Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Successful Learning and Momentum

Education specialists all over the world describe the essence of good teaching as something measurable, tangible, visible. Success is not a mystery. Students can show what success looks like. Teachers can have conversations around student success. How does this occur; how do teachers talk about what good teaching looks like? As we all strive to improve our craft, how do we go about encouraging positive peer interaction, protocol for discussion -- online and face to face? Like anything new, we must be explicit, straightforward and clear to to the point where the success criteria is obvious.

This involves much more than simply posting objectives on the board. Learning outcomes need to be part of individual student's goal setting. As we design learning opportunities to meet the needs of our individual students, we need to include the students in the design process. After all, what is our end game -- to push student learning into the zone of proximal development, to remove scaffolds, teach metacognition and academic independence, guarantee student success, to remove labels so that students will have a growth mindset, establish a safe learning environment where students can and should take risks, make mistakes, and grow learners.

As John Hattie explains in his latest publication, Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning, thinking is hard work. No learner naturally chooses to think independently. This is why questioning, having deep conversations, debating, making comparisons and digging deeper is so important for all learners! My team and I believe that promoting wonder is one of the secrets to making students engaged stakeholders in their own learning.

eWISE is an inquiry learning process, where students choose the direction of their learning based on interests, questioning, natural curiosity and exploration. The cyclical process includes developing strong questions based on wonder. Students want to know more, want to learn, read, research, discover, think. They investigate independently, collaboratively and with teacher support. Synthesis is where the thinking comes in. Students decide what information is important enough to express, to share, to solve problems; and throughout the process learners evaluate. They evaluate their own thinking; they evaluate the information they discover. Peers and teachers provide evaluative feedback, ask questions and display genuine interest in the information the students are sharing and applying. To learn more about the eWISE model, visit the ITLMS website.