Archive for the ‘Ponderings’ Category
Sometimes, if I get stuck on something, I’ll write out a blog post. They usually descend into stream of consciousness and I either find a solution or get a headache and stop. Either way I usually then delete the post.
This time I’m going to publish it. Partly because it fits in with the stuff I’ve been writing about rebooting my teaching and partly because Bianca just tweeted a link to this:
This sums up my last 2.5 years of teaching. #plsm13
“Unless the whole school is convinced this is the way to go, you’re fighting this huge uphill battle,” he says. “No one else has the students working together in teams. No one else asks students to make presentations or assesses them the way you do. Your class is significantly more rigorous and more challenging, even though you may assign less homework.”
and it chimes with what I’ve been thinking through this evening.
I’ve spent the last couple of years reinventing the way I teach to incorporate more technology and a more project based learning. I’ve been doing it with the blessing of the school and my Head of Dept, but I’ve largely been left to my own devices. I teach in a block away from the rest of the dept, and everyone in the dept is a very experienced teacher in their own rights. While I’ve mentioned what I’ve been doing, and people have been down to see the projects from time to time, I haven’t had to worry about writing it up for other people. In fact, I suspect it’s the freedom FROM that that has played a large part in being able to try out lots of new ideas without worrying to much about having to get other people to follow in my footsteps.
However, for a range of reasons, we’re now reconsidering not what we teach, but how we teach, especially at KS3, and the time has come to start sharing my experiences and starting to spread some of that practice across the department.
But I’m aware that where I am NOW, is in large part because of the experiences of the last two years. The time spent volunteering in one of our feeder primary schools, the connections I’ve made online, reading up on Project Based Learning and sharing ideas with people at conferences and teachmeets.
I’m worried that dumping these projects and these approaches on teachers who haven’t shared that journey with me might not work. Will they get the ‘why’? Will they make the investment in time and passion?
On the other hand, reading that last paragraph back, I sound like a complete idiot. Of course they’ll make them work – they’re professionals.
So why the nagging voice?
Ah, maybe this is it…
I think it’s because it’s not about the projects. It’s my view of ME in the class and in relation to the class that’s changed so much over the last two years. That’s one of the things that makes the projects work and I don’t know how to write that into a scheme of work, or deliver it in an inset.
I’ve written before that one of the biggest problems with the idea of ‘sharing best practice’ in education is the underlying misconception that you can something that works in one school (or one classroom) and put it into another school (or classroom) and will have the same positive effect. It doesn’t. And it’s partly because the people are different. Not that the second school or classroom has worse teachers in it, but it has teachers with a different view of themselves and education. So like taking a tube of deep heat because it made your back better, and applying to your haemorrhoids in the same hope, sometimes it’s just the wrong cure.
So, I’ll write up the projects, share them with my friends in the department and try and find some time (that most precious of teacher resources) to spend with them – just talking through how it’s gone, sending the odd link or video clip now and again and try and see if I can share the buzz that you get when something just works and the wall that you need to put up to block out the nagging voices about whether or not they know enough facts or if they have enough written in their books!
If I’ve been willing to try and fail and learn with my students for the last two years, I’m going to need to the same now with the staff.
1. I commented on one of the things that impressed me most about the plans for Hwb was how it joined the dots between a number of existing plans and technologies.
2. The previous week the National Qualifications Review recommended that:
R28 The Welsh Government should work with awarding organisations and stakeholders to develop a new Essential Skills Wales qualification in digital literacy to replace the current Essential Skills Wales in ICT, with a revised assessment method.
4. Doug now works for Mozilla on their Open Badges project
5. (One of) the problem (s) with old ICT ESW qualification was (is) that it assumed all students should be able to complete the same (fairly narrow) tasks to the same standard.
How about a new qualification in digital literacies, developed with Mozilla, that utilizes the idea of Open Badges to accredit what students actually do, with Hwb+ becoming an Open Badges displayer for students across Wales?
From there all kinds of things could grow, but as a first step this seems very achievable, and a vast improvement on trying to take something with a huge number of possibilities in a very fast moving field and trying to shove it into a GCSE shapes hole.
For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to make sense of a few ‘big issues’ around teaching, and my attitudes to it. Particularly issues around data, evaluation and how I know whether or not I’m doing ‘the right thing’.
I’ve started and abandoned a series of posts on these issues, because they kept getting tangled up in each other. So this morning I opened a new window and just started typing. Every time a question arose, I typed it. Everytime I got stuck I stopped, walked away for ten minutes and then came back to it. Each time I found I was able to pick up and carry on.
This may be the least interesting post I’ve ever added here, but I thought I’d add it here for future me to come and reread next time I get stuck, and maybe carry on this conversation. Please feel free to challenge anything I’ve written below in the comments. There are a few bits here that could probably do with being kicked around a bit…
I started with an attempt to define my priorities and I went from there.
The absolutely most important thing is that students leave school able to access their next step, with the skills and attributes to keep learning
This is supposed to be supported by the exams system which is supposed to provide the currency to the next step
In reality, the exam system actually places barriers in the place of some students. This needs to be addressed
However, while I can put pressure on those at a level able to fix it, I don’t have that power in my classroom
Am I therefore stuck?
Not at all – the decisions I make about HOW I teach can make a huge difference
By ensuring I use the techniques that a) enthuse students and b) allow them to do the best they can inside the exam system
Are those contradictory?
Not necessarily, but I need to be mindful of the conflict
So how do I know how I should teach?
I should use the techniques that are shown to work
How do I know that? After all, as Hattie points out, pretty much everything has an effect. Does that mean anything goes?
Clearly not, because Hattie has also shown there is a variation in effect size. At the same time, Wiliam has shown that his research based ideas that work can be interpreted and used in a variety of ways by different teachers in way that suit them. I’m a professional, so it’s my responsibility to make sure what I do works for me and the students.
Hang on a minute now. I can hear the echos of two viewpoints that make me very uncomfortable. The first is the ‘leave me alone, I know it’s working’ view, the second is the data chaser.
I have a problem with the first because I feel there is a need to innovate in education.
Why? Isn’t innovation for its own sake both dangerous and counter-productive?
It can be, but the world is changing fast. Education can’t be immune from that. Besides, I’m already convinced that the ‘industrial’ method of education is part of the problem, and therefore, if I wish to be part of the solution, I need to try out new ideas.
How do you know if they work?
Currently, I have little more than professional opinion, student feedback and results. There may be a better way, but if there is I’m not sure what it is in a way that doesn’t require simplification to a level as to make the results invalid.
So, is this what’s wrong with the data chasers?
I’m a great believer in tracking student progress in way which provides meaningful feedback for students and a guide to the need for interventions for me. But there are dangers that the data becomes the purpose, rather than a tool for ensuring that students are making progress. If the need to demonstrate progress through data means we end up reducing the system to something that is easily measurable, we risk sacrificing our broader (and perhaps more important) aims of education. Education becomes reduced to a series of boxes to be ticked and the pleasure and value of exploration is lost. If, in order to ensure that students know their ‘next step’ we reduce understanding to a series of predefined rungs on a ladder with little or no evidence to support its validity we remove the chance for discovery and the possibility of alternatives to our predefined path.
So anything goes?
No, because then we’re back to ‘I don’t need to change’, or ‘it works because I say so’ or Brain Gym.
So… where does that leave us?
Honestly? I’m not sure. We need creative teachers who are willing to try things out, but who are also able to honestly and publicly critique their work. This, or at least the second part of that is culturally alien.
We need students and teachers to be able to demonstrate progress in the broadest sense, and acknowledge that learning and understanding are not linear. At the same time, we need to encourage teachers to try and measure the impact of their interventions not just in raw terms, but against control groups wherever possible
I need to be constantly on the look out not just for new ideas, but for ideas that are either proven, or whose hypothesis or contention seems to match my personal understanding of how the aims of education can be met.
How do I answer those that claim we should leave well alone?
By pointing to those students for whom the current system isn’t working. It’s easy to blame them, but ultimately that’s self defeating. We need to find a way of bringing education to them without sacrificing its purpose or its rigour.
How do I answer those that would jump on every new initiative, or get lost in arguments about which device is better?
By never forgetting what I believe the purpose of education is, and everything I’ve said above. By remembering that I lapped up the claims of Brain Gym when someone told me that ‘science shows us’.
How do I stop myself from growing despondent at the lack of a solution?
By remembering that there will never be one solution. Education is made up of people is people are way too complicated than that. By remembering that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and remembering the important need to model that. By remembering that in ten years time the only thing my students will remember is whether or not I treated them like a human being. By remember that you can only do what you think is best today, and if you didn’t then the even better of tomorrow wouldn’t emerge.
I suspect that one of the changes in technique in recent years that has had the biggest impact on student achievement is a move away from ‘grading’ a piece of work to providing feedback – a key component of which is a target for how to improve.
The adoption of this practice has (should have?) led to us questioning at what point in the process we are marking / assessing – for this to have the biggest impact students need to have a change to reflect and act of their target quickly.
The problem is, as this model has scaled and managers look for evidence, increasingly what’s being looked for is evidence of a target – next time you do this you should.
But recently I’ve been wondering if sometimes we wouldn’t be better off just saying ‘ wow. Well done. You aced it’. If there’s a time and a place for targets and feedback isn’t there a time and a place for celebrating success unconditionally.
Or am I getting soft in my old age? ;0)
I don’t think I’ve been prouder of receiving any tweet than the one that appeared yesterday from Mark Clarkson:
No one’s ever been scared by the scope of my vision before! I quite like it…
Anyway, I thought it was time for an update on how my crazy plan might be working out.
It looks as though we’re going to trial it next year with year 7 (one year groups worth of material being (probably) achievable. Three massively not so).
The document that is being developed in house at the moment explaining the rationale behind the change can be found here. You’re welcome to borrow any of it, but it is still a work in progress.
The list of possible future topics can be found here. It’s pretty extensive, and certainly won’t all be available from Sept. Exactly how it will be arranged and what will be compulsory vs optional is still to be decided.
The more I think about it though, the more I think this is the right way to go. It take advantages of the opportunities uniquely offered to students when they’re 1:1, and (hopefully) solves some of the issues that I addressed in the previous post that are more evident in (if not unique to) ICT.
The biggest issue is how to award badges. There were various ideas bandied around on Twitter yesterday. Besides my previous stated ideas of a moodle plug in or Edmodo, @mwclarkson was suggesting using Active Directory to control issuing badges, perhaps to individual desktops, and @infernaldepart tempted us with some forthcoming news about issuing and displaying badges.
Meanwhile the digital studies wiki continue to grow with ideas and resources, and if I have my way all of our resources will be made available under a CC licence (probably via a Moodle Course)
We live in interesting times. And I like it!
From time to time various tweets or blog posts of mine get caught up by a paper.li – a service which captures various internet activitiy for a particular user. Yesterday, myself, @johnmclear and Leighton Andrews got linked together by the #addcym paper, which inspired this tweet from the Minister:
@addcym @davestacey @johnmclear so should we now be talking about iPedagogy? or iPadagogy?
It picked up some interesting responses, the Minister himself later on suggesting that the tweet has been in part tongue in cheek, but it get get me thinking…
There is no doubt that there are huge advantages to using Apple in a whole school deployment. As well as ipads being very easy to use, the system does seem easy to manage as long as you go 1:1 (Fraiser Speirs explains why here).
However, I suspect the reality for many schools will be BYOD before it will be a whole school deployment, and that brings up a whole host of potential management issues. More importantly, it raises some serious questions about pedagogy and making sure teachers and students are in a position to make the most of their devices. This is a very different ask to providing whole staff training on a particular app.
This one gave me more pause for thought. Surely we should be thinking about the implications for pedagogy of pupils having mobile devices. But what comes first – the chicken or the egg? Should we be finding apps that allow us to do what we know works, or following the technology into new areas? Just as I was pondering this, I found via this blog post that the Dylan Wiliam series ‘classroom experiment’ was now available on youtube. I missed it the first time round, so sat down with a cup of tea to watch.
2 hours and one cold cup of tea later I was in awe. If you’re looking for some good inset this year, get your staff together in a room and show them this.
What it did show, repeatedly, is the need for us to think about WHY we’re doing what we do. What are our priorities for our students, and are we delivering them? And if not, what are we going to do about it? The answer may be an app, it may be a mobile device. Equally it may be a lollystick, a set of coloured cups or simply the decision to change the way we mark and no longer give students grades.
But we ALL need to be encouraged to ask that question. At a national, local, school, department and class level.
What are we actually trying to achieve? Is what we’re doing going to get us there?
This post is my contribution to the 500 words campaign currently being run by purpos/ed. It may be one or two words over 500. I hope it was more of a guideline than a rule!
The purpose of education is to allow learning to happen.
A little twee? Perhaps.
Maybe I can tell you a few stories to explain what I mean? Are you sitting comfortably?
A few years ago I was involved in a new skills curriculum at our school. We wanted to make sure there was some kind of celebratory event at the end of the year, and because the ethos of the whole thing had been to hand power over to the students as much as possible we did just that. We sent out the invites – to parents, to staff, to primary colleagues. We gave the students two weeks planning time. Then, at 2 o’clock on a slightly damp Tuesday in July we turned over an empty hall to 40 year 7 students and told them they had an hour to impress us.
I’m not sure I have ever been more amazed.
In that hour they so surpassed not just my expectations but also my wildest dreams that I began to wonder what else they could achieve if we just gave them the chance..
A few years earlier and several thousand miles away a professor was wondering what would happen if you provided an internet connection into the slums of New Deli. Not a classroom, not instructions, just an internet connection.
That professor was Sugatra Mitre and if you haven’t yet heard him tell this story, then I’d urge you to go and do so either via his Ted talk (if you’ve only got 18 minutes) or this keynote (if you’ve got a little longer)
In short, he too, was amazed at what happens if you provide the right stimulus and let students get on with it. His conclusion was that learning was an ‘emergent property’ – we just need to get the conditions right. No teachers, no interactive whiteboards. Just a way of tapping into and encouraging the natural curiosity that makes us all human.
A third story
I was the first person in my family to go to University. I knew what I wanted to be (a librarian). I knew where i wanted to study (Aberystwyth), so I worked for a year after my A Levels to build up some savings and off I went.
My brother also knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to travel. So he saved his money and went off on various adventures around the world.
Both our journeys taught us many things. Both were perfectly valid. Only, our mum didn’t have to have a row in the Co-op with one of my teachers because they didn’t agree with my plan.
I quickly decided that Librarianship wasn’t for me. I switched to a Joint Honours degree with History, got heavily involved in the Student media and then the Students Union and it was those things (rather than the formal education) that gave me the skills, motivation and self-belief to decide a few years after graduating to move into teaching. My brother stuck to his plan. Now, ten years on, my brother is married and living in Canada. He now feels that some more formal education would be useful to him. But it’s going to cost him a lot of money to get it, because he’s “had his chance”.
Well, if the purpose of education is to let learning happen, I’m not sure we’re doing a good enough job yet.
Why is it that despite those students showing 5 years ago just what they could do, we are still not regularly giving them the freedom to do so?
Why is it that the lessons of the work of Mitre and others don’t seem to be filtering through to our policy makers and school leaders?
Why is that the vested interests and the status quo lead many in teaching to reject, without question, any alternatives to the conveyer belt model of education we have grown into in the West.
A final story.
A scientist takes two frogs and two pans of water. He places one frog in a pan of water and puts it on to boil. The second frog he leaves while he boils the water in the second pan. Once the water is hot, he drops the frog in. It, not unsurprisingly, leaps out. Meanwhile the first frog slowly boils to death.
I suspect that if you dropped us into the current educational system, given everything else we know about people, about learning and about life, we might act like that second frog.
What’s it going to take before we wake up and realise that the water around is boiling, and it’s boiling away the enthusiasm of many of those still sitting in the pan?
There’s a growing buzz at the moment around digital badges, and I’m going to try and put down my thoughts, specifically on the following:
- Why I was initially so negative, and why I now think I was wrong
- One possible vision for the delivery of ICT embedding student choice and badges.
I first came across the idea of digital badges (specifically the Mozilla Open Badges project) from Doug Belshaw. Initially I was so dismissive of the idea I didn’t even bother following the links. I think my initial scepticism came from the following:
- All the previous attempts I’ve seen at providing some kind of accreditation for ‘extra curricular’ activities have been deeply flawed and had little student buy-in
- I’m not a ‘gamer’. Never have been. Don’t have the skills required, or the patience / curiosity needed to aquire them. This is also true of jogsaw puzzles. It just seems to me there’s a more productive use of my time. While I accept that there is much to be learned from the ideas around ‘gamifiying’ the curriculum I’m probably going to need more persuading than most
- A growing concern that any ‘badges’ or rewards system (such as my school’s merit system) is at most ineffective and at worst damaging, through the value it places on extrinsic rewards (read Carol Dweck and others for a demolition of this)
- I haven’t yet found the opening for badges in either my use of Edmodo, or in something like Classdojo (Caveat – this says more about me than either of the tools, I know many teachers making great use of both)
Doug’s initial blog post of one possible idea didn’t help dispell any of these concerns, however a few weeks ago I decided to follow some links from this post and ended up completing the Badges 101 quiz. Anyone watching may well have seen the lightbulb going on over my head. This had the potential to be powerful stuff indeed.
If you haven’t registered and completed badges 101 yet, I really would urge you to stop at this point and go and do it. It’ll take you no more than 5 minutes and the rest of this post might make more sense. Then come back.
Right, let’s go on.
This idea, combined with the more student centred approach I’ve been trying to develop in my ICT teaching over the last few years (my current moto: Get out of the way) has lead me to imagine a new way of delivering ICT at KS3. I’m sure there any many problems with this, but this is intended as an initial sketch.
Before we get on to this, much of the talk on twitter at the moment is around the idea of replacing ‘ICT’ with ‘Digital Studies’ in England and the great work going on in re imaging what this might look like. This suggestion is not (yet) part of those ideas for two reasons:
1. In Wales we still have the ICT NC which needs to be followed
2. The posts I’ve read on digital studies are still quite teacher centred – the teacher decides what topic is to be followed when and how. I’m looking at the possibilities offered by the technology to do something a little more student centred.
That said, I would urge you to have a look at the digital studies wiki and some of the great blog posts coming out from those involved in developing the idea. You can follow the #digitalstudies hashtag on Twitter to look out for these.
To me, there are two main problems with the current ICT curriculum.
The first is that students are coming in to us with a huge range of existing skills and experience and this is getting wider year on year. This is making traditional ‘teacher led’ lessons virtually impossible. We’ve moved towards a more open, problem solving approach recently, but I still feel there is work to be done providing support for weaker students and letting those at top really fly.
Secondly, in some cases, the work students are doing outside the class that is far more advanced that the work we’re doing in class. I’d like some way for that to be noted and accredited.
So, what would the new system look like?
KS3 would have access to a series of self contained ‘challenges’ based around software, tools, websites etc. Each would be hosted (probably on Moodle) with all the materials needed (either in the form of videos, text instructions or links) along with a forum to provide community support.
Some of these would be compulsory, others would be optional. Some would be quite prescriptive, others would be more open. Some would be traditional ‘ICT’ tasks, others would be more ‘computing’ based, others could open up some of the issues around digital literacies and digital society. Challenges would be of a range of difficulties, and students would be free to start at which ever point they felt appropriate. They could move straight to the assessment task at the end, or complete a series of warm up activities if they needed.
The successful completion of a challenge would earn a badge. Until the Open Badges framework was ready these could be awarded either in Edmodo or using a Moodle plugin
Much of the content would come from existing ICT resources, it would just need to be repackaged. Others could be developed over time, some even by other students as tasks for advanced badges. All content should be able to be packaged up and shared with other schools.
What’s missing / what could go wrong
This is just an early sketch. The number and nature of the tasks would need to be developed with the ICT dept
One of the really nice ideas in some of the digital studies development work is the idea of a bportfolio – a student blog that would allow them to record their thoughts on longer, more pbl style projects. While this isn’t here, one idea could be that a number of the final projects would be published online as part of the task. Students could use a Google Site for this.
With students working on different tasks, the role of teacher would need to redefined. There is the potential for a heavy marking load – although some badges could be created to be automarked.
We’d need to consider how homework would work and be monitored.
We can’t (currently) add modules to our school moodle (which is managed by the LEA). This would potentially mean students working across three platforms – Moodle to access materials, Edmodo to submit and get their badges and Google Sites to publish some of their work.
Badges are explicitly NOT linked to NC levels. This is part because we now longer use them to mark work for students. However, tasks can be matched back to help teachers track progress.
Whatever happens, I would like to see the following kept
- The principle of student choice
- Projects at a variety of depth and length, the completion of which earn badges
- Students at all years in KS3 get access to the same ‘menu’ of choices.
- Students supporting each other through a community behind each task
Those students who fly through this could move on to advanced badges. This could include creation of other tasks or perhaps these could become digital leaders.
So, what do you think? What have I missed? What other opportunities are there to make this even better? What else could go wrong I haven’t thought about? I’d appreciate your comments below!
I was lucky enough to attend the excellent and thought provoking “ICT for Education” conference on Friday, followed by another inspirational Teachmeet. The following day I was pondering a lot of what I’d seen and the following thought crossed my mind.
When I logged on to Twitter tonight I couldn’t work out why this comment had picked up so much traction 24 hours or so after I’d posted it. That was, until I scrolled a little further and found…
Well, that’ll teach me to pontificate on Twitter then – the Minister might call you out on it! (you can see the rest of the conversation as it unfolded on Storify)
So, for what’s worth – why I think we need to reform the National Curriculum in Wales, and how we might start going about it.
Let’s start by taking a look backwards. The last major investment in ‘new’ technology was probably the mass purchase of Interactive White Boards over the last ten years or so. Now, I’m not knocking them specifically (although I’ve written before about why I don’t want one), but I’m not sure you could make the case they had been trans formative or massively improved standards. One of the reason, I would argue, is that this was a case of new technology being slotted into an existing culture. And if that school culture was out of step with technology ten years ago, then it is even more so now.
Fraser Speirs in his talk on Friday referred to a statistic that they had used as the basis for his school becoming the first 1:1 ipad school in the world – The average ratio of connected devices to people is a little over 3:1. Yet in schools we’d be lucky to get to 1:3 – His point was that how can schools possibly hope to prepare students for the world of tomorrow, when we can’t even prepare them to the world they experience outside our gates?
So that leaves us with the question of how to change culture, which is ultimately what we need to do to ensure that any outcomes from the digital classroom review don’t have the same limited effect as the investment in IWBs, when they have the potential to be genuinely transformative.
Previous Welsh governments have proved that they can take practice from around the world and create something genuinely innovative and creative in the Foundation Phase. While there is no doubt that the culture in an individual school culture is down to what goes into that school, there is also a national steer towards culture and priorities and thesecome (in part) from the National Curriculum. So, to me at least, it seems like the next logical place to look is here.
So much with the why, what about the what?
First rule. Ignore England. Until now the Welsh National Curriculum has reflected in part the original English Documents and their subsequent revisions. Now we need to leave that behind and look internationally to find better and more suitable inspiration. Look at the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland. I remember looked at the New Zealand curriculum a few years ago when we were looking for models for SMART. Look to things like Opening Minds. Don’t just look at the model, but look at the lessons learned from their adoption.
Secondly, there needs to be a open and widespread discussion about what education in Wales is for. We regularly here from employers about their criticisms – what to they think the education system should look like? How about teachers? Parents? Students? This needs to be held with an understanding that if in doubt people tend to refer to what they already know. We need to move beyond harping back to any non-existent golden age of education, or any ‘gold standard’ qualifications. What do our young people need to succeed in a future that we can’t predict? What does our nation need to build a sustainable future for itself?
Thirdly, we need to recognise that we’re in a digital world. That doesn’t mean we should fall down and worship at the alter of the latest “shiny shiny” device, but we do need to accept that pretty much everything outside the walls of our schools has been transformed. That means we need to ask some pretty searching questions of everything from timetables (see here or here), to buildings, to the very purpose of the curriculum – If knowledge is no longer a scarce commodity why is it’s retention still at the heart of our assessment system. Wouldn’t we be better off with problem finders?
Which leads me on to the final point. We need to ask ourselves what we want our students to be able to do whenever they leave the education system. Or even better, build an education system that is there for people whenever they want or need it. It probably wouldn’t be subject based – that’s one thing I like about both the Curriculum for Excellent and Opening Minds. That’s not to say young people won’t be learning History, Geography, Maths etc etc, but I’m becoming increasingly convinced that I could teach History better as part of an integrated and creative curriculum than in the current factory system which rings and bell and expects children to jump from one discipline to another, often just at the point that things were starting to get interesting!
So, how’s that for starters? A bit more than I could fit in a tweet, but I’d love to hear your views either on Twitter or below. What have I missed? What have I got wrong? What would YOU do?!
That seems to be drawing a growing number of people into ever increasingly sophisticed rubrics – breaking down responses and drawing up ladders that show students where they are and what their next target is. And I can see the attraction in that. I’ve tried it myself over the years, and it seems to be one of the ideas that has resurfaced in the recent National Curriculum Review in England
But I can’t quite square that with my growing belief that learning should be student centred, and the fact that my lessons are increasingly open for students to go an explore and make discoveries. Maybe I’m just not a good enough teacher yet, but I don’t know how to make an achievement ladder for that, and I’m not sure it wouldn’t get in the way. After all, a student who has mastered getting information from a simple source now needs to apply those skills to a trickier source, but I’m not sure how to level that, or turn it into a grid.
It was with this in mind I came across this quote that I’d bookmarked a little while ago:
The mistake I was making was seeing feedback as something teachers provided to students—they typically did not, although they made claims that they did it all the time, and most of the feedback they did provide was social and behavioral. It was only when I discovered that feedback was most powerful when it is from the student to the teacher that I started to understand it better. When teachers seek, or at least are open to, feedback from students as to what students know, what they understand, where they make errors, when they have misconceptions, when they are not engaged—then teaching and learning can be synchronized and powerful. Feedback to teachers helps make learning visible.
Hattie, 2009; 173
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