This is a re-blog post originally posted by Ruth Powley and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
The statistics make sobering reading. Research reported here found that, “on average, teachers believed 49% of… neuro-myths, particularly myths related to commercialised educational programs.” A recent survey reported in The Telegraph found that 90% of teachers in several countries agreed that individuals learn better in their preferred learning style despite there being “no convincing evidence.” Conversely Dunlosky points out here that “some effective techniques are under utilised – many teachers do not learn about them.”
I was one of the 90% until reading this blog from @headguruteacher – a revivifying pedagogical update. Why? Lack of time and information.
Here are 8 catch-up pedagogies every teacher should know:
1. Think ‘fluent mastery’ not ‘rapid progress’
Bjork points out here that performance can be an “unreliable indicator” of learning because the ‘constant cues’ given by similar tasks blocked together in a predictable context with immediate feedback create the ‘illusion of fluency’. Tim Oates’ curriculum reform emphasises “deep learning” over “undue pace.” In Principles of Instruction, Rosenshine advocates ‘mastery learning,’ building automatic fluency in key concepts: “the most effective teachers… began their lessons with a five-to-eight minute review of previously covered material [and taught in] small steps (i.e., by combining short presentations with supervised student practice)… giving sufficient practice on each part before proceeding to the next step” and re-teaching material when necessary. Engelmann suggests that just 15% of a lesson should be new content, the rest being review of, or slight expansions on, previous content.
Myth: Keven Bartle explains the myth of progress in lessons here
Strategies: Avoid Professor Coe’s ‘Poor Proxies for Learning:’
- Students are busy: lots of (written) work is done
- Students are engaged, interested, motivated
- Students are getting attention: feedback, explanations
- Classroom is ordered, calm, under control
- Curriculum has been ‘covered’
- (At least some) students have supplied correct answers (whether or not they understood or could reproduce them independently)
2. Knowledge matters
The Sutton Trust Report states that, “the most effective teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach [and]…understand the ways students think about the content.” Rosenshine found that “one characteristic of effective teachers is their ability to anticipate students’ errors.”
Deep knowledge is vital to achievement. Hirsch argues that, “breadth of knowledge is the single factor within human control [including socio-economic status] that contributes most to academic achievement… Imparting broad knowledge to all children is the single most effective way to narrow the gap between demographic groups through schooling.” Young argues here that all students are entitled to ‘powerful knowledge’: “the best that has been thought and said.”
Deep knowledge is also vital to memorising and thinking. Willingham argues that a memory replete with facts learns better than one without, and reasons that it “makes no sense to try to teach critical thinking devoid of factual content.”
Myth: knowledge and understanding are ‘lower order’ @Webs of Substance here
Strategies: Stretch and Challenge curriculum mapping @Love Learning Ideas here
3. Expect excellence from all
Think in terms of expected learning gains:
- What deep understanding or technical proficiency will students gain mastery of?
- What will excellence look like?
Myth: Shaun Allison writes here that ‘all, most, some’ learning objectives “stifle aspirations of what students can achieve.” He suggests a single, challenging objective for all students with appropriate scaffolding.
Strategies: @Headguruteacher explains here how to ‘Define the Butterfly’
4. Learning should be guided
The Sutton Trust Report recommends “reviewing previous learning, providing model responses for students [and] progressively introducing new learning (scaffolding)” as elements of high quality instruction.
Rosenshine emphasises clear, detailed instructions and a range of explanations: “the most successful teachers… spent more than half of the class time lecturing, demonstrating, and asking questions… Teachers who spent more time in guided practice…also had students who were more engaged during individual work.”
Myth: Students can find out for themselves with teachers as facilitators: Kirschner, Sweller and Clark argue here, that “based on our current knowledge of human cognitive architecture, minimally guided instruction is likely to be ineffective…When dealing with novel information, learners should be explicitly shown what to do and how to do it.”
They criticise problem-solving as requiring, “limited working memory… to be used for activities that are unrelated to learning” and recommend worked examples, models and process worksheets which reduce working memory load and “direct attention to learning the essential relations between problem-solving moves.”
Strategies: 17 Principles of Effective Instruction here
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