Rich Dialogue with Effective Feedback

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Giving and recieving  feedback is an important part of the understanding process.  When teachers develop effective feedback strategies, self and peer assessment is further enhanced.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project  Zero team has developed a useful tool for providing feedback. The tool is intended for a colleague or peer to provide feedback to a teaching peer about either their lesson, unit or potentially course of learning.  This tool supports deeper understanding via rich dialogue between students, peers and instructors.

The Ladder of feedback has four steps or phases. They are:

  1. Clarify – are there aspects of this lesson, unit course that you don’t believe you understood?
  2. Value – what do you see in this lesson, unit or course that you find to be particularly impressive, innovative or strong?
  3. Offer Concerns – Do you detect some potential problems or challenges within this lesson, unit or course? Do you disagree with some part of the design
  4. Suggest – Do you have suggestions on how to address the concerns you identified during the last step?

 

Reese, James. “Teaching for Understanding 1: An Introduction to the Framework” Project Zero Summer Institute 2013. Harvard Graduate School of Education. . 22 July. 2013. Lecture.

 

For more information

https://makinglearningvisibleresources.wikispaces.com/Ladder+of+Feedback

https://makinglearningvisibleresources.wikispaces.com/file/view/Ladder+of+FeedbackGuide.pdf

http://edorigami.edublogs.org/files/2012/10/Ladder-of-feedback-template-1k898ll.pdf

http://articlescoertvisser.blogspot.co.nz/2007/11/feedback-in-three-steps.html

http://idt744.wikispaces.com/Ladder+of+Feedback+Rubric

 

 

 

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What Is the Teaching For Understanding Framework”?

Image

What is understanding?

“The performance view of understanding is consonant with both common sense and a number of sources in contemporary cognitive science. The performance perspective says, in brief, that understanding is a matter of being able to do a variety of thought-provoking things with a topic, such as explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalizing, applying, analogizing, and representing the topic in new ways.”

 

From The Teaching for Understanding Guide by Tina Blythe and Associates (Jossey-Bass, 1999)

 

The Teaching for Understanding framework

  1. Throughlines, or Overarching Understanding Goals (extend through the entire course—focus learners on BIG understandings)
  2. Generative Topic (the content we focus on in our unit; what it is about the topic that motivates us to learn more)
  3. Understanding Goals (extend through a unit; connect to Throughlines and stem from the Generative Topic)
  4. Performances of Understanding (learners demonstrate their understanding of the topic at various points in a unit)
  5. Ongoing Assessment (learners assess themselves and one another, and receive frequent formative feedback from the teacher)

Resources

Teaching for Understanding: An introduction to the framework (mini course powerpoint) 

Teaching for Understanding Project Organizer

 

Reese, James. “Teaching for Understanding 1: An Introduction to the Framework” Project Zero Summer Institute 2013. Harvard Graduate School of Education. . 22 July. 2013. Lecture.

On Being a Junior Photographer

Old School Camera

Old School Camera

In the early 1970’s  I was selected for our elementary’s “enrichment” program.  I suspect it had something to do with test scores.  There were just a handful of us little ragamuffins excited about choosing our area of interest and designing projects around them.  I wanted to be a photographer and so I was given the camera with no boundaries and taught how to develop film in a bona-fide dark room.

I WAS a junior photographer.  “Learning about ” was only a part of the bigger picture in which I developed an eye for seeing the world through a lens and bringing it to life in a picture.  I was able to do the work of REAL artists.

Lucky me, although I experienced guilt for having this experience while many of my peers “did school”.

The College of William and Mary School of Education’s curriculum for gifted education  is built off of the Integrated Curriculum Model for Gifted Learners.  Essentially,

curriculu.

  • Big ideas within a higher level  depth of knowledge
  • Advanced Content (as desired)
  • Problem-based inquiry using research and reasoning

While gifted education has historically been saved for the  few, these concepts are beneficial for all

“…..curriculum designed for gifted learners using ICM makes a difference in the nature and extent of learning that these students will amass. It also appears to be a powerful motivator for the less able, especially the scaffolding provided by the instructional models. If we design curriculum for our best learners and use it to stimulate a broader group of learners, then we will have succeeded admirably in our efforts to raise the ceiling for the gifted, but also to provide a new set of standards for others to emulate.”   Joyce Van Tassel-Basaka, College of William and Mary”

 All learners

I will not argue about the needs of the children ICM is designed to support.  I believe they are very real.  However, I believe all children will benefit from models like ICM.  Differentiated classrooms support all children at all times.

In a session at the Project Zero Summer Institute 2013, Dr. Ronda Bondie of Fordham University  facilitated a mini-session entitled  All Learners Everyday.  Dr. Bondie addressed how to effectively differentiate instruction for all students.  What is different about Dr. Bondie’s approach?  She includes thinking routines, teaching for understanding, multiple intelligences and formative assessment.  In essence, Dr. Bondie believes ALL students can learn to think deeply and to thrive in an inquiry-based learning environment.  I agree.

 All students should be able to tinker around as   ‘junior versions of’  (artists, photographers, engineers) in an environment of inquiry 

not just those who “do school” well.

Beyond Niche Learning

Daniel Perkins frames the Future of Learning

Daniel Perkins frames the Future of Learning

Harvard Graduate School of Education hosted the Future of Learning Conference .  While I was not fortunate to attend, I did follow the twitter discussion (#hgsefol and #hgsepzfol).  I discovered a presentation by David Perkins.

Elements of the presentation include a discussion of the future of learning:

The Six Beyonds (above).  

  • Beyond Local
  • Beyond Content
  • Beyond Topics
  • Beyond Prescribed Studies
  • Beyond Discrete Disciplines
  • Beyond the Traditional Disciplines

What kind of learning?

Niche learning:  understanding the process of mitosis

Lifeworthy learning:  Studying communicable disease and how they are spread

Reimagine education with much less niche learning~ David Perkins

 

What Does It Mean To Understand?

mid“… Instruction begins when you, the
teacher, learn from the learner, put yourself in his
place so that you may understand what he
understands and in the way he understands it….”
– Soren Kierkegaard, The Journals, 1854

What is Understanding?

“The performance view of understanding is consonant with
both common sense and a number of sources in
contemporary cognitive science. The performance
perspective says, in brief, that understanding is a matter
of being able to do a variety of thought-provoking things
with a topic, such as explaining, finding evidence and
examples, generalizing, applying, analogizing, and
representing the topic in new ways.

From The Teaching for Understanding Guide by Tina
Blythe and Associates (Jossey-Bass, 1999)

I would like to highlight the doing part.  It isn’t just knowing.  It is also doing something with what you know.  

Teaching for Understanding is a framework , developed in a research project at Project Zero during the early nineties, links what David Perkins has called “four cornerstones of pedagogy” with four elements of planning and instruction.

 Four Central Questions About Teaching

What shall we teach?

What is worth understanding?

How shall we teach for understanding?

How can students and teacher know what students understand and how students can develop deeper understanding?

The Teaching for Understanding framework

  • Throughlines, or Overarching Understanding Goals (extend through the entire course—focus learners on BIG understandings)
  • Generative Topic (the content we focus on in our unit; what it is about the topic that motivates us to learn more)
  • Understanding Goals (extend through a unit; connect to Throughlines and stem from the Generative Topic)
  • Performances of Understanding (learners demonstrate their understanding of the topic at various points in a unit)
  • Ongoing Assessment (learners assess themselves and one another, and receive frequent formative feedback from the teacher)

Here is an example of a unit planning guide, created by staff at the Washington International School.

Here  is an organizer to use when creating a project.

For more information, including registration for the High Quality Instruction and Delivery course offered through the Harvard Graduate School of Education, go here.

We need to teach the parts.  They need to know the elements.  But more importantly, they need to put the knowledge to use in meaningful ways to truly know and understand.  

This is learning in a meaningfully engaged way.  

Teaching the Whole

baseball-backgrounds-wallpaper-hd-wallpaper-background-desktop,

In his book, Making Learning Whole, David Perkins uses the game of baseball as an analogy to discuss the concept of teaching whole concepts in education.

An article in  Ed., the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s online magazine, includes an interview with David Perkins.

““From the beginning I built up a feel for the whole game. I knew what hitting the ball or missing the ball got you. I knew about scoring runs and keeping score. I knew what I had to do to do well, even though I only pulled it off part of the time,” he writes in the book. And then, the epiphany: “I saw how it fit together.” Why not apply this same logic to teaching, Perkins thought, especially in subject areas like math and history, where students often struggle to make connections?

Read more: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/2009/09/let-the-games-begin/#ixzz2aLz3IwIH

We teach the ‘whole’ beautifully in reading and the arts, where students see complete models and get to practice being a reader, an artist, a dancer.  

Why not other areas in school?  From the Ed article

“Partly it’s because learning bits and pieces now and putting them together later simplifies the classroom routine: it’s easier to work on isolated pieces. Partly because when kids make mistakes, the most obvious mistakes concern the pieces — arithmetic errors, misspellings, facts not remembered. Partly it’s a failure of imagination, a failure to figure out what small-scale accessible meaningful versions of mathematical modeling or building historical interpretations would look like for children.

Read more: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/2009/09/let-the-games-begin/#ixzz2aM6YMKHv

Elementitis and Aboutitis

The first plague of education:

We educators always face the challenge of helping our students approach complex skills and ideas. So what to do? The two most familiar strategies are learning by elements and learning about. In the elements approach, we break down the topic or skill into elements and teach them separately, putting off the whole game until later — often much later. So students end up practicing meaningless pieces to score well on quizzes without developing a sense of the whole game, like the kids . . .who can do the computations but don’t know what operations to use when. This is a persistent plague of education, so to have a little fun I call it ‘elementitis.’ “

The second plague of education:

In the learning about approach, instead of teaching how to do the thing in question, we teach about it. For instance, we teach information about key science concepts rather than teaching students how to look at and think about the world around them with those concepts, which supposedly comes later. But again, the information tends to be meaningless without a context of use, and often “later” never happens. This is another plague of education, so to have some more fun I call it ‘aboutitis’. “

So, how do we avoid this?

Perkins summarizes the “Seven Principles of Teaching”:

1.    Play the whole game.

2.    Make the game worth playing. Motivation and relevance are key.

3.    Work on the hard parts. While he advocates the whole game, he clarifies that he doesn’t mean “just” the whole game.

4.    Play out of town.  In Red Sox Nation, it’s a resonant sports metaphor, but it also refers to the transfer of knowledge from one context to another. 

5.    Play the hidden game.  A stats view of baseball is one of baseball’s “hidden games.” In baseball, algebra, or anything else we learn, there are richer, more layered aspects than show up on the surface…drawing “learners into the game of inquiry.”

6.    Learn from the team.  Perkins notes the importance of social learning, and he urges students to learn from teammates and from other “teams”–other students in different roles.

7.    Learn the game of learning.  Perkins suggests that teachers allow students to be  in charge of their own learning by putting them in the driver’s seat and letting them take control–rather than having them sit in the passenger seat and watch their education
roll by.

Finding the sweet spot where we teach the “elements”; we teach “about” in the context of a meaningful whole,  is how we engage students in deep understanding and meaningful learning.

Learning to bat is virtually meaningless if you never get to “play ball”.  

Thinking Deeply in Kindergarten

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As part of our county’s effort,  a fabulous network of schools exploring Harvard University’s Culture of Thinking framework has been created.  Participants are able to attend “walk throughs” at a dozen or so schools implementing a Culture of Thinking.  This is a reflection on my second of many.  We were at  Way Elementary in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

First, we walked the halls, the classrooms and the common areas.  Every classroom was open to impromptu visitors.  I snapped pictures of the visible artifacts I saw along the way.

I then spent an hour in a kindergarten classroom at  .  The class was engaged in a thinking routine called Tug of War .  This is routine builds on children’s familiarity with the game of tug of war to help them understand the complex forces that “tug” at either side of a fairness dilemma. It encourages students to reason carefully about the “pull” of various factors that are relevant to a dilemma of fairness. It also helps them appreciate the deeper complexity of fairness situations that can appear black and white on the surface.

Here are some takeaways:

  • The depth of thinking in these young children surprised me
  • The students thought independently; weren’t swayed by other people’s responses
  • The students could support their claims in logical ways; creative responses were plenty
  • The students exhibited a great deal of self control considering their age;  thinking WAS inside their head.
  • Everyone participated

*Note:  In discussing with the teacher, there were about 5 months of practice using these routines before students developed the self control to “think inside their heads” and to support their claims, logically.  Practice DOES make perfect!  : )  

Supporting students with language impairments

It was time for a little boy to share his thinking.  It was immediately apparent that he had tremendous difficulty organizing thoughts and communicating them verbally.  When the teacher prompted him, he gave a response that was confusing to everyone.  However, she skillfully supported him in ways that allowed his thinking to become heard.  It was clear that he understood the concepts.  Here is their discussion:

Teacher:  “Roy, is a car a ‘want’ or a ‘need’? ”

Roy:  “Want”

Teacher:  Can you tell me your thinking?

Roy:  ” Sidewalks?”

Teacher:  “I need to THINK about your thinking for a minute.  (pause)

“Can you tell me how the sidewalk makes cars a “want” and not a”need” ?”

Roy:  ” CAN walk.  ”

Teacher:  “Thank you Roy.  Since you CAN walk, a car is not necessary, to you.  Is that correct?  ”

Roy:  “Yes.  We don’t NEED cars.   We WANT them.”

I believe that with a bit of thought, these routines will allow for easy differentiation.  Teachers can probe a bit for formative assessment and adjust the content as needed.

This will be true for AP Gov as well as general kindergarten.  Thinking deeply benefits everyone, everywhere.

Resources

http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/10-ways-to-create-a-culture-of-thinking/

http://www.ronritchhart.com/COT_Resources.html

http://www.ronritchhart.com/COT_Resources_files/Defining%20Thinking%20Routines.pdf

http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org/