Monthly Archives: January 2020

Blog of the Week: 31 January 2020 – 7 Rules of Rosenshine

Reflections on schools, teaching and education.

Last weekend we (United Learning) launched our Expert Teacher Programme. We are using Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of instructions as a core text for this course. At our launch I proposed 7 Rules of Rosenshine to support teachers in developing expertise through these principles.

Rosenshine Rule 1: Theories of teaching begin with theories of learning

Whichever Rosenshine paper we choose to read, from his classic 2012 PDF published in the American Educator, to the lesser known 1982 Instructional Functions paper, it’s clear that his guidance on teaching is rooted in his understanding of how we learn. We see this in these lines from his 1986 Teaching Functions paper:

“When too much information is presented at once, our working memory becomes swamped. This suggests that when teaching new or difficult material, a teacher should proceed in small steps and provide practice on one step before adding another. In this way, the learner…

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Blog of the Week: 24 January 2020 – Dual Coding and Learning Styles

Dual Coding and Learning Styles

By Megan Sumeracki

Dual coding and learning styles sound similar, but are not quite the same thing. While dual coding has scientific evidence backing its use, learning styles has been repeatedly tested and shown not to improve learning.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post (see here), I have been working with a team of learning scientists and teachers throughout the country to apply key evidence-based learning strategies in the classroom. Along with two high school teachers from Memphis Tennessee teaching Biology and English, we have been implementing dual coding.

Dual coding is combining words and visuals such as pictures, diagrams, graphic organizers, and so on. The idea is to provide two different representations of the information, both visual and verbal, to help students understand the information better. Adding visuals to a verbal description can make the presented ideas more concrete, and provides two ways of understanding the presented ideas. Dual coding is about more than just adding pictures. Instead, the visuals should be meaningful, and students should have enough time to integrate the two representations (otherwise, cognitive overload could occur, see this blog). There is scientific evidence backing dual coding, showing that …

 

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Blog of the Week: 17 January 2020 – Going Goal-Free During Formative Assessment

I’m making a simple modification to some of my formative assessment this semester. I’m incorporating the goal free effect. The concept behind this effect isn’t very tricky at all. Basically, instead of asking questions this way:

1. List and describe the function(s) of the following parts of the eye:

  1. Iris
  2. Cornea
  3. Retina
  4. Lens

I’ll simply ask this in this manner:

2. Tell me everything you can about vision.

This may seem like a somewhat negligible change, but the second option really provides a better opportunity for more working with the material to be retrieved from memory. With option 1, students have 4 very specific goals. Hopefully, students will know those four structures of the eye and their function(s). This is somewhat limiting. They will perform this task and nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, if they can do this, that’s fantastic…much better than not asking them to retrieve any information. But, with option 2, students may include the four structures and functions from option 1 and then also include more information; perhaps they also state the functions of the pupil, rods, …

 

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Blog of the Week: 10 January 2020 – Bigger Than Words – It’s Meanings We Need to Focus On

Last weekend, I did a session on vocabulary for a National Association of Advisors in English conference, in which I presented a range of arguments, some of which I have already shared in previous blogs and in different contexts, some of which I have developed further. In brief here are some of the arguments I put forward.

  1. The ‘30 million word vocabulary gap’ research should no longer be used to argue for more work on vocabulary in classrooms. It dates from 1995, has been comprehensively critiqued for its limited size and methodology and its claims have not been replicated since. Indeed, the most recent attempt to repeat its work (by Sperry, Sperry and Miller), with a more legitimate methodology, failed to deliver the same results. There is much new research too on the greater significance of the quality of interaction as opposed to quantity of words in the early years (Dr Jill Gilkerson, Dale Walker and others).
  2. Even if it did have any credence, what would its value be in relation to older students? Even if one thought it might have any value, the Hart Risely study was focused only on children of 7 months to 3 years old and their learning of language in the home. This should not be uncritically extended to relate to the language of …

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