each other, sharing ideas, supportive--encouraging each other, acknowledging that mistakes are part of learning, cumulative--building on each others' ideas and purposeful--planning with clear intentions and criteria.
  • Students ask most of the questions, the classroom is dominated by students' questions. Using strategic questioning techniques by and for students throughout lessons improves student engagement and learning--teaches students how to utilize questions in the learning process.
  • There needs to be a similar balance between talk, listen and do for both teachers and students in the classroom.
  • Move the focus to process and skills over content and achieve a balance of three modes of teaching and learning: 
    • didactic: students learn concepts/curriculum
    • coaching labs: students learn through practice and mastering skills.
    • Socratic seminars: questioning leads students to question, listen, think critically and communicate their ideas effectively to group members and others.
  • Establish a balance of surface and deep learning "leading to students more successfully constructing defensible theories of knowing and reality (conceptual level)."
  • Students know what teachers value--teachers' response demonstrates that.
  • Use the power of peers to positively progress learning: "peers can influence learning by helping, tutoring, providing friendship, giving feedback, and making school a place to which students want to come each day."
  • Cooperative and competitive (personal bests, personal levels of achievement) learning are more effective than individualistic methods of learning. Tutoring is also an effective peer method of learning and teaching.
  • Rarely label and have high expectations for all students--know each student well, and respond accordingly with regard to teaching.
  • The effect we have on student learning is more important than a singular strategy; we often need multiple strategies and innovative approaches to help students learn.  When students do not learn, they often don't need more, they need different.
  • Teachers' fundamental role is that of activators and evaluators of learning
  • Engage students in the role of activators and evaluators of their own learning. Institute a process of establishing goals, outlining process, actively engaging in learning, evaluating and determining next steps. 
  • While teachers can enlist the interests, questions and experiences of students in the learning endeavor, they should direct the overall learning goals and guide student work toward goals that are worthy and integral to a students' engagement, confidence and success.