Why activate students as learning resources for one and other?

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Activating students as instructional resources for one another is one of these.

The following information is from the following article Activating Learners as Instructional Resources.

Why should we develop our students ability to help other students?

  1. Motivation: The teacher structures the process so it is in a student’s interest to help others.
  2. Social Capital: Students perception of their value to others increases.
  3. Better Understanding: When you have to teach others, you have to understand an idea clearly. The stronger students improve by having to teach and the less competent improve because they have a second teacher.
  4. Activating learners as instructional resources for each other clearly helps learning in the short terms because it resolves questions more quickly and provides more feedback, both of which help learning right now.

Click HERE to read how questioning can help students be instructional resources for one and other.

Moving learning forward with feedback

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Providing feedback that moves learners forward is one of these.

The following information is from an article titled Good Feedback.

So what is it about quality feedback?

  1. Feedback that moves the learning forward is one of the most critical elements in improving learning.
  2. Nearly 80% of the feedback students get is from peers, and most of it is incorrect – Teach students how to give good feedback.
  3. Everything (feedback) is designed to grow learning – something like “good job” doesn’t do that.
  4. Designed to reinforce a growth mindset.
  5. Most useful when it comes from multiple sources (self, other students, teachers, outside experts) that know how to give good feedback.

Hear how Dylan Wiliam describes feedback. Watch his video HERE. Listen to him discuss how feedback should cause thinking, not be ego involving and create a growth mindset.


Why is it important to share and clarify learning intentions and success criteria?

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success is one of these.

The following information is taken from an article titled Learning intentions and criteria and Dylan Wiliam’s Embedding Formative Assessment.

Why is clarifying the learning intention a good idea?

  1. Because students are much more likely to achieve a learning intention they understand, ensuring the learning intention and criteria is very clear are really important.

How might this look?

  1. Provide models and samples so students can really see what this looks like and compare it to other students samples at their own level.
  2. Work together to make a list of what it would look like to meet the learning intention.
  3. Use student friendly language not curriculum (ACARA) language.
  4. There is no one right way to present learning intentions. Wiliam’s even suggests (pg 56 Embedding Formative Assessment) that sometimes it is not beneficial to tell the students what the lesson is about if that impacts on the way students will go about solving a problem, in say maths.

Click HERE to read about how the NSW Education Department suggests teachers go about presenting learning goals to their students.

Live Heart Rate Data

I have just purchased a set of 10 Polar H7 heart rate sensors to use with my PE students. These heart rate sensors bluetooth to the Polar Team app on my iPad which I project onto a big screen via an Apple TV. Everyone can then see what is happening to each students heart rate as they participate in the lesson. The display shows the name of the student, their heart rate and also the percentage of the students maximum heart rate they are working at (maximum heart rate is found by subtracting your age from 220).

Check out the video below showing the heart rate sensors in action. I have also included some screen shots of data captured by the Polar Team app. This data provides a great source of information for students to analyse.

Individual detailed results including the percentage of time spent in each training zone.

IMG_4070 IMG_4071

I am looking forward to using the app to help my year 11 and 12 students develop their knowledge of acute responses to exercise and how the energy systems interplay with each other during a sporting activity. If anyone else at PBAS is keen to use them just ask. A great way to get students interested in their hearts and whats happening when they exercise while generating “real” data for a maths lesson.

The positive impact of self assessment

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies for Assessment for Learning. Activating students as owners of their own learning is one of  these. How often do we get our students to reflect on their learning asking them to self assess on a regular basis? How worthwhile is it to do this?

The following information is from a blog post titled Self-Regulation of Learning Leads to Student Performance Improvement written by Kelly Goodrich. This can be read in full here.

  1. For students to become actively engaged with the learning process they need guidelines and opportunities to learn and engage in self-assessment.
  2. Engaging in the process of thinking about and assessing their own learning and then using feedback to improve requires students to take responsibility for their learning.
  3. Students who are provided with regular opportunities and encouragement to engage in self-assessment are more likely to attribute their learning to internal beliefs  i.e they feel they can impact on their own learning through effort and study (growth mindset).

Click HERE to see how one teacher scaffolds to help her students to self assess.

Book Creator – A great app for presenting student learning

If someone asked me to list my top five apps to use in the classroom I would definitely include Book Creator. It is one of the most versatile and easy to apply apps for learning. An app that allows student to create interactive multi media books, journals, stories, instructional books for any subject or topic, research assignments, photo books, individual learning portfolios and document whole class learning (Jackie’s hatching chickens program for example). The list is limited only to your imagination.

Click here to select from 65 videos showing how educators have used Book Creator in the classroom to assist student learning. The Book Creator team have compiled these videos from around the world to promote the Book Creator app on their You Tube Channel (two of my videos are in the list – exciting for me anyway).

I have selected two videos to post here to give you a taste of what can be found in the Playlist compiled by the Book Creator team.

Was videoing my own teaching useful?

Recently I published a post titled Ever thought of videoing a lesson? This motivated me to video a lesson of my own and watch it back and reflect on aspects of my teaching.

Using an iPad and tripod set up in the gym I videoed my Year 1/2PE class. I was very aware of not making this lesson any different to what I would normally do and once the lesson began I forgot about the iPad altogether.

Year 1/2 PE Lesson Review – Focus use of time

45 minute Lesson: Just Dance, Humans and Crabs (cooperation/teamwork) and 4 v 1 throwing and catching activity.

My focus was to use the video to determine active v inactive use of time during the lesson.

Below is my breakdown of the lesson with time and activity listed.

Activity 1
2:30min – Time spent starting lesson/role/setting up
3:30min – Just Dance
Activity 2
5:22min – Explanation Humans and Crabs game, student discussion around themes used in the game – team work, tactics and safety.
1:25min – Playing Humans and Crabs. Start of game 1.
2:16min – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
58 sec – Playing Humans and Crabs.
1:02min – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
50 sec – Playing Humans and Crabs.
1:13min – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
30 sec – Playing Humans and Crabs.
1:47min – Stopped for a chat. End of game 1.
56 sec – Human Crabs start of game 2.
20 sec – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
1:04min – Playing Humans and Crabs. End game 2.
Activity 3
6:16min – Setting up and explanation of 4 v 1 throwing and catching activity a game we had not done before.
2:17min – Playing 4v1 activity
1:05 – Stopped for chat (questioning/use of space/importance of moving into space).
1:42min – Playing 4v1 activity.
30 sec – Stopped for chat (questioning/use of space/importance of moving into space).
1:57min- Pack up.
  • Active time – 13 min (29%)
  • Inactive time (teacher talk/setting up activities/packing up activities) – 24 min (53%)
  • Other – 8 min (18%) (this involved picking up the class from their room ensuring students had water bottles and walking over to the gym and other incidental tasks i.e. students going to the toilet at the beginning of the lesson)

Observing that students were active for only 29% of my class was a little demoralising and has made me rethink how I go about structuring this class in the future. Unfortunately as teachers we often speak too much which impacts in two major ways:

  1. We don’t give students enough time to learn/practice independently or with peers.
  2. Students switch off and don’t listen or take in what we say because we are giving them too much all at once.

Class discussion, having students put forward ideas and sharing solutions is all important but should not outweigh students learning through being physically active during a PE class.

So what do I take from all this?

Inactive time (teacher talk/setting up activities/packing up activities, 24 min 53%) – It is my “interrupting” of activities that I need to modify so that I do not take up so much of the students “active” time. From the video I noticed that I interrupted games at regular intervals to discuss how things can improve and question students. These chats went longer than the active game periods! This is something I know that I do quite a bit in practical lessons (particularly the younger students) and is certainly something I could limit therefore increasing the amount of active time available to students. I need to develop my ability to get my message across to students clearly and succinctly.

This lesson was fairly typical in terms of structure. Without knowing for sure I believe I spoke more during this lesson than I normally might because I reintroduced a game we had not done for a while (Humans & Crabs) and introduced a new activity the students had had no experience with (4v1 throwing and catching).

Other (8 minutes 17%) – I should be able to tidy up this use of time. I can become more efficient at getting students from the classroom to the gym and then dealing with the “Can I go to the toilet?” question. Quite often we do a Just Dance activity to get the lesson going and maybe having this set up to run while students are going to the toilet and while I do the role is a way of getting students active quicker.

This reflection is based on a single video. I intend to video a range of lessons to get a more accurate picture of my teaching and how I might continue to improve.

This process was:

  • easy to set up
  • non invasive
  • helpful for me to view and reflect on my own teaching in my own time
  • not dependant on another teachers time (although I would like to bring in my line manager as part of the process).

I encourage others to consider the following questions:

  • Have you ever seen yourself teach before?
  • What would you find if you videoed your lessons?
  • Could this method of classroom observation assist your teaching?

Professional Reading from Twitter Part 7

Reading number 1

Blog: staffrm

Blog post: The writing on the wall

Posted on Twitter by @C_Hendrick

Reading number 2

Blog: chronotope

Blog post: The scourge of motivational posters and the problem with pop psychology in the classroom

Posted on Twitter by @C_Hendrick

Reading number 3

Blog: My Island View

Blog post: Don’t Argue For Your Limitations

Posted on Twitter by @TurraNick

Ever thought of videoing a lesson?

During the holidays I came across this video on the Teaching and Learning in South Australia You Tube Channel. The video shows how a teacher has used video to help her evaluate her teaching practice. It struck a chord with me making me realise that while others have seen me teach I have never seen myself teach and that perhaps I should.

I know that listening back to myself speak has in the past been a powerful reminder to me how much I use the word “um”. In the video I did explaining how to use Clickview Online (posted on here last term) I said the word “um” on average every 8 seconds. It was so bad that I edited it out before posting it. If listening to a recording of how I speak allows me to easily pick up something like saying the word “um” repeatedly then I wonder how powerful it might be to record my lessons and then use that video to self reflect on my teaching?

My intention is to video some of my own lessons in the near future and see if I am able to get useful feedback about my teaching by watching myself teach. I would like to post and share what I find as a follow up to this post.