Intuition vs evidence: the power of prediction

2015-01-26T12:37:57+00:00May 8th, 2014|myths|

I wrote earlier in the week about why, despite it's limitations, research is better than a hunch. Since then, I've been reading Daniel Willingham's article on Real Clear Education; he says that it's not that people are stupid but that science is hard. He refers to the nobel prize winning physicist Carl Weiman whose interest in science education came from many years of working closely with physics undergraduates and observing that "their success in physics courses was such a poor predictor of a student’s ultimate success as a physicist." Or in other words, performance was not a useful indication of learning. Weiman argues that rigorous eduction [...]

Motivation: when the going gets tough, the tough get going

2014-02-06T17:47:22+00:00August 26th, 2013|learning, planning|

If ever you get embroiled in a discussion on Learning Styles you may well be confronted with the chestnut of motivation. Learning styles, it seems to me, are all about motivation and management, and nothing whatsoever to do with learning. There is of course a correlation between learning and motivation but often they get conflated. Much of what goes on in classrooms is predicated on the belief that if kids are sufficiently engaged in an activity, they will learn from it. But it doesn't take a genius to spot that we can really enjoy something without learning a whole lot from [...]

The problem with fun

2016-10-02T13:38:59+01:00August 22nd, 2013|learning, planning|

Getting students engaged so that they can be taught something seems much less effective than getting them engaged by teaching them something that engages them. Dylan Wiliam Could fun be the enemy of learning? I've not always been the curmudgeonly killjoy I am today. Some years ago, I took part in a department meeting where we were asked to prioritise those qualities we most valued about teaching. We came up with all the tiresomely worthy answers you might expect, but, somewhat controversially, I insisted on including 'fun'. The case I made went something like this: I don't teach for the money, I [...]

Teaching sequence for developing independence Stage 1: Explain

2013-08-29T18:51:34+01:00June 26th, 2013|Featured, learning, Teaching sequence|

"Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process." EB White There are some definite pit falls to avoid in explaining things to kids. The biggest criticism of teachers talking is that it's boring. And, generally speaking, boring kids is not a good way to get them to learn stuff. But to suggest that teachers should therefore avoid explaining their subjects to students is a bizarre leap. Surely it would be vastly more sensible to expend our efforts in improving teachers' ability to explain? This then is the aim [...]

What is meta-cognition and can we teach it?

2014-05-10T22:15:59+01:00June 1st, 2013|Featured, learning|

Meta-cognition is one of those terms that gets bandied about in educational circles as if we all know exactly what it is. And we do: it's...er...thinking about thinking, isn't it? Ever since the Education Endowment Foundation cited meta-cognition and self-regulation as the second highest impact strategy teachers can use in the class room I've felt I should be a bit clearer about what it actually is. They describe it as follows: Meta-cognitive and self-regulation strategies (sometimes known as ‘learning to learn’ strategies) are teaching approaches which make learners think about learning more explicitly. This is usually by teaching pupils specific strategies [...]

The problem with progress Part 3: Designing lessons for learning

2014-05-25T18:20:25+01:00February 16th, 2013|Featured, learning, planning, SOLO|

Over my last couple of posts I've suggested that you can't see learning in lessons, you can only infer it from students' performance. This means that as a teacher, when you get students to respond to exit passes, signal with traffic lights and otherwise engage in formative assessment what you see are merely cued responses to stimuli. What I mean by that is that the tasks we set students to check whether they've learned what we've taught only tell us how they are performing at that particular time and in those particular circumstances; they offer no indication whether the feckless buggers [...]

How should we teach reading?

2015-10-23T20:58:41+01:00February 29th, 2012|English, Featured, literacy, reading|

A few months ago I posted a piece in which Roy Blatchford (founder of The National Education Trust) outlined his manifesto for ensuring that every child gets at least a C grade in English. But, reading is complex. So how exactly should we teach children to read? This vexing question is utmost in many teachers' minds and is tangled up in three separate issues: Decoding - the process of turning symbols into sounds - generally taught using synthetic phonics Understanding - actually comprehending what's been read after it's been decoded Enjoyment - it's World Book Day tomorrow and getting kids to enjoy [...]

Hexagonal Learning

2012-01-28T14:52:41+00:00January 28th, 2012|English, learning, SOLO|

The mantra of all successful lesson observations these days is that students should be seen to be making progress. Perhaps the best way to show that you’re having an impact on their knowledge and understanding is to show that the learning is ‘deep’. By that I mean, knowledge that transfers from students’ working memories into their long-term memories. Students understand new ideas by relating them to existing ones. If they don't know enough about a subject they won’t have a solid base from which to make connections to prior knowledge. Students are more likely to remember learning if they "make their [...]

What's deep learning & how do you do it?

2011-11-09T00:08:16+00:00November 9th, 2011|learning|

So, deep learning. What's all that about then? I've just been dipping into Evidence Based Teaching by Geoff Petty and then cross referencing his advice with Why Don't Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham. How sad is that? Fairly sad for a Tuesday evening when I've got a cold and my wife's already gone to bed. Sad, but I think necessary. You see, I've come a long way in past few months. I've begun to have a healthy scepticism for whatever anyone tells me. I've also begun to re-evaluate my position that skills are more important than knowledge which, at least [...]

Should we be teaching knowledge or skills?

2011-11-02T20:31:31+00:00November 2nd, 2011|learning, SOLO|

It is a truth universally acknowledged that our education system isn’t quite up to snuff. And at that point virtually all agreement ceases. There are those on which we might loosely term the ‘right’ of the divide who point to PISA scores, claim that we’re in the middle of a crisis and suggest that a return to traditional values is the way forward. Oh, and Free Schools are good too. Then there are the proponents of the ‘left’ who think that the current emphasis of schools does not fit us for a future in which compliance will no longer be rewarded. [...]

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