152: From Tracking to Growth Mind Set Grouping

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Opportunities to Learn (OTL) & Tracking:
  • Students given opportunities to learn high-level content tend to achieve at higher levels
  • Early tracking denies OTL to many students.
  • Early tracking goes against research about child development and the plasticity of the brain.
  • Ability grouping promotes fixed mindsets.
  • Early tracking tends to lower achievement scores.
    • Can make higher tracked students more brittle due to fixed mindsets and due to defending their gifted identifies
    • Can demoralize lower tracked students
Growth Mindset Grouping:
  • Grouping students heterogeneously and using strategies to leverage the strengths of heterogeneous groups.  See below.
Teaching Heterogeneous Groups Effectively:
  1. Provide Open-Ended Tasks
    • Assign problems with a low floor and high ceiling
    • Challenge and support individual students at the right levels
  2. Offer a Choice of Tasks
    • Offer students choice of different tasks that address different levels and fields of mathematics
      • Examples:
        • Choose between 2 tasks: 1) investigate shapes with area of 64 or (2) investigate shapes with volume of 216
  3. Individualized Pathways
    • Example: Using SMILE cards to individualize instruction for London students
      • Assign students 10 cards that they word on at their own pace before collecting 10 more
      • To see the SMILE cards, go here.
    • Offer individualized learning pathways and opportunities for group work and collaboration.
Four Tenets of Complex Instruction (or How to Do Math Effectively in Teams):
  • pedagogical approach designed to make group work equitable designed by Liz Cohen and Rachel Lotan
  1. Multidimensionality
    • Emphasize more than one type of math processing including:
      • asking good questions
      • rephrasing problems
      • explaining
      • using logic
      • justifying methods
      • using manipulatives
      • connecting ideas
      • helping others
    • Design group worthy tasks.  These tasks:
      • illustrate important math concepts
      • allow for multiple representations
        • encourage visuals
        • encourage color-coding to represent same ideas in different visuals – for example make all visuals that represent the variable, x, blue
      • draw effectively on collective resources of the group
      • have several possible solution paths
      • Examples –
        • Given several pile patterns what would be the pile number for pile 10
        • Challenge activity intentionally designed to have missing information
        • Use linear functions (t-tables, drawings, equations, visuals, etc.) to derive the equation for the lengths of shoe laces that go with given shoe sizes
        • Problems from the CPM Connections series
        • Problems from the Interactive Mathematics Program
    • Encourage students to tackle group worthy tasks using strategies such as:
      • reading problems aloud
      • ask themselves questions such as:
        • what is the problem asking us?
        • how could we rephrase the question?
        • what are the key parts of the problem?
  2. Roles
    • Assign meaningful roles to students.  Here are some examples:
      • Organizer – keeps team focused on the task at hand
      • Resourcer – only one that can leave the table to gather resources and to call over the teacher when the team is ready
      • Understander – Asks questions that get all team members to understand and record all ideas that are presented
      • Includer – Makes sure all team members are included in discussions
  3. Assigning competence
    • Raising the status of a student perceived to have low status in a group by praising their work, their thinking or their contributions to the team
    • This can be especially helpful for students who are introverted and soft spoken
  4. Shared student responsibility
    • Invest time in teaching students how to collaborate effectively
      • develop and scaffold group norms for respect and listening
        • example lesson – Ask students to make class lists of things They Like and Don’t Like  to see / experience / hear when they are solving problems in groups.  Use these lists to make class displays that encourage (discourage) good (bad) team behaviors
      • be explicit about good math values and the purposes they serve
        • examples of things to value:
          • communicating thinking behind solutions
          • creative representations of ideas
        • examples of things to discourage:
          • speeding through the solutions without explaining reasoning
      • calling on students at random within a team to explain their team’s ideas and other concepts
        • if student doesn’t know the answer, emphasize to the team that it’s the team’s responsibility to make sure everyone understands the concept related to the question
        • give team time to teach other
        • return and ask the same student the same question
      • Group tests – students would take test individually, one test selected at random to be the score for the entire team
      • Set up problem solving norms that REQUIRE students to always justify their reasoning and answers
      • Promote relationship equity
        • less about having equal scores and more about showing respect for others
      • What about high achievers? Will they be harmed by heterogenous grouping?
        • many high achievers are fast problem solvers who need to develop the skill of slowing down and explaining the reasoning for the steps in their solutions
        • discussing problems in groups can help these speedy problem solver solve problems at deeper levels through discourse

 

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Homogeneous ability grouping can lead to fixed mindsets about one’s abilities in math.  These fixed mindsets can harm students who are led to believe that they have high or low abilities in math.  Students grouped as “high ability” may develop a fragile sense of self that leads to investing more energy to protect the gifted image of themselves rather than investing that energy in growth  Students who are labeled as low ability may lose the sense of self-efficacy needed to persevere through challenging problems.
This article describes strategies for growth mindset grouping – i.e. grouping students heterogeneously and designing tasks and implementing strategies that encourage students to effectively collaborate while solving math problems together.  See above for descriptions for these strategies.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Research or design rich mathematical tasks that are group worthy.  These tasks have low floors and high ceilings.  They are multidimensional, have multiple solution pathways, can be represented in multiple ways and encourage discussion and group work.
  • Develop and scaffold norms, values, and strategies that promote effective collaboration.
  • Decide on what group roles you would like students to practice throughout the year.
  • Decide on what strategies you will use to reward group accountability.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Teach students HOW to collaborate effectively and HOW to live out effective mathematical values and strategies.  See above for ideas.
  • Use assigning competence strategy to redirect and model for groups how to value the opinions of students who aren’t getting a lot of air time.
  • Use strategies that emphasized shared accountability – for example:
    • assigning random people to speak on behalf of the team to the entire class,
    • group tests (random person’s test is scored and that score is assigned to the whole team)
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Sequence collaboration strategies in phases in a order that is logical and emphasizes collaboration skills that tie well with content activities
  • Gather feedback from students on norms and strategies in order to fine-tune them

 

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151: Assessing Analytical & Critical Thinking Skills (Part 2 of 2)

 

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  1. Content, Form, and Functions Outline
    • Purpose:
      • Assess students’ ability to determine the informational content, form, and communicative function of a piece of writing
      • All of these skills are important because we are buried in messages of all kinds
    • What It Is: 
      • Students read a message and analyze the what (content), the how (form), and the why (function) of the message.
      • Students can analyze a piece of reading creating a what, how, and why outline
    • Suggestions for Use:
      • Good for writing and communication courses
      • Good for courses that require students to digest dense texts
    • Step-by-Step Procedure:
      1. Choose a sample text that represents a focus genre of a unit.
      2. Divide sample text into sub-sections.
      3. Find a model text that can be used to write a model Content, Form and Functions Outline.
      4. Model process of creating Content, Form and Functions Outline using model text and model outline.  Give clear examples that differentiate form and function.
      5. Provide students with a blank Content, Form and Functions Outline graphic organizer.
      6. Assign text for students to outline and provide sufficient time for students to complete the graphic organizer.
    • Analysis Tips:
      • .Analyze outlines through 3 lenses
        • How well did they paraphrase content?
        • How well did they identify and describe the forms of the text passages?
        • How well did they analyze the functions of the text passages?
      • Keep a running tally of problem spots that students have trouble analyzing
    • Extension Tips:
      • Use this outline to compare different types of writing or media and evaluate their effectiveness
      • Cut a completed outline into pieces for a given text and have students use the text to reorder the pieces
    • Pros:
      • Prompt students to analyze messages carefully
      • Stimulates thinking about patterns and common structures in texts.  Can help students see why and how different genres encode the same information.
      • Allows teachers to focus in on specific sticky points in the text.
    • Cons:
      • Time intensive technique for teachers and students
      • Many texts and messages can’t be easily categorized in neat ways.
      • Many texts and messages perform several functions for each component, making analysis more tricky.
    • Caveats:
      • Start small.  Introduce technique with a short, simple text passage.
      • Don’t feel constrained to model and practice technique over one day – ok and maybe more effective to spread over several days.
      • Recognize that students may come to different valid conclusions about the function of a message.
  2. Analytic Memos
    • Purpose:
      • Assesses ability to analyze assigned problems by using discipline-specific problem solving and communication methods.
      • Assesses ability to communicate concisely and clearly.
      • Provide students with feedback on analytical and writing skills.
    • What It Is: 
      • Students write a 1-2 page analysis of an issue / topic for a specific audience (employer, client, stakeholder)
    • Suggestions for Use:
      • Good for courses that teach specific problem solving / argumentation skills
      • Good as practice for larger writing assignments
      • Best suited for small classes because they take long to prepare and assess
    • Step-by-Step Procedure:
      1. Determine which analytical / critical thinking / problem solving methods you want to assess.
      2. Invent a well-focused issue or problem for the students to analyze.  Gather background information on the issue.
      3. Specify the role of the writer, the audience, the subject and purpose of the memo.
      4. Write your own Analytic Method on the issue.  Note any difficulties.  Assess whether it emphasizes the right types of problem solving and analytical methods.
      5. Decide whether students will work alone, in pairs or in small groups.
      6. Provide written expectations for assignment that includes: students’ role, their audience, specific subject, analytical approach to be taken, length limit (usually 1-2 pages) and deadline.
      7. Explain to students how this assessment will prepare them for subsequent tasks in the course and in their careers.
    • Analysis Tips:
      • Read memo quickly, only once before assessing it.
      • Use short checklist as an aid with 3-5 major points to look for in each memo and limit yourself to these points.
      • Make a simple grid for checklist for places to check off: well done, acceptable, needs work.
      • Limit comments to 2-3 specific comments.
      • Can tally number of well done, acceptable, etc. and identify what are you students’ strengths and areas in need of improvement.
    • Extension Tips:
      • Facilitate peer feedback and revision sessions.
      • Use Analytic Memo as first draft to a graded memo-writing assignment.
      • Divide class into policy analysts and policy makers; have makers respond in memo format to the analysts.
    • Pros:
      • Authentic tasks that sharpen and assess job-related skills
      • Provides rich data related to students’ skills
    • Cons:
      • Preparing memo is time consuming.
      • Providing feedback on memos is time consuming.
    • Caveats:
      • Choose problems that are real enough to warrant thoughtful analysis.
      • Choose problems that are familiar to students.
      • Find ways to give grading credit to these drafts without penalizing students because this is an early draft.

 

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Content, Form & Function Outlines can develop students’ awareness of the methods used to promote specific messages in texts.  Repeating this strategy may help students identify patterns that help them compare / contrast different texts and help them learn how to communicate messages in different writing genres.
The Analytic Memo can help students develop and gather feedback on their use of discipline specific problem solving and writing strategies.  It can serve as a first draft for a larger analytical writing assignment.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Analyze standards related to upcoming products – analyze the verb (thinking levels) and noun (concepts, topics) in the standards
  • Analyze the reading, writing and thinking skills needed to successfully complete products aligned to the standards
  • If the reading is dense, consider breaking the key texts using the Content, Form and Function outline – this is especially true if the key texts are serving as sources of information and as models for written products
  • If the project requires high levels of analytical thinking, consider using the analytical memo as a pre-assessment of students’ writing and problem solving skills and as a first draft for a written product
Early Implementation Steps
  • Use a version of the procedures above (see WHAT?) to implement the assessment of your choice.
  • Analyze the assessment and provide timely individual and class-wide feedback on the assessments.
  • Describe how the assessment feedback will affect future teaching and learning.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Implement assessment strategy multiple times so students can use the feedback and practice to develop related skills over time
  • After students have experienced the assessment several times, try implementing one of the assessment extensions ideas (see WHAT? above).

 

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149: Supporting Positive Behaviors in 9th Grade

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TRANSITION TO HIGH SCHOOL= CRITICAL POINT OF INTERVENTION
  • 9th grade course failure is a strong predictor of high school dropout
  • Why is 9th grade so critical?
    • DRAMATIC INCREASES IN COMPLEXITY in ..
      • number of classes and teachers to interact with
      • academic demands of coursework
      • size of school and peer groups
    • CHALLENGES:
      • high schools are not equipped to support freshman in the development of new academic behaviors that can handle new loads
      • students experience increased demands and striking reductions in support
    • EFFECTS:
      • Widespread grade failures – in Chicago, 53% of freshman fail at least 1 course
      • Absences increase between 8th to 9th grade – in Chicago, they tripled
    • INTERVENTIONS:
      • make sure students have high attendance to classes
      • intervene early when students start to fail courses
9TH GRADE: A PLACE WHERE STUDENTS “GET STUCK”
  • After a school move, students grades, attendance and attitudes towards school decline – this decline is marked in urban school environments
  • Decrease in grades is most noticeable in urban schools because of high rates of absenteeism and course failure
  • Academic failure undermines academic mindsets: sense of confidence, engagements and belonging
  • Academic failures can start a downward spiral leading to sustained poor performance
  • Students who fail courses run the risk of not promoting past then 9th grade in credits
9TH GRADER WITH STRONG ATTENDANCE AND GOOD GRADES ARE MORE LIKELY TO GRADUATE:
  • On track to graduate (credit wise) by the end of 9th grade was a strong predictor of high school graduation (4 times more likely to graduate than off track students)
  • Dip in academic performance is not limited to students who have low performance in middle school
  • On/off track to graduate after 9th grade was a stronger predictor of high school graduation than middle school achievement measures
ACADEMIC BEHAVIORS, MORE THAN TESTED ACHIEVEMENT, PREDICT COURSE FAILURE IN 9TH GRADE:
  • Reasons for failing courses (failure in academic behaviors):
    • students not attending classes
    • students are not doing homework
    • students are not studying
  • Above factors were measured through questionnaires and school records – these factors could explain dip in GPAs from 8th to 9th grade
A 9TH GRADE PROBLEM, NOT A HIGH SCHOOL READINESS PROBLEM
  • Common assumptions – students who fail are NOT READY to attend high school
  • Abrupt changes in student behavior make it hard to predict which students need more interventions – students who did fine in middle school are included among students failing 9th grade
  • Change in high school environment may change student academic behaviors;
    • stage environment mismatch – example – decline in adult control of behavior and decreases in academic support from 8th to 9th grade
    • measured decreased levels in teacher attention, student-teacher trust, teacher personal support
    • less monitoring of student behaviors leads to more skipped classes
    • less adult involvement in student choices -> responsibility transferred to students
  • Reasons for decline in support
    • high school teachers teach more students
    • high school teachers strategically withhold support to teach independence
  • Students reactions to decline in support
    • students who lack academic skills and display poor academic behaviors start getting low grades
    • students lack direction
    • students overwhelmed by new demands
    • withdrawal of support leads to lack of development of skills that could make students more independent
    • trying to fix student behaviors through punitive grade policies doesn’t seem to work
  • What really works to build independent learners
    • have clear and high expectations for success
    • teach and practice strategies that make students successful learners
    • provide high levels of support to help students meet high expectations
    • provide multiple opportunities for students to succeed
    • safe environments that lack fear of failure
THE AVOIDABLE FAILURE
  • Strategies that have worked
    • strategies that increase sense of belonging in a community
      • small 9th grade academies that foster strong relationships among students and teachers
    • problems that have high levels of expectations & relevance
      • standards-aligned, college-tracked PBL programs
    • lengthening time of classes where students need extra support (Math and ELA)
    • teaching learning strategies such as goal setting, study skills, etc
    • ensuring freshmen have high attendance rates

 

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Understanding the real factors behind poor 9th grade academic performance can help teachers setup classroom environments, policies, supports and activities that help freshman successfully transition from middle to high school.  Contrary to popular belief, the withdrawal of support intended to let freshman develop independence often has the opposite effect; it tends to decrease the development of skills freshman need to learn to become effective independent learners.  Schools that successfully transition 9th grades have high expectations and provide high levels of support to meet these expectations.  They create safe learning communities where students feel like they belong and feel that it is safe to fail and succeed.  They teach students the learning strategies they need to be successful.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Recruit a team of teachers who share the same students to collaborate with on developing and testing strategies and on setting common clear policies
  • Research strategies that can promote the 4 critical academic mindsets
  • Research strategies for teaching learning skills that can help students succeed
  • Decide how teacher team can use message abundancy (same message, many methods) to teach critical attitudes and skills
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement scaffolding activities that have students and teachers collaborate on norms to create and maintain a positive safe classroom culture
  • Implement fair and supportive grading policies
  • Give students time to learn and practice learning skills
  • Use student reflection to assess whether or not interventions are working and to refine them 
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Share observations and data with grade level team to determine what interventions are working and which need to improve.  Use this sharing to determine what practices to incorporate into routines and which to refine or scrap.
  • Collaborate with grade level team to refine policies (especially grading policies)

 

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148: Social Skills

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EVIDENCE ON SOCIAL SKILLS:
  • Social skills improve academic performance in elementary, middle & high schools (most research focused on elementary school students)
  • Exact effects of social skills on academic performance is unclear
  • Social skills:
    • socially accepted learned behaviors that enable a learner to interact effectively with others and to avoid socially unacceptable responses (Gresham & Elliot)
    • cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self control (Malecki & Elliot)
    • self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationships skills, responsible decision-making (CASEL)
  • Hard to isolate social skills from other non-cognitive factors that support academic achievement in the research
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCIAL SKILLS & ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE:
  • Research shows that social skills (+ other non-cognitive factors) improve academic performance
  • One theory – effects of social skills are indirect, act through academic behaviors
    • developing social skills helps students have less behavior problems resulting in more learning engagement and better performance
    • social skills helps students actively participate in learning activities
    • social skills act as academic enablers of good academic behaviors
  • Another theory – teachers value good behavior and reward it with good grades
ARE SOCIAL SKILLS MALLEABLE?
  • Behavior skill-building approaches lead to more enduring positive changes that programs that do not emphasize skills
  • Skills such as stress management, empathy, problem-solving, and good decision making can be intentionally developed in school-based programs
ROLE OF CLASSROOMS IN DEVELOPING SOCIAL SKILLS
  • Classrooms play an important role in shaping students’ social skills
  • Interpersonal, instructional & environmental factors affect students’ social behavior including
    • norms for high expectations and high support to meet expectations
    • caring teacher-student relationships
    • proactive classroom management
    • cooperative learning
    • safe classroom environments that reinforce good behaviors
    • students feel valued
CLASSROOM STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING SOCIAL SKILLS
  • Teaching students to process, integrate, select and apply social-emotional skills in appropriate ways
  • Effective approaches involve
    • step-by-step approaches  that actively involve students in skills development
    • extended periods of time
    • clear and explicit goals
CAN CHANGING SOCIAL SKILLS NARROW ACHIEVEMENT GAPS
  • Research doesn’t indicate either way whether or not social skills will narrow achievement gaps in women and minority groups
  • Some troubling related research findings:
    • 57% of African American males are suspended – much more than any other race or gender (NCES)
    • Minority students may experience undue disciplinary action in school (Gregory et al.)
    • Race is strong predictor of the discipline gap
 
SUMMARY OF RESEARCH ON SOCIAL SKILLS
  • Social skills overlap extensively with other noncognitive factors
  • Without better delineation of social skills with other noncognitive factors it is hard to isolate the effects of social skills on academic performance
  • Social skills may be less (more) valued / practiced in schools that primarily focus on individual (cooperative) learning tasks
  • More research is needed that considers how classroom context affect how social skills contribute to student learning

 

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 Implementing social skills training can help students be more successful in a PBL environment that relies heavily on group work.   Social skills act as social enablers that help students better leverage learning opportunities.  Effective social skills programs tend to be administered by teachers, involve step-by-step demonstrations of skills, extend over time, and have clear and explicit goals.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Identify what social skills will help students succeed in the conditionals of your classrooms.
  • Write character learning targets that describe desirable social skills in student friend language.
  • Research scaffolding strategies that relate to targeted social that help students with social skills.  See Agency and Collaboration articles for ideas.
  • Design a program that will teach students how to develop social skills related to character learning targets over an extended period of time
  • Build a positive safe culture that values the social skills that will be promoted and taught over the course of time
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement a program that will teach students how to develop social skills related to character learning targets over an extended period of time
  • Use student reflections and observations to see if program is working and to refine activities
  • Use student reflections to help students become more aware of whether or not social skills are improving their learning experiences
  • Be mindful of how discipline interventions may or may not be contributing to a discipline gap due to gender or race
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Use student data to identify what social skills scaffolding strategies are the most effective and incorporate these into classroom systems and routines

 

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147: Learning Strategies

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LEARNING STRATEGIES
  • Involve several processes:
    • metacognition:
      • knowing how to monitor one’s misunderstanding
    • self-regulated learning:
      • intentional use of metacognition to learn
      • selecting strategies and environments most conducive to learning
        • selecting effective strategies can become automatic as students become more expert in specific disciplines
      • monitoring learning processes to adjust effort to meet demands of those processes
      • fighting urge to give up on learning processes
      • multiple phases of self regulation:
        1. judging one’s cognitive abilities (judgment of learning or JOL)
          • seeing connections between current tasks and prior knowledge
          • assessing difficulty of tasks
          • using knowledge of what one knows and needs-to-know to apply more or less effort as needed
            • common pitfall – stopping effort too soon before knowledge is obtained
        2. assessing factors related to academic tasks and how they impact one’s learning
          • setting goals and planning to meet these
          • deciding on standards that will determine success of efforts
        3. selecting cognitive strategies that improve performance
          • changing strategies (if needed) to learn better
        4. major reconfiguration of student’s approach to future tasks based on experience
          • happens rarely
      • multiple phases are iterative in nature
      • types of self regulation processes:
        • Cognitive strategies:
          • practicing, rehearsal
          • organization and elaboration
            • organizing and elaborating on information is more effective than just remembering information
          • deep processing: applying study tactics such as
            • finding relationships between old and new material,
            • rearranging knowledge into meaningful structures (schematic)
        • Metacognitive strategies:
          • self-evaluations
          • goal setting and monitoring
        • Resource-oriented strategies:
          • information seeking
          • record keeping
          • seeking social assistance
          • creating favorable learning environments
    • goal setting
      • setting and regulating monitoring progress towards goals
      • changing approaches to better reach goals
  • Possible effects of learning strategies:
    • increase productivity of academic behaviors -> better academic performance
    • better academic performance -> better sense of self efficacy
    • better self efficacy -> more academic perseverance
    • better academic performance -> enhanced academic mindsets
  • Possible causes of learning strategies:
    • students with academic mindsets are more likely to use learning strategies
  • Possible effects of LACK OF of learning strategies:
    • poor academic behaviors -> poor academic performance
    • students are less likely to complete homework or study for tests when they lack strategies to do these tasks effectively
    • poor grades -> poor academic mindsets -> lessen academic perseverance
  • Possible causes of POOR learning strategies:
    • poor academic mindsets -> less likely to use learning strategies
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LEARNING STRATEGIES AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE:
  • Students who use self regulation strategies tend to perform better in learning activities / tasks.
  • Students with high self efficacy tend to use metacognition and self regulation strategies more.
  • Self regulation is a strong predictor of academic achievement.
  • Students who perceive learning as understanding (not memorizing) tend to use more strategies to learn.
ARE LEARNING STRATEGIES MALLEABLE?
  • Metacognitive strategies can be learned.
  • Effective metacognitive strategies that can be taught:
    • awareness of textual inconsistency
    • self questioning to monitor and develop comprehension and to make one aware of problem solving steps
  • Use of several metacognitive strategies improved reading comprehension
  • Metacognitive strategies assist with learning at higher thinking levels
  • Teaching learnings strategies in context of a course makes better than teaching them in isolation
  • Transfer of learning strategies to new subjects requires:
    • basis of how strategy works
    • when / where strategy works
    • what it requires of learner
    • the farther the transfer, the more conditional knowledge is needed
  • Math cues that increased metacognition:
    • what is the problem about?
    • what steps would you use to solve this problem
    • these cues helped students draw on prior knowledge, identify problem structures, and evaluate effectiveness of problem solving processes
  • Bootstrapping approach to developing learning strategies:
    • students learn strategies through trial and error or by observing others
    • bootstrapping occurs more in students with academic mindsets
  • Limitation of research = based on self reporting of use of strategies
ROLE OF CLASSROOMS & DEVELOPMENT OF LEARNING STRATEGIES
  • Ways to improve learning
    • paying attention to their thinking as they read, write and problem solve
  • Learning strategies tend to be subject-specific -> content-area classrooms are key places to learn strategies
  • Classroom environments that foster academic mindsets make it more likely for students to apply learning strategies (not enough to simply teach strategies – need mindsets too)
CLASSROOM STRATEGIES THAT PROMOTE LEARNING STRATEGIES:
  • Timely ongoing feedback helps students monitor the effectiveness of their approaches to learning.
  • Self assessments of performance helps students practice metacognitive strategies of self-reflection and critique of learning.
  • Teach subject-specific metacognitive strategies.  See math cues above as examples.
  • Transfer of subject-specific strategies is more likely to occur when strategies are taught in context of a specific subject.
  • Reading specific metacognitive strategies that can be taught
    • recognizing when one doesn’t understand reading
    • using strategies to redirect and refocus comprehension such as
      • rereading,
      • back and forth search strategies,
      • self questioning – comparing text to prior knowledge
      • comparing main ideas of text with details of text
  • Strategies that can be taught:
    • students talk about their thinking as they plan their approach to an academic task
      • paired problem solving – one students explains how they will solve problem while another listens and asks clarifying questions
      • reciprocal teaching – dialog between teacher and students that involves text summaries, question generation, clarifications, and predictions of what till happen next
    • Thinker Tools Inquiry Curriculum
      • Physics curriculum that has students compare virtual experiments to experiments performed on actual objects
      • Encourages metacognition by having students reflect on their own processes of investigation
    • students can learn to identify challenges to academic behaviors and apply appropriate strategies to move forward
    • self regulation strategies that can be taught:
      • mental contrasting – comparing one’s vision for desired future with existing constraints / obstacles that can impede goals
      • implementation intentions – identifying steps to reach one’s goals  written in the form of if statements – if this happens, then I will do this …
      • Applying two strategies above can increase academic perseverance
    • literacy techniques:
      • previewing reading passages
      • restating main ideas in one’s own words
    • test taking strategies:
      • using note cards to quiz themselves
      • making up test questions
      • playing review games
    • goal setting strategies
      • setting aside regular time to set and monitor progress towards goals
CAN LEARNING STRATEGIES CLOSE ACHIEVEMENT GAPS?
  • Very few research studies were designed to investigate gender and race related effects
  • Lack of research is not a proof that this can work
RESEARCH SUMMARY
  • Learning strategies make academic behaviors more effective and more likely -> deeper learning and higher achievement
  • Students with academic mindsets are more likely to apply learning strategies.
  • Classrooms serve 2 key purposes – teach learning strategies and promote academic mindsets
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Teaching learning strategies can encourage students to pursue more effective academic behaviors long enough that they can help students learn.  Teaching subject-specific learning strategies helps students learn content.  Teaching students the underlying hows / whys / whens of specific learning strategies makes them more able to transfer those skills to other disciplines

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Analyze course and determine subject-specific learning strategies that are key to the success of students in the course
  • Research learning strategies.  See related articles below.
  • Select scaffolding activities that support key learning strategies for course.
  • Create classroom culture that promotes Academic mindsets
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement scaffolding of learning strategies in the contexts where they are most useful.
  • Ask students to reflect on how learning strategies are affecting their learning.
  • Use student reflections to fine tune scaffolding of learning strategies.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Use observations and student feedback on learning strategies to learn which strategies to incorporate into classroom routines.
  • Collect student stories of using learning strategies to overcome challenges in order to inspire future students
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146: Academic Mindsets

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Academic Mindsets:
  • Beliefs and attitudes towards learning that support academic performance
  • Simple short term interventions on mindsets have been shown to have lasting effects on student performance – may be just as important as changing the learning environment
  • Mindsets that contribute to academic performance:
    1. I belong in this academic community. (Relationships)
      • Feeling a part of part of learning community:
        • builds confidence and independence
        • feel greater sense of identify and also flexibility to support the community
        • more engagement
      • Feeling rejected by community leads to
        • feelings of incompetence and insecurity
        • lack of engagement
    2. My ability and competence grow with effort. (Growth mindset)
      • Students with growth mindsets are more likely to:
        • Use effort to build competence
        • Display academic behaviors that lead to high achievement
        • Attributing low performance to lack of effort tends toward greater efforts in the future
      • Students with fixed mindsets are more likely to:
        • Use opinions of others to discern ability
        • Less likely to be self-motivated and persistent
        • Ascribing failure to ability or conditions outside their control tends to less effort in the future
    3. I can succeed at this. (Confidence)
      • Students tend to be attracted to (repelled by) activities that make them feel competent (incompetentI
      • Feelings of self efficacy are positively related to perseverance
      • Belief in self efficacy is a prerequisite for sustained effort through challenges
    4. This work has value for me. (Relevance)
      • Being interested in topic creates intrinsic motivation for learning
      • Seeing ties to future work will make students more likely to engage in academic behaviors that lead to achievement
      • Feeling lack of relevance leads to poor academic behaviors
  • Mindsets can increase improve performance by improving perseverance.
  • Relationship between mindset and academic performance:
    • Brief treatments focused on student mindsets had lasting effects on student performance
    • Examples of treatments in experiments:
      • Watching videos to college students discussing their struggles and how their effort related to GPA growth over time (did better than students who watched video that made no mention of struggles and effort)
      • Writing letters to younger students about the malleability of ability in response to sustained effort (did better than group that wrote letters about multiple intelligences)
      • Advisory group (weekly, 25 min) that taught the malleability of intelligence
      • Writing about connection between science topics and their own lives (did better than group that just wrote summaries)
    • Caveats –
      • experiments had small sample groups
  • Are Academic Mindsets Malleable?
    • Research suggests that mindsets are malleable.  See above.
    • Racial group stigmatization creates a big challenges to feelings of belonging in specific subjects. To read why/how this effect math, read this article.
  • Role of Classroom Context in Changing Academic Mindsets:
    • Classroom conditions have major influences on all 4 mindsets that contribute to academic performance
    • Conditions that improve these attitudes include:
      • high expectations for success
      • academic challenges
      • student choice and autonomy in student work
      • clarity and relevance of learning goals
      • available of supports for learning
      • grading structure & policies
      • nature of academic tasks
      • type, usefulness and frequency of feedback on student work
      • classroom norms that create positive safe cultures
      • learning feels fun and relevant
      • reasonable expectations for learning material
    • Effects of social contexts:
      • frame what students think is possible (and not)
      • shapes sense of students’ capabilities
      • more likely to adopt the values of their social groups – can interfere with academic performance
  • School transitions:
    • Transitioning to new schools creates new challenges that can negatively impact attitudes – students are trying to:
      • reorient themselves to new academic and social demands
      • renegotiate sense of self and self efficacy
      • rebuild sense of belonging in a new community
    • Effects of growth mindset are most noticeable in transition periods because of the challenges student face in these phases
    • Effective interventions aim to:
      • normalize academic difficulty
      • bolster student sense of belonging
      • reinforce growth mindset
  • Recursive effects:
    • Good (poor) attitudes can contribute to positive (negative) feedback loops that lead to sustained success (failure)
    • Feedback loops can lead to self-validation of positive (negative) beliefs
    • Successful interventions aim to break up negative feedback loops
  • Clear Classroom Strategies for Developing Academic Mindsets:
    • Limited scope of experiments make them difficult to scale of classroom routines
    • Two approaches:
      • Change school structures to promote experiences that promote academic mindsets
      • Train students to have academic mindsets
      • 2nd approach is easier
    • Caveats:
      • Different social groups may need different interventions
      • Poor school climates may tarnish individuals’ academic mindsets
    • School Conditions that Promote Academic Mindsets:
  • Can Changing Academic Mindsets Close Achievement Gaps?
    • Mindset interventions have been shown to narrow gender and minority achievement gaps.
    • Mindset interventions can be used to combat negative effects of stereotype threat.

 

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Helpful academic mindsets have been found to improve student perseverance and achievement.  Small scale research projects have shown that modest interventions aimed at improving academic mindsets have had long term positive impacts on students.  The small scale and out-of-standard classroom contexts of these studies make it tricky to transfer their implications to classroom practices.  A lot of research has been conducted to identify classroom conditions that promote academic mindsets.  Improving classroom conditions and explicitly scaffolding student academic mindsets can have positive, long lasting affects on their performance.  Students who can benefit most from these interventions are women, minorities, and students who have just transitioned between school.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Design a pre-assessment that measures presence (or absence) of 4 academic beliefs in students.
  • Analyze pre-assessment and research strategies that promote attitudes / beliefs that are student gaps.
  • Evaluate classroom practices against the list of factors that promote academic mindsets.
  • Use analysis of classroom practices to recognize what needs to be reinforced and what needs to be improved
  • Research strategies for improving classroom practices that are gaps
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement scaffolding activities that promote mindset that are their gaps after pre-assessment analysis)
  • Gather student reflection and academic data and analyze it to determine whether or not academic beliefs and performance are improving
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Ask students for feedback on what can be done to promote academic mindsets
  • Use list of classroom practices that promote academic mindsets to create a Likert scale questionnaire that students can use to give feedback on the presence (or absence) of key classroom conditions
  • Use feedback gathered from questionnaires to improve classroom conditions / strategies

 

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132: Mathematics & the Path to Equity

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The Elitist Structure of Mathematics
  • Elitist views place math as subject harder than other subjects that can only be accessed by a select few.
  • Math is taught as a performance subject that weeds out people with & without the math gene
  • Some people enjoy sorting mechanism of math because they have been sorted into the side of the limited Have’s
  • Some people enjoy thinking that their math ability is due to genetic superiority
  • Sometimes math teachers feel like they are superior to teachers who teach other subjects
    • these same teachers may feel justified in failing many students because they feel like they are the guardians of math success and only stars can move to higher levels
  • Some university math departments lower grades of students who display hard work habits such as attending office hours
The Myth of the Mathematically Gifted Child
  • Even math geniuses had to work hard to be able to produce relevant work
  • “Gifted” status awarded to students who can do things quickly, not necessarily kids who work hard and are persistent
    • Myth of genetic difference can make “gifted” students intellectually brittle because they may end of devoted a lot of energy to protecting their gifted identities
  • Valuing “giftedness” over hard work may cause:
    • high achievers to hide or underemphasize the effort they exerted to achieve
    • hard workers to feel like imposters because they had to work hard to achieve
  • Elitist math views + stereotypes of who can be good at math create large equity gaps in math
    • in 2014 – 73% math doctorates were male, 94% were white or Asian
    • the more a field values giftedness, the less likely are women and minorities to enter the field
  • Rushing students to higher levels of math can dilute the depth at which they understand fundamental concepts and processes
    • could lead to students who are procedurally fast, but can’t explain rationale for procedures
Equitable Strategies
  1. Offer all students high-level content.  
  2. Work to change ideas about who can do mathematics.
  3. Encourage students to think deeply about mathematics.
    • The desire to think and understand deeply is more critical to math achievement than the ability to perform procedures quickly.
    • Include experiences that are
      • hands-on
      • project-based
      • tied to real life applications
      • allow for collaboration
  4. Teach students to work together.
    • Shared struggles make challenges less intimidating
    • Discussing math helps people make sense of it
  5. Give lots of encouragement to people who are normally left out (women and minorities).
    • Do not comfort kids by buying into their “I’m just not a math person” fixed mindsets
    • Anyone can perform poorer when they are on the under-side of a stereotype of performance
  6. Eliminate (or at least change the nature of) homework.
    • Homework spreads low income equity achievement gap because low income students have less time and less resources while completing homework
      • inequities are magnified when class starts with homework review
    • Instead of practice problems, offer reflection questions such as
      • what was the main idea learned today?
      • what is something you are struggling or have questions about?
      • how could lessons from today be applied in real life?
    • Instead of practice problems, offer inquiry problems that have students seek out examples of current concepts in their lives

 

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Uncovering the elitist structures embedded into the structures of math curricula and the attitudes it promotes can help teachers be more aware of how to revise their practices to close equity gaps.  Equitable teaching practices have been shown to have a greater impact than minority role models.  This empowers any teacher to practice strategies that can close achievement gaps.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Research specific strategies related to equitable practices listed above.
  • Examine practices and attitudes critically to see if any are directly or indirectly elitist.
  • Develop strategies, visuals, and lesson plans that eliminate elitist views of math and replace them with growth mindset views of math.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement policies, visuals, scaffolding and assessments that combat elitist views of math and promote growth mindset views of math.
  • Teach students skills related to math achievement:
    • brainstorming
    • communicating
    • sense making
    • drawing to understand
    • reflecting
    • collaborating, etc
  • Use student feedback to fine tune policies, scaffolding and assessments
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Assess students attitudes over time to see if their views of math and their place in it is changing over time
  • Research and implement strategies that set high expectations and also offer high levels of support to all math learners
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128: The Power of Mistakes & Struggle

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Mistakes & the Brain:
  • Mistakes grown synapses.
  • Mistakes generate more brain activity than correct responses.
  • 2 brain responses to mistakes:
    1. ERN responses – increased electrical activity due to conflict between correct response and an error
    2. Pe responses – brain signal due to recognition of error
  • Brain sparks can occur even when people are unaware that mistakes were made
  • People with growth mindset show more brain activity in response to mistakes and are more likely to recognize errors
Mistakes & Life
  • More successful people make more mistakes than less successful people
  • Making mistakes is key to creative, entrepreneurial thinking
  • Successful people tend to:
    • feel comfortable being wrong
    • try wild ideas
    • are open to different experiences
    • play with ideas without judging them
    • persist through difficulties
    • willing to go against tradition
  • Practicing the attitudes above can help people learn math (or probably anything)
How Can We Change How Students View Mistakes?
  • Teach students about the positive impacts of mistakes on the brain
  • Crumble paper with mistakes, throw it against something to let out frustration.  Then open it and smooth it out and trace over crumple lines with marker to remind oneself of brain growth as result of mistake.  Then keep paper as a record of mistakes.
  • Teach and display positive brain messages.
  • Have teachers and students select and highlight “favorite mistakes”.
  • Have class discussions about mistakes.
  • Do not downgrade assignments for mistakes – upgrade assignments for mistakes.
  • Avoid over-testing and over-grading.
  • Display positive attitudes towards mistakes in group and individual settings.
  • Remind students repeatedly about brain growth that goes with mistakes and lack of brain growth that goes with correct responses
  • Teach students to appreciate & be aware of disequilibrium (Piaget) – state of disequilibrium occurs when students try to incorporate new information into existing mental maps – states of disequilibrium are uncomfortable but lead to wisdom
  • Expose students to math experiences that create disequilibrium
  • Value work with mistakes more than correct work
  • Make showing of mistakes a common occurrence in classroom and discussing how to think through the mistake

 

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Knowing about the impact of mistakes on the brain can teach students and teachers to value mistakes more and leverage them better to grow.  Knowing strategies for creating cultures that value mistakes will help students develop growth mindsets and help them to approach mistakes creatively and constructively.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Research strategies for creating classroom cultures that value mistakes.  See above.
  • Develop scaffolding activities and strategies that will be used to teach & remind students of the value of mistakes.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement policies, strategies, and scaffolding lessons that value student mistakes such as:
    • Presenting (teachers & students) mistakes and hold classroom discussion around them
    • Crumple paper strategy (see above)
    • Creating situations that will place students in disequilibrium and funnel students towards learning targets
    • Teaching students about the relationship between brain activity and mistakes
    • Selecting favorite mistakes and why they are so helpful
    • Reflections on how new attitudes towards mistakes impact learning
    • Using grading policies that value errors
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Create bank of problems that create disequilibrium that explore big ideas in mathematics
  • Create bank of discussion and question prompts that highlight and analyze mistakes

 

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111: Academic Perseverance

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Academic perseverance:
  • related to student effort and quality of academic behavior
  • initial and sustained momentum
  • helpful for short-term and long-term achievement
  • can be impacted by academic mindsets, academic skills, learning strategies, personality
  • grit: sticking to long-term goals despite obstacles
  • self-control: foregoing short-term temptations to prioritize higher goals
Grit & self control
  • 10 years of sustained practice to become an expert
  • grit involves working steadfastly on one goal over sustained period of time
  • Grit Scale – measures 2 dimensions of grit – consistency of interests & persistence of effort
  • self control – ability to avoid impulsive behavior and fulfill short-term obligations (e.g. reading test instructions before starting questions)
Relationship between academic perseverance and academic performance:
  • evidence that grit can make up for lack in tested achievement in standardized tests
  • measures of self control correlate to grades
Is academic perseverance malleable?
  • it’s harder to change overall grit which research shows to be a more fixed characteristic of people’s characteristics
  • more specific academic perseverance is responsive to context
Role of classroom context in shaping academic perseverance:
  • classroom contexts that support students’ success at tasks and provide students with strategies to make tasks easier tend to encourage academic perseverance
  • contexts that discourage success can decrease academic perseverance
  • strategies tied perseverance – time management, managing study environment, rehearsal, effort regulation
  • contexts can shape academic mindsets which affect perseverance
Actionable strategies for increasing strategies:
  • Direct strategies:
    • teaching behaviors associated with impulse control and persistence
    • not a lot of research on long term effects of these methods
  • Indirect strategies:
    • supporting academic mindsets
      • helping students feel greater sense of belonging, engagement and confidence can enhance persistence
    • teaching learning strategies
      • correlated to completed homework completion
Summary of research:
  • little known on how to make people grittier in many contexts
  • promoting positive academic mindsets can build specific academic persistence
  • teaching learning strategies can help students complete hard tasks
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Enhancing students’ academic perseverance can increase both the quantity and quality of their academic work.  Knowing how to create contexts and teach strategies that increase student academic persistence can help them succeed better and more at challenging academic tasks.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Research mindsets and skills that relate to academic persistence
  • Create character learning targets that describe sills related to academic persistence
  • Research and design learning activities that help students achieve character learning targets related to academic persistence
  • Use Grit Scale to pre-assess students’ persistence levels
Early Implementation Steps
  • implement activities that promote mindsets and teach academic skills related to academic persistence
  • Have students reflect on how they are progressing towards character learning targets related to academic persistence
  • Use multiple measures of Grit Scale to see scaffolding related to academic persistence is having any effects on students’ grit levels
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Have students identify the factors  strategies that are having the most positive impacts on their grit levels and incorporates these into classroom systems and routines

 

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110: Academic Behaviors

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Relationship between academic behaviors & academic performance:
  • attendance and study habits are better predictors for high grades than test scores and demographics
  • small differences in attendance can have large effects on performance
  • time spent on homework positively impacts performance
  • academic behaviors directly influence grades because grades often measure products of academic behaviors
  • indirectly, academic behaviors affect grades by improve students’ ability to understand and produce high quality work and improve rapport between students and teachers
How does classroom context shape academic behaviors?
  • can affect behaviors indirectly by enhancing other related non-congitive factors such as student confidence, student engagement, and student study skills
  • can affect behavior directly through behavioral expectations and strategies
Strategies for developing academic behaviors:
  • closely monitoring and providing support on student behaviors such as classroom attendance can positively impact them
  • school-wide initiatives can work – especially those aimed at improving student-teacher relationships
  • some other strategies (whose effects have not been researched) include:
    • requiring students to write assignments into planners
    • starting homework assignments in class to get students started
    • providing clear and explicit instructions for assignments
Summary of research:
  • academic behaviors are the most proximal non-cognitive factors related to student performance
  • there are many indirect ways to improve academic behaviors
  • academic behaviors strongly influence grades
  • academic behaviors are malleable
  • little evidence that working solely on academic behaviors can eliminate gaps related to race and gender
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Academic behaviors such as class attendance, homework completions, and active classroom participation directly and indirectly affect classroom performance.  Because 4 other non-cognitive factors realize academic success through academic behaviors, there are multiple ways (direct and indirect) to improve academic behaviors.  Implementing strategies for improving student academic behaviors can improve their performance.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Create character learning targets related to key academic behaviors
  • Create learning activities and assessments related to character learning targets
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement learning activities and assessments related to character learning targets that relate to academic behaviors
  • Measure academic behaviors to see how they relate to strategies and student performance
  • Have students track data and reflect on patterns that relate academic behaviors to strategies and academic performance
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Use strategies like standards based grading tied to character learning targets to track and enhance skills related to key academic behaviors
  • Have students identify the strategies that most improve their academic behaviors and incorporate these into their personal routines

 

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