How should we teach students to interpret texts?

2021-12-17T14:00:44+00:00December 12th, 2021|English|

The default approach to so much English teaching is to present students with a text and then say some version of, "What do you think of this?" If you're fortunate enough to teach in a selective setting with advantaged students, then this must be a very rewarding way to go about things. The students make their thoughtful suggestions, respectfully challenge each other, and hone their interpretation though the lively cut and thrust of classroom debate. I've never taught in such an environment. Sadly though, this didn't stop me taking a pretty similar approach with my students. Neither did it prevent me [...]

What do teachers need to know about Cognitive Load Theory?

2019-12-18T08:06:42+00:00December 17th, 2019|psychology|

I've come to the conclusion Sweller's Cognitive Load Theory is the single most important thing for teachers to know https://t.co/MkJJLruR8g — Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam) January 26, 2017 What do teachers need to know about Cognitive Load Theory? The short answer is, not that much. There's an awful that's been written and said about Cognitive Load Theory (CTL) in recent years and most of it is wholly unnecessary for teachers to know about. At it's heart, the theory relies on a decades old model of human cognition, generally referred to as the Working Memory Model. It's important to note that this model [...]

When do novices become experts?

2020-02-17T19:59:30+00:00February 17th, 2018|psychology|

It's a fairly well established principle of cognitive science that experts and novices think differently. Being aware of these differences can make a big difference to teachers. For instance, if we assume that most children in most situations are likely to begin as novices this could help point the way to more effective instruction. Here's a summary of some of the main differences between experts and novices. One of the most interesting findings to come out of the research into Cognitive Load Theory is the finding that experts and novices both experience cognitive overload, but experience it differently. Novices, by definition, [...]

The promise and danger of neuroscience

2017-04-26T19:57:13+01:00April 25th, 2017|myths, psychology|

With the advent of increasingly inexpensive access to brain imaging technology, neuroscience has entered a fascinating period of rapid advancement. The ability to generate images of what’s going on in our brains is hugely exciting, and the enthusiasm for trying to apply this science to education should come as no surprise. However, neuroscience is probably the ‘wrong level of description’ to provide meaningful insight into classroom practice: observing the actions of particular groups of neurons, or activity in various regions in the brain is a long way from teaching a classroom full of children. Concepts like neuroplasticity, or findings about the [...]

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