Revisiting Learning Design

I thought I would take some time to revisit Learning Design. Our teaching lives are complex and time poor but it is important to stop sometimes and reflect back on things we have learnt and attempted to apply to our teaching practice. Learning Design is one of these things.

We had the opportunity last year to look at Learning Design in some detail however this year we have not had the opportunity yet to revisit it. My personal attempt to go over the concept of Learning Design and how it applies to my planning, teaching and assessing was to create a set of posters which made me think about each of the aspects of Learning Design. The second purpose for creating these posters was so that I could share them with you. Today I am going to share the one I made which is an overview of all 6 areas of Learning Design. I will share the others with you over the coming weeks/months in the hope that you might reflect on where your strengths and weaknesses are in using Learning Design as a basis for the teaching and learning cycle.




All information in the posters is taken from the Learning Design documents created by the DECD Teaching and Learning Services. Click here to visit the site.

Assessment For, As and Of Learning

Detailed learning design1

Box four in the Learning Design Framework asks us to consider: What evidence will enable us to assess the intended learning? To do this effectively we need to have a solid understanding of different types of assessments and their purpose. To assess effectively we need to ensure that we collect a range of assessment types and that we are giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning of a concept.

Assessment For, As and Of learning helps us to determine the purpose of assessment.

View the presentation and video and then answer the questions below in the comments section of this post.

Presentation on Assessment For, As and Of Learning

Dylan Wiliam – Assessment For Learning (formative learning)

Staff activity

1. Think of an activity that you have done with your students and briefly explain this activity/task/concept (1-2 sentences)

2. Consider and then list the “Types of Evidence” that you have (or will have) collected to assess this activity/task/concept.

3. What has been the purpose of the assessment? Assessment For, Of and As learning. Have you covered more than one assessment purpose?

4. Do you focus on one type of assessment more than another ie most of my assessment falls into the Assessment For and Of Learning with less in the Assessment As Learning.  I need to try and get my students considering how they learn and assist them to self reflect and question what they are learning.

5. How do you collect and build a picture of student learning? Do you use a take home book with work samples, a portfolio folder, a digital portfolio, a filing cabinet containing work samples etc?

Learning Design – What do the students bring?

Having looked at Learning Design earlier this year it is important that we continue to work with, explore and discuss this process as a staff. My intention is to have 15-20 minute spotlights regularly (semi-regularly) at staff meetings to allow for some discussion and develop our knowledge of the Learning Design process further. The information below is from our staff meeting (2/8) this week when we looked at and were reminded about the importance of considering what the students bring and how this should influence our planning. The key points for this presentation were taken from the TfEL Framework in particular 4.1 build on learners understandings.



PBAS Student Free Day – Friday 17th May

This post is for PBAS staff with regards to the student free day to be held on Friday of week 3, term 2 at PBAS. This day will be focusing on Learning Design and Comprehension (questioning & inferencing). Ali Newbold and Trish Boschetti have been a part of the planning for this day and will be joining us on the day to assist with its running.

The day will provide staff the opportunity to learn about how to improve their planning/programming process through the use of Learning Design and also give staff the opportunity to work with Ali on our Site Improvement Plan goal around comprehension (inferencing and questioning).

Learning Design – some teachers will be familiar with this process and used it to varying degrees to program and plan. It is something that is a Regional focus and it is my understanding that it will be a part of the Regional student free day to be held Friday 7th June. Learning Design is a process that assists teachers with their ability to program and plan effectively (a core part of the teaching and learning cycle). Last year I wrote a series of posts on Learning Design. Click here if you would like to scan through these to find out more about Learning Design prior to the day.

Comprehension – as part of our Site Improvement Plan we have made a commitment to focus on comprehension and in particular questioning and the higher order thinking skill of inferencing.

Structure of the day

Teachers are asked to bring the following on the day:

1. A program that you are very familiar with (preferably a program you are running or will be running this year). This could be a program you have used or are intending to use later in the term/year. You will be using the Learning Design process to redevelop or develop this program.

2. Any resources that you require to assist you with your planning for that program.

3. The appropriate year level content, elaborations and achievement standards for the Australian Curriculum. If your subject area is not finished yet bring the draft paper for your subject area. You can access these documents online on the day. However, if the Internet goes down you will not have a key starting point for your Learning Design program. Organising a hard copy or downloading the PDF version onto your iPad may be worthwhile. This is very easy to do just ask if you are not sure.

4. The programing proforma that you want to use to plan your program on.

I hope this clarifies the intention of our student free day early term 2. If you have any questions let me know.

Learning Design Part 8

The information below is taken from the Leaders Resource – Getting Started developed by the Teaching and Learning Services team DECD.

This is the final post in the series on Learning Design. The sixth part to the Learning Design process is Design the teaching and learning plan.

The final part to Learning Design requires less explanation than the others, having said that it is extremely important. Designing the teaching and learning plan requires the bringing together of the main ideas from all the other parts. Having decided on what those key ideas are from parts 1-5 of Learning Design consideration can be given to:

• What planning is needed?
• What is the sequence of experience/tasks/opportunities?
• What resources need organising?
• What else?

Learning Design Part 7


The information below is taken from the Leaders Resource – Getting Started developed by the Teaching and Learning Services team DECD.

The fifth part of Learning Design is How will we engage, challenge and support their learning?


“Children and young people do what they see adults enjoy”. If we show passion, enthusiasm and a genuine interest in what we are teaching students are more likely to respond in kind than if we turn up to class negative and disinterested. Our level of motivation is often reflected back to us through our students.

Engagement could be described in two ways, compliance engagement and deep engagement. Considering these  I was confronted with the fact that mostly my classes are just compliantly engaged. My students turn up and do what they are told, complete tasks, engage in conversation and undertake my classes. Is this deep engagement? Probably not. Is it a higher level of engagement than classes whose students don’t comply, yes. According to David Price (Learning Futures Engaging Students, 2010) deep engagement encompasses the following:

• Cares not just about the outcome, but also the development of their learning
• Takes responsibility for their learning
• Brings discretionary energy to their learning task(s)
• Can locate the value of their learning beyond school and wishes to prolong their learning beyond school hours.
How many of us have students at the compliance end of the engagement continuum and how many do we have at the deep end? How we move students along this continuum requires us to continue to develop our pedagogy about how students learn, what engages them and how we will embed this in our day to day practice.

Challenge and Support

When we expect that we have an impact on student achievement, we are right. When we expect that we are impotent, we are also right.” Is every student challenged to reach his/her personal best or just those who ‘do’ school well? (TFEL Framework pg 41). It is often easy to move support away from those that don’t seem to want to help themselves and give that extra time to someone who demonstrates enthusiasm for the learning. We have a professional responsibility to push, extend and support ALL students no matter how hard this might be at times.

Can we engage, challenge and support every student all the time, maybe not. Should we aim to as often as is humanly possible, absolutely.

Things to remember when we are trying to engage, challenge and support students:

• How can we hook them in? (engagement that goes further than merely getting students to comply with our requests)
• How can we stretch all learners?
• What will be needed to ensure all learners achieve the intended learning?
Video – Engaging and Motivating Students

Learning Design Part 6

I would like to acknowledge that the information presented in this post and previous posts relating to Learning Design comes from the ‘Leaders Resource – Getting Started’ produced by Teaching and Learning Services DECD.

The fourth step in Learning Design is What evidence will enable us to assess the intended learning? Understanding if our students ‘have go it’ is crucial if we are going to accurately adjust our teaching and planning to suit the level of learning students are at. It is also vital if we are to accurately report to parents. To achieve this we need to assess students regularly.

Dylan Wiliams suggests that “When implemented well, formative assessment can double the speed of students’ learning“.

Just because we teach something does not mean students have learnt it!

Below is a great little script that demonstrates what happens when we don’t use effective formative assessment methods.

We ask, “Does everyone understand?”

We await the answer to come.

A lone voice says, “Yes”, and we accept that as

evidence that learning has occurred.

We move onto the next topic or concept, deluding

ourselves that all is right with the world.

Later, much later, we review the results of the latest quiz,

test, or essay, and shake our heads in wonder.

“I taught all this,” we say.  “Didn’t they get it?”



Important points regarding “What evidence will enable us to assess the intended learning?”

• Feedback should cause thinking and move the learning forward
• Do our assessment practices provide our students with multiple ways to demonstrate their understanding?
• What are the multiple ways learners can show their learning?
• Does the feedback cause thinking and learning dialogue?
• What opportunities are there for self and peer assessment?




Learning Design Part 5

Click to enlarge image.

Step 3 in the Learning Design process is ‘What could the intended learning look like at this level?’ This statement relates directly to the Australian Curriculum content. Whether we have vertically grouped classes or not, we need to ensure that we look at the scope and sequence of our subject areas to see how the learning looks across the year levels. To download the scope and sequence charts for subjects click here. This link will take you to the Australian Curriculum website page that enables you to download the Scope and Sequence documents for all AC subject areas.

Below are some questions we can ask ourselves in relation to ‘What could the intended learning look like at this level?’

  • What examples have we seen of high quality learning at this level?
  • How will students know what is high quality learning?
  • What does ‘at this level’ mean?
  • What intended learning is not evident in the achievement standard?

We are yet to work through some of these questions fully as teachers. There have already been some discussions around ‘moderation’ and looking at samples of work but we are yet to see samples of ‘high quality’ learning as part of this process (although they are supposed to be coming). The discussion around applying grades has also generated discussion and the term ‘at this level’ has teachers asking “How do I know the A I’m giving at this level is the same as the A being given by another teacher in another school?


There are two key points to remember that relate to ‘What could the intended learning look like at this level?’

1.Letting our kids in on the secret of what high quality learning is (make it clear by showing examples and explaining what demonstrates high level learning) AND

2. Not all of the intended learning is evident in the Achievement Standards in the Australian Curriculum (so don’t just rely on these to set your tasks for students).



Learning Design Part 4

The information below is taken from the Leaders Resource – Getting Started developed by the Teaching and Learning Services team DECD.

In the last post I talked briefly about finding out about student’s current knowledge of content (part 2 ‘What do they bring’). It is important however to remind ourselves that there is so much more that impacts on student learning than just students content knowledge. As teachers we must try to find out as much useful information out about our students as we can to assist us with teaching and designing new learning (making connections with students and not just teaching isolated ideas or concepts). Things that students bring to the classroom that impact on how they will learn include:

  • There personal view of themselves as a learner – is it from a fixed view of intelligence? i.e. I will not get any smarter, I will always be dumb or I enjoy learning new things, I know I can get smarter (see the two videos below).
  • What is going at home can impact on the learning that happens in the classroom.
  • Cultural experiences and perspectives.
  • Do they have the foundation they need to proceed? What is needed for them to proceed? i.e. appropriate research skills, debating skills, skills required for using technology software, time management skills, communication skills etc…..
  • Student’s perception of the teacher.
  • Learning styles and preferences.
  • Students bring different motivations? What challenges and motivates each student? Do they see challenges as opportunities to learn or do they shy away in fear of looking wrong?

Teachers have always understood that there are a wide range of things that impact on students learning. It is critical that we try to understand all knowledge/attitudes and misconceptions that students bring to the classroom. We should ask ourselves:

•What are the common patterns we have seen that learners bring?
• What are their existing understandings?
• What dispositions, experiences, questions do they have?
• What strategies capture and enable this?

Video 1: Carol Dweck talks about how some students are motivated by learning and not worried about how others perceive them. What are the things that these students bring to the classroom that give them this attitude towards learning?

Video 2: Dr Martin Westwall talks about Learner Self Theories (this video was taken from the TfEL DVD produced by DECD) . Does how a learner percieve themselves impact on their learning?


Video 1

Carol Dweck – Stamford University

Video 2 This video was taken from the Teaching for Effective Learning DVD produced by the Department of Education and Child Development.

Learning Design Part 3

Click on the diagram to enlarge.


The information below is taken from the Leaders Resource – Getting Started developed by the Teaching and Learning Services team DECD.


This is my third post on Learning Design. The first part of Learning Design is about What is the intended learning and why is it important? This requires teachers to have a good understanding of the content and aims of the curriculum they are required to use (the Australian Curriculum or SACSA). I won’t talk about this in this post as we are having these discussions about the Australian Curriculum while all staff should be very familiar with SACSA.

The second part of Learning Design is about What knowledge do students bring to their learning? How do we find out where students are at and what do we do if students are not where we think they should be? Do we push on? Or do we stop and make sure students understand? Below are a few ways in which we can test prior knowledge.

Ways to find out what students know:

Physical representations – In groups imagine being a (insert topic/idea/concept here). How can your group physically show this. Make a model.

Visual representations – Draw one or more (insert concept/idea here).

Analogy prompt – The (insert concept here)  are/is like ……………….. because ………………..

Traffic lights – (Insert statement based on concept here) AGREE (green), DISAGREE (red), NOT SURE (orange)

ABCD cards to check out misconceptions – example  –  When water freezes there is a decrease in (a) temperature (b) state (c) volume (d) substance. I think that the answer is…………. I think that because…………………………….. I figured this out by……………………..

Written tests

Questioning – individually or as a group

Group discussion – will allow teachers to get a feel for where the group is at, not necessarily individual students.

Using Activote devices with Promethean IWB’s

Use small whiteboards one per student (A4 size) – ask questions and have students write down answers and hold them up. Gives the teacher a chance to get an overview of student knowledge instantly.


View this short video of Dr. Thelma Perso talking about the importance of finding out what students already know and how this might inform the next step in your teaching.

Dr. Thelma Perso