ResearchED: Keeping a finger on the pedagogy pulse.

rED-logo-printI might be a little late to the party but I have recently come across the live streams on ResearchEd with some very big names within current and recent pedagogical practice including Dylan Wiliam, David Didau and Rob Coe. This document outlines the upcoming live streams and has links for streams that have already taken place. If you would like to develop your pedagogical understanding and keep your finger on the pulse regarding research and practice, I highly recommend exploring the variety of options available. Most of the live streams are half an hour with the rest of the time on Q/A.

I have summarised the main points from two live streams I have watched so far.

Tom Sherrington Rosenshine’s Principles and Curriculum Design: What’s the connection?

Sherrington talks extensively about establishing an ambitious curriculum, as for him ‘curriculum is the weakness.’ He explores how it is the ‘simultaneous teaching [of] a whole group of people at the same time’ that is the problem. This is where Rosenshine’s principles come into their own. It supports planning a curriculum where ALL students can thrive in every lesson – ‘getting into the corners’ of your classroom.

Building Schemas:

Sherrington argues that this is possible through building ‘schemas’ or building on what brain-imagewe already know through sequencing concepts. Thus, unless we process things in relation to what we already know, we will forget it. Therefore, students need to consciously activate prior knowledge and use it when formulating and learning new ideas. This means that as teachers we need to actively engage prior knowledge in a deliberate way, so rather than task completion (“have you finished yet?”) instead the focus is on “have you learnt and understood it.” Students struggle because of the assumption that they have prior knowledge and understanding that they don’t have. Checking that students have the relevant schemas built in, is crucial to move forward in their understanding.

Daily Review and Weekly/ Monthly Review:

When we activate prior knowledge in a general way this is known as daily review. However weekly/ monthly review has to be more precise, such as a quiz with specific and probing questions. How do you make sure your questioning enables all students to access the learning and develop? Q/A often involves one answer from one student however quizzes such as Kahoot and whiteboard quizzes mean all students can be involved. To embed the schema, it is important to quiz the same material in different ways. Sherrington continues that quizzes are only good though if students learn how to quiz themselves and each other, so that they can apply the skills independently when the scaffolding from the teacher is removed.

Sequencing the Curriculum:

When learning new material, providing models is a key part. Schema building is about making the real world make sense, taking abstract ideas and modelling them in vivid, real, physical ways. Thus providing concrete 151001-training-wheels-bike-mn-1245_1af2dd4bb1a28532e80e5dcaa7977924.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000experiences. It is important when sequencing a curriculum that the same ideas are explored and tested in different ways to deepen the schema. Eventually the scaffold has to come down (the bike stabilisers have to be removed) and when it does, students need to have a secure schema in order to progress forward independently.

Paul Kirschner Ten Tips for Emergency Remote Teaching

At the start of his stream, Kirschner interestingly explored how we, as teachers, are not distance learning providers. Distance learning involves months of organising and meticulous plaphoto_wagner_ellen-istock-2-e1530560014961nning, the preparation of relevant and accessible resources, sequencing of curriculum around independence and students who accept that learning will be remote. This is not the current case for teachers. On a moments notice, we have had to adapt face to face lessons and complex activities, into feasible strategies for students to interpret at home. So as Kirschner wittily poses, we are not distance learning providers but more like emergency surgery, doing our best to adapt to the current situation and giving these ten tips to help.

  1. Students must remove themselves from distractions – ‘weapons of mass distraction’ including FB, Twitter, Instagram etc (far easier said than done!)
  2. Stick to the essentials – concentrate on maintaining previous learning/ subject matter and do not bog students down in new material. Keep the approach simple.
  3. Spread their learning and practice – shorter sessions – spacing effect. Spread it over time rather than all at once.
  4. Communicate goals and success criteria to students – ensure that students know where they are going, what to expect and what is expected of them. Make it explicit.
  5. Frame new material in a bigger picture – go from general to specific with clear anchor points so students know where they are and where they are going.
  6. Make links to prior knowledge and support students in how to access previous knowledge if they have forgotten.
  7. Give examples before setting the activities or assignment – modelling.
  8. Offer support and guidance – alternative routes to help. Prepare contingencies.
  9. Check their mastery – test and retest in different ways. Need to process deeply to learn deeply, so test in multiple ways for longer retainment.
  10. Provide adequate feedback.

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