Sunday, September 22, 2019

Towards an Empowering Education

How do we decide what works in schools? What right combination of factors must come together to have successful learning?  The question I keep asking myself is, "What really works in the classroom? What should educators be focusing on?"


What should we focus on in the classroom? It seems crazy, but here we are back at that word that Mike Schmoker used as the title of his book. Focus. What should we be focused on in the classroom?
Instead, our focus should be on how student interaction with tech will improve learning. We have to talk about the teaching and learning. (Source: Technology Is Only Part of the Picture)
In this blog entry, Technology Is Only Part of the Picture, some tough questions are asked. They are questions that all of us should be asking.
...we’ve spent time looking at the realm of classroom ed tech and how far it’s come. We know that the real power of any technology relies upon how it’s used. So how well is ed tech being implemented? 
To our dismay, we found that we haven’t made the progress we had hoped for. Yes, there are pockets of excellence where the technology truly enhances student achievement. But in most cases, there has been little change in daily teaching and learning. 
Looking critically at today’s ed tech landscape can not only reveal flaws in current practice, but potentially inform better uses and better technologies in the future. After all, technology is only part of the picture. The other part depends on how we understand and shape our teaching. 
Tech moves fast, and our learning strategies should not only keep up, but drive the conversation around ed tech. 
When children are growing up without the benefit of reading, writing, math skills (er, check the research, it's pretty obvious now), then you realize something has to change.

Time for Change

How do you reconcile new information (I'd never read about Hattie before December, 2018) with how things have been done (e.g. edtech)? One of the reasons I've been exploring this is the inspiration I've gotten from Patrick J. Finn's book, Literacy with an Attitude. I read the book years ago, but it comes to mind again and again as I challenge my own attitudes and perceptions about edtech in schools today.
"First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind that leads to positions of power and authority. 
Second, there is domesticating education, which leads to functional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome
Over time, political, social, and economic forces have brought us to a place where the working class gets domesticating education and functional literacy, and the rich get empowering education and powerful literacy. 
We don't worry about the literate working class because the kind of literacy they get doesn't make them dangerous." 
Source: Patrick J. Finn, Literacy with an Attitude as cited here
If you can't ask powerful, tough questions, you're just a cog in a wheel. Is that what powerful literacy is about? Nope. Do we want to empower our children or domesticate them? I don't know about you, but I want an empowering education for my children and grandchildren.

Determining What Truly Works in Education

Consider this excerpt from one of the articles linked below:’ll know that we have embraced the work of John Hattie to help us determine what truly works in education.
Take some time to check out these blog entries. It's time to empower our teachers, our children/students. Here are some blog entries well-worth reading.

Research-Based Practices

  • The Research Behind the Selected Strategies and How Best to Implement Them
  • Strategies 8 and 9: Micro-Teaching/Video Review of Lessons and Classroom Discussion
  • Strategies 6 and 7: Conceptual Change Programs and Teacher Credibility
  • Strategies 4 and 5: Response to Intervention and Jigsaw Method
  • Research-based Strategies: Part 5: The use of technology to accelerate learning is definitely something that TCEA supports. But we are also big believers in the use of the best instructional strategy for student learning. That’s why we’ve offered this five-part blog series on research-proven ways to help students learn more, learn faster, and retain a greater depth of knowledge.
  • Ensuring that Feedback is Meaningful, Part 1:  As educators, we all know the value of feedback, whether it’s for students or our own personal growth. John Hattie’s analysis of feedback found that it has a 0.70 effect size, which means it has almost twice the growth potential of a regular year of learning for a student. But all of that research assumes that we are doing feedback correctly. As Hattie says, “Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement – if you get it right.” This four-part blog series will closely examine what research says are the best practices in providing feedback to accelerate learning. We’ll look at what feedback is (and what it isn’t), when it should happen and when it shouldn’t, what must be included to make it relevant and of value, and then provide both tech and non-tech ways to provide it.
  • Ensuring that Feedback is Meaningful, Part 2: Students want to improve. They want to learn better, faster, and retain knowledge longer. Our job is to provide them the specific help that they need.
  • Strategies That Work: “We have a wide array of instructional strategies implemented,” Terri said. “We use depth and complexity to improve student understanding.” Like this fourth grade educator, many educators rely on classroom instructional strategies. These strategies differ in effectiveness, as John Hattie’s meta-analysis shows. Often, these most effective strategies are unknown to classroom teachers. This blog entry suggests one way to introduce them to effective strategies.

Blending Research and Technology

  • The Power of the Jigsaw: As educators, we are always looking for the best ways to help our students learn. Whether it’s a different instructional strategy or a new tech tool, we want to know that what we are spending our time on is worthwhile and will accelerate learning and retention. In this blog, we’ll look at one of the most powerful (and easy to implement) strategies that his research shows we should be using: the jigsaw method.
  • High-Impact Classroom Discussion with Google: John Hattie’s research identifies classroom discussions as having an effect size on student achievement of 0.82, which means approximately two years’ of growth in one year.  Do you have classroom discussions in your class?  Do you use Google tools to promote classroom discussion? If not, let’s take a look at how you can use them to increase student learning in your classroom.
  • High Impact Strategy: Using Google and Self-Reported Grades: Are you getting the most bang for your buck by utilizing the high impact instructional strategies made famous by John Hattie combined with the wonderful tools from Google? If your answer is no, then look at how you can employ practices, such as self-reported grades, that are scientifically proven to increase student achievement, and incorporate Google tools at the same time.
  • Back to School Apps for Lesson Planning: “Does the TEKS Resource System have an app?” asked a classroom teacher in one of my sessions. “I want to pull up my lessons.” The question got me thinking. After some fruitless searches in the Google Play store, I failed to find an app. But I did find a few, no-cost apps that teachers may want as they head back to school. Care to see what they are?
  • Reciprocal Teaching with Google's Reading App Rivet: Few would disagree that reading plays a crucial role in life. Scaffolding student cognition during reading can enhance student achievement. One of the techniques I employed as a young teacher included Reciprocal Teaching. In this blog entry, we’ll explore a new Google app in the context of powerful reading strategies.
  • Embrace Lifelong Learning, or Else: Did you know that the World Economic Forum identifies five trends that everyone should know about? The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived, a tsunami of technology change. Embracing these five trends could prepare us for change. In this blog entry, we’ll explore one of the trends.

Podcasts and Videos

Here are some podcasts and videos well-worth listening to and watching. I'll try to include links to these as I go through them below.

  • Podcast(s): 
  • Videos: 
    • This is Balanced Literacy: Join reading experts Nancy Akhavan, Doug Fisher, and Nancy Frey as they outline the essential evidence-based approaches that define the balance for your students, lighting the path for you to implement balanced literacy in your classroom. [Miguel's Note: This is a GREAT video to watch on the subject. I hope to have MyNotes to share on this soon)]
    • John Hattie: Know Thy ImpactProfessor John Hattie discusses why it's important to “know thy impact” and how to implement a cycle of inquiry, evaluation, and implementation into your school.
    • John Hattie: 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning Webinar: John Hattie’s 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning are founded on the principle that teachers are evaluators, change agents, learning experts, and seekers of feedback who are constantly engaged with dialogue and challenge. 
These videos from Corwin are an education in themselves and worth watching. Check 'em out!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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