02 March 2015

Items to Share; 1 March 2015

Education Focus
  • Learning is invisible – my slides from #LEF15 | David Didau: The Learning Spy 'If we want students to truly understand anything more than the superficialities of our teaching then we need to stop trying to rush them through liminal space. The false certainty of easy answers – successful in-lesson performance – might actively be retarding learning. But we have a problem: we’re genetically predisposed to avoid uncertainty. In our primitive ancestors, if it looks like a duck or, more to the point, if it looks like a snake, we’re better off assuming it’s a snake rather than having an ontological debate. It’s easy to see how a preference for dithering might quickly have been selected out of the gene pool.'
  • See also: Landmark: a million thank yous | David Didau: The Learning Spy 'All this reading and thinking has led me to challenge some of the axioms of modern education. If learning is invisible then maybe progress in lessons might also be a myth? And if that’s true, where does that leave assessment for learning? And possibly feedback, long considered the king of all education interventions, might be widely misunderstood and misapplied'
  • Donald Clark Plan B: What can we learn from the Million dollar teacher? 'In terms of learning theory his method could be summed up as the use of a blended learning that includes lots of ‘elaboration’ to improve retention and recall. He is optimising his blend, matching optimal elaboration with the learning outcomes. For simple naming the learners stand and chant the structure using their bodies and arms as cues. For processes, they line up and move around. For chemical interactions, they start to interact with each other in groups.'
  • Expert in a year | Living and teaching in Spain | The Echo Chamber 'An intriguing project that has been getting attention on the Internet recently looks at what is possible in just one year. Under the title “Expert in a year” a table tennis coach by the name of Ben Larcombe has taken a young protege, Sam Priestly, and set off on a twelve month project to try and place that player in the top 250 players in England. The composite video that records the project is compelling viewing. '
  • Teachers show bias to pupils who share their personality 'The more similar the personalities of teachers and their pupils, the more likely the teachers are to grade them highly, according to new research from Germany. The findings again open up the debate around the subtle biases teachers have about their pupils and how important it is to try and minimise their impact on children’s progress through school.'
  • Outcomes, Evidence and Assessment | Sam Shepherd  'Perhaps we need to turn our back on the input/output behaviourism of the learning outcome. Forget SMART and be a little more laid back. Unfortunately, this doesn’t fit in with the prevailing educational wind in post 16 learning in the UK. But then, one of the challenges of teaching ESOL in an FE context that we are a bit of a misfit, lauded and celebrated when colleges want to brag about their diversity, but in terms of funding, time tabling and classroom practice, we are a bit of a pain. But then I wouldn’t have that any other way.'
  • Pedagogical thoughts from the ski trip | Mr Shepstone's Blog '[W]e are often told that students need to be progressing onto more and more challenging work each lesson, or the students won’t be making progress. Yet here was a group who spent 2 days (12 hours!) doing things that they had done before. Surely that isn’t right? Well…by day 6 it absolutely was.'
  • The Ladybird Peter and Jane – A Social History | The Dabbler 'Do the words ‘Peter and Jane’ take you back to a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic place in your memories? The rose-tinted hues of distant childhood? Or do they remind you of the horrors of primary school, of being tortured into reading by the terrible two (and Pat the dog). Apparently over 80 million of us have learnt to read with Ladybird’s Peter and Jane books . And some of the books are still in print; I still see them for sale in my local bookshop. Based on Head Teacher William Murray’s system of teaching reading, the Key Words scheme is founded on a recognition that just 12 words make up one quarter of all the English words we read and write and that 100 words make up a half of those we use in a normal day. Teach children these key words first, and they are well on the way to making some sense of most texts. So, step by step, page by page, these words are introduced and repeated (one might say hammered) to reinforce them as the length and difficulty of the texts increase'
  • Can we teach intelligence? [theconversation.com] '[T]eaching and instruction in the 21st century should focus more on cognitive flexibility, on problem-solving and on those aspects of intelligence that are amenable to change. There are numerous ways to do this. These include teaching students strategies to increase self-monitoring and evaluation during problem-solving, or using teaching methods that facilitate deep rather than shallow understandings of the structure that underlies new problems.'
Other Business
  • The happiness conspiracy: against optimism and the cult of positive thinking (Bryan Appleyard) Optimism is a pressure – it is stress-inducing and intelligence-lowering. Pessimism is a release: it is relaxing and mind-expanding. Read the Book of Ecclesiastes (“To every thing there is a season”) or Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (“The Bird of Time has but a little way/To fly . . .”) to see how beautiful and peaceful zero expectations can be. And remember, when John Lennon wrote “It can’t get much worse” he was, I am sure, being ironic. Of course it can, it always can.' 
  • Bayes' Theorem with Lego — Count Bayesie 'Bayes' Theorem is one of those mathematical ideas that is simultaneously simple and demanding. Its fundamental aim is to formalize how information about one event can give us understanding of another. Let's start with the formula and some lego, then see where it takes us.' 

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