Establish a set of principles to reorient yourself on keeping learning meaningful
- Keep GPS On
- Know where you’re going and how long it’s supposed to take to get there
- Communicate goals and success criteria to students often and clearly
- Use formative assessments (surveys, exit slips) to reorient and do so without punishing students for their responses
- Give feedback often without of before giving grades
- Classify, Connect, Repair
- We naturally want to categorize, so make that part of the process
- Use concept attainment – introduce the examples and allow students to assign definitions to them
- Use graphic organizers – build a concept map
- Use inductive learning – introduce content and allow students to categorize and infer what they will learn from it, then teach more traditionally
- If it’s a skill, you practice it. If it’s information, you have to churn it
- Have students move – gestures can be durable
- Take notes in a compelling way
- Have students work cooperatively
- Retrieve, not receive
- Once information has been given, practice recalling it, not ingesting it
- Use low/no-stakes quizzes, flash cards, and brain dumps
Further Reading: John Hattie’s “256 Influences Related to Achievement” and Rebecca Blouwolff’s “Reach Every Learner with High-Yield Strategies”
Definition of higher order can vary depending on what system you’re using
- Using the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, the lower levels are 1 – Remember, 2 – Understand, 3 – Apply and the higher levels are 4 – analyze, 5 – evaluate, and 6 – create.
Instructors often make one of two mistakes when planning higher level work that isn’t
- Thinking something is “analysis” when it’s really under “understand”
- Be careful of trying to analyze content that has already been taught, it can easily skew into the “remember” category instead
- Thinking something is a “create” task when it’s really a “remember” or “understand” task in pretty packaging
- Often teachers trying to make “create” tasks build projects that ask students to create visuals of facts they already know. A “create” task really should ask students to put the parts of what they’ve learned into something new.
- Example is that instead of having students build a habitat of an animal they talked about in class, they should build one for an animal they haven’t talked about. If you study one painting, they have to demonstrate their skills on another.
Be careful about getting bogged down in the categorization of your lessons. Remember, the goal is to understand what students are supposed to be learning and make sure lessons provide that
- Start with building community and digital literacy
- Establish procedures, expectations, and boundaries of communication
- Make sure learners know where to turn to help, what help they can get, and when that help will and won’t be available (compassion can mean setting boundaries)
- Community is important for instructors too
- Collaboration is key!
- Make sure your team is on the same page to make sure that the goals set are the goals met and there isn’t any avoidable redundancy happening
- Know how to use your time
- Make time spent together meaningful. Can help to keep it small.
- Digital learning needs to be slower and simplified
- What is essential? What has endurance? What skills and knowledge do they need to have by the end of the course?
- Feedback is more important than a grade
- Less is communicated through a number than through actual feedback
- This is very similar to 2, so skip it
- Summative assessment should focus on creation
- Tests are not good measures of learning and are easy to cheat on. Ask students to create in order to demonstrate understanding when possible.
Assess your tools from the student perspective. What is it like to use the tool? What happens if you make a mistake? How does the tool challenge them (for better or worse)?
Use pilot groups before launching it fully. Make sure your users cover all the bases of demographics. Let them use the tool and keep in touch.
Look at the data closely. Break down your data to look at groups within it. Are there any demographics that are doing worse? Does the tool appear to be achieving what you hoped it would? (A tool on a smartphone isn’t helpful for people without smartphones.)
Ask how or why something works to improve learning. Is it truly changing something, is it meaningful, or is it just a fancy way of doing something you were already doing?
Ask about impact. Ask the makers of tools the specifics on their data. Can you get disaggregated info about learners?
Trust your gut. If something feels like it isn’t working, what might need to change to fix that? If something is working, ask how or why it is and if it is a meaningful addition to the process.