Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time
Jane E. Pollock
It's packed full of stuff, so I can't possibly do it justice here. Read it.
1. Replacing Hope with Certainty
2. Learning Targets
3. Instructional Planning and Delivery
4. Varied Classroom Assessments
5. Feedback, Record Keeping, and Reporting
When I had my own children, my attitude toward my students and my teaching started to change. I was finally able to see my students as someone's kids. It forces you to question some things. One section of the book has a teacher discussing this idea. Are our lessons good enough for our own kids?
"'Research has consistently indicated that criterion-referenced feedback has a more powerful effect on student learning than norm-referenced feedback'" (31).
I think this shows the importance of a clearly written learning objective and a rubric. Rather than judging a student's work against other work, it's judged against a learning objective or a rubric. That leads to the easy discussion of how to improve.
"Recent research on the ways humans remember information indicates that when one spends time steeped in facts about a topic, one organizes and reorganizes memory points to retrieve and use later in spontaneous, independent applications... [Y]ou will more likely be able to use that information independently if you apply a technique to rehearse it, such as taking notes, creating a nonlinguistic presentation, or asking questions" (33).
In one of the videos from edutopia or Teaching Channel, a teacher talked about the notes that she expected her students to write--they organized the notes in graphic organizers. In math, I think it's foolish to expect students to cover their paper in examples and points, and study it later. Some can, but many of them are confused by their own notes. If a graphic organizer is included for each topic, that would help them revisit and remember.
"Many teachers say they teach with pedagogical automaticity, but for most of them, this translates to teaching on automatic pilot. When they notice that their students do not seem engaged with the content, they nevertheless continue to teach the lesson in the same way or attempt to modify their students' behavior with homework, quiet time, or a noninstructional measure" (60).
Because of time and the scope and sequence, it's difficult to stop for anything. You feel like you have to just keep plowing ahead. We have to stop and throw in an activity like Pass the Clap, or a dance, or something. Just take a moment and re-energize them.
"Neurologists indicate that reorganizing information builds neural networks, which helps us remember more and construct new meanings from what we remember. Essential to our students is that they learn to organize and reorganize the information in the curriculum in order to achieve a particular purpose. This is the essential reason why we teach students to think" (88).
"Procedural knowledge is hard to learn, but also hard to forget, so assessments that take place after repetitions elicit accurate and valid data about the individual's performance... [W]e know that when we memorize facts, we disregard deeply understanding the information. We memorize the knowledge for recall but aren't able to apply it to achieve a particular purpose at a later time" (89).
"Research shows that the average elementary teacher may ask as many as 348 questions a day, whereas the students may not ask any... I believe that any teacher who commits to testing for thinking is obliged to teach thinking" (94).
"Imagine the depth of understanding that would result if students could use tools that would demonstrate their thinking or organize their thoughts, make better use of the tools available to access information and summarize it efficiently, create or find images that would reflect and support their thinking or understanding, and facilitate interaction with others who could provide differing points of view and unique perspectives" (99).
In this day and age, it's so easy to find Web 2.0 applications online and have students create a product that others can evaluate.
"In order for performance to accelerate or advance, one needs feedback on just-right criteria and the opportunity to apply or practice that performance again and again" (104).
If I've learned anything in the last month, I've learned that effective feedback trumps grades. We slap a grade on an assignment and move on. Oh, sure, we may take a moment and talk about the assignment with the class, but that's not a personal feedback that many kids absolutely need. Plus, after the grade, we may stop and move on to something else, forgetting that the students need time to practice again. We really need to rethink this grade thing.