Cake, cake, cake. That’s the theme for today’s update! — from Pooja Agarwal and retrievalpractice.org

In addition to loving cake, this sweet delight illustrates how we can best support learning in the classroom: with retrieval practice, formative assessment, and summative assessment.

Read on for yummy goodness:

  • How these three ingredients are similar and different
  • Why this combination makes for a perfect cake
  • Why learning is not a bake off, cupcake war, or throw down (sorry to disappoint!)

Three key ingredients for learning
Chances are, you’re familiar with this two-part process:

Formative assessment: Checking on and monitoring students’ learning, which provides teachers and students with information about progress. We think of formative assessment as inserting a toothpick to see how the cake is doing while it’s baking.

Summative assessment: Discovering what students know by measuring learning. This is when we get to celebrate accomplishments with cake and also get a sense of what can be improved upon.

But where does retrieval practice fit in?

Retrieval practice: Learning how to crack an egg, measure ingredients, and mix it all together. This is when we embrace mistakes rather than emphasize perfection, because challenges are a good thing for learning.

What does this mean for you?

Key similarity: All three involve bringing information to mind. In other words, they all require retrieval! From the outside, it can look like one seamless process, and that’s a good thing. Learning isn’t linear and neither is retrieval.

Key difference: Retrieval practice doesn’t require data collection. Nothing needs to be recorded in the gradebook. Retrieval is a no-stakes opportunity when students can experiment, be challenged, and improve over time.

Takeaway: For powerful learning, we must be mindful of which ingredients we’re using, which stage we’re in, and how we can incorporate even more retrieval practice throughout the entire learning (and baking) process.

 



Also, be sure to see their guides here:

Go to retrievalpractice.org/library to see some great guides on using retrieval practice



 

Where teachers can find free audiobooks for their students — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Audiobooks are fantastic ways to bring stories to life in your classroom and keep students engaged. Reading Rockets explains, “Audiobooks have traditionally been used in schools by teachers of second-language learners, learning-disabled students, and struggling readers or nonreaders. In many cases, audiobooks have proven successful in providing a way for these students to access literature and enjoy books.” However, educators have found that audiobooks benefit all students!

Unfortunately, audiobooks are pricey, so you should not expect your students to have them at home. You should also not plan on spending large amounts of money to build your audiobook collection for your classroom. For instance, the widely popular Audible site for downloadable audiobooks is a subscription-based service, but it only allows you to choose one book per month. Instead, take advantage of the wealth of free audiobooks available for teachers and students.

 

 

What is a learning ecosystem? And how does it support corporate strategy? [Eudy]

What is a learning ecosystem? And how does it support corporate strategy? — from ej4.com by Ryan Eudy

Excerpt:

learning ecosystem is a system of people, content, technology, culture, and strategy, existing both within and outside of an organization, all of which has an impact on both the formal and informal learning that goes on in that organization.

The word “ecosystem” is worth paying attention to here. It’s not just there to make the term sound fancy or scientific. A learning ecosystem is the L&D equivalent of an ecosystem out in the wild. Just as a living ecosystem has many interacting species, environments, and the complex relationships among them, a learning ecosystem has many people and pieces of content, in different roles and learning contexts, and complex relationships.

Just like a living ecosystem, a learning ecosystem can be healthy or sick, nurtured or threatened, self-sustaining or endangered. Achieving your development goals, then, requires an organization to be aware of its own ecosystem, including its parts and the internal and external forces that shape them.

 

From DSC:
Yes, to me, the concept/idea of a learning ecosystem IS important. Very important. So much so, I named this blog after it.

Each of us as individuals have a learning ecosystem, whether we officially recognize it or not. So do the organizations that we work for. And, like an ecosystem out in nature, a learning ecosystem is constantly morphing, constantly changing.

We each have people in our lives that help us learn and grow, and the people that were in our learning ecosystems 10 years ago may or may not still be in our current learning ecosystems. Many of us use technologies and tools to help us learn and grow. Then there are the spaces where we learn — both physical and virtual spaces. Then there are the processes and procedures we follow, formally and/or informally. Any content that helps us learn and grow is a part of that ecosystem. Where we get that content can change, but obtaining up-to-date content is a part of our learning ecosystems. I really appreciate streams of content in this regard — and tapping into blogs/websites, especially via RSS feeds and Feedly (an RSS aggregator that took off when Google Reader left the scene).

The article brings up a good point when it states that a learning ecosystem can be “healthy or sick, nurtured or threatened, self-sustaining or endangered.” That’s why I urge folks to be intentional about maintaining and, better yet, consistently enhancing their learning ecosystems. In this day and age where lifelong learning is now a requirement to remain in the workforce, each of us needs to be intentional in this regard.

 

 

Delaying the grade: How to get students to read feedback — from cultofpedagogy.com by Kristy Louden

Excerpt:

This meant that I could return papers with comments but without grades.

And from this a whole new system was born: Return papers to students with only feedback. Delay the delivery of the actual grade so student focus moves from the grade to the feedback.

The simple act of delaying the grade meant that students had to think about their writing. They had to read their own writing—after a few weeks away from it—and digest my comments, which allowed them to better recognize what they did well or not so well. The response from students was extremely positive; they understood the benefit of rereading their essays and paying attention to feedback. One boy said, “Mrs. Louden, you’re a genius. I’ve never read what a teacher writes on my essay before, and now I have to.”

 

From DSC:
I’m including higher ed in the tags here…as this could be effective for college students as well. College students who have long played the game of getting the grade…simply playing the system and putting the ownership and development of their learning much lower on the priority list. Let’s help students stop outsourcing their learning.

 

 

 

Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem — from edu2030.agorize.com
How might we empower people to design their own learning journeys so they can lead purposeful and economically stable lives?

Excerpts:

The problem
Technology is rapidly transforming the way we live, learn, and work. Entirely new jobs are emerging as others are lost to automation. People are living longer, yet switching jobs more often. These dramatic shifts call for a reimagining of the way we prepare for work and life—specifically, how we learn new skills and adapt to a changing economic landscape.

The changes ahead are likely to hurt most those who can least afford to manage them: low-income and first generation learners already ill-served by our existing postsecondary education system. Our current system stifles economic mobility and widens income and achievement gaps; we must act now to ensure that we have an educational ecosystem flexible and fair enough to help all people live purposeful and economically stable lives. And if we are to design solutions proportionate to this problem, new technologies must be called on to scale approaches that reach the millions of vulnerable people across the country.

 

The challenge
How might we empower people to design their own learning journeys so they can lead purposeful and economically stable lives?

The Challenge—Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem—seeks bold ideas for how our postsecondary education system could be reimagined to foster equity and encourage learner agency and resilience. We seek specific pilots to move us toward a future in which all learners can achieve economic stability and lead purposeful lives. This Challenge invites participants to articulate a vision and then design pilot projects for a future ecosystem that has the following characteristics:

Expands access: The educational system must ensure that all people—including low-income learners who are disproportionately underserved by the current higher education system—can leverage education to live meaningful and economically stable lives.

Draws on a broad postsecondary ecosystem: While college and universities play a vital role in educating students, there is a much larger ecosystem in which students learn. This ecosystem includes non-traditional “classes” or alternative learning providers, such as MOOCs, bootcamps, and online courses as well as on-the-job training and informal learning. Our future learning system must value the learning that happens in many different environments and enable seamless transitions between learning, work, and life.

 

From DSC:
This is where I could see a vision similar to Learning from the Living [Class] Room come into play. It would provide a highly affordable, accessible platform, that would offer more choice, and more control to learners of all ages. It would be available 24×7 and would be a platform that supports lifelong learning. It would combine a variety of AI-enabled functionalities with human expertise, teaching, training, motivation, and creativity.

It could be that what comes out of this challenge will lay the groundwork for a future, massive new learning platform.

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

Also see:

 

From DSC:
I just found out about the work going out at LearningScientists.org.

I was very impressed after my initial review of their materials! What I really appreciate about their work is that they are serious in identifying some highly effective means of how we learn best — pouring over a great deal of research in order to do so. But they don’t leave things there. They help translate that research into things that teachers can then try out in the classroom. This type of practical, concrete help is excellent and needed!

  • Daniel Willingham and some of his colleagues take research and help teachers apply it as well
  • Another person who does this quite well is Pooja Agarwal, an Assistant Professor, Cognitive Scientist, & former K-12 Teacher. Pooja is teaming up with Patrice Bain to write a forthcoming book entitled, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning!  She founded and operates the RetrievalPractice.org site.)

From the LearningScientists.org website (emphasis DSC):

We are cognitive psychological scientists interested in research on education. Our main research focus is on the science of learning. (Hence, “The Learning Scientists”!)

Our Vision is to make scientific research on learning more accessible to students, teachers, and other educators.

Click the button below to learn more about us. You can also check out our social media pages: FacebookTwitterInstagram, & Tumblr.

 

They have a solid blog, podcast, and some valuable downloadable content.

 

 

 

In the downloadable content area, the posters that they’ve created (or ones like them) should be posted at every single facility where learning occurs — K-12 schools, community colleges, colleges, universities, libraries of all kinds, tutoring centers, etc. It may be that such posters — and others like them that encourage the development of metacognitive skills of our students — are out there. I just haven’t run into them.

For example, here’s a poster on learning how to study using spaced practice:

 

 

 

 

Anyway, there’s some great work out there at LearningScientists.org!

 

 


Also relevant here, see:

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I vote that we change the color that we grade papers — whether on paper (harcopy) or whether via digitally/electronically-based annotations — from red to green. Why? Because here’s how I see the colors:

  • RED:
    • Failure. 
    • You got it wrong. Bad job.
    • Danger
    • Stop!
    • Can be internalized as, “I’m no good at (writing, math, social studies, science, etc…..) and I’ll never be any good at it (i.e., the fixed mindset; I was born this way and I can’t change things).
  • GREEN:
    • Growth
      • As in spring, flowers appearing, new leaves on the trees, new life
      • As in support of a growth mindset
      • It helps with more positive thoughts/internalized messages: I may have got it wrong, but I can use this as a teaching moment; this feedback helps me grow…it helps me identify my knowledge and/or skills gaps
    • Health
    • Go (not stop); i.e., keep going, keep learning
    • May help develop more of a love of learning (or at least have more positive experiences with learning, vs feeling threatened or personally put down)

 

 

 

50 animation tools and resources for digital learners — from teachthought.com by Lisa Chesser, opencolleges.edu.au

Excerpt:

Some of the animation links cataloged here will give educators very basic tools and histories of animation while others have the animation already created and set in motion, it’s just a matter of sharing it with students. Educators need to decide which tool is best for them. If you want to create your own animation from scratch, then you want to go to sites such as Animwork. If you want to select from an animation that’s already set up, for you then perhaps Explainia makes more sense. One of the easiest ways to animate, however, isn’t with your own camera and modeling clay, it’s with your links to sites that hand you everything within their own forums. Use the first part of this list for creating original animation or using animation tools to create lessons. Use the second part to select animated lessons that are already completed and set to share.

 

 

 

Students are being prepared for jobs that no longer exist. Here’s how that could change. — from nbcnews.com by Sarah Gonser, The Hechinger Report
As automation disrupts the labor market and good middle-class jobs disappear, schools are struggling to equip students with future-proof skills.

Excerpts:

In many ways, the future of Lowell, once the largest textile manufacturing hub in the United States, is tied to the success of students like Ben Lara. Like many cities across America, Lowell is struggling to find its economic footing as millions of blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, construction and transportation disappear, subject to offshoring and automation.

The jobs that once kept the city prosperous are being replaced by skilled jobs in service sectors such as health care, finance and information technology — positions that require more education than just a high-school diploma, thus squeezing out many of those blue-collar, traditionally middle-class workers.

 

As emerging technologies rapidly and thoroughly transform the workplace, some experts predict that by 2030 400 million to 800 million people worldwide could be displaced and need to find new jobs. The ability to adapt and quickly acquire new skills will become a necessity for survival.

 

 

“We’re preparing kids for these jobs of tomorrow, but we really don’t even know what they are,” said Amy McLeod, the school’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “It’s almost like we’re doing this with blinders on. … We’re doing all we can to give them the finite skills, the computer languages, the programming, but technology is expanding so rapidly, we almost can’t keep up.”

 

 

 

For students like Amber, who would rather do just about anything but go to school, the Pathways program serves another function: It makes learning engaging, maybe even fun, and possibly keeps her in school and on track to graduate.

“I think we’re turning kids off to learning in this country by putting them in rows and giving them multiple-choice tests — the compliance model,” McLeod said. “But my hope is that in the pathways courses, we’re teaching them to love learning. And they’re learning about options in the field — there’s plenty of options for kids to try here.”

 

 

 

From DSC:
I have been trying to blog more about learning how to learn — and to provide some more resources on metacognition and the like.

Along these lines — and with permission from the author — the following excerpt is from Quentin Schultze’s solid book, Communicate like a True Leader (pages 35 & 36).  I asked Quin if I could share this excerpt because I think it’s a great strategy to share with students. Whether they know it or not, learning how to learn is THEE key skill these days.

Quin would also emphasize some other items such as listening, attending to reality, communicating effectively with others, and more…but my focus here is on learning strategies.  So I share it in the hope that it will help some of you students out there just as it helped Quin.

 

 

During the beginning of my sophomore year, I started reviewing each day’s class notes after classes were over. I soon realized how little I recalled even of that day’s lectures and discussions. It dawned on me that normal note-taking merely gave me the impression that I was learning. I implemented a strategy that revolutionized my learning, launched me successfully into graduate school, helped me become a solid teacher, equipped me to be a productive researcher-writer, and made it possible for me to be an engaging speaker.

I not only reviewed my notes daily. I rewrote them from scratch within a couple of hours of each class meeting. I used my actual course notes as prompts to recall more of the lecture and to help me organize my own reactions to the material. My notes expanded. My retention swelled.

My revised notes became a kind of journal of my dialogue with the instructor and the readings. I integrated into my revised course notes my daily reading notes, reworking them into language that was meaningful to me and preparing to ask the instructor at the next class anything that I was uncertain about. From then on I earned nearly straight A’s with far less cramming for exams.

Moreover, I had begun journaling about my learning — one of the most important communication skills. I became a real learner by discovering how to pay attention to others and myself.

In a broad sense, I learned how to listen.

 

 

 

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