124: Teaching Students To Generate Questions

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Reasons Why Students Struggle to Generate & Share Own Questions:
  1. Relationship between perceived (and actual) academic ability & question asking
    • the more students need help, the more reluctant they are to ask for it
    • the more competent students are, the more likely they are to ask for help when needed
    • the lower the achievement scores, the less likely the student is to ask questions
  2. Relationship between students’ grade level in school & question asking
    • as students advance in their careers, the trends above get worse or better creating a wider and wider achievement gap in asking questions
    • low achieving students ask even less questions
    • high achievement students learn to ask better questions and direct them to the right people
  3. Relationship between student value on asking question & question asking
    • when students like asking questions and find them helpful to learning, they tend to ask questions
  4. Relationship between teacher relatedness with student & question asking
    • teachers ask more questions of those they feel more connected to
Strategies to Meet Challenges of Question Asking
  1. Create safe environment that values & leverages mistakes
  2. Engage students in question: Do the benefits of asking questions outweigh the costs?
  3. Provide instruction on how to ask questions
  4. Use cooperative learning strategies to encourage students to ask for help from peers
  5. Structure classroom to value intrinsic motivation & rewards over extrinsic motivate & rewards
  6. Develop good caring relationships with all students
Elements of Effective Instruction in Question Generation:
  1. Provide procedural prompts specific to strategy being taught.
    • Examples: question stems, signal words.
  2. Provide models of appropriate responses.
    • Model how to use question stems and how to give appropriate responses to questions.
  3. Anticipate potential difficulties.
    • Use prior knowledge of students to predict potential pitfalls and constructive responses to these.
  4. Regulate difficulty of material.
    • Start formulating question from short passages and then lengthen passages and deepen their complexity over time.
  5. Provide a cue card.
    • Use cue cards or cue posters that relate to questioning framework in use – e.g. Bloom taxonomy.
  6. Guide student practice.
    • Practice in multiple modes: with teacher, reciprocal teaching, in small groups.
  7. Provide feedback and corrections.
    • Give opportunities for teacher and peer feedback structure by feedback protocols such as Critical Friends.
  8. Provide and teach a checklist.
    • Teacher age-appropriate checklist that describes good questions.
  9. Assess student mastery.
    • Set aside multiple practice opportunities described over time for students to develop the skill of formulating good questions.  Assess their ability to formulate good questions and provide more practice opportunities and feedback as needed.
 
Stages to Teach Students for Designing Questions:
  1. Planning phase – students experience things and ask questions
  2. Implementation phase – student pursue and refine questions
  3. Assessing phase – students assess effectiveness of questions
Student Question-Generation Formats
  1. Reciprocal Teaching
    • What – Students and teachers use dialogue to draw meaning from text
    • Why – Improve comprehension & metacognition
    • How – Teacher selects a text selection and assigns to students to read.  Student summarize what they have read and generate questions about the text.  Teacher assigns one student to role play as teacher and ask students questions about the text.  Teacher asks as a coach who helps students ask good questions.  Students not playing the teacher are encouraged to answer questions and ask clarifying questions.
  2. Pair Problem Solving
    • What – Students solve problems while interviewing each other in pairs
    • Why – Promote metacognition and analytical thinking
    • How – Students assigned problems and paired up.  One person in pair solves problem by thinking aloud.  Partner records approach, asks clarifying questions to learn specific of problem solving steps and does NOT intervene if he or she perceived errors in thinking.  Partners take turns being in the think aloud and listening roles.
  3. Metacognitive Anchoring
    • What – Students ask metacognitive questions of themselves while reading texts
    • Why –  Improve comprehension & metacognition
    • How – Student ask themselves questions while reading a text and write in their responses in margins or on sticky notes.  After reading and annotating the text, students can transfer their response to a metacognition chart which these columns:  Type of Questions I asked during Reading, Type of Thinking in Questions, Why I asked that Questions.  Questions include:
      • What does this remind me of?
      • Why dd this happen?
      • What evidence supports this?
      • Is this ethical?  How can I evaluate this?
      • Is write trying to persuade me? Do I believe this?
      • What point of view is guiding the reading?
  4. Role-play Questioning
    • What – Students ask questions about a problem while role playing as investigators of a problem.
    • Why – Promote engagement & higher-level thinking
    • How – Students are organized in teams with one recorder.  Teacher poses a potential problem.  Students posing as investigators of problem ask questions about the problem.  They may brainstorm some answers related to questions.  Then ask more questions related to this brainstorming.  After question sessions, teams meet to compare questions and decide which might be the most effective questions to investigate to solve the problem.
  5. Press Conference
    • What – Students ask questions of a visiting expert.
    • Why – Stimulate curiosity & practice active listening
    • How – Students work in pairs to brainstorm questions in advance.  Pairs compile a master class list.  Students prioritize and categorize questions.  Students select a reasonable number of related questions to ask visiting expert.
  6. Textbook Question Analysis
    • What – Students analyze textbook questions to determine their cognitive values and assign them values
    • Why – Promote analysis & review content
    • How – Teach students first about the different cognitive levels of questions and their purposes.  Students record textbook questions in a question form that has students determine the cognitive level of question, consequence of question (what would student learn), and assign value to the question
  7. Question Review
    • What – Students in peers provide feedback on research questions that can be used to refine them
    • Why – Promote critical thinking
    • How – Students individually brainstorm potential questions and approaches for investigating these questions.  Students pair.  Students take turns presenting questions and giving presenter warm and cool feedback about questions.  After review session, students summarize feedback and revise questions.
  8. Round-Robin Questioning
    • What – Students create questions and answers and take turns asking questions of other students and giving feedback.  Cooperative groups ponder questions with uncertain responses
    • Why – Review & promote key ideas
    • How – Teacher directs students to generate 7 questions – 6 they know the answer and 1 they are curious about but are uncertain of the answer.  Students take time to record questions and answers.  Teacher called on 1st student.  1st student calls on another student and asks one of her questions.  He responds while she cues and probes as needed.  Teacher only intervenes to clear up misconceptions and to coach questioners to give appropriate wait times and to ask probing questions.  Student who responded to the first question calls on the next student and asks a question.  This pattern continues until all students have taken a turn to ask a question or until activity time expires.  Then students are divided into cooperative teams.  They discuss their questions with uncertain responses and try to brainstorm responses.  They select their favorite question to share with the whole class.
  9. Twenty Questions
    • What – Students ask 20 yes/no questions in an attempt to guess a person, place or thing related to a given topic
    • Why – Practice reasoning & problem solving & how to ask relevant questions
    • How – Divide students into play groups (whole class or down to groups of 5).  Announce a topic. One person thinks of a person, place, or thing related to the topic.  The rest of the students take turns asking yes/no questions in an attempt to funnel down to the correct person, place, or thing.  Students can take a guess (in place of a question) if they think they know the answers.  Teams can take up to 3 guesses to get the right answer.
  10. Actor, Actor
    • What – Students practice responding to questions from the perspective of a key person
    • Why – Promote retention & engagement
    • How – Divide students into teams of 4.  Select a topic.  Students select an important person related to the topic.  One person in the topic role plays as the chosen person.  The remaining team mates ask that person questions that the chosen person could answer in a distinctive way.
  11. Question / Question
    • What – Students interact using only questions
    • Why – practice active listening & thinking
    • How –  Group students in pairs.  Announce a topic.  Students discuss the topic for as long as they can using only questions.
  12. Answer/ Question
    • What –  Students develop questions that go with given stimuli (like Jeopardy)
    • Why – promote retention & higher level thinking
    • How – Select stimuli (text excerpts, diagrams, charts, etc.).  Challenge students to come up with as many questions as possible that could go with the stimuli.
  13. Talk Show
    • What – Students practice conversing about a topic using the roles of actor and interviewer
    • Why – apply knowledge, stimulate higher level thinking
    • How – Divide students into pairs.  Assign students roles – one role is a key character or person related to a current topic in class and one role is a news reporter.  The students role-play the interview while acting in character.

 

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Students who ask questions are more likely to be plugged into the learning that is occurring in class.  Teaching them how to ask questions helps them approach learning more actively and more critically.  Using varied protocols to encourage student questioning can give students multiple opportunities to formulate, analyze and use their questions.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Develop criteria for good questions and for types of questions.  Example – question stems based on Bloom’s taxonomy
  • Teach students how to use criteria to generate good questions
  • Analyze standards and products in upcoming products.
  • Brainstorm which types of interactions with question will help enhance students’ learning of specific standards and development of specific products.
  • Select activities (see above and also here) that provide ALL students with opportunities to create, use, and respond to questions.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Practice using one of the alternate question response (or formulating) activities with students.
  • Have students reflect on what they learned as a result of the activity.
  • Use feedback from students to fine tune activities.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Give students feedback on the quality of their questions.  Give students opportunities to use that feedback to improve their questions.
  • Ask students for feedback on questioning activities.  Use their feedback to improve activities and to decide which activities to incorporate into class routines.

 

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119: Modeling & prototyping

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  1. Storyboarding
    • Series of images showing key elements and interactions of a new scenario
    • Purpose:
      • Shows concept in action
      • Visualize the future
      • Gain support from decision makers
    • Preparation steps:
      • Identify idea to develop
      • Create poster with 10-12 empty panes
      • Assemble diverse team
      • Provide drawing materials
    • Implementation steps:
      • Draft storyline
      • Determine setting and main characters
      • Draw key frames for future scenario
      • Add descriptive captions to each drawing
    • Helpful hints:
      • Explain ideas to others
      • Get inspiration from comic books
      • Use variety of angles (panoramic, close up)
    • Sample process:
    • School applications:
      • Teacher can use this technique to storyboard upcoming projects and upcoming activities with tricky logistics
      • Students can use this technique to brainstorm experiments, essays, reports, videos, etc
  2. Schematic diagramming
    • Outline of structure & essential components of a system
    • Purposes:
      • Shows structure of proposed solution
      • Work out functional details
      • Build shared understanding
      • Inform future design activities
    • Preparation steps:
      • Identify an idea or concept to develop
      • Assemble a diverse team
      • Gather drawing materials
    • Implementation steps:
      • Determine basic elements to include
      • Render each element SIMPLY
      • Compose elements in clear way
      • Adjust size and weight of things for emphasis
      • Arrange overall diagram in an orderly manner
    • Helpful tips:
      • Avoid realistic pictures
      • Keep it skeletal
      • Use grid structure to line things up
      • Use color sparingly
    • Sample process:
    • School applications:
      • Can use this to redesign complicated school systems such – professional development systems, systems that promote school culture
      • Can use this to design system of activities that scaffold skills over the long term such as scaffolding agency and collaboration
      • Students can use this to create a visual for a complicated system of arguments in a large research paper
  3. Rough & ready prototyping
    • rapid model of concept that mimics its appearance and function
    • Purposes:
      • Communicates shared vision of future product
      • Test ideas quickly
      • Iterative improvements
    • Preparation steps:
      • Identify concept to develop
      • Assemble small design team
      • Gather basic materials
      • Consider what to learn from prototype
    • Implementation steps:
      • Build rough model of concept
      • Simulate as much functionality as possible
      • Create readable and realistic content
      • Label incomplete areas
    • Helpful hints:
      • Apply good craftsmanship but don’t aim for perfection
      • Be resource – incorporate found objects
      • Use role to simulate interactions
    • Sample process:
      • Purpose: Envision new solution, test it early
      • Steps:
    • School applications;
      • Students can build rough & ready prototypes in the context of design projects to test their ideas before committing to a more developed product (or they can end the project at the prototype phase and test it and reflect on what they learned)
      • Teachers can use this process to develop model products for projects
  4. Appearance modeling
    • Refined model of ideas that emphasizes visual styling (not function)
    • Purposes:
      • Consider aesthetics
      • Reveal emotional qualities
      • Provide vision for future
      • Gain support from stakeholders
    • Preparation steps:
      • Identify concept to develop
      • Assemble small design team
      • Decide what to learn from model
      • Consider range of visual and emotional qualities
      • Assemble palette of colors and sample materials
    • Implementation steps:
      • Develop sketches to show possibilities
      • Hone in on a few treatments to refine detail
      • Draw realistic renderings of concepts
      • Produce models showing finished effects
    • Helpful hints:
      • Consider using 3-D printing
      • Use scaled-down model to show environment
      • It it’s a digital interface, place it on an actual device
    • Sample process:
      • Purpose: explore emotional and visual attributes of a concept
      • Steps:
    • School applications:
      • Students can go through the steps above to create appearance models for project products and can test these to learn about their emotional and visual impact
      • Teachers can use this process to develop model products for projects

 

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Quick prototyping and testing can teach teachers and students how to bring ideas to life and how to use data to refine them.  It can use fast iteration to show people how to take and leverage controlled risks.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • For teacher use:
    • Decide tasks / problems that could benefit from fast prototyping (examples: create model products to illustrate expectations, etc)
    • Select modeling method(s) that will can help generate the most useful prototypes
    • Design scaffolding that incorporates models to communicate and discuss expectations
  • For student use:
    • Identify points in projects where prototyping will be a useful activity
    • Design resources to help guide students through selected prototyping activities.  See above.
Early Implementation Steps
  • For teacher use:
    • Use models to communicate and discuss project expectations and to help illustrate project rubrics
  • For student use:
    • Scaffold activities aimed at creating and test prototypes
    • Follow-up with more design activities.  See hyperlinks above for ideas.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • For teacher use (understanding students):
    • Compare / constrast student work with teacher-generated prototypes in order to identify teacher and student strengths and areas of improvement.
    • Used what was learned from comparing teacher and student models to design scaffolding activities that help students become more efficient at skills that are gaps
  • For student use (understanding stakeholders for project):
    • Have students reflect on prototyping strategies – how did it work?  what assumptions were challenged? what new things were learned? what new ideas were inspired? how can this approach be used in other settings?
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108: Teaching Specific Types of Knowledge

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Research on teaching vocabulary:
  • Vocabulary is tied to intelligence, one’s ability to learn new information and one’s level of income
  1. Students need multiple exposures of words in context in order to learn them
    • Need to see word in context at least 6 times prior to remembering and understanding it
    • High density texts are less effective than low density texts at teaching students new vocabulary
    • Wide reading is insufficient to teach students a lot of new vocabulary – not enough reputations of new words to give students the exposure they need to learn words in context
  2. Instruction in new words enhances ability to learn them in context
    • priming students prior to reading with vocabulary instructions makes them more likely to understand those words in context in the reading
    • priming requires minimal effort – just providing a definition sheet with examples
  3. One of the best ways to learn new words is to associate images with them
    • imagery techniques are much more effective than simply studying definitions of words
  4. Direct vocabulary instructions works.
  5. Direction instructions on words critical to learning new content products best effects on learning.
    • focus instructions on vocabulary words that are critical to learning new content
Classroom tips for teaching vocabulary:
  • Identify key phrases and terms needed to understanding new material and focus vocabulary instruction on these
  • Multi-step process for teaching vocabulary:
    1. Present brief explanation of new term or phrase
    2. Present nonlinguistic representation of new term or phrase
    3. Ask students to generate their own explanations of new term or phrase
    4. Ask students to create their own nonlinguistic representation of word or phrase
    5. Periodically ask students to review their accuracy of their explanations of new terms / phrases
Research on teaching details:
  • Details include specific types of knowledge such as facts, time sequences, cause / effect sequences
  1. Students should have systematic exposure of details
    • Need frequent exposure to details to learn them – at least 3 or 4 times before applying them in meaningful contexts
    • Timing between exposure to details should not exceed 2 days
    • Information needs to be revisited multiple times in order for it to stick
  2. Dramatic instruction works with details.
    • Visual instruction works better than pure verbal instruction
    • Dramatic instructions works better – students watch dramatization or are involved in dramatization of events
Classroom tips on teaching details:
  • Multiple exposures:
    • Include opportunities for at least 3 exposures spaced no longer than 2 days apart between exposures
  • Dramatic representation of key details:
    • Students act out key features of systems or events
Research on teaching organizing ideas:
  1. Students often have misconceptions about organizing ideas
    • Hard to undo misconceptions about organization ideas
    • Most effective strategy – have students provide a sound argument for their position relative to organizing an idea
  2. Students should be provided with opportunities to organize ideas
    • Students need to apply generalizations and principles to understand them – not sufficient to just be exposed to generalizations
Classroom tips for organizing ideas:
  • Make sure students can explain generalizations and provide numerous related examples of them
  • Exposure to novel situations can help students test and clear up misconceptions
Research on teaching skills:
  • tactics – general rules describing how to execute processes
  • algorithms – sequential steps that describe processes
  1. Discovery approach doesn’t work well with skills
    • the more variation there is in the steps to execute a skill – the more amenable it is to discovery learning
    • simple straightforward skills don’t work well with discovery learning
  2. When using discovery learning, organize examples into categories that represent different approaches to the skill
    • Organize examples by the type of problem solving skills needed to solve them
    • Have students test out strategies on one type of problem at a time.
  3. Skills are most useful when learned to the point of automaticity
    • Skills that are learned to point of automaticity require little conscious thought
    • Practice starts out en masse (high density) and then becomes lower density (distributed)
Classroom tips for teaching skills:
  • Use organization to facilitate discovery approach to skills
    • organize problems into related categories
    • have students discover approaches to problems one category at a time
    • have students compare approaches to different types of problems
  • Plan for distributed practice of skills
    • teach students how distributed practice can lead to automaticity in skills
    • provide distributed practice opportunities
Research on teaching processes:
  • Processes have a higher tolerance for variation in steps than skills
  1. Students should practice parts of process in the context of overall process
    • Focused practice of parts of a process within context of that process is more effective than providing overview description of parts of process
  2. Teacher should emphasize metacognitive control of processes
    • Metacognitive control of processes is being able to use and control parts of processes to complete tasks
    • Developing metacognitive control tips:
      • plenty of guided practice opportunities with descriptive feedback
      • encourage students to monitor their progress while using strategies
      • generalize use of strategies by having students use them in new contexts
Classroom tips for teaching processes
  • Provide overall model for key components of processes
    • Example – Reading Process:
      • Experience
      • Select text
      • Identify purpose and what’s known
      • Construct meaning
      • Use / reflect
  • Focus on specific subcomponents of process in the overall context of the process
    • Do not teach components of process in isolation
    • Help students articulate strategy they are using
    • Have students develop criteria for evaluating success of strategy
    • Distribute practice of new strategy over several assignments over time
    • Have students provide feedback and self reflection on use of strategy
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Dividing knowledge into different types and knowing the strategies best suited for these types can make scaffolding more focused and effective.  Knowing which types of knowledge require distributed learning opportunities can help teachers create project calendars with enough learning opportunities for students to develop new knowledge and skills.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • For an upcoming project, list learning targets and classify them by type: details, vocabulary, processes, skills
  • Design scaffolding that incorporates strategies that go with each knowledge type.  See above.
  • Design project calendar that includes distributed practice opportunities and exposure opportunities for types of knowledge that required distributed exposure (skills, detailed knowledge, processes)
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement scaffolding & project calendar developed above
  • Use formative assessments to check if students are getting enough learning opportunities to develop knowledge and skills
Advanced Implementation Steps
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107: Activating Prior Knowledge

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Research on using Cues/Questions to Activate Prior Knowledge:

  1. Cues / questions should focus on what’s important, not what’s interesting.
    • Building bridges between key information and prior knowledge will increase engagement
  2. Higher level questions products deeper learning than lower level questions.
    • Analysis questions are more impactful than recall questions.
    • Higher order questions ask students to restructure or apply new information.
  3. Wait time increases depth of student responses.
    • Giving students time prior to answering questions to process their responses before sharing them.
  4. Questions are effective to use BEFORE learning experience.
    • Asking questions before learning experience can help students approach a learning experience with a helpful mind set.
Classroom tips for using cues and questions to activity prior knowledge:
  • Use explicit cues
    • Have students recall related experiences from prior knowledge and connect them to upcoming learning.
  • Use questions that elicit inferences
    • Ask questions that ask students to predict functions, sensations, and related information associated with objects of study
  • Use analytic questions – types of questions include questions that ask for:
    • Analysis of errors and misconceptions
    • Limitations of argument
    • Evidence that supports argument
    • Alternative perspectives and related reasoning
    • Value judgements and related reasoning
Researching on using advance organizers to activate prior knowledge:
  1. Advance organizers should focus on what’s important, not what’s unusual.
  2. Higher level organizers lead to deeper learning than lower level organizers
  3. Advance organizers are most helpful with handling info that is typically unorganized
    • better for preparing students for projects than for reading textbooks that are already organizer
  4. Different types of organizers lead to different results
    • expository type had greatest positive effect – see below
Classroom tips for using advance organizers:
  • Expository Advance Organizers
    • provide brief organized overview of topics about to be discussed
  • Narrative Advance Organizers
    • present upcoming information in the format of a story
  • Skimming as a form of advance organizer
    • skimming key subtitles and figures prior to reading can help students process info
  • Graphic Advanced Organizers
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Activating prior knowledge can help build student confidence and help build more lasting connections between old and new knowledge.  Activating prior knowledge can prepare students’ minds to recognize new connections and features in upcoming content.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Research and brainstorm related knowledge & skills that students may have that relates to upcoming materials.
  • Design prompts and advance organizers for eliciting students’ prior knowledge.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Use knows and need-to-knows chart throughout the project as a means to elicit prior knowledge and link it to new material.
  • Use other tools (cues, questions and advance organizers) to help students connect prior knowledge to new content.
  • Have students reflect on the connections between new material and old knowledge.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Use advance organizers that highlight most powerful connections between old and new knowledge – start to complete these prior to scaffolding lessons and refer to them during scaffolding lessons.
  • Teach students about how prior knowledge shapes the learning of new knowledge and have them deliberately use that knowledge to invent strategies that can hep them connect old and new knowledge.
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104: Cooperative Learning

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Research on Cooperative Learning:
  • Homogeneous ability grouping can lead to widening of ability gaps in students
  • 5 Elements of Cooperative Learning:
    1. Positive interdependence
      • all members’ efforts needed to succeed
    2. Face-to-face promotive interaction
      • encouraging feedback
    3. Individual and group accountability
    4. Interpersonal and small group skills
      • communication, trust, leadership, decision making and conflict resolution skills
      • For ideas on how to scaffold these skills, see Collaboration articles
    5. Group processing
      • reflection on how group collaborates in order to improve collaboration
  • Cooperative learning has outperformed competitive learning and individual learning in several research studies
  • 3 Generalizations from research:
    1. Organizing groups based on ability should be done sparingly
      • homogeneous ability grouping does not help low performing students
    2. Cooperative learning groups should be kept small in size
      • suggest 3 to 4 members per team
    3. Cooperative learning should be applied consistently and systematically, but not overused.
      • signs of overuse
        • task is not designed to required team work
        • not enough time built in for independent practice
      • cooperative learning improves when applied at least once per week
 
Classroom Practices:
  • Use a variety of grouping methods
    • random – by color they’re wearing, picking out of hat, by birthday
    • by common interests – can build on common experiences
  • Use informal, formal and base groups
    • informal:
      • examples: pair-share, turn to your neighbor that last few minutes per class periods
      • uses: clarify expectations, co-process information, co-reflect/closure on activities
    • formal:
      • examples: project teams
      • tips:  design tasks that include 5 elements of cooperative learning
    • base groups
      • support groups that are long term (could be semester long)
      • sample use:  meet 5 minutes each day to discuss upcoming deadlines and homework
  • Managing group size
    • task should match size of team
    • larger teams require more collaborative social skills
  • Combining Cooperative Learning with other classroom structures:
    • allow time for individual processing and independent practice

 

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Cooperative learning is a regular feature of project-based learning (PBL).  The five elements of cooperative learning can be used to design and refine tasks that help students learn and work better in teams.  Using different types of groups (informal, base, and formal) can help students get peer support from multiple class mates.  Being mindful of possible overuses of cooperative learning can help PBL facilitator create opportunities for individual learning to balance out cooperative learning experiences.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Design lessons that leverage informal grouping to extend academic talk
  • Research strategies that relate to 5 elements of cooperative learning and incorporate these into design for content and collaboration scaffolding
  • Design group activities that incorporate 5 elements of cooperative learning. See above
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement group activities that incorporate 5 elements of cooperative learning.
  • Use informal grouping to  extend academic talk during scaffolding activities
  • Have teams reflect on which of the 5 elements of cooperative learning are at play in activities, how they are working and how to improve them
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Create notebook resources that provide strategies that connect to 5 cooperative learning strategies
  • Have students use collaborative strategies resource to help design and implement group contracts and to help facilitate team meetings
  • Explicitly teach students social skills needed to collaborate effectively.  See Collaboration articles for ideas.
  • Use base value groups to provide steady support for students – can use to provide encouraging feedback, reminders of deadlines, practice individual goal setting skills, etc

 

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103: Nonlinguistic Representations

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Research on Nonlinguistic Representations:
  • Using both linguistic and nonlinguistic (mental pictures, physical sensations, etc) modes of representation helps with better recall of knowledge
  • A variety of activities produce nonlinguistic representations:
    • creating graphic representations
    • making physical models
    • generating mental pictures
    • drawing pictures
    • engaging in kinesthetic activity
  • Nonlinguistic reps should elaborate on knowledge
    • power of elaboration can be enhanced by asking for explanations and justification
 
Classroom Practices:

 

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One way to create high challenge / high support (challenge zone) classrooms is to scaffold high expectations (not lower expectations) using message abundancy, i.e. amplifying content by using multiple representations for the same content.   Using both linguistic and nonlinguistic representations of content is a way to amplify content so that students have multiple opportunities to learn it.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Analyze how upcoming content is organized
  • Select the nonlinguistic representations that best connect to how content is organizer
  • Gather resources / write prompts that help students organize content in graphic organizers (or other nonlinguistic representations) that explicitly illustrate how content is organized
Early Implementation Steps
  • Use nonlinguistic organizers selected above as one of a variety of scaffolding methods for key content in projects
  • Have students discuss / write about the key connections that are illustrated inside nonlinguistic representations of content
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Include an appendix in the back of students notebooks that contains commonly used graphic organizers and simple instructions that students can use to create their own graphic organizers
  • Using the graphic organizer notebook resources, have students supplement notes by selecting the graphic organizers that best illustrate the connections among information.

 

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101: Homework & Practice

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  • What research has to say about homework:
    • Amount of homework should differ in elementary, middle and high school.  Homework has a more positive impact on student achievement at higher grade levels.
    • Parent involvement in homework should be kept to a minimum
      • Encourage students to complete homework in a set time and location
    • The purpose of homework should be communicated.
      • Purposes:
        • Practice – build fluency and accuracy in familiar content
        • Preparation – prepare mind for upcoming activities
        • Elaboration – elaborate on familiar content
  • Classroom practices related to homework:
    • Establish and communicate a homework policy – communicate purposes of homework and helpful ways parent can support students at home in homework policy
    • State outcome and purpose of homework assignments
    • Vary approaches for providing feedback on homework
      • homework has more affect on achievement when paired with feedback
      • teacher / self / peer feedback
  • What research has to say about practice:
    • Mastering a skill requires a fair amount of practice spread over time
    • When practicing students should adapt and shape what they learned
      • While shaping skills – students develop conceptual understanding of them
      • During shaping phase – use less problems and more reflection
  • Classroom practices related to practice:
    • Chart speed and accuracy to see if mastery is growing
    • Target specific elements of complex skill or process – ex – one phase of scientific method
    • Include time for students to increase conceptual understanding of skills or processes
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Homework and practice provide students with the reps needed to build proficiency in skills.  Knowing how to communicate the purpose of practice & homework and how to implement these effectively can help teachers assign and support homework in ways that are helpful.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Decide main purposes for assigning homework in a specific course
  • Brainstorm / research helpful ways parents can support student learning at home – e.g. helping them set aside a common location and time for homework, helping them track their completion times
  • Develop a homework policy that communicates the purposes of homework and ways that parents can help students with their homework
Early Implementation Steps
  • As homework sets are assigned explain the purposes for homework and the impacts homework and practice will have on future work
  • Have students track how their understanding and fluency is growing as a result of practice and homework
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Develop homework support systems that give students in-class and out-of-class support on homework
  • Figure out smart ways to incorporate homework into grading systems.  See this article for ideas.

 

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88: Summarizing & Note Taking

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Summary of Research on Summarization:
  • Summarizing involves deleting, substituting, and keeping information
  • The skills above require deep analysis of material
  • Being aware of explicit structure of information helps with summarization (another reason to scaffold academic literacy)
Classroom Strategies:
  • Rules-Based Strategies:
    • MODEL how to apply rules such as:
      • delete trivial info
      • delete redundant info
      • replace lists with grouping words that summarize lists
      • select or create topic sentences
    • Use Think Aloud strategy while modeling rules
  • Summary Frames:
    • Series of questions that highlight critical elements for specific types of info
    • 6 Summary Frames – click here to see related questions
      • Narrative
      • Topic-Restriction-Illustration
      • Definition
      • Argumentation
      • Problem/Solution
      • Conversation
  • Reciprocal teaching
    • Student arranged in teacher groups
    • Leader of group facilitates discussion in which students take a lesson or reading and
      • summarize the lesson/reading
      • question – ask questions about the lesson/reading
      • clarify – try to answer questions
      • predict – predict what they will learn or do next
Research and Theory on Note Taking
  • Verbatim note taking is the least effective method – recording everything makes it too hard to synthesize info
  • Notes should be viewed as living documents
  • Notes should be used as study guides for tests
  • The more notes, the better
Classroom Strategies for Note Taking
  • Provide models – notes taken by teacher
  • Present students with a variety of note-taking formats such as
    • Informal outline
      • subordinate ideas are more indented than big ideas
    • Webbing
      • sizes of circles represent relative importance of ideas
      • lines show relationships between ideas
    • Combinations
      • Combines webbing and informal outline (like a double entry journal)
        • left column = informal outline
        • right column = webbing
      • Also includes a horizontal strip at the bottom for summary statements
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Summarizing and note taking are powerful learning strategies.  Often these skills are un-scaffolded student activities and expectations.  Teaching students how to summarize and take notes can help them become more independent learners.

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Preparation Steps
  • Pre-assess students’ note-taking and summarizing skills – identify their strengths and gaps
  • Identify which strategies (see above) could enhance students’ summarizing and note taking skills
  • Gather / prepare graphic organizers and visuals that go with selected strategies
Early Implementation Steps
  • Model (use think aloud and graphic organizers) summarizing and/or note-taking strategies
  • Give students opportunities to practice strategies
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Have students reflect on the impact different note-taking strategies are having on their learning
  • Let students use their reflections to choose the most effective note-taking strategy that fits their learning style and preferences
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87: Identifying Similarities & Differences

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Summary of What Research Says:  Things that improve student’s ability to understand and use knowledge:

  • explicitly identifying similarities and differences
  • asking students to identify similarities & differences
  • representing similarities & differences in graphic or symbolic form (see below for ideas)
Classroom Practice in Classifying Similarities & Differences:
  • Comparing
  • Classifying
  • Metaphors
    • Teacher centered
      • Need to help students realize that 2 items in metaphor are connected by abstract relationship
      • Teacher provides 1st element of metaphor and helps students identify abstract relationships
    • Student centered
      • Should follow teacher centered scaffolding.  See above.
      • Students are given first element and asked to come up with 2nd element and abstract relationship.
    • Graphic organizers
  • Analogies
    • Helps students acquire new knowledge by comparing them to more familiar things
    • Takes form A is to B as C is to D
    • Most complex form of identifying similarities and differences
    • Teacher centered
      • Teachers provide a lot of supporting structures such as
        • providing examples and asking students to explain why they make sense
        • present analogy with one missing item
    • Student centered
      • Students provide more elements than in teacher centered tasks such as
        • provided with 1st pair and they provide 2nd pair
    • Graphic organizers

 

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Identifying similarities and differences can help students build bridges between new and familiar knowledge.  Research has shown that identifying similarities and differences helps students deepen their knowledge and transfer their knowledge to new contexts.

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Identify which concepts could be good to pair with identifying similarities & differences strategies
  • Gather and refine related graphic organizers and related examples of identifying similarities & differences strategies
Early Implementation Steps
  • Facilitate teacher centered activities at first to build specific skills related to identifying similarities and differences
  • Use timely descriptive feedback to help students reflect upon, explain, and refine the connections they are making with these strategies
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Facilitate more student centered versions of identifying similarities & differences strategies activities after other activities have modeled and given practice opportunities to students on prerequisite skills
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86: Standards Based Grading

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Chapter 8 in Berger, Ron, Leah Rugen, and Libby Woodfin.  Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming School through Student-engaged Assessment. Print.

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Purposes / Uses:
  • Tie grades to specific understandings and learning
  • Communicate progress to students & their families about progress towards concrete goals (transparency)
  • Measures mastery at closure of grading period – not on average over the period
  • Make connection between work habits and skills more clear
Guiding Principles
  • Grades describe student’s progress and current level of achievement.  This involves:
    • considering trends in student work – especially most recent ones because these reflect more time to develop mastery
    • multiple opportunities for students to show mastery
  • Habits of scholarship are reported separately from content mastery grades.  This involves:
    • keeping separate grades  for assessments of character learning targets (in New Tech schools – this may be covered by showing the learning outcome grades separate from the content grades)
    • scaffolding and assess character learning targets, just as one does for academic learning targets
  • Grades communicate (not motivate or punish).  This involves:
    • knowing that low grades are not a motivation for better habits
    • early communication of grading criteria
  • Student engagement is the key to success.  This involves:
    • teaching students how to effectively self assess their knowledge and use it to plan next steps
    • knowing that effective self assessment leads to more feelings of self-efficacy
    • believing that all students can succeed with the right supports
    • comparing work to standards not to other students’ work
  • Communicating clearly about achievement.  This involves:
    • realistic accounting for early mistakes
    • opportunities to learn and improve
  • Engaging students.  This involves:
    • students playing an active role in understanding and assessing learning targets
  • Holding students accountable.  This involves:
    • holding students accountable to academic AND character learning targets
    • having frequent conversations about what that accountability means and using those conversations to guide learning
 
Getting started involves …
  • developing and using learning targets to guide curriculum, instruction and assessment
    • building supporting learning targets that build towards long term learning targets
  • defining clear character learning targets based on school-wide behavior expectations
  • committing to student-engaged assessment practices
School-wide implementation involves …
  • formulating and communicating school-wide grading guidelines to ensure school-wide consistent grading. These include expectations for …
    • building body of evidence for mastery
    • using formative and summative assessments
    • fine tuning instruction in response to assessments
  • vertically aligning curriculum that prioritizing essential standards and shows a clear progression from grade level to grade level
  • developing consistent criteria for meeting or exceeding proficiency on learning targets
  • professional development on good practices relating to writing, scaffolding and assessing learning targets
Casco Bay High High School’s Grading System
  • 1 = Does not meet standards.  Does not demonstrate substantive progress towards learning target over the course of several assessments.
  • 2  = Approaches the standards.  Substantive progress towards learning target, but more time needed for mastery
  • 3 = Meets the standards.  Demonstrates competency in learning target.
  • 4 = Exceeds standards.  Demonstrates deeper level of understanding / skill than learning target required.
Sample Guidelines for Determining Progress Towards Long Term Learning Targets
  • Break long-term learning targets into several supporting learning targets that scaffold up to long term targets
  • Create assessments built on supporting learning targets
  • Assess long term target over the course of several assessments tied to relating supporting learning targets
  • Require students to demonstrate long term target RELIABLY not PERFECTLY
  • Value and reward long term progression towards mastery of long term learning targets over early demonstrations of mastery that can not be reproduced reliably later
  • Base mastery of long term learning targets on multiple summative assessments
Different approaches to passing courses:
  • Base passing grade on average grade over all learning targets
  • Passing course can only occur if student passes ALL learning targets.  Scores 3 or above (see above) on all learning targets.  (Casco Bay HS approach)
Reporting on habits of scholarship.  This involves:
  • Consistent school-wides standards for assessing and reporting grades on character learning targets
    • Interesting features of Casco Bay example:
      • Uses 1-4 grading scale on character learning targets (similar to academic learning targets)
      • HOW honor roll for students who earn 3 or above on all character learning targets
      • HOW scores of 3 or above on all character learning targets can NOT fail.  Instead get an incomplete and extra support and time (2 wks) to meet academic learning target criteria
  • Structures for supporting students who don’t meet character learning targets.  This can include:
    • Team teacher meetings that brainstorm how to provide support to students who are struggling to meet targets
    • Regular student opportunities for self assessment on character learning targets
    • More formal individualized intervention programs for students who are still failing to meet standards by the end of the grading period
Examples of Student-Engaged Assessment Practices:
  • Regular formative assessments
  • Descriptive feedback that supports multiple revisions of work
  • Formal presentations of learning
  • Passage presentations – students present their progress to an audience
  • Assessments tied to meaningful work
  • Peer and self assessments made by comparing work to established criteria tied to learning targets
Checklist for Quality Assessment Plans:
  • Learning targets are high quality:
    • aligned to standards
    • includes ONLY ONE clear, aligned verb
    • divided into long term and supporting standards
    • student friendly language
    • I can … format
    • collection includes variety: reasoning, knowledge & skills targets
    • knowledge and skills targets build up to reasoning targets
    • collection includes prioritized collection of content, literacy, numeracy & character learning target
  • Summative Assessments:
    • multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of long-term learning targets
    • clear assessment tools used to measure mastery
    • learning targets and assessment tools align
    • collection is varied in format and type
    • motivate students
    • includes smaller formative assessments
    • aligned to standards
  • Formative Assessments:
    • formative assessments for each supportive learning target
    • prepare students for summative assessments
    • accommodates multiple learning styles
    • motivate students
    • clearly communicate learning target and means to achieve them
    • involve self & peer assessment and reflections
Supporting Students who need Additional (outside class) Time & Support
  • Intensives
    • 4-8 day remediation courses
    • intense focused study on learning targets not met
    • students who don’t need these have menu of electives to choose from
    • earns back lost credit
    • involves 1-on-1 conferences, small group instructions, lots of formative feedback
  • Block seven
    • extra study hall period with teacher support
  • Mud season school
    • opportunity to earn 3’s on character learning targets and 2+’s on academic learning target
  • Summer standards intensives
    • See above.   Takes place in summer instead of school year.
  • Out of class tutorials
    • afterschool, before school, Saturday, etc

 

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Woah! This looks hard.  However some advantages I can see:
  • better communication of what students are actually learning
  • better means to target support
  • assessments that reward reliable knowledge built over time instead of averages over instances of learning that may or may not be reliable
  • clear separation between scaffolding, assessments and consequences (both good and bad) for academic and character learning targets
  • school-wide consistency on how grades are assigned
  • school-wide consistency on how students are supported in their efforts to achieve mastery
  • stronger professional culture in staff that emerges from school-wide agreements, training, & experimentation related to meaningful assessment practices

 

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Preparation Steps
  • Identify a team of guinea big teachers who are willing to commit to building prototype systems that lay the foundation for this strategy.  These systems:
    • break up courses into long term and supporting learning targets
    • establish agreements on high priority character learning targets and develop long term and supporting targets for these
    • define consistent means for assessing long term and supporting learning targets
  • Conducting classroom trials to test and refine these systems
Early Implementation Steps
  • Guinea pig team of teachers implement and refine prototype systems described above
  • Consolidate tested strategies into a Faculty Standards Based Grading Guide
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Wide implementation of Standards Based grading based on field guide and related professional development sessions
  • School-wide agreements are made and supported that relate to grading and support structures

 

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