Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Language of Learning

Note that much of this language came from John Hattie's book, Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximizing Impact on Learning 
Today students took a math assessment. The assessment will provide a baseline for an individualized math fact program.

Prior to the assessment we discussed learning.  I told the students that true learning causes change--a change in action, attitude, ideas, and/or knowledge.

Then I told them that there is a success process when it comes to learning.  I showed them the diagram above and we reviewed each step with the story of how I learned to teach my son to ride a bike, and how they'll use this process to meet their fact fluency goal:

Step One: A desire or need to learn.
My son was seven, and he couldn't ride a bike.  The children in the neighborhood were riding bikes, and we were going on bike rides as a family.  The fact that he couldn't ride a bike meant he was left out of friend and family activities.  He desired to ride a bike, and we knew that this was a need.

Similarly, students need to become facile at math facts in order to learn math at a higher level with ease and success.  This isn't true in all cases, but it is true in most cases, hence this is a fourth grade goal. 

Step Two: Determine Success Criteria
In this case, it's easy, the success criteria is riding a bike.

For facts, our goal is 50 facts of each operation in three minutes or less with three or fewer errors. 

Step Three: Assess
What did my son know at the start of this learning journey?  He could ride a bike with training wheels.

What do students know as they start their math fact learning journey.  Students took a series of That Quiz tests to find out.

Step Four: Plan and Strategize
I planned to hold on, push forward, and run close to my son to help him learn.  

Students will make a plan to reach their fact goal. Students will choose from a number of strategies.

Step Five: Act, Adapt, and Assess.
At first I tried to teach my son to ride his bike on a bumpy, hilly tar road.  That didn't work.  Then I brought him to a flat, part pavement-part grass school playground.  I also added a $ bribe to encourage him to try.  That worked.

Students will try out their plan.  We'll assess regularly and adapt the plan as needed so that they reach their goals.  There will be in-school parts of the plan and at-home parts.

Step Six: Final Assessment/Next Steps
My son's final assessment was done by observation.  I observed that he had learned to ride and was ready to ride wherever he wanted to.  The next step was to take him on some bike hikes and teach him about safe bike riding.

In class, students will choose when they are ready to take the test for each operation.

Step Seven: A New Goal!

We'll revisit this learning process regularly this year as children begin to understand that they're in the driver's seat of their education--they are the most important people when it comes to setting and meeting worthwhile learning goals.