Monday, September 6, 2010

Top Ten Think Abouts Numbers 3-1

Top Ten Think Abouts are some concepts of pedagogy that I heard from Robin Fogarty and Brian M. Pete. Fogarty and Pete are a married couple who entertainingly deliver important and useful tips and activities for teachers to implement in their classrooms. This post has two prequels; which can be found here (10-8) and here (7-4).

In this post, I will give you the last three educational musings that got me thinking about ways I could improve my teaching. I hope the last three and the previous seven were as inspiring as I thought they were.

Without further ado, the Top 3:

3. Formative assessment must include a recipe for future action.
"Assessment is today's means of understanding tomorrow's instruction." - Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson

What research says:
D.R. Sadler's meta-analysis (Formative Assessment: Revisiting the Territory), of his own work and with consideration of Black and Wiliam's research in formative assessment*, maintains that it's the quality of formative assessment, not the quantity, that wins the day. Formative assessment has "coaching value" allowing students to see where they are flourishing and where they need improvements.

Black, P., and Wiliam, D., (1998). Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice; Mar1998, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p7, 68p

What it might look like:
Let's say that you just finished a great lesson about desert biome food webs. You want to find out how much your students understood. Just before dismissal you have your students fill out an exit slip. You collect the slips as they leave the class. You quickly read through the slips to determine if they are understanding, or if they need further instruction.

2. Take learning to another level.

What research says:
Usually when talking about "taking it to the next level" in education you might first think about Benjamin Bloom, creator of Bloom's taxonomy; a categorized hierarchy of learning where remembering is at the lowest level and creating is at the highest level. The idea of Bloom's taxomony is that each step up in category is an increase in student thinking skills. For example, it doesn't take as much cognitive skill recalling the seven continents, than it does creating a map including the seven continents and their relative locations.
Bloom's Taxonomy  (Revised)

The key idea is to create learning opportunities that encourage students to think at higher levels.

What it might look like:
After teaching your students about the benefits of daily exercise, you ask your students to discuss the benefits of a daily exercise (remembering). Then you have your students categorize, and provide support for, the top three benefits  of daily exercise (evaluating). 

Example (categories in parenthesis):
Keeps the heart healthy (physical health)
Provides time for yourself (personal time)
Potential for improving mental health (emotional health)

1. “The person who is doing the talking is doing the learning.” -- Robin Fogarty

What research says:
Robin Fogarty writes, "They (students) must be doing majority of the talking in the classroom." Research says that students who are actively engaged in their learning tend to do better academically. Fogarty urges teachers to keep in mind the question of "Who's doing the talking?" while teaching. Allow ample opportunities for discussion on the topics you're teaching. Doug Harwood's study suggests that teachers play an important role as coaches of student discussion. Walk around the room while the discussion is happening. Interject, encourage, rephrase, applaud and redirect student discussions to help your students get the most out of their talk. Let students learn from each other. Let them take control of their learning.

What it might look like:
If you are looking to decrease the amount of time you talk, and increase the amount of time your students talk you might begin by introducing small group discussion opportunities a little at a time. Let yourself get used to giving up the stage. You might try a strategy called Think, Pair, Share. You pose a question for students to think about; give them time to formulate an answer. On your cue, "Pair." students pair up with a neighbor. Then once every student has a partner, you ask them to share. Regroup the students and find what some groups had to say.

If you liked that strategy you might like the other strategies listed in this blog archive.

I hope you enjoyed the Top Ten. I wish you the best in your new school year, or where ever you teach!

1 comment:

Melissalynn217 said...

I love think, pair, share. It allows children the time to discuss a topic and build upon rules of dialogue.

I have often said that children can learn more from one another than they can by being lectured to all day.