What teaching that lifts all students could look like — from kqed.org by Kristina Rizga

An initial comment from DSC:
I recently ran across this article. Although it’s from 12/24/15, it has some really solid points and strategies in it. Definitely worth a read if you are a teacher or even a parent with school age kids.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

…his comments in class about the substance of her ideas, his feedback on her writing, the enthusiasm in his voice when he discussed her thinking. Over the course of a year, that proof solidified into a confidence that couldn’t be easily shaken anymore. It was that pride in her intellect that gave her the fortitude and resilience to cut through many racial stereotypes and negative myths as she made her way through high school and then Boston University.

For McKamey, the most important value driving her teaching and coaching is her conviction that being a good teacher means hearing, seeing, and succeeding with all students—regardless of how far a student is from the teacher’s preconceived notions of what it means to be ready to learn. When teachers are driven by a belief that all of their students can learn, they are able to respond to the complexity of their students’ needs and to adjust if something is not working for a particular individual or group of students.

 

 

The best way to improve teaching and reduce the achievement gaps, McKamey argues, is to allow teachers to act as school-based researchers and leaders, justifying classroom reforms based on the broad range of performance markers of their students: daily grades, the quality of student work and the rate of its production, engagement, effort, attendance, and student comments. That means planning units together and then spending a lot of time analyzing the iterative work the students produce. This process teaches educators to recognize that there are no standard individuals, and there are as many learning trajectories as there are people. 

 

 

 

No-quiz retrieval practice techniques — from thatboycanteach.co.uk by Aidan Severs

Excerpt:

So, although quizzing is one popular (and easy) way of ensuring that facts are remembered and recalled, here are some other ways to prompt retrieval of information from the long-term memory. All of these activities could be done by individuals, in pairs or in groups:

  • Free Recall
  • Retrieve Taking
  • Think Pair Share
  • Two Things
  • Last Lesson, Last Week, Last Month (or Can You Still?)
  • Sorting
  • Linking
  • Stories, Songs, Rhymes and Mnemonics

 

 

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:
Low-stakes formative assessments offer enormous benefits and should be used extensively throughout K-12, higher education, L&D/corporate universities, in law schools, medical schools, dental schools, and more. 

Below are my notes from the following article – with the provided emphasis/bolding/highlighting via colors, etc. coming from me:

Duhart, Olympia. “The “F” Word: The Top Five Complaints (and Solutions) About Formative Assessment.” Journal of Legal Education, vol. 67, no. 2 (winter 2018), pp. 531-49. <– with thanks to Emily Horvath, Director of Academic Services & Associate Professor, WMU-Cooley Law School

 


 

“No one gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time on the day of the DMV road test. People know that practice counts.” (p. 531)

“Yet many law professors abandon this common-sense principle when it comes to teaching law students. Instead of providing multiple opportunities for practice with plenty of space to fail, adjust, and improve, many law school professors place almost everything on a single high-stakes test at the end of the semester.” (p. 531)

 

“The benefits of formative assessment are supported by cognitive science, learning theory, legal education experts, and common sense. An exhaustive review of the literature on formative assessment in various schools settings has shown that it consistently improves academic performance.” (p. 544)

 

ABA’s new formative assessment standards (see pg 23)
An emphasis on formative assessments, not just a mid-term and/or a final exam – which are typically called “summative assessments.”

“The reliance on a single high-stakes exam at the end of the semester is comparable to taking the student driver straight to the DMV without spending any time practicing behind the wheel of a car. In contrast, formative assessment focuses on a feedback loop. It provides critical information to both the students and instructor about student learning.” (p. 533)

“Now a combination of external pressure and a renewed focus on developing self-regulated lawyers has brought formative assessment front and center for law schools.” (p. 533)

“In fall 2016, the ABA implemented new standards that require the use of formative assessment in law schools. Standard 314 explicitly requires law schools to use both formative and summative assessment to “’measure and improve’ student learning.” (pgs. 533-534)

 

Standard 314. ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING
A law school shall utilize both formative and summative assessment methods in its curriculum to measure and improve student learning and provide meaningful feedback to students.

 Interpretation 314-1
Formative assessment methods are measurements at different points during a particular course or at different points over the span of a student’s education that provide meaningful feedback to improve student learning. Summative assessment methods are measurements at the culmination of a particular course or at the culmination of any part of a student’s legal education that measure the degree of student learning.

 Interpretation 314-2

A law school need not apply multiple assessment methods in any particular course. Assessment methods are likely to be different from school to school. Law schools are not required by Standard 314 to use any particular assessment method.

 


From DSC:
Formative assessments use tests as a learning tool/strategy. They help identify gaps in students’ understanding and can help the instructor adjust their teaching methods/ideas on a particular topic. What are the learners getting? What are they not getting? These types of assessments are especially important in the learning experiences of students in their first year of law school.  All students need feedback, and these assessments can help give them feedback as to how they are doing.

Practice. Repetition. Feedback.  <– all key elements in providing a solid learning experience!


 

“…effective assessment practices are linked to the development of effective lawyers.” (pg. 535)

Low-risk formative assessment give students multiple opportunities to make mistakes and actively engage with the material they are learning.” (p. 537)

Formative assessments force the students to practice recall. This is very helpful in terms of helping students actually remember the information. The spaced out practice of forcing recall – no matter how much the struggle of recalling it – aids in retaining information and moving items into longer-term memory. (See Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, & Mark A. McDaniel). In fact, according to this book’s authors, the more the struggle in recalling the information, the greater the learning.

Formative assessments can help students own their own learning. Self-regulation. Provide opportunities for students to practice meta-cognition – i.e., thinking about their thinking.

“Lawyers need to be experts at self-regulated learning.” (p. 541)

The use of numerous, low-stakes quizzes and more opportunities for feedback reduces test anxiety and can help with the mental health of students. Can reduce depression and help build a community of learners. (p. 542)

“Millennials prefer interactive learning opportunities, regular assessments, and immediate feedback.” (p. 544)

 


Ideas:


  • As a professor, you don’t have to manually grade every formative assessment. Technology can help you out big time. Consider building a test bank of multiple-choice questions and then drawing upon them to build a series of formative assessments. Have the technology grade the exams for you.
    • Digital quizzes using Blackboard Learn, Canvas, etc.
    • Tools like Socrative
  • Alternatively, have the students grade each other’s work or their own work. Formative assessments don’t have to be graded or count towards a grade. The keys are in learners practicing their recall, checking their own understanding, and, for the faculty member, perhaps pointing out the need to re-address something and/or to experiment with one’s teaching methods.
  • Consider the use of rubrics to help make formative assessments more efficient. Rubrics can relay the expectations of the instructors on any given assignment/assessment. Rubrics can also help TA’s grade items or even the students in grading each other’s items.
  • Formative assessments don’t have to be a quiz/test per se. They can be games, presentations, collaborations with each other.

 


For further insights on this topic (and more) from Northwestern University, see:

New ABA Requirements Bring Changes to Law School Classrooms, Creating Opportunity, and Chaos –from blog.northwesternlaw.review by Jacob Wentzel

Excerpt:

Unbeknownst to many students J.D. and L.L.M. students, our classroom experiences are embarking upon a long-term path toward what could be significant changes as a trio of ABA requirements for law schools nationwide begin to take effect.

The requirements are Standards 302, 314, and 315 , each of which defines a new type of requirement: learning outcomes (302), assessments (314), and global evaluations of these (315). According to Christopher M. Martin, Assistant Dean and Clinical Assistant Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, these standards take after similar ones that the Department of Education rolled out for undergraduate universities years ago. In theory, they seek to help law schools improve their effectiveness by, among other things, telling students what they should be learning and tracking students’ progress throughout the semester. Indeed, as a law student, it often feels like you lose the forest for the trees, imbibing immense quantities of information without grasping the bigger picture, let alone the skills the legal profession demands.

By contrast, formative assessment is about assessing students “at different points during a particular course,” precisely when many courses typically do not. Formative assessments are also about generating information and ideas about what professors do in the classroom. Such assessment methods include quizzes, midterms, drafts, rubrics, and more. Again, professors are not required to show students the results of such assessments, but must maintain and collect the data for institutional purposes—to help law schools track how students are learning material during the semester and to make long-term improvements.

 

And/or see a Google query on “ABA new formative assessment standards”

 

 

 

Assistive technology to help students with developmental delays succeed academically — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt:

Developmental delays can affect almost every area of a child’s life. This broad issue can cover any possible milestone that a child doesn’t meet according to the expected timeline, including speech or movement. While children with developmental delays can still be successful, it will require some additional help from patient teachers. Educators would do well to research the available assistive technology that can help to bolster a child’s education and encourage academic success.

What tools are available to help students compensate for their developmental delays? Here are just a few of the top technologies that parents and teachers have found to be successful in the classroom.

 

 

Assistive technology to help students with articulation disorder succeed academically — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt:

Some students encounter extraordinary challenges when it comes to forming the sounds of everyday communication. This may be due to a structural problem with the mouth or a motor-based issue. Collectively, these difficulties are considered to be articulation disorders. They can make classroom education extremely hard for both teachers and students. However, there are some ways that teachers can help students with articulation disorders still succeed academically.

If you want to help your student with articulation disorder succeed, you will need some of the best assistive technology available. You can see the recommendations for the top assistive technologies used with this disorder below.

 

 

 

Writing Resources from the “State of Writing” — from stateofwriting.com with thanks to Mary Bennett who mentions that this site is an “incredibly useful resource with tips and its own collection of writing and grammar guides.”

Some of the useful sections include resources regarding:

  • Dictionaries and Thesauruses
  • Style Guides
  • Grammar and Punctuation
  • Etymology
  • Quotations
  • Writing various genres
  • Foreign Languages

 

 

 

“Retrieval practice” is a learning strategy where we focus on getting information out. Through the act of retrieval, or calling information to mind, our memory for that information is strengthened and forgetting is less likely to occur. Retrieval practice is a powerful tool for improving learning without more technology, money, or class time.

On this website (and in our free Retrieval Practice Guide), we discuss how to use retrieval practice to improve learning. Established by nearly 100 years of research, retrieval practice is a simple and powerful technique to transform teaching and learning.

In order to improve learning, we must approach it through a new lens – let’s focus not on getting information “in,” but on getting information “out.”

 

 

What is retrieval practice?
Retrieval practice is a strategy in which bringing information to mind enhances and boosts learning. Deliberately recalling information forces us to pull our knowledge “out” and examine what we know.

For instance, recalling an answer to a science question improves learning to a greater extent than looking up the answer in a textbook. And having to actually recall and write down an answer to a flashcard improves learning more than thinking that you know the answer and flipping the card over prematurely.

Often, we think we’ve learned some piece of information, but we come to realize we struggle when we try to recall the answer. It’s precisely this “struggle” or challenge that improves our memory and learning – by trying to recall information, we exercise or strengthen our memory, and we can also identify gaps in our learning.

Note that cognitive scientists used to refer to retrieval practice as “the testing effect.” Prior research examined the fascinating finding that tests (or short quizzes) dramatically improve learning. More recently, researchers have demonstrated that more than simply tests and quizzes improve learning: flashcards, practice problems, writing prompts, etc. are also powerful tools for improving learning. 

Whether this powerful strategy is called retrieval practice or the testing effect, it is important to keep in mind that the act of pulling information “out” from our minds dramatically improves learning, not the tests themselves. In other words retrieval is the active process we engage in to boost learning; tests and quizzes are merely methods to promote retrieval.

 

 

Also on that site:

 

 

Learn more about this valuable book with our:

 

 

Also on that site:

 

 

Excerpt from the Interleaved Mathematics Practice guide (on page 8 of 13):

Interleaved practice gives students a chance to choose a strategy.
When practice problems are arranged so that consecutive problems cannot be solved by the same strategy, students are forced to choose a strategy on the basis of the problem itself. This gives students a chance to both choose and use a strategy.

Interleaved practice works.
In several randomized control studies, students who received mostly interleaved practice scored higher on a final test than did students who received mostly blocked practice.

 

 

 



From DSC:
Speaking of resources regarding learning…why don’t we have posters in all of our schools, colleges, community colleges, universities, vocational training centers, etc. that talk about the most effective strategies to learn about new things?



 

 

 

Flipped Learning Global Standards Project Spawns Active Learning Nonprofit — from marketwatch.com
Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences Formed to Support International Best Practices for Flipped Learning Training and Practice

Excerpt:

LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Flipped Learning Global Initiative (FLGI), announced that the Global Standards Project created to establish an international framework for Flipped Learning, has incorporated as a non-profit organization. All GSP activities are migrating to the new entity which will operate as the Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences (AALAS). The new organization will maintain a narrow focus on identifying and supporting global standards for Flipped Learning and related active learning instruction. AALAS will also focus on research, education, and accreditation.

AALAS was formed in response to confirmation from educators around the globe that standards are needed and wanted. The adoption of Flipped Learning is accelerating worldwide from K-12 to higher education and corporate training. But the growing gap in understanding about Flipped Learning leads to implementations that far underperform the potential for active learning.

“I think a lot of people have a rather naive conception of Flipped Learning. They think Flipped Learning is simply watching videos before class. That’s it. Boom. Done,” said Eric Mazur, a professor at Harvard University and one of the pioneers of Flipped Learning. “But it is a much deeper process, and that is why it’s so terrifically important to have a greater conception of what Flipped Learning is.”

 

 

 

 

Five things parents should know about end-of-year testing — from/by Hilary Scharton, Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure; with thanks to Ann Noder, CEO/President Pitch Public Relations, for this resource


Every spring, schools across the nation give students millions of standardized tests. Students sit for hours, filling in answer bubbles with their number two pencils for an exam that may span days. They’re told the tests are “important”, they need to “do their best”, and that they have “one chance” to show what they’ve learned. For any child–much less one with test anxiety, ADHD, or learning disabilities–it can be a painful process.

Should we let our students take these tests? In 2015, over 650,000 students (1) nationwide opted out of standardized tests. In some parts of the country, up to 20% of students did not participate. What can a test tell us about how our kids are doing? Here are five things parents should know about end-of-year testing:

1. Tests don’t measure what we think they do
We expect tests to tell us how much students have learned. However, significant evidence shows tests aren’t great at figuring out what you know or what your potential is.

Consider the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). For many of us, it was a rite of passage that evaluated your entire school career and gave colleges a way to predict whether or not you’d be a successful student. However, the best prediction you can make from an SAT is how much money your parents earn.(2) Your score will go up 30 points for every $10,000 in your parents’ yearly income.

In addition, scoring well on the SAT has almost no correlation with success in college. The best predictor is high school grades.

2. Tests are designed to be efficient and compare groups
Most tests are designed to make efficient comparisons between groups, not tell us about individuals. Group comparisons are valuable because they give us data about curriculum efficacy and how to allocate funding.

However, if we want efficient group measures, there are limitations. These tests won’t cover every topic students learned and will need to be easy to give and grade.

That means test authors have to use questions like multiple guess choice and leave out questions that might get at more important skills like critical thinking or creativity. If you’re only doing multiple choice, you’re rewarding passive and superficial learning like memorizing facts or formulas. When the last time was your job let you pick the right answer from a list?

3. Test prep is often antithetical to learning
In states where testing is king, it often comes with an emphasis on “accountability.” The idea behind the accountability movement is that we, as taxpayers, should be able to ensure we’re getting the highest educational value for our tax dollar. If that’s our ultimate goal, it makes sense to set up rewards (and penalties) so teachers and districts get the best performance possible from their students.

In these states, we see more time devoted to teaching test-taking skills. Teachers and students learn which kinds of questions and topics are covered and dedicate class time to practice. That’s not intended to game the system, but to give students tips about how to be a good test taker. (Ever learn that if you don’t know the right answer, pick B? How often have you used that knowledge since you left school?)

The positive is that it usually works. Students score a little better on the state exam. However, research shows that states that focus on accountability perform much worse on nationwide and international tests than states that place less emphasis on accountability. It turns out the time your teacher spent in class talking about answer B and #2 pencils would have been better spent teaching you more academic content.

4. Different tests tell us about individual learning
So if our current tests aren’t telling us what we need to know about individual students, what can we do? In short, we need to do more testing, which sounds crazy. We need to make sure we’re doing different kinds of testing so we get good group data AND good individual data. We can best measure individual growth with authentic tests that are integrated into learning. Assessment is authentic when it asks students to apply their knowledge to real-world, meaningful problems.

Imagine you’re back in geometry class and need to learn about volume. Would you rather have your teacher tell you the formula and give you a worksheet to practice (how we’d learn if standardized test grades were the goal) or could you learn more if your teacher gave you a project to come up with a better juice box that minimized shipping costs and maximized profits?

Likely the latter would not only make you more interested in learning about volume (“When will I ever use this?”), but you’d also have the opportunity to work on other important skills. Project-oriented, goals-driven group learning is an engaging way to teach students how to apply what they’ve learned, while also giving them practice working cooperatively, being creative, and dealing with messy problems that might not have one “right” answer. It gives students opportunities to apply their knowledge and a glimpse into what adults do in the workplace.

Teachers do this kind of assessment almost reflexively, whether students are raising their hands to answer a question, working in small groups, or doing independent research. One of the difficulties with this kind of assessment, however, is that the rich experiential data in classrooms is often lost. Fortunately, schools more often have access to technology that will help teachers do assessment, quickly see results, and then make important decisions about what students know.

5. How can I make sure my child is doing well?
Be involved. Districts are great at letting parents know when and how students will participate in standardized tests, but the only way to know about what’s happening in the classroom is to talk with your child’s teacher.

Teachers are experts–they know how important assessment is and how to do it well. Don’t be afraid to ask how your child will be graded on what they learn, what success looks like, or how much time will be spent preparing for standardized tests.

If you live in a state that emphasizes accountability, let your local representatives know that you care about more than test scores. Ask for teacher and school ratings to connect to other metrics like college acceptance, AP completion/pass rates, or student engagement. We, as parents, know what’s best for our individual children and must feel empowered to ask for it.

1. http://www.fairtest.org/more-500000-refused-tests-2015
2. http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/2013/TotalGroup-2013.pdf

 


Hilary Scharton loves education and has worked in it, in some form or another, for her entire career. She currently serves as the Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure, the open online learning management system (LMS) that makes teaching and learning easier. In her role, she sets the strategic vision for how Canvas makes its products even more awesome for students and teachers across the globe, while focusing on leveraging technology to support improved instruction and equitable access for all students.


 

 

 

 

Are you telling stories in the classroom? — from teaching.berkeley.edu by Melanie Green

Excerpts:

Stories can make a subject accessible and even interesting… [Storytelling] can provide value, turn something abstract or obscure into something concrete.

Stories:

  • make a subject relatable and accessible to students
  • can pique interest, or demonstrate relevance, in a subject that students usually dislike, or worse, find mind-numbing
  • build meaning-making (there’s that word again), helping students to recall the information later
  • forge, or repave, paths to material that students already thought they knew, making way for new perspectives, connections, and experiences to develop through someone else’s story
  • make a subject approachable

 

From DSC:
The Master Teacher also used stories (parables) to teach people:

 

 

 

If our Creator/Designer did so, I think we should take a serious look at doing so as well.

 

 

 

 

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