Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 things we all need to agree on to move #edu forward...

Something that is difficult vs. something that is rigorous...

Asking students to write down and spell all 50 states on a blank map is going to be difficult for most students. Though difficult, this task is not rigorous.

A rigorous assignment would be... collaboratively design and create a presentation focusing on one of the major events in America's history that has affected and/or played a significant role in our current 50 state structure. Be prepared to present this to your classmates and be able to justify/explain why this particular event was so significant in America's history.

Rigor is about complexity and depth. Rigor is about skills that are transferable to other content areas and beyond. Rigor allows for multiple correct answers and rigor is NOT about doing more of something, it's about appropriate level of challenge for each student.

What is differentiated instruction really?

  1. Differentiated instruction is a teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms (Tomlinson, 2001).
  2. Think of differentiated instruction as making the learning experience personalized and customized for each student every single day during every single activity.
How important is class time over the course of a school year?

You teach at least 6 classes or 6 hours a day (this accounts for both elementary and secondary teachers). Imagine each 1 hour block takes about 5 minutes to get started and ends about 5 minutes early.  

This means that roughly 10 minutes out of every 60 minutes are underutilized. Over the course of the day, this means that roughly 60 minutes out of every 360 minutes are not spent learning.
Over the course of a typical 5 day week there will be 300 minutes not spent learning out of a total 1,800 potential learning minutes.

Over the course of a typical school year of 174 school days there will be 10,440 minutes not utilized for learning. Let's be realistic and cut that number in half because we all know there are assemblies and other events that cut into learning time throughout the school year. That leaves us with 5,220 minutes of time not spent learning.

5,220 total underutilized minutes divided by a typical 360 minute school day = 14.5 days (or almost 3 weeks) per school year we are letting slip through our fingers. 

The value of an assessment lies only in what is done with the feedback/data as a result of the assessment...

If we aren't doing anything with the feedback/input we are getting from the assessments our students are doing, then we are wasting our time and their time. If we aren't allowing our students to do anything with the feedback/input they are getting from their assessments, then we are missing out on a huge opportunity for student empowerment as part of the learning process.

Frequent, timely, specific & constant feedback is the most important factor in improving student learning and educator effectiveness...

Hattie's research is quite clear on the positive effects of feedback in the educational setting. This goes for not just students, but also educators. It's also worth noting that for feedback to be effective, students and educators both need to see it as formative in nature and not summative. Read more here about the powerful effects of feedback: http://goo.gl/z8NxU9