Saturday, 2 November 2013

Relevant or relate to?

Harry Webb, one of the many on Twitter with brains the size of small planets has asked me to clarify what I mean by wanting to use the phrase 'relate to' rather than the more conventional 'relevant'.

When I was trained and started teaching there was a strong impetus to make the curriculum relevant. To make sure that we tied what was taught to the relevance in children's lives. At first this seemed utterly fine an sensible.

I began my teaching in a grammar school in Jersey. Idyllic or what! As a physics teacher having very able students was a real pleasure. Physics is difficult and mathematically challenging and bright kids did really well. But some bright children did not continue with physics past year 9. We used the Nuffield Physics syllabus which taught me so much more about physics than I had ever thought was possible. I loved teaching it. Discovery learning was its mantra and because the children I taught were bright it inevitably worked. I know it will not work with less bright and also the bright could have been even more advanced by a different teaching process. I did have some thoughts about those that chose not to continue with physics past year 9 as they, it seemed to me, had gained little from their three years of secondary level study of the subject.

I then moved back to the mainland and taught in Surrey. Bright kids again but in a comprehensive. Lots more who could not really cope or did not want to continue with physics. I thought about the relevance to some of those children who did not continue with the subject I loved teaching. Was it that the content was not relevant to them? Was the content relevant to those who continued with the subject? How much of my degree content was still relevant to me even in my job as a physics teacher?

Relevant just did not seem to do it. How could the oil drop experiment or colliding trolleys be relevant for more than a tiny number of children? And for those who went into a science job so much of what they had been taught was going to be irrelevant. We could not predict which bits were relevant and which bits were not.

Then, as part of my work with an examination board, we were looking at paring down the physics curriculum. One of the teachers suggested we remove the section on waves. I and another teacher on the panel almost exploded in his face. Waves were THE critical feature of physics. It would not be physics without the study of waves. Waves stayed in but the comments from teacher who wanted waves removed remained with me. He was no fool and his argument was that for the majority of children who would be taking the exam further study of physics was unlikely. He argued that we should be catering for the majority, many of whom did not and would not see the purpose, or relevance, of studying waves as part of their physics course. He was arguing that subject related relevance was not the only feature that would decide a programme of study.

I then re-thought how it was that children were engaged by the subject content. It was not by the relevance of the material. It could not be as they would not see the relevance of waves until they went further with the subject, possibly not until they were at first degree level. That was a very tiny fraction of the number that had started physics in year 7.

While one does need subject purity to allow for further study it would be possible to catch up on any content that was missed from study up to GCSE at A level or beyond. So how was relevance the feature that decided what the curriculum contained?

I then started to realise that it was how children could relate to the content that mattered. How well they found the content affected them now rather than how it might affect them in the future. The content was better defined by how it could be adapted to allow learners to engage with the material than for some vague future relevance. There is loads of physics that we do not study at GCSE. Why do we choose some rather that other? Quite a compromise!

Because we cannot know what will be relevant for a particular child relevance does not seem to me to be a the best way to decide what to teach. Relate is not much better as we don't really know what all children will relate to but, for me, the other element is the ability of the teacher to choose the particular exemplars which can enthuse a child. For example if I teach speed using dynamics trolleys, and many physics teachers will, then the further examples I can choose will be chosen, by me, on the basis of what I think children will relate to. I can use elephants on roller skates, cars, billiard balls, a baby push chair and a myriad of other contexts. Variety so that each has a chance to relate.

Just for Harry - Relevant is nothing like relate to. Relevance means that learning must be relevant to the learner's current social and class background. So if relevance was driving the lesson planning then one would not study 19th century novels as the truths they contain would not be relevant to a working class child.

Relate to is my invention which just says we should create learning activities that a child can latch onto. Enjoy is a bit off the beam for this but can do and will be willing to do is closer, but not exactly.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Dumbing down, an Echo Chamber inspired blog.

Having just read two blogs from Twitter links I am again driven to blog. Hopefully a short missive this time and my own assertions as usual. Read on if you will.

The first blog related to misbehaviour and the fact that this was not being dealt with in any effective manner in many schools. First, I would be somewhat cautious about the cry that it is an issue in many schools. I don't deny that there will be issues in some and I don't know how to quantify many. But some is too many for me. In each secondary school roughly a thousand students are at risk of having their education damaged by misbehaviour from themselves or other students. John Hattie says the presence of just one disruptive student in a class negates the performance of nearly all the rest of the students. Damaging indeed.

I have a simple response to this and that is that it is, in my experience, relatively easy, though not without some degree of determination and fortitude, to sort out misbehaviour. The way to do this does depend on the detail and will be tactically different in different schools but in essence, if the problem is one student across many different teachers then the issue is one which SLT have to deal with by acting on that child. I am not at all apologetic about the use of the word 'on' in these situations. Acting on includes low level interactions which might just be talking to the student to influence the behaviour but will end in permanent exclusion if the child will simply not behave in an appropriate manner. Let me repeat the key phrase of this section, 'across several teachers'. We just cannot allow one child to continually disrupt 30 others each time they enter a lesson. We can not!

The second is when the issue is one child and one teacher. This is dealt with in a number of different ways which might mean moving the child to another teacher in that subject. I don't believe in finding a difficult solution when a simple one will do. If the move sorts it, then fine. If this does not resolve the matter then the child is making inappropriate decisions which he/she does not have the right to make.

One teacher and several children is a more difficult issue as one probably can't just move a few into other classes.

It may be that the teacher does need to alter their own behaviour but to make that decision I would watch the teacher's lessons with the child present. I would expect to know the typical 'style' and 'triggers' that the teacher had, from previous visits to the lesson.

I visited every lesson in my own school on at least 3 days each week. The question was. "How's it going, Sir/Miss?" Any misbehaving child would be removed and dealt with. Perhaps returned immediately but it may be that I would remove the child to spend some time in our Time-Out room. My heads of year and other SLT members would also be following the same procedures, though HoYs would generally only visit their own year group for these lesson visits. These sanctions were applied intelligently and were more frequent and sometimes more confrontational at the start of the behaviour management programme.

There is a lot more to tell but as this is meant to be a 'short' blog, perhaps another blog is needed.

Actually I will deal with the second blog at another time.

I have worked with a number of schools, some in some degree of disarray, and the only time I was not able to make a very significant difference to behaviour was where the head teacher was opposed to my methods and worked from a very student centred, restorative justice direction. That school is still in some degree of trouble.

If I were to summarise my approach in one statement it would be that we cannot accept poor behaviour that disrupts the learning of others.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Hattie's summary of Willingham.

We can summarise the Willingham thesis in the following six ideas: 
(a) your mind is not naturally well-suited for thinking, 
(b) as an activity involving the brain, thinking is slow, effortful, and has uncertain outcomes, 
(c) deliberate or conscious thinking does not guide most people's behaviour in the real world in which they have to interact and survive, 
(d) instead, our brains rely on memory, and follow paths that we have taken before, or seen others undertake, 
(e) although we are curious creatures, our interests are restricted to areas in which we have some prior knowledge coupled with confidence in our ability to learn, and finally 
(f) we are unwilling to invest any serious level of effort in thinking activities until we can perceive the link between immediate effort expenditure and likely success.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

S.A.M.E Simple, Accurate, Memorable, Engaging

Using Video Evidence in a classroom to review learning.

Actually the video will help review what the teacher is doing. It is difficult to observe learning using a fixed video camera. It is difficult to video the children working to be able to understand their learning with a camera that is trained on children. Also sound is never easy to capture without having to mic up all those taking part.

But the best we can do with some quite simple apparatus and techniques is described below.

Flip cameras, there are alternatives available, can be placed on a shelf, reasonable high up, and aimed at the teacher. The camera is fixed and will capture video and sound quite well. It will not filter out extraneous noises so a teacher talking over a noisy class will not be heard too well. It may be that seeing the futility of one's efforts to talk over a noisy class is enough in itself to get us to reconsider the conditions needed to give effective instructions to a class!

One can set the camera running and teacher the lesson. Typically around 30 minutes can be captured. The camera is very simple to use. Just press the go button and it does what it says on the tin.

The video can be simply downloaded onto a computer and viewed.

The best set up for the process of analysis is to work in triads, groups of three teachers of similar status who are seeking to understand the impact of their teaching and to improve. It is a very different process of judging a lesson using Ofsted criteria. If that was the intention then a live observer is needed.

The teacher who has delivered the lesson would write down, preferably before the lesson, in as much detail as possible what the learning intended was to be. You will be writing this for other teachers and the detail needs to reflect his. The language will probably be considerably more complex that the kind of things you may write as learning objectives/outcomes which you share with children. The detail needs to be such that the viewers of the video can see if the delivery meets the following four elements:

S  - Simple. Is there any thing that could be taken away from the teacher's expositions or is there anything that should have been added to improve the chances of quality learning?

A - Accurate. Was the subject knowledge correct? And was the learning brief met? The learning brief is contained in the notes on the intended learning the teacher has written.

M - Memorable. What techniques were used to make the learning memorable? How effective did they seem to be?

E - Engaging. What evidence is there that the children were engaged with the learning? Not just compliant an 'on-task', but actually learning? This is hard to judge from a video which is aimed at the teacher. But it is worth making some attempt to do so. It is this factor that will determine, eventually, how good the lesson was.

After viewing and discussing the video evidence it would be valuable to sample the written work achieved by the students. The normally ephemeral evidence from student answers and student questions will have been captured on the video and provides some feedback to the teacher. The written material when analysed against the stated learning intentions is powerful.

Then it is just the 'simple' matter of the teacher working out how to improve given the, often, quite stark video evidence. One has to be very sensitive as video evidence is very powerful and will not always show you in the wonderful light you hold yourself. Use with care.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Why does progressive education not work?

So that you can decide to stop reading this, probably, short piece I am going to tell you that this will not be supportive of progressive education methods. I am also only going to define progressive education very loosely, as one that does not place the limitations of working memory as the prime driver in how learning should be organised for children. So thanks for looking and bye if you have your coat on and are leaving now.

If you have stayed then thanks to you.

A reminder about working memory. I have a longer piece here if you have never come across the concept before.

Essentially the theory says that humans can only store in working memory 4 to 9 items. Items are chunks of stuff to be learned, or chunks of stuff already learned and in long term memory. But some of that very limited space is needed to manipulate the chunks; to link them to other, already known stuff etc.

There items in working memory will only remain there for a minute, or so. We can refresh the items by repeating them. For example, if someone tells you a telephone number you can keep repeating it until you find a pencil and paper to record it. If you don’t do the repeating then you will, most likely, forget the number or only partly remember it.

As far as we know, learning can only happen through working memory. Physical learning, not what the progressives mean by kinesthetic learning, muscle memory as it is sometimes called, an incorrect term as muscles do not have memory, may use a different route to the brain but that kind of learning is only useful to remember and habituate physical actions.

Working memory has two input streams. One is visual and the other is auditory. And, please remember, the space for the new stuff is strictly limited.

Another effect that matters is that of distraction. Imagine that you are repeating the telephone number until you find some place to record it.Imagine someone asks you to calculate 17 times 8. If you try to do this you will most certainly not be able to retain the telephone number in working memory. Distractions, if we pay attention to them, cause us to replace the items in working memory with those items we attend to from the distraction. We might not want to attend to the distraction but distractions are distractions because they gain our attention.

So why does progressive education not work?

Some features of progressive education are:

Discovery learning: The child will work out what is going on and learn by exploring a system. Picture a science experiment where a child is asked to see what they can observe. Boiling a beaker of water. They will see stuff. But what will they see? A scientist who knows what is to be expected will see lots. And what the scientist sees will be important things to see within the realm of science. Children without the knowledge base a scientist has will not know which things to attend to. They will be distracted by some things that matter and some things that don’t matter as much. Yes, there will be a tiny chance that they discover some radical new thing about boiling water in a beaker that is new to science but - well if you believe that then there is no hope. It just does not happen like that! At all! The child cannot keep all the new things they see in working memory and will not have the working memory capacity to process what they see, unless, of course, they already have a great deal of prior knowledge.

They might well enjoy the process. But enjoyment is not learning and it is not a proxy for learning. What happens, usually, is in the above example the children observe and the teacher prompts and will then collate and make sense of the observations. Pointing out what matters and getting rid of the observations that are not relevant. In this way the teacher guides the discovery. This is a very inefficient way of learning. Lots of distractions. Lots of opportunities for mislearning. Lots of fun, perhaps. Children ‘active’ and doing experiments. But a much more effective way is for the teacher to do the last bit first. To explain to the children what happens and why and then let them do the experiment. In that way the teacher controls the amount and quality of the information that goes into working memory. Minimises the effect of so much distracting information. And children approach the observation process with a knowledge set which means that can truly ‘see’ what there is to be seen.

Group work: Seems like a good idea. Get children into groups to discuss. Teacher has to only visit four or five places rather than work with a large number of individuals. Children explain to each other in language that they get rather than the more formal teacher language. But there will be a great deal of distraction in such groups. Are all children paying attention to that which matters or are they negotiating the social norms of groups? What about the time spent discussing a silly idea from one of the group members? How many f a group of four are actually working? The evidence suggests that in any group only 15% of the time spent working s productive learning. The rest is, well, not productive learning. You can argue all you like for the positive effects of group working but you cannot argue it as a beneficial process for learning the content you are delivering as a teacher.

So if the above stops learning being effective why do teachers continue with these methods? Well, because to some extent they do work. It's just that they work poorly. Teachers, like our progressive science teacher will eventually tell children what they need to know. Bright children are bright, almost certainly, because they have larger working memories that less bright children. They know more at any stage and can retain more, are less impacted on by distractions. Possibly they are taught in classroom with less distraction. They will catch more correct ideas. They might be tutored outside school where they will be told rather than left to discover. But these children will learn less through progressive methods. Less bright children will fall farther behind because they are more susceptible to any disruption or lack of clarity.

So teaching that does not work within the constraints of working memory does not fail totally. Rather these methods do provide the conditions for optimal learning. So we could do better. We could close the gap. We could do a lot more. We could make learning so much more enjoyable as children would be so much more successful. And that success means they would know more and so would learn even more effectively.

This has got too long already. Any other matters you would like me to explore using the lens of working memory theory? Be pleased to.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Who is responsible for engagement in learning?

One of the sure fire ways to get Twitter all of a flutter is to suggest that teachers need not engage children. What tends to happen is that the visceral response kicks into high gear and accusations start flying. In 240 characters it is difficult to get folk to think about what is being said and what is not being said or implied. This blog post is to explore what is meant and what the implications might be of teachers not having the responsibility for learners’ engagement, directly.

I do not mean that teachers should intentionally set up boring and dull lessons to challenge students to become disengaged.

I do not mean that children do not have to be engaged to learn effectively.

I do not mean that we can rely on others to discipline misbehaving children.

I do not think the issue is different for different age children.

It will be useful to try to define what engagement is. Teachers tend to nod and agree with little further discussion to the suggestion of some ideas. Clearly children need to be engaged to learn well and there is no need for further comment. I think there is such a need.

What is engagement? Google gives many references but, as always, let’s take a look at what Wikipedia says.

Student engagement occurs when "students make a psychological investment in learning. They try hard to learn what school offers. They take pride not simply in earning the formal indicators of success (grades), but in understanding the material and incorporating or internalizing it in their lives."[1] It is increasingly seen as an indicator of successful classroom instruction, and as a valued outcome of school reform. The phrase was identified in 1996 as "the latest buzzword in education circles."[2] Students are engaged when they are involved in their work, persist despite challenges and obstacles, and take visible delight in accomplishing their work.[3] Student engagement also refers to a "student's willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in, the learning process promoting higher level thinking for enduring understanding."[4] Student engagement is also a usefully ambiguous term that can be used to recognize the complexity of 'engagement' beyond the fragmented domains of cognition, behaviour, emotion or affect, and in doing so encompass the historically situated individual within their contextual variables (such as personal and familial circumstances) that at every moment influence how engaged an individual (or group) is in their learning.

So engagement is students making an investment in learning. Trying hard. In 1996 it was identified as the latest buzzword. It is a usefully ambiguous term! What is not ambiguous in education?

Now what engagement is not is entertainment. I do think that some teachers see the need for engagement because it avoids misbehaviour. That is, a disengaged student is likely to misbehave. That is true. Misbehaviour does lead to significant teacher stress and poor learning in classrooms. Hattie identifies that the presence of one disruptive student in a class significantly affects the learning of all other students. Perhaps changing what teachers do is dangerous because it might lead to student misbehaviour. If what teachers are doing already why change? Good question. My view is that we have to improve and to improve means change. We know that change itself is stressful. Bit of a cleft stick. Our brain resists change to such an extent that we will, often, avoid even exploring the prospective change. If the change does not appear to be needed then we can see why teachers nod and agree with the statement that teachers need to plan and deliver engaging lessons.

Let’s just stop and reflect a little on the phrase, ‘engaging lessons’ and compare that with the Wikipedia description of engagement. The particular part is this sentence, ‘Student engagement also refers to a "student's willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in, the learning process promoting higher level thinking for enduring understanding.’ What this says is that engagement is a function of the student. Not a function of the lesson.

A lesson will be engaging if a student is engaged. I want to read that sentence carefully. The reason the lesson is judged to be engaging is that the student is engaged. The student tries hard to learn. He/she takes pride etc.

Those sound to me like qualities we would want students to have. Resilience and pride in their own learning. I don’t see how we can create these in a lesson. I don’t see how a lesson can actually engage. I better be clear what I mean by that and what I don’t mean. I do not mean that one can not see students being engaged in a lesson. But what I read into that idea is that to be engaged is a function of student attitude. Attitude is something we would see as a function of school ethos. Something that can be, at least, enhanced by training. Students can be taught to engage. That is the idea I want to consider.

We would hold a student responsible for their attitude to school and to learning. We would want to know that they had been given well prepared, and challenging lessons that most reasonable students would consider a good deal. The responsibility of the teacher is to plan and deliver such lessons. The responsibility of the student is to be engaged.

That lovely man, I assume he is lovely as he smiles in his Twitter profile picture, @davidfawcett27 has suggested a couple of additions. He asks if this links to growth mindset work from Carol Dweck. I think it does and if we can show students that belief in growth by hard work then they will understand better how their choice to engage is so critical to their learning.

He also asks if it can be part of learn to learn programmes. Again I agree. It can.

So that challenge is to get over the brain resistance to change and think about what we would add to a learn to learn programme to support students in their learning abilities so that they can engage and remain engaged when the learning gets tough. And teachers can rely on this newly developed resilience rather than thinking they have to engage and entertain students to persuade them to learn.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Teachers do not have to engage students!

Just had a twitter conversation, I guess it might continue, where I am saying that it is not appropriate to expect teachers to have the responsibility to engage children in their learning. As always with complex arguments it is difficult to express the idea as clearly as i would like in 140 characters. Even creating a series of Tweets using the  1 /2  and then 2/2 convention the Tweets do not emphasise the right words and provide the subtlety needed. So one has to blog.

So I get the itch and here it goes. I want to say read the words I type carefully and try to see what I mean, not what you think I mean. But I will not as that is a bit off, really. What happens, to all of us, is that we hold a belief, such as we must engage students, or they will not learn and if anyone says the opposite we find it hard to ‘hear’ their argument rationally. Our beliefs are challenged and we, naturally, defend them. We expect a much higher degree of proof and higher quality of argument to change a belief we hold than we expect for an argument that confirms our belief. If we believe children need to be engaged *by the teacher* then someone who says that is untrue gets dismissed rather too quickly. This is the other side of confirmation bias, where we continue to believe what we currently believe. It is a function of how our brain works. Our brain does not want us to expend the energy needed to create a new belief so protects us from the effort required. We have to work much harder at listening to a counter argument as to one that contains the *truths* which we currently hold.

Let’s look at my statement about engagement.

‘It is not appropriate for teachers to have the responsibility to engage children in their learning’

If I were speaking to you I would put a strong emphasis on the word ‘responsibility’. I am *not* saying that children do not have to be engaged, focused and working hard, in their learning. They do. What I am saying is that teachers should not be held to account for children who are not engaged.

Consider this sentence, perhaps from a lesson observation:

Sentence 1: The children were not engaged and, consequently, their behaviour was poor.

I want to think about the reverse.

Sentence 2: The children’s behaviour was poor and, consequently, they were not engaged.

Poor engagement is a behaviour issue and it is the children whose behaviour needs to change. If it does their engagement will most likely improve. If we expect the teacher to provide the mechanism for the students to engage then we are asking the teacher to make the work interesting so that it then engages the students. I do not believe that is an appropriate role for the teacher to take. It is like asking the teacher to perform, to entertain the children. To be some sort of joke producer and to be responsible when the audience, the children, do no not become engaged.

I know that some teachers will be uncomfortable with this idea. Sometimes that is because you see sentence 1 as the driver in your classroom. To avoid the misbehaviour you have to engage children. It is as though disengagement and the consequent misbehaviour is the natural order of things. It is not. But if we believe it is then we will miscue on the role of the teacher and the role of the child. Again I would emphasise certain words if I were speaking to you. It would be a good idea to think about which words I might emphasise to you.

The teacher’s role and responsibility is to the content being taught. It is your job to teach the material clearly and cause the child’s attention to be drawn to that which matters in the thing they are trying to learn. You need to plan attention focus. What will they need to attend to closely and what can be less well attended to? What are the really critical bits that they must get if they are to learn effectively.

Please don’t think engagement is the same as the focus of our attention. Teachers provide the focus for attention. Children provide the engagement.

An example may help. What happens if we add something to try to engage a learner? It can very often distract from the actual, intended learning. Here is the example. I was being taught how to deliver a leadership programme. Richard the designer of the programme showed me a slide of a bug ship. He he written the following under the cartoon picture of the ship:


Richard explained that the idea of lead-a-ship came from his some who asked him if leadership was what a captain on a ship did. I found this quite engaging. When I left Richard and tried to put some materials together, powerpoint, to explain what we wanted participants in the programme to do I could not remember the purpose of the picture and the lead-a-ship thing. I certainly could remember the picture and the phrase, lead-a-ship and i also remembered that his son had been influential in the matter. But, the very engaging matters of son and the pun had distracted me from the learning. I did not know what the lead-a-ship thing was for.

That happens when we add a context or something that is in itself engaging to the learning that we want to happen. We remember the thing that was engaging rather than the learning that was intended.

the fuss and our time, as learning designers, becomes on searching for something that can engage the learner. We already know the learning that we want them to do. The engaging thing we find will not distract us, so we don't see it as a distraction. But the learner does not know which bit to pay attention to. Does he attend to the image of the ship, or the son's involvement or the pun on leadership?

We need to plan the learning materials so that they point out that which is to be learned as clearly as possible and do not try to make a distracting engagement thing so attention grabbing that it distorts the learner's attention focus.

Our job is to focus attention not engage learners in distractions.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Hattie, on students asking questions in class

Connected to this point, I’m spending a lot of time researching the issue of student questions. And I can tell you that student questions are glaringly absent from classrooms. On the other hand, we know that teachers ask about 200 questions a day and that students already know the answers to 97 per cent of them. And most of the questions are about surface level knowledge, and require between three and seven words in response. On average, most students ask about one question a day at school.

How much teacher talk is too much?

One of the difficulties of so much teacher talk is that it demonstrates to students that teachers are the owners of subject content, and controllers of the pacing and sequencing of learning. It reduces the opportunities for students to impose their own prior achievement, understanding, sequencing, and questions.

From Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing
Impact on Learning (Hattie, 2012)


MIND FRAME 1: Teachers/leaders believe that their fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of their teaching on students’ learning and achievement.

MIND FRAME 2: Teachers/leaders believe that success and failure in student learning are about what they, as teachers or leaders, did or did not do…We are change agents!

MIND FRAME 3: Teachers/leaders want to talk more about the learning than the teaching.

MIND FRAME 4: Teachers/leaders see assessment as feedback about their impact.

MIND FRAME 5: Teachers/leaders engage in dialogue not monologue.

MIND FRAME 6: Teachers/leaders enjoy the challenge and never retreat to “doing their best.”

MIND FRAME 7: Teachers/leaders believe that it is their role to develop positive relationships in classroom/staffrooms.

MIND FRAME 8: Teachers/leaders inform all about the language of learning.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Notes from a podcast by John Hattie. Aug 2013

What Hattie says, in my words...
My thoughts, comments and some questions
  1. Reading a more difficult font slows you down and makes you think more. You learn more deeply. He refers to Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman
How difficult should it be? How do we measure the difficulty? I like it that we can up challenge without making the content itself more difficult.
  1. Hattie likes SOLO. About 20 minutes in. He also likes surface/shallow knowledge.
I like SOLO.
  1. You can't have deep without shallow knowledge - (he calls it surface).
Yeah. This is so true. In our rush to deep thinking we forget that we needs to know lots of stuff before the deep stuff can make proper sense. Paddle about in the shallows for a long time.
  1. We are quite skilled at resisting doing things differently. We have learned to do what we do and we keep doing it. We resist change to our own practice.
Confirmation bias kicks in here. We like what we know and tend to reject that which conflicts.
  1. Show worked examples right up front.
Agree strongly but how much of the method of the worked example do we need to show. Difference between showing how to solve a maths problem and how to write an essay.
  1. We need to build automatic processes as much as possible so we can reduce cognitive load for learners. He calls this automaticity.
This is how our brains work. Working memory stuff rules our ability to learn.
  1. Don't make the answer a secret!!!
We can make students think without having to make everything hidden and a puzzle. Make them think when they know what to do.
  1. Worked examples given at the beginning of learning has an effect size of +0.8 compared to same teaching without worked examples. A cheap way of levering a great learning process.
Seems a no brainer if we can sort out the nature of the worked examples and the features we need to demonstrate by using them.
  1. Hattie says it is a sin to go into a classroom and observe a teacher. We only see how the teacher differs from what we would do!
I can only agree. If we observe to help improve a teacher, and the teacher improves, why do we need to make an Ofsted style judgement?
  1. Show kids what success looks like. Give them some predictability. Give them the ability to predict what they need to work on and in what ways to be successful.
This is the hard bit. If we give them the answer will they become dependent on us and not think?
  1. When you watch a teacher teach what you can tell the teacher how to teach better *like* you. This is not good, he says. I agree!!!
Probably this is mostly true. I like to nail my colours to the mast!
  1. When you observe a lesson, observe the children learning. Observe the outcome of the teaching.
This is so true it is a real shame it needs to be said. Watching the teacher is like watching the magician. You will always be distracted and never work out how the trick is done.

  1. Children working in pairs is powerful. Because they have to work out what is going on.
I do like this. Traditionalists don’t seem to like any form of group work. I do. Now I have a better idea of why.
  1. By the age of five kids have worked out the way to solve problems with their learning. Which is to wait for the teacher to come and tell you what to do.
Wow. Never thought of it like that. But it is so, so true.
  1. By the age of eight kids have learned that they are the audience in the classroom!!! Their job is to pretend to listen, as evidenced by Graham Nuttall’s extended study of student talk in class.
Wow again.
  1. We should allow talk to happen so we can listen to the impact we have as teachers. Teachers have to shut up. So we know what to re teach.
Yep. That’s just what I teach my teachers to do. Listen, properly, to the students and hear what they are learning.
  1. If you mix praise with feedback they only hear the praise.
Well done, Mr Hattie. Great advice.
  1. Kids having confidence they can succeed is the most powerful predictor of outcomes.
That is our job. Engagement comes with the success that comes after effort because of the confidence.
  1. Feedback needs to be matched to the process level kids are at. Eg task level give information. SOLO can be helpful here. Helps teachers identify level students are at and the feedback can be matched to that level.
Needs a lot more thought and planning to be able to do this in class. But it might just be the key we have been waiting for to unlock the Dylan Wiliam power of feedback to learners.
  1. Please listen to Hattie. It is longish but very very worthwhile.
Click and listen to the original podcast.
  1. Feedback is much more than where to next.
So what more is it?
  1. There is a big difference between feedback given and feedback received. Needs to be personal. Kids receive about 3 seconds per day!!!!!!! Teachers rightly judge themselves as giving lots of feedback. Problem is most of it is either general to the class or not ‘heard’ by the learner.
Oh, I feel gulty again. I did give lots of feedback. But who heard it? Only me?
  1. How can we get students to better interpret feedback and assessment and what it means for their learning.
We have to teach them this as well. So they have to practise receiving and acting on feedback. So we need to allocate time during lessons for this to happen.
  1. Hearing another student talking about the learning a student has just done is powerful for the first student. The discussion is good for learning.
I get why this would be. I can ask questions as a learner of another learner.
  1. Learning strategies work differently when learning is shallow or deep.
Is this a sop to some poor processes or is it a life line to those who still hold onto learning styles et al?

  1. Current learning strategies (brain gym and some other contentious stuff) are often ok for surface learning. But they do not work for deeper learning and thinking.
As above
  1. For learning strategies to work they MUST be done within context and content for deep learning.
Need to think more about what this means in a classroom and in planning.
  1. Practise at doing tests and distributed practise are by far the best two strategies. By far...
Yeah. I got into all sorts of hassle at my school when I was a HoD for giving regular and frequent tests. I knew I was right.
  1. Those two learning strategies work across all contexts and contents!!!
Practice tests and distributed practice. Work for all subjects.
  1. Kids need confidence to be able and willing to engage. Not engagement first!!!
As we said above
  1. Powerful when parents learn the language of learning.
Probably an untapped power in challenging schools.
  1. High trust leads to errors by students being tolerated, by them and by others, and leads to good learning.
Yep. One of the first things I see in poorly performing schools. Kids who laugh at other kids who make mistakes and teachers who do not correct them sharply enough.
  1. Do teachers have a common understanding of progress? For different children?
I doubt we could agree what progress is in terms that are useful for teachers in planning and assessing.
  1. Hattie ends with an advert for his new book, Visible learning and the science of how we learn, coming in October (On Amazon for publication late September). I will be one of the first to buy it - assuming it is as an ebook.
Buy the book. I will. No you cannot borrow my copy - it will be an ebook anyway for me.