Retrieval: the key to learning success

As outlined in their book, Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, authors Brown, Roediger III and McDaniel outline a very potent learning strategy: Retrieval Practice. Retrieval practice involves actively trying to access (retrieve) information from our brains without any cues or prompts. While retrieval has traditionally seen as a gauge for learning (i.e:…

Why you should try Prediction Guides

An essential (but sometimes overlooked) aspect of unit planning is determining the background knowledge of the students in the class. Equipped with an understanding of students’ background knowledge, teachers can design learning experiences to meet the needs of the students. This is important, because, “What students already know about the content is one of the…

Why Paragraph of the Week packs a powerful punch

[Pack a punch: Verb. (Idiom). to have strong effect or outcome.] If you want to really improve your students’ writing abilities and analytical thinking, you might consider incorporating Paragraph of the Week into your teaching approach. It might sound basic, but this simple, tried and tested strategy has the potential to create powerful learning for…

Visual literacy in history via See-Think-Wonder

See-Think-Wonder is a thinking routine from the Visible Thinking work of Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison (see my earlier post reviewing their book, Making Thinking Visible). This thinking routine emphasises looking closely and observing carefully as the foundations for insightful interpretations and deeper thinking. As a visual image provides the stimulus for this…

Growth and Development Goals: Semester 1, 2017

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”                             Dylan Wiliam In line with our College practice of setting, working on and reflecting on professional growth goals each school semester, I have set my own goals for Semester 1 2017 as follows: Facilitating the use…

Quiet

The classroom can be an overwhelming place for an introvert. Those students who crave quiet and do their best work while being reflective and solitary are likely to visibly shrink every time they enter the collaborative, bustling and often LOUD place that is the 21st century classroom. Why are classrooms so loud? Do they have…

Helpful praise is descriptive

“There is no value judgement more important…no factor more decisive in [a person’s] psychological development and motivation – than the estimate [they] pass on themselves.” Nathaniel Branden The psychology of self-esteem. While it is essential that children build a positive and realistic self-image, praising children can be a ‘tricky business’ that brings about unintended consequences…

Student surveys can be illuminating

Student Surveys Student surveys can provide very useful data for teachers regarding their own teaching practice. In particular, they can help teachers to reflect on their teaching strategies, planning processes, lesson activities, assessment instruments and their rapport with students. This year I took a two-pronged approach: A short ‘tick and flick’ survey asking questions such…

Start with student thinking

One way to ensure active (rather than passive) learning is to start with student thinking and then make this the focus of the learning experience.   The best designed lesson can miss the mark if the teacher does not firstly have a grasp of where students are at in terms of their thinking. One suggestion for…

Improving student resilience – Judith Locke presentation

Last week I was fortunate to attend a teacher professional development session run by Judith Locke, clinical psychologist. Judith’s recent research (aptly titled ‘Can a parent do too much? An examination of parenting professionals of the concept of overparenting’) focused on the counterproductive effect of extreme parental protection and responsiveness. Extreme overparenting can lead to…

Professional Growth Goals 2015

As part of the framework for Teacher Growth and Development at St Rita’s College, staff set professional growth goals each year. I have chosen this year to focus on the following: Greater integration of ICT (faculty goal) Incorporation of student centred approaches to learning Focus on improving literacy In the process, I hope to be able…

Finland leads the way (again)

The Finnish school system has long been seen as a model for the rest of the world due to its innovative policies and stellar results on a global scale. Now it seems that the experts are making big changes, not because the system is not working, but because they want it to continue to serve…

Guess Who? Building connections with students

Getting to know our students often starts simply: in the beginning we are focused on learning names, familiarising ourselves with the health alerts, catering for the diagnosed conditions and remembering miscellaneous details. While this is going on, we are trying to determine where our students are at as learners. An equally important (and often more…

The paradox of bright girls

The paradox of bright girls, as outlined by Dweck (2000) is simply this: bright girls achieve highly in primary school (higher than boys and higher in all subjects); however, they are not necessarily high achievers in high school.  Dweck found that this group is particularly vulnerable to adopting helpless responses to new and challenging tasks…

To praise or not to praise?

The ‘commonly advocated practice of praising students for their intelligence’ has been under review for some time; however, a number of educators are now getting serious about shifting the way they praise in order to enable students to develop a Growth Mindset.  Research conducted by Carol Dweck (2000) suggests that praising students for their intelligence…