Tag Archives: learning

Digital Detritus⤴

from

Traffic jam
Pic of sheep on Mull

Do you tidy up at the end of a beach party? Are you happy to walk away from the embers of a beach barbeque, ignoring the empty drink cans and food wrappers, or do you carefully collect any rubbish that is there and leave the beach as clean, or cleaner, as it was when you arrived? if you hosted a party in a public place and left before the end would you return once it was all over to take down the gazebo and put away the deck chairs?

Of course you would – or you’d ensure that someone else was doing it.

If you saw others having a party, would you barge in and start talking loudly, ignoring everyone else there? Would you leave your rowdy toddler to stampede through others’ conversations, denying any responsibility for him when others gently mention it?

Of course you wouldn’t.

Two things have got me thinking about this. The first is the tragedy of the commons that is happening in the Scottish Highlands, where hordes of thoughtless tourists are defiling the beautiful beaches with litter, and worse. This makes me cry – the Highlands are beautiful, and fragile. They deserve our respect, our love, our care. Some humans suck.

The second is the tweeting of Twitter bots to some hashtags I use. One of these is a cautionary tale for educators. Some time ago, I am told, a class activity for a course was for each student to create a bot. One such bot still tweets, regularly, to the course hashtag. The creator is long gone, nobody takes responsibility for closing it down. When a friend commented that it was wrecking the tag feed, I realised I’d blocked it. There should be a mechanism for removing this digital clutter.

Soon after this conversation, I noticed another bot had tweeted to #CLMOOC. I’d not have thought much about it, but the other bot was on my mind, so I quote tweeted it. The bot owner replied from her personal account: dismissive of our point of view, arrogant, lacking in empathy. Creating the bot had been fun for her. She did not care what others thought – her five minutes of fun trumped everything. (Looking just now I see that it tweets nonsense every hour – random words taken from the owner’s blog. Not funny, or clever – pointless at best.)

Earlier this year I attended the OERxDomains21 conference, where one of the main platforms was Discord – a multi-channelled happening that had been well designed. It made the conference for me, and as the event ended and we all began to wind down, I appreciated being able to dip back in and see what I’d missed. But what I really appreciated was how the organisers returned some time after the event to tidy the space away and leave no trace of mess.

That’s responsible digital camping.

Liked: Caught in the Study Web⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Liked Caught in the Study Web (every.to)
Exploring Gen Z’s Ambitious and Anxiety-Fuelled Pursuit of Straight A’s Across YouTube, TikTok, Discord, and Twitter

Caught in the Study Web – Cybernaut – Every

Much of Study Web parallels more adult and professional spaces that have emerged in the last decade—revered influencers, a bend towards materialism, and inspiration over analysis.

Really interesting post, strangely l’ve listened to some of the ‘music’ videos as background in my classroom of much younger learners.

Study Web is the space students have constructed for themselves in response to the irl system that just isn’t working. Unable to find a place or person to turn to with their academic and career anxieties, they find internet strangers—strange kin—to speak to, or simply share the same space with, online. Lacking the intrinsic inspiration to study for hours each day, online advice and group accountability provide a solution. Feeling isolated, virtual study partners create a sense of fellowship.

During lockdown I occasionally gave my class time to complete a short piece of work. Turning off my screen and playing some music, often the lofi type mentioned in the article. I wonder if having longer ‘working together’ sessions would have been helpful? Did anyone else try this sort of thing with primary pupils?

Link via Waxy.org

What would Wittgenstein think of remix?⤴

from

We were playing a game at the weekend, which Kevin started.

We answered by making an acrostic of the word we guessed until we got it right

Then Wendy put her twist on it. Different game, different rules. Obviously related – that’s how remix rolls, and the challenge is to work out what the new rules are, or how the old ones apply.

And that got me thinking: what would Wittgenstein think of remix? I think he’d have understood that it’s all a matter of what game you are playing.

“However many rules you give me—I give a rule which justifies my employment of your rules” (Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics [RFM] I-113).

Tying it all together⤴

from

Nearly there. This week I spoke to my supervisor and my Graduate School and I have sent off my “intention to submit” by March 31st 2021. It’s almost done- I just need to finish the final chapters and give it a thorough edit.

Thesis Structure

It’s been a long journey – as I scrawled down on a scrap of paper this week, my thesis has gone through changes from looking at collaborative learning, through to thinking about peer interactions and ending with a rich picture of participatory learning.

Nearly there

I’ll leave the thanks for the acknowledgements, but for now I will give a shout out for my loyal little research assistant, who keeps me going through it all.

Research Assistant
Research Assistant

Hamish the Tour Guide⤴

from

Yesterday, as part of the SocMedHE20 conference, we ran a competition to guess where Hamish the Cow was. Hamish was originally knitted by me back in the old world of social contact, before we realised we’d have to run this year’s event online. I remembered him this week, so we devised a plan to photoedit him into a series of images of Glasgow and tweet them out during the day using the hashtags #WheresHamishNoo and #WinHamishTheCoo We had a lot of fun. Maybe you will too.

Learning as Performance⤴

from

Today I gave a presentation for the #SocMedHE20 conference. It was a conference with a difference as it was all online – presenters were asked to submit up to 5 tweets which we then scheduled to be tweeted from the conference account. Here’s mine – partly done to nudge myself to write a paper about it (the conference will have a special issue of the Journal of Social Media for Learning). Here’s what I said as a warm up:

My basic idea is that, at least for those of us who practice and share out in the open, learning can be seen as a performance – in a similar way to the thought that teaching is a performance (the sage on the stage). I’ll be using #CLMOOC and #DS106 to illustrate my answer.

Context planners for our ‘new normal’⤴

from @ Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Hi All 

We hope you have managed to enjoy a break in some form over the summer.  As we are all returning to a new normal and finding our feet, we are taking a break from providing CLPL for a short while.  We are working in the background to develop more CLPL sessions and other exciting STEM opportunities which we hope to bring to you later in the term.  For now, we would like to reassure you we are still here for any advice/support you may need, please feel free to contact us. 

We would like to share with you some resources you may find useful in this new normal.  Prior to the summer we worked as a team with all the RAiSE officers across Scotland to produce a resource for use by teachers on return to school.  The reasoning behind the creation of these resources was that pre-summer, there was the possibility teachers could return to a blended learning model.   We set to work trying to provide support for this model.  As it turns out we are not in a blended learning model, however, the resources created are still valuable in the teaching context we now find ourselves with some limitations on group work, resource sharing and potentially lengthy pupil absences.  As a result, we are publishing these resources now for use as you wish. 

These context planners are for Early, First and Second level to include Es and Os from across the curriculum (not just STEM).  The planners provide opportunities and complete resources for: home based learning, classroom working and IDL (Inter Disciplinary Learning) experiences.  Consideration has been given to pupils having to work relatively self-supported, potentially without access to technology and individually rather than in groups for practical work.  These resources could prove useful in completing practical work outside of group work.  They could be used to support pupils in periods of extended absence or fully in a classroom context and simply provide resources for learning. 

Each planner has an overview which outlines the whole context for learning and all the experiences which could be taught.  It shows the Es and Os which would be covered, highlights where tasks could be complete at home and which tasks are IDL.  The links to the resources for these tasks, worksheets, powerpoints, videos are all in the overview. 

Please use an up to date browser to access this resource ie Firefox, Chrome or Edge (not Microsoft Explorer) 

If you are in an up to date browser then you can access the resources by clicking on the images below.  If you are internet explorer then please copy the link to this post into one of the other browsers and then you can click on the images for the resources. 

Early Level

First Level

Second Level

The full resource can be found here. Context planners

Any feedback or questions you have on these please feel free to contact us: Barbara Hanning gw14hanningbarbara@glow.sch.uk or Laura McCafferty gw11mccaffertylaura@glow.sch.uk

What every teacher should do: direct-interactive instruction⤴

from @ Becoming Educated

My schooling was during a time when the idea of being a ‘guide on the side’ was quite fashionable. When I think back to some of my lessons I can remember doing an awful lot of stuff and I struggle to recall listening to my teacher talk. However, two teachers stand out for me in my schooling and both of them epitomise what I mean when I talk about direct instruction. They both were great explainers, and storytellers, who demanded excellence from us. They both questioned students deeply and I remember one lesson when my chemistry teacher spent what felt like ten minutes probing my thinking, believing I could go deeper. It certainly worked as I started my university life studying for a degree in chemistry. A lot has changed since then I can assure you.

This brings me to discuss the need for all teachers to pursue ‘direct instruction’ or a better way to think about it is ‘direct-interactive instruction’ as put forward by Bruce Robertson in The Teaching Delusion.

Before we dive into exploring ‘direct-interactive instruction’. I feel that it is important to discuss the difference between a novice and an expert, how they learn, think and how the use knowledge. It is clear (at least I hope so) that a novice has significantly less prior knowledge, or background knowledge of a particular topic, than that of the prior knowledge of an expert. This plays a key role in how they tackle problem, think about solutions and carry out tasks.

A novice will approach a task from the start and tackle each area of a problem individually, they will require a lot of scaffolding, support and feedback to overcome each step until they get to a solution. An expert on the other hand uses all of their prior knowledge to tackle the solution easily, coming to a conclusion with minimal effort. As John Sweller neatly sums up in a 1988 paper on Cognitive Load During Problem Solving:

Novices, not possessing appropriate schemas, are not able to recognise and memorize problem configurations and are forced to use general problem-solving strategies such as means-end analysis when faced with a problem

John Sweller, Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning (1988)

If you consider it from a football perspective, a novice has to learn which part of the foot to dribble the ball with, how hard to hit the ball and will often lose track of where they are because they are continually looking down. An expert has the tacit knowledge to know where the ball is without looking at it and can instead focus on bigger concepts such as ‘game strategy’.

To put it simply, a novice needs to build their ‘schema’ and an expert already has a deep ‘schema’ to access. So, a novice then needs to be given facts and other relevant knowledge in order to build their schema, and the best way to do this is to explicitly teach them the facts of our subject matter slowly and steadily until it has moved to their long term memory. Which allows us to define learning as ‘a change in long term memory’ as outlined by Kirschner, Sweller & Clark.

What is direct-interactive instruction?

In What Makes Great Teaching (Coe et al., 2014) the authors summarised robust research evidence that would best support teacher quality. In the report they discuss ‘ineffective practices’ such as discovery learning, teaching to learning styles, use of lavish praise and grouping students by ability but one quote sticks out for me:

Enthusiasm for ‘discovery learning’ is not supported by research evidence, which broadly favours direct instruction (Kirschner et al., 2006). Although learners do need to build new understanding on what they already know, if teachers want them to learn new ideas, knowledge or methods they need to teach them directly.

What Makes Great Teaching, Sutton Trust Report.

Greg Ashman has been a prolific blogger on this area and has shown through robust use of evidence that the teacher should ‘ be in complete control of the learning process’. Ashman references Siegfried Engelmann’s Project Follow Through (which is one of the largest educational experiment ever conducted) and this study recognised that Direct Instruction ‘ was not only more effective at at developing students basic skills than alternative models, it was also more successful at developing the ability to comprehend written passages or solve mathematical problems’. (I would recommend looking up Project Follow Through for a more detailed account of explicit instruction).

Direct Instruction is often refereed to as ‘old fashioned’ but the evidence is clear that it is the best approach to take when teaching novices, they need the necessary background knowledge, which is moved to long term memory, in order to make future learning easier to undertake. In The Teaching Delusion Bruce Robertson adds that the instruction should be on the basis of ‘ clear teacher explanations and demonstration which hold students attention’ and should also include checking for understanding’. For teachers to hold a students attention they will be required to involve them in the discussion by asking questions and getting contributions ‘from the floor’. Bruce is clear that ‘great teaching needs to include presenting content directly and interactively to students and checking for understanding’. Teaching in this way will ensure that the students get the relevant knowledge from the expert in the room, the teacher, and by involving them in the process by asking questions and checking for understanding it will allow the teacher to hold their attention on the learning.

Suffice to say a poorly presented lesson which fails to hold a students attention will result in them ‘switching off’ and no learning entering their working memory, on the basis of the idea that ‘we learn what we attend to’. Making it crucial that teachers consider what pupils will be thinking about in each phase of their lesson (Willingham, 2009) through direct-interactive instruction and checking for understanding.

I would recommend reading Andy Tharby’s How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone if you want to develop your explanations and get getter at direct-interactive instruction.

What about the ‘interactive’ part?

During a great teacher explanation it is vital that a teacher knows what the students are taking in (even though we know this is them ‘performing’ in our lesson). A teacher can do this in a number of ways and I will write about providing worked examples, questioning and practice in future posts. For now, when you are designing your explanations of key content make sure that you are clear and explicit on what you want the students to learn and think about during the lesson, this will help you shape the questions that you ask as a good question ‘makes the students think hard’.

During this stage in the lesson your aim is to make thinking visible and there is no better way than getting the pupils to write down what they are thinking through your use of questioning. Whether it is in a jotter or on a show me board a great teacher will take responses from a number of students so that they are confident that what they are explicitly teaching is being held in their students working memory. The use of examples, retrieval practice and purposeful practice will help in getting the information to the long term memory. As we said earlier, the more knowledge a pupils has the easier future learning will be and the further they will move along the novice-expert continuum.

Clear explanations are king

Your explanations are king in the classroom and it is so important that we get this aspect of teacher talk right, it is key to effective direct-interactive instruction’. What you directly teach the students is inevitably what they will learn in your classroom so it is important to make sure they are of high quality. So before you start a new topic be sure to consider the following:

  • be clear on what you are going to say, clarity is so important
  • Script what you are going to say, especially in your early years of teaching
  • observe other teachers explaining new content, you can pinpoint what the great teachers do and add it to your armoury
  • make eye contact with every student and make sure the students eyes are on you. You are the focal point.
  • Stand still, the teacher moving too often is distracting for the students and requires extra attention which is unnecessary
  • Repeat your key ideas and include them in your questions when you are making thinking visible.

What every teacher should do: direct-interactive instruction⤴

from @ Becoming Educated

My schooling was during a time when the idea of being a ‘guide on the side’ was quite fashionable. When I think back to some of my lessons I can remember doing an awful lot of stuff and I struggle to recall listening to my teacher talk. However, two teachers stand out for me in my schooling and both of them epitomise what I mean when I talk about direct instruction. They both were great explainers, and storytellers, who demanded excellence from us. They both questioned students deeply and I remember one lesson when my chemistry teacher spent what felt like ten minutes probing my thinking, believing I could go deeper. It certainly worked as I started my university life studying for a degree in chemistry. A lot has changed since then I can assure you.

This brings me to discuss the need for all teachers to pursue ‘direct instruction’ or a better way to think about it is ‘direct-interactive instruction’ as put forward by Bruce Robertson in The Teaching Delusion.

Before we dive into exploring ‘direct-interactive instruction’. I feel that it is important to discuss the difference between a novice and an expert, how they learn, think and how the use knowledge. It is clear (at least I hope so) that a novice has significantly less prior knowledge, or background knowledge of a particular topic, than that of the prior knowledge of an expert. This plays a key role in how they tackle problem, think about solutions and carry out tasks.

A novice will approach a task from the start and tackle each area of a problem individually, they will require a lot of scaffolding, support and feedback to overcome each step until they get to a solution. An expert on the other hand uses all of their prior knowledge to tackle the solution easily, coming to a conclusion with minimal effort. As John Sweller neatly sums up in a 1988 paper on Cognitive Load During Problem Solving:

Novices, not possessing appropriate schemas, are not able to recognise and memorize problem configurations and are forced to use general problem-solving strategies such as means-end analysis when faced with a problem

John Sweller, Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning (1988)

If you consider it from a football perspective, a novice has to learn which part of the foot to dribble the ball with, how hard to hit the ball and will often lose track of where they are because they are continually looking down. An expert has the tacit knowledge to know where the ball is without looking at it and can instead focus on bigger concepts such as ‘game strategy’.

To put it simply, a novice needs to build their ‘schema’ and an expert already has a deep ‘schema’ to access. So, a novice then needs to be given facts and other relevant knowledge in order to build their schema, and the best way to do this is to explicitly teach them the facts of our subject matter slowly and steadily until it has moved to their long term memory. Which allows us to define learning as ‘a change in long term memory’ as outlined by Kirschner, Sweller & Clark.

What is direct-interactive instruction?

In What Makes Great Teaching (Coe et al., 2014) the authors summarised robust research evidence that would best support teacher quality. In the report they discuss ‘ineffective practices’ such as discovery learning, teaching to learning styles, use of lavish praise and grouping students by ability but one quote sticks out for me:

Enthusiasm for ‘discovery learning’ is not supported by research evidence, which broadly favours direct instruction (Kirschner et al., 2006). Although learners do need to build new understanding on what they already know, if teachers want them to learn new ideas, knowledge or methods they need to teach them directly.

What Makes Great Teaching, Sutton Trust Report.

Greg Ashman has been a prolific blogger on this area and has shown through robust use of evidence that the teacher should ‘ be in complete control of the learning process’. Ashman references Siegfried Engelmann’s Project Follow Through (which is one of the largest educational experiment ever conducted) and this study recognised that Direct Instruction ‘ was not only more effective at at developing students basic skills than alternative models, it was also more successful at developing the ability to comprehend written passages or solve mathematical problems’. (I would recommend looking up Project Follow Through for a more detailed account of explicit instruction).

Direct Instruction is often refereed to as ‘old fashioned’ but the evidence is clear that it is the best approach to take when teaching novices, they need the necessary background knowledge, which is moved to long term memory, in order to make future learning easier to undertake. In The Teaching Delusion Bruce Robertson adds that the instruction should be on the basis of ‘ clear teacher explanations and demonstration which hold students attention’ and should also include checking for understanding’. For teachers to hold a students attention they will be required to involve them in the discussion by asking questions and getting contributions ‘from the floor’. Bruce is clear that ‘great teaching needs to include presenting content directly and interactively to students and checking for understanding’. Teaching in this way will ensure that the students get the relevant knowledge from the expert in the room, the teacher, and by involving them in the process by asking questions and checking for understanding it will allow the teacher to hold their attention on the learning.

Suffice to say a poorly presented lesson which fails to hold a students attention will result in them ‘switching off’ and no learning entering their working memory, on the basis of the idea that ‘we learn what we attend to’. Making it crucial that teachers consider what pupils will be thinking about in each phase of their lesson (Willingham, 2009) through direct-interactive instruction and checking for understanding.

I would recommend reading Andy Tharby’s How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone if you want to develop your explanations and get getter at direct-interactive instruction.

What about the ‘interactive’ part?

During a great teacher explanation it is vital that a teacher knows what the students are taking in (even though we know this is them ‘performing’ in our lesson). A teacher can do this in a number of ways and I will write about providing worked examples, questioning and practice in future posts. For now, when you are designing your explanations of key content make sure that you are clear and explicit on what you want the students to learn and think about during the lesson, this will help you shape the questions that you ask as a good question ‘makes the students think hard’.

During this stage in the lesson your aim is to make thinking visible and there is no better way than getting the pupils to write down what they are thinking through your use of questioning. Whether it is in a jotter or on a show me board a great teacher will take responses from a number of students so that they are confident that what they are explicitly teaching is being held in their students working memory. The use of examples, retrieval practice and purposeful practice will help in getting the information to the long term memory. As we said earlier, the more knowledge a pupils has the easier future learning will be and the further they will move along the novice-expert continuum.

Clear explanations are king

Your explanations are king in the classroom and it is so important that we get this aspect of teacher talk right, it is key to effective direct-interactive instruction’. What you directly teach the students is inevitably what they will learn in your classroom so it is important to make sure they are of high quality. So before you start a new topic be sure to consider the following:

  • be clear on what you are going to say, clarity is so important
  • Script what you are going to say, especially in your early years of teaching
  • observe other teachers explaining new content, you can pinpoint what the great teachers do and add it to your armoury
  • make eye contact with every student and make sure the students eyes are on you. You are the focal point.
  • Stand still, the teacher moving too often is distracting for the students and requires extra attention which is unnecessary
  • Repeat your key ideas and include them in your questions when you are making thinking visible.

The post What every teacher should do: direct-interactive instruction appeared first on Becoming Educated.