Do you know how Generation Z pupils learn? I write this post having spent the morning on Skype to China, talking about their attempts to get teachers responding to Generation Z learners. In order to equip us with a creative and enterprising workforce, this generation needs 21st century teaching and learning. As a nation with the largest manufacturing output in the world, China has realised if students are educated using rote-learning and conventional teaching they won’t develop creative, enterprising people like Steve Jobs. That is their goal. I wrote last year about Gen Z but now I want to focus on how they learn and the implications it has for educators. They are radically different to previous generations but we risk educating them in the same way. They are “tech-savvy” so life is filled by mobile gadgets that access the world. They are kids with brains rewired by the internet – answers to questions come from Google and YouTube, but they lack the critical-thinking skills to evaluate sources.
What is connectivism? In my last two posts on connectivism (here and here) I've alluded to but not made particularly explicit what I think connectivism actually is, even though I have been critiquing and exploring its boundaries. This post is an attempt to fairly briefly list what I think are among its more compelling shared ideas. I will draw substantially from George Siemens's most cited seminal article that has acted as a catalyst and gravitational centre for the idea, though I will also be adding odd bits of interpretation and extrapolation here and there that might not have been in the original and to which others have contributed. If connectivism makes any sense at all then knowledge about it is a networked phenomenon, not an individual invention. This is my bit of personal sense-making as I see it on this particular rainy day, not a definitive account to stand for all time, not a scholarly article citing its sources, not a theory, not a refutation of any other model of the idea. Connectivism
AfL: Tight but loose…. Over the last few weeks there have been some very thought provoking posts on AfL on various teacher blogs. Two in partcilular resonated most with me – firstly, this one from Joe Kirby and then this from Tom Boulter. Both focus on cutting out the ‘gimmicks’ that have polluted the waters of AfL in recent years and get to the nuts and bolts of what it is all about – good teaching. They put me in mind of a quote from Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, who when asked about how they functioned as a band, answered that they were ‘tight but loose’. This to me, is an approach that schools should take when looking to develop AfL……or great teaching - have a shared understanding of what effective AfL/teaching is all about (the tight bit), but allow teachers to deliver this in their classrooms in different and creative ways (the loose bit). Developing a shared understanding of what effective AfL is Around 2007, I saw Dylan Wiliam talking about this at a conference in London. Keeping it tight but loose
Distributed Cognition | Social Learning Theory “The emphasis on finding and describing “knowledge structures” that are somewhere “inside” the individual encourages us to overlook the fact that human cognition is always situated in a complex sociocultural world and cannot be unaffected by it.” (Hutchins, 1995, p. xiii) Over the 20th century, many have explored the question “how can the cognitive processes we normally associate with an individual mind be implemented in a group of individuals?” Ed Hutchins has spent his “academic carreer trying to understand human cognition in social, cultural and material context”. According to Rogers (1997), “distributed cognition is a hybrid approach to studying all aspects of cognition, from a cognitive, social and organisational perspective” (p. 1). Therefore, using insights from sociology, cognitive science, and the psychology of Vygotsky, the theory emphasizes the social aspects of cognition. Figure A ( Metaphors and examples: A ship steers into harbour.
Why we’ve got differentiation wrong. | andywarner78 I hate the way that many of us teachers are encouraged to differentiate, and the way that many teachers understand the term. In contemporary education, differentiation has, for many practitioners, become synonymous with “dumbing down”. Providing easier tasks for “weaker” students, displaying differentiated outcomes (especially of the “must, should, could” variety) and texts where “difficult” words have been removed or replaced to allow the “weakest” to read them, is all symptomatic of a lowering of expectations and the acceptance that many students just can’t access complex material. To me, this approach is defeatist and is the root of the problem where low levels of literacy are to be found. Acceptance of such a view becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the students who are only ever expected to reach the “must” objective or who are never exposed to complex vocabulary will never push themselves to grapple with difficult concepts or great pieces of writing. My response? Like this:
When to Use Social Media for Learning Workplace learning professionals should focus on how social learning - and its associated tools - can help achieve business goals. The transfer of knowledge has always been a social activity. Many years ago, workers learned skills through apprenticeship. Workers in the same location, in the same area of practice would share knowledge, and thereby, strengthen the skills of the group. Today, workers can learn as they work, by connecting with someone with the answers, who may live anywhere in the world. What has changed over time are the skills needed for business success, and the speed at which knowledge is needed to maintain a competitive edge. In 1966, Peter Drucker coined the term the "knowledge worker." As organizations became larger, global, and more complex, it became less likely to find knowledge in next office - or when it was needed. Looking at the big picture As learning professionals, it is easy to focus the discussion on social learning on the tools, known as social media.
Teaching repertoire to learning repertoire Visible pedagogy One of my most memorable responses when I asked, “What do you like most about these lessons?” was the reply from a Year 7 pupil who answered without hesitation, “I like the plenary that Miss always does.” On hearing this, a wave of excited reassurance washed over me and I followed up with, “That sounds great, so what happens when you have the plenary?” Just as quick, the pupil confidently said, “That’s the bit where we get to pack up.” By thinking of pedagogy and the design of learning activities as akin to the exoskeleton of lessons, we can share the relevance (the ‘so what’?) Making our pedagogy visible to learners is a fantastic way to deliberately involve them in the process of learning. Jim Smith (@thelazyteacher), often talks about creating a sort of bingo card for learners to record all the different activities and ways they are asked to show their learning that they encounter during a series of lessons. A learning script Making the untypical typical Like this:
Tree Looking for Strategies and Activities? Click Here! The tree can act as a metaphor to help us see the relationship between theory and practice in second language learning and teaching. The ROOTS represent concepts and theories to be considered in teaching in general and in second language acquisition in particular. The success of teacher planning and preparation and development of carefully selected activities can be understood by tracing how they are fed by the ideas on the roots and trunk. Click on the different parts of the tree below to access more information about each topic.
Spirit Levels: Exorcising The Ghost of Assessment Past National Curriculum Levels are dead. That’s the starting point of this post. In secondary schools, at KS3, they have been dead for 5 years now. They were brutally and fatally assaulted with the disastrous KS3 tests of 2007 and then dispatched with a bullet to the head in 2008 when the SATs were scrapped by the parliamentary committee investigating the previous year’s debacle. KS2 levels, however, have taken a lot longer to die. Nobody much will miss NC Levels. And yet!!! The reasons for this haunting are multi-layered, but relatively simple. The DfE (and the DfCSF before it) have failed to adequately identify an alternative, leaving Key Stage 2 assessment a backward-looking Miss Havisham of a process, haunted and haunting in equal measure. School Leaders, particularly at KS3, have failed to rise up to the challenge presented by the absence of KS3 tests. The likelihood is that there is going to be a disconnect between the government’s preferred curriculum and accountability models.
Peer marking and how to make it work in your classroom - TES English - Blog - TES English English and media teacher Ms Findlater explains the process of introducing peer marking to her pupils. Effective marking is essential. So, too, are time-saving strategies. As a new teacher, I remember ‘doing’ peer marking with a year 9 class a few times. This would, indeed, have been the case at that time. Don't dumb it down Prior to the peer marking task being completed by the students, a copy of the success criteria/mark scheme is shared with them, the same one that I’m expected to use. Show me the skills Students highlight three key words at every level that helps them remember what they’re being asked to assess. Moving on up The students underline the word that describes the level of difficulty within each grade description. Follow my lead I then ask students to look over past marking in their books from me. Spelling, punctuation and grammar is marked lightly. I’m also known for my love of a good sticker. Over to them Now is the time for them to put it all into practice. Take it all in
Four famous theories of learning: a beginner's guide The names of the four figures explored in this beginners’ guide - Dewey, Maslow, Bruner and Vygotsky - will be familiar to many teachers, but it is worth reminding ourselves what their work has contributed to education over the past 100 years. So here are short explanations of some of their key ideas and a range of practical examples showing how they can be applied in any school today. 1. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a psychologist interested in human motivation and development. Physiological needs such as food, water and sleep;Safety needs: protection from violence and harm;Needs for love, affection and belonging;Needs for esteem; andneeds for self-actualisation (fulfilling potential). Even so, the point still stands and accords with most people’s experience - that if more basic needs are not met, it is a challenge (or even impossible) to achieve higher goals. Clearly, Maslow’s analysis of motivation has consequences for the classroom. Physiological Safety 2.
Explanations: Top Ten Teaching Tips “There is no pleasure to me without communication: there is not so much as a sprightly thought comes into my mind that it does not grieve me to have produced alone, and that I have no one to tell it to.” Michel de Montaigne quotes (French Philosopher and Writer. 1533-1592) Very recently I responded to a question about great teaching by Joe Kirby (read this excellent blog post) with the answer that explanations, questioning and feedback were the holy trinity of teaching. I have written about questioning and feedback at length, but I have never written about teacher explanations. I thought about why and I considered that part of the problem is that explanations are so integral to everything that we do that we quickly learn our style and then explain away on autopilot pretty much for the rest of our career. I would argue that we need to reflect upon whether we are maximising the effectiveness of our explanations. Top Ten Tips: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Further reading: Like this:
Oral Formative Feedback – Top Ten Strategies People who have read my #marginalgains blog posts will know I am going over old ground here – intentionally so – as I am looking to dig deeper towards the key marginal gains that have the biggest impact on learning. For me, formative oral feedback and questioning are the two key ‘hinge point marginal gains’ that make for great teaching and learning. My previous #marginalgains blog identified new teaching strategies for these tow key area ad pedagogy, but here I wanted to use this blog to reflect on what I view as the most high impact formative oral feedback strategies that I have been using in my everyday practice. I want to use my list as a reminder, each time I plan lessons, of the key strategies to use – as it is too easy to forget and slip into autopilot planning, forgetting even our most effective of strategies. In nearly all of these examples the feedback includes all three parties possible in the class: the learner, peers and the teacher. My Oral feedback Top Ten Guided Writing: