Pedagogical Effectiveness: How do teachers measure their impact on student learning?

Pedagogical Effectiveness: How do teachers measure their impact on student learning?

In the first post of this series exploring the IOI Process, I argued that pedagogical quality was a better measure than teacher quality. In this post I intend to explore how considering pedagogical effectiveness can enable us to understand, and measure the impact of our pedagogical approach.

While some researchers and teachers believe that certain activities have can be said to universally work or not work, for example Visible Learning suggests classroom behaviour matters while class size doesn’t. The IOI approach views understanding and measuring what works as being less universal and more contextual. While our unique definition of pedagogical quality does consider the unique needs of our students, having a more precise understanding of student development will enabled us to also measure the effectiveness of our pedagogical approaches in our unique context.

Following on from the previous blog post exploring learning mathematics, in this post we will explore how students develop as mathematicians.

So how do students develop as mathematicians?

Sure we could create a curriculum, identify progression points, number levels and use tick lists to try to understand how students development as mathematicians against these. Of course, we’d need to hope that we’ve covered them all of the important stuff, and hope that what is important doesn’t ever need to change. Sadly, that’s what we usually do. It’s beyond the scope of this post to debate how well our curriculum can assess student learning, what is for certain using a curriculum to measure pedagogical effectiveness is almost impossible.

A better way to understand the pedagogical effectiveness of our mathematical approach is to consider the developmental stages of learners, as they develop as mathematicians. Note this post is not intended to be an exhaustive exploration of the developmental stages of learning mathematics, rather it is intended to illustrate how educators can understand student learning developmentally.

Students arrive at school either as non mathematicians with little or no number sense or as early mathematicians who are able to identify patterns and use logic to make judgements and inform their questions. Over time non mathematicians develop as early mathematicians who then use concrete materials which enable them to use precision when sorting, selecting and classifying when completing puzzles and other maths based activities.

Early mathematicians further develop into competent mathematicians who use mathematical symbols, logic and reasoning to make decisions and solve increasingly complex problems and puzzles. The use of mathematical notation is often supported with concrete materials, as competent mathematicians often lack the confidence and the ability to deduce for themselves whether their thinking is correct.

development1

 

Next competent mathematicians develop into able mathematicians who use mathematical symbols and language to represent and understand the logic of mathematical problems and puzzles. They are to recognise relationships between various mathematical concepts. They can work through the logic of their solutions and justify they the mathematical decisions that they make.

development2

Expert Mathematicians develop a sense of mathematics that enables them to make predictions that are fairly accurate, as well as recognising the accuracy of these predictions. They use reasoning and mathematical knowledge to solve problems using new methods.

 

By looking at the development of non mathematicians through to expert mathematicians, it is clear that the same pedagogical approach, for example, would be likely to be effective at helping students develop from non-mathematicians to early mathematicians as from competent mathematicians to able mathematicians. For example, stories, songs, play and other highly tactile experiences are typically used to help students develop from non mathematicians to early mathematicians. Obviously, using stories, songs, and play would not be the most effective pedagogical approach to help students develop from competent mathematicians to able mathematicians.

To understand pedagogical effectiveness we need to understand the development stages of our students. In the next blog post in this series I will demonstrate how a the IOI Learner Development Profile can be used to create development profiles for any learning and teaching approach and in turn how this understanding can help us measure pedagogical effectiveness.

 

 

Teams at the IOI Weekend will use pedagogical effectiveness to understand, measure, discuss and design innovation learning and teaching practice.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

Photo credit: Math Mania at East Chilliwack Elementary by University of the Fraser Valley CC By 2.0

Seven Approaches to Learning Mathematics

This blog post is a long excerpt from a forthcoming book that will explain the IOI Process, it is long for a blog post so feel free to skip through and only read the approaches that are of interest to you. Obviously these are my interpretations of the various approaches and how they might be described using the Modern Learning Canvas. The aim of the post is to give you an appreciation of how the Modern Learning Canvas enables educators to develop a sophisticate pedagogical understanding that enables them to understand, discuss, and design innovative pedagogies.

In my previous blog post I shared how the IOI process helps educators move from an everyday folk pedagogical understanding to a more sophisticated understanding of pedagogy.

 

Before I delve into the learning and teaching of mathematics, I do want to make the point that the Modern Learning Canvas is not restricted to building pedagogical intelligence in traditional settings. Learning models visualised using the Modern Learning Canvas are not just restricted to traditional subject and age based classroom organisation. This chapter could be exploring the teaching of any other subjects, or any other pedagogical approaches and the methodology would remain the same. Indeed, the creation of the Modern Learning Canvas was as a direct need for schools and teachers to have tools and processes that allowed them to explore innovative learning and teaching approaches. Representing mathematics as an isolated subject is purely for the purpose of illustrating how the Modern Learning Canvas can be used to visualise and understand a learning model, nothing more and nothing less. Nor are these seven approaches the approaches to the learning and teaching of mathematics, I could’ve also described game-based learning anyone, simulations, … maybe in the next edition!

 

Approach 1: Instructional Teaching

The traditional approach to the learning of mathematics occurs when learners are guided through a set curriculum of mathematical concepts by an expert educator.

What do we see when we enter a classroom using this approach?

We see student sitting either in rows, or in a semicircle configuration, enabling all students a clear view of the teacher at the front of the classroom. We see that the lesson begins with the teacher modeling a new concept, ensuring that she relates the new concept to concepts that have been previously learned. The teacher typically uses a whiteboard or similar to work through a brief series of examples in order to explain the concept to the students. The teacher will most like solicit ideas from students as the problems are demonstrated, to engage them in the mathematical concept and stimulate their thinking.

Once the teacher has satisfactorily modeled the concept, the students are given an opportunity to put their new knowledge into practice. This typically involves solving mathematical problems listed in their textbook, or on photocopied worksheets. Students work individually through these problems while the teacher roams around the classroom monitoring students so as to intervene as required. Students might also seek help from the teacher directly by raising their hand to request help when they encounter a problem that they are unable to solve independently.

To finish the lesson, the teacher will again address the whole class. At this time she will focus on addressing any questions or difficult problems that the students may have encountered, reinforcing the concept and the correct approach to solve them. The teacher will then likely set homework so that the students can further practice this new mathematical concept. Finally, at the end of the delivery of a unit of concepts, the teacher would conduct a test to gauge the level of learning of the students, results of which would most likely inform their final reported grade.

How might we represent the Teacher Instruction model using the Modern Learning Canvas?

approach1

Figure 3.1: Teacher instruction.

In Figure 3.1, you can how the major ideas of this model can be visualised. The first major idea is that learning is an individual cognitive process where repeated practice (both in class and for homework) is needed in order to consolidate knowledge. We see that independent work is valued, with rules that prohibit copying firmly in place. The responsibilities of the learners is limited to monitoring their own understanding, so as to ask for assistance when their understanding of the current topic is unclear.

The second major idea of the Teacher Instructional model is that for learning to be effective it must be structured and sequential. The teacher, with major assistance from the curriculum designer and the textbook author, determines the most appropriate sequence to deliver mathematical concepts. Additionally, when there is more than one way to solve a mathematical problem (and there invariably is) the teacher is the sole determiner of the most appropriate method. The teacher of mathematics must have strong content knowledge, so as to be able to provide clear accurate answers to any student questions.

 

Approach 2: Early Years Numeracy

The early years numeracy classroom shares some key components with teacher instruction classroom. Most notably the priority given to teacher sequencing and selection of mathematical concepts.

What do we see when we enter this classroom?

Instead of rows of tables seen in the instruction based classroom, we’ll see tables grouped together so that rather centred solely on the teacher the students can interact with each other as they learn. This differs greatly from the Instructional Teaching method, where students are more likely seated in rows, to ensure that their focus is on the teacher.

The hour long session begins with a modelling activity that lasts about ten minutes and includes questioning from the teacher to gauge how well students understand the concept and would usually reference previous concepts which are related and which the new concept builds upon.

Following the teacher-led modelling activity, the students are divided into their small groups of about five students each. These small groups are grouped according to mathematical ability and therefore the groups don’t change frequently, although they may when a topic ends and new topic starts. In this way, the students are used to working together and confident that their peers can provide them support so they can successfully complete the activity. Unlike the Teacher Led Instructional Approach, this main learning activity is more likely to involve learners using concrete materials, and simulations and games to explore mathematical concepts.

The Early Years Numeracy Model might therefore be visualised using the Modern Learning Canvas as follows:

approach2

Figure 3.2: Early Years Numeracy Model.

How does the Modern Learning Canvas help us to identify the key similarities and key differences from teacher instruction?

The key similarity between instructional teaching and the Early Years Numeracy approach is in the pedagogical belief that the learning of mathematics is most successful when the teacher sequences the concepts and the primacy of the curriculum. In both approaches, the teacher informed by a set curriculum and insight gained through previous lessons, sets the learning agenda and goals for each lesson. In both approaches, repeated practice is valued and assessment is directed by the teacher.

The strategies used by the learners are also similar in the two learning models, in both models the learners use similar strategies to seek help and ask when they identify that they require help. However, the Enablers that support these Strategies differ markedly. While the Instructional Teaching method relies on the teacher to mediate knowledge building conversations and provide help to the learners, the Early Years Numeracy Model allows learners to seek help from and provide help to learning peers. This difference is also identified by the Learner Role, Educator Role and the Culture of the learning model.

Assessment also varies slightly, while both models use testing at the end of of a topic to assess and rate student learning, a pre-topic test is often used by the Early Years Numeracy Model to assist teachers charged with forming the like-ability groups. This also highlights another key difference between the two learning models, in that one believes that all learners will operating at the same level, the other believes that in a classroom their will be students operating a various levels and that the curriculum should be adjusted by the teacher accordingly.

 

Approach 3: Play-Based Learning

Play-based learning models are used to allow learners to experience and explore a simulated learning experiences. For example, young children might explore mathematical concepts around money and transactions by playing shop.

What do we see when we enter this classroom?

We see a space in the classroom set aside for the shop, where the students can buy and sell goods that they create, assigning a price to their items, purchasing items using play money and calculating transactions using a cash register. We might see real world occurrences… too many of the same products which are priced too highly, and therefore do not sell. We might see other products quickly run out stock, as they become the must have item, and are affordably priced.

In such an environment, the children’s play will mimic the observed real life experiences that the children witness. As they play, they take on various roles of shoppers and store keepers, and as such the rules that dictate their play mimic real world rules. The students might bring in items from home to sell in the shop, or create items at school in order to sell them to their peers. The play elements are not competitive, there is no objective to win by amassing the largest amount of money. Testing is usually not used to assess play-based learning, rather documentation is used to identify and record learning as it happens, through photos, artefacts of play and the learners own words. Typically play-based learning such as this would happen over a longer period of time, at least a number of weeks, allowing the rules of the game to be modified as the players discover new insights of the game that they are playing.

A play-based approach to learning mathematics might therefore be visualised as:

approach3

Figure 3.3: Play-based Learning

The visualisation of Play-Based Learning through the Modern Learning Canvas clearly shows that this learning model is almost completely different to our two previous approaches. So much so that it is quite hard to know where to begin! The only similarity, is the with the priority placed on shared language and understanding related to the discovery around mathematics. Both the Early Years Numeracy Model and Play-Based Learning use whole class shared discussions in order for students to share their discoveries. Both these learning models believe that important mathematical concepts will be discovered through their activities, and that deeper learning results from understanding the experiences of other learners in addition to understanding your own experiences.

Of course the major difference between Play-Based Learning and our other two approaches is in terms of curriculum. Rather than a belief that curriculum being set by the Educator and sequential in form, this model views curriculum as emergent as it is discovered by the learner. Obviously when playing shop, it is expected that learners will encounter basic mathematical operations such addition, subtraction and multiplication, and this would be the major reason that the teacher chose the game. Yet the teacher does not expect that the curriculum needs to be encountered in a strict sequence as to understood by the students. As such it is very likely that these learners will encounter mathematical concepts, such as supply and demand, that traditional curriculums deem far outside their current ability.

A major responsibility of learners then is to question and explore, and to take creative approaches to playing the game. While there are rules, refer to the Policies component in Figure 3.3, these rules are flexible to the extent they can be changed to improve the game. To this end, a supportive culture is needed where a freedom to explore using a process of trial and error, as opposed to the repeated successful practice of our previous two approaches. To this end, the Educator helps guide the play, providing assistance and enabling students to experience success and solve their own problems.

 

Approach 4: Papert’s Mathland

Papert’s “Mathland,” which we briefly explored in Chapter One, has a lot in common with our Play-Based Learning approach. In Mathland students would learn mathematics as naturally as children who live in France learn French. Papert’s best example of what Mathland might look like is realised in the children’s programming language LOGO.

What do we see when we enter this classroom?

We’d see students programming LOGO on their laptops. They might be working individually or in pairs. We would see children trying to create with the LOGO turtle, we’d see failures and frustrations, and success and celebrations. Children would excitedly share their discoveries with their peers, and we would see them seek help from each other when they were stuck. The teacher would occasionally stop the class so a student could share what they had discovered was possible, so that the whole class could benefit from the discovery.

With LOGO children are encouraged to take on the role of the LOGO turtle, a programmable object, from which they can they explore a mathematical environment as the create and solve problems. Initially learners control their turtles using the programming commands, such as move forward and turn right, to simply explore what the turtle can do. In LOGO these explorations largely involve creating images and artworks based around geometric shapes, created by writing simple iterative programs. Empowered by this ability to write powerful iterative programs, define algorithms and develop theorems, these learners can then use LOGO to design experiments to solve problems and answer questions of the world outside the LOGO environment.

Immersive environments such as LOGO are seen as useful for learning in areas where it is otherwise dangerous or difficult to do so. Battlefield simulation are used by defence force personal where the potential for injury is high. Aircraft simulators are used by pilots to train for much lower costs. It has been suggested that World of Warcraft is a similar natural learning environment, but unlike LOGO which is designed for the exploration of mathematics, they point to how players who play in teams can explore and master leadership skills.

Papert’s Mathland might be visualised using the Modern Learning Canvas as follows:

approach4

Figure 3.4: Mathland

As you can see from the visualised learning model, Papert’s Mathland has many parallels with play-based learning. In both models, learner exploration and trial and error, and learner from and with peers feature heavily. These learning models are favoured by those that believe learning is not necessarily linear, and that outcomes should emerge as needed as being predefined. The sharing and celebration of discoveries and learning is also crucial to both models, so that learners can not only build upon their own knowledge but also the shared knowledge of their peers.

The Educator Role is similar to their role in the Play-Based Learning model, in that their role is to support and guide the exploration of Mathland. The Educator helps facilitate whole class sharing and language as it emerges, as opposed to directing it in the Teacher Instruction model. They follow what their students are doing, looking for breakthrough opportunities to celebrate. As such the Learner’s Role requires them to playfully explore, taking on the role of the LOGO turtle. Rather than look to the teacher or their peers for direction, these students need to be self motivated and self directed in their explorations of what the LOGO turtle can do.

The nature of the LOGO environment, with its fixed rules based on mathematical concepts, means that the environment is not able to be modified and the rules and policies are not able to be as they can be in the play-based learning environment where rules are negotiated and governed by imagination. In this way, Mathland has narrower learning outcomes than play-based learning, with its focus on computational thinking and mathematics theorems, and less focus on social and other interpersonal skills.

 

Approach 5: Authentic Projects

If Papert’s Mathland is an attempt to allow learners to immerse themselves in an authentic mathematical world in which to explore mathematics, then the Authentic Projects learning model (for want of a better label) suggests that the real world is also useful for this.

What do we see when we enter this classroom?

We see students working individually or in groups, on hands on activities. We see them working on different projects and using different tools, some might be using multimedia, others writing, and yet others using concrete materials. Students interact with each other, asking for help and giving advice

Typically an Authentic Project would take the form of students, identifying a problem that needs to be solved, designing a solution for the problem, creating the solution and then finally presenting their finished solution. Usually, the teacher would define the scope of the problem and by doing so define a certain set of parameters that might be addressed as part of the problem and solution. Yet ultimately, the student or group of students make all of the decisions about the project

The teacher might offer structured learning opportunities to provide instruction on a topic or teach a skill. Non-negotiable instruction would cover content that the teacher decided their students should know about, while negotiated instruction would cover content students identified as being necessary for them to solve their problem. These negotiated and non-negotiated learning opportunities mimic professional learning in the workforce, where workers access structured learning opportunities, some at the direction of their employer and some based on their own assessment of their needs.

These non-negotiable learning opportunities would most likely contain mathematic concepts, where the teacher would introduce processes and tools which the students could then use in their projects. In this way, students would use mathematics in authentication situations to solve real problems. During the creation stage, the teacher supports and mentors their students, providing feedback and assistance, and identifying potential pitfalls.

An Authentic Projects learning model might be visualised using the Modern Learning Canvas as follows:

approach5

Fig 3.5 Learning Model depicting an Authentic Project

The Authentic Projects learning model is also similar to Play-Based Learning and Mathland, in its Strategies of discovery and trial and error. The Pedagogical Beliefs with a focus on experiential learning, and rejection of a strictly sequenced curriculum in favour of an emergent authentic curriculum is also similar.

We do however see some differences in the Learner Role and the Educator Role largely due to the removal of the artificial construct of LOGO and the rules of play. As such the student now has an expanded role and makes all major decisions about their learning, what problems they focus on, how they tackle the problem, and what is produced as the solution. As a consequence there is a very strong likelihood that the content of the problem may be outside of the teacher’s knowledge domain. Rather than providing scaffolding to understand the mathematical rules of the LOGO world, or the rules of the game of shop, the teacher now acts as a mentor and provides methodological guidance. The key is to help their students make better decisions through all facets of the project journey.

The Authentic Project model is unique in that it produces, a finite product that illuminates the success of the student’s learning. However, like Mathland and Play-Based Learning models the problem solving and project management competencies that the students display while solving problem, make up the bulk of the evidence of successful learning.

 

Approach 6: Massive Open Online Courses

Massive Open Online Courses are an attempt to cheaply bring scalable education to the masses. In chapter one, we had a brief look at Sebastian Thurn’s Remedial Math MOOC, and now we’ll return to explore how MOOCs might be used to learn mathematics.

MOOCs are designed to mimic the typical university course model but to leverage the scaling opportunities provided by being totally online. They have a prescribed curriculum that learners must work through, which is sequenced by the course lecturer and released to course participants week by week. Course participants are required to watch these videos during the week they are released, resulting in all participants engaging with the material at roughly the same time. Video lectures are generally shorter than would occur in an on campus course, with lectures generally under 30 minutes in length.

Lectures may be interrupted periodically by multiple choice questions which are used to assist the learner to self-assess their understanding. With the learner given immediate feedback on whether their answer was correct. Learners are also able to use the MOOC discussion forums to ask questions of other students and to generally engage in meaning making conversations. Assignments might be featured throughout the course, which form part of the final assessment. In the case of Udacity’s Remedial Math MOOC a final exam was used to assess student learning of the course content.

The MOOC learning model might be visualised using the Modern Learning Canvas as follows:

approach6

Fig 3.6 Learning Model depicting a Mathematics MOOC

The MOOC learning model shares some similarities with the first two learning models that we examined, Teacher Instruction and the Early Years Numeracy approach, in the priority of a set, sequenced curriculum. The lecturer is solely responsible for determining what their students need to know, and learning is seen solely as cognitive activity. Like the Teacher Instruction model, all students work on the same mathematical concepts at the same time. The weekly release of lectures means that students are not able to skip ahead in the course, nor are the able to slow the release of the weekly sessions without getting too far behind. Repeated practice is also valued, but this practice is performed in isolation from the teacher with sole responsibility on the learner to recognise and rectify any misunderstandings.

There is also a recognition that knowledge building conversation amongst peers is important for clarification and testing understanding, with the discussion forums provided for students to engage in these kinds of learning conversations. The educator doesn’t play any role in these discussion, which is in stark contrast to the Teacher Instruction model where almost all conversations go through the educator. Also, unlike the Early Years Numeracy model, there isn’t any importance placed on developing shared language and understanding. Individual understanding is all that matters, as they attempt to align their understanding with that of the course lecturer.

This learning model has the most learner autonomy of the seven approaches to learning mathematics that we’re exploring. Learners are responsible for auditing their own understanding, to re-watch video lectures if any concepts are unclear, and to identify when they need to engage in the discussion forums. Some MOOCs do employ tutors to monitor discussion forums and provide official answers as the need arises, but these are the exception and is only possible when the number of course participants is small.

 

Approach 7: Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an online video tuition website with over 6,000 short video lectures and over 100,000 practice problems. Although Khan Academy has been primarily designed for learners to learn mathematics independently, research into the use of Khan Academy in schools published in March 2014, shows that this is not how schools use it. For our visualising of how Khan Academy proposes that students learn mathematics we will focus on how the site intends people to use, rather than how schools are actually using it. For the Educator Role, Policies, and Pedagogical Beliefs, I will be considering Khan Academy the educator.

When a learner logs in to Khan Academy they are faced with a list of subjects with the question “What do you want to learn?” Learners can choose to learn Math, Science, Humanities, Economics and Finance, and Computer Science. Each of these is further divided into sub-categories. There are slightly different approaches that Khan Academy uses according to the different subjects. As we are investigating different approaches to learning mathematics, we’ll explore the subject of mathematics.

After choosing a sub-category the learner is presented with a series of pretest questions so that Khan Academy can identify what you already know. After completing the test your results are displayed reporting the various skills and their levels that the learner has mastered. From here the learner is presented with a list of skills which the learner can practice, alternatively the learner can search from the 482 mathematical skills that Khan Academy has identified.

When learning a mathematical concept or skill, learners are presented with questions which are then automatically assessed as right or wrong. A learner is said to have mastered a skill when they are able to correctly answer five questions in a row. Video lessons, which describe the process of the mathematical skill, are available for the learner to reference at any time.

The Khan Academy learning model might be visualised using the Modern Learning Canvas as follows:

approach7

Fig 3.7 Learning Model depicting a Khan Academy’s approach to learning mathematics

Like almost all of our learning models, except for Play-Based Learning and Mathland, the Khan Academy believes that mathematical knowledge needs to be sequenced by an expert in order for successful learning. It also views learning as a purely cognitive exercise, learners watch video lessons and then use their new knowledge to correctly answer questions. Mathematical concepts are seen as discrete units, which need to be repetitively practiced until their are mastered. All Khan Academy students learn the same concepts in the same way.

Unlike the MOOC learning model, learners do not have to audit their understanding, instead the Khan Academy questions give immediate feedback, notifying the student if they are right or if they are wrong. The dashboard displays their complete learning history, what they know and can do, and what they don’t know and can’t do. That said, learners can work at their own pace and re-watch video lessons for clarity in the same way that MOOC participants can re-watch the video lectures.

Khan Academy, in its role of the educator, is responsible for providing everything that the student needs. There is no scope for knowledge building conversations between other learners as shared knowledge is not valued at all. Learners do have some choice in what they learn, in that they can leave a mathematical skill without mastering it, and then return to it at a later stage.

 

Teams at the IOI Weekend will use the Modern Learning Canvas to understand, discuss and design innovation learning and teaching practice.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

Understanding the black box of learning and teaching

Understanding the black box of learning and teaching

Given that we now have clearly defined pedagogical quality, and recognised it as a meaningful measure of the worth of learning and teaching innovation, the next question most likely is… How do we do we best measure the pedagogical quality of learning and teaching?

To meaningfully measure pedagogical quality we need to understand the black box of learning and teaching. That is, we need to define the fundamental building blocks of learning and teaching that underpin every and all pedagogical models. Without an external framework to understand learning and teaching our understanding is intrinsically linked to our personal beliefs and experience, and entirely framed within our everyday teaching practice.

Without an external and inclusive pedagogical framework teachers develop their own kind of folk pedagogy, as they prioritise educational beliefs that appear to be the most important in their classroom. What they usually fail to consider is that these educational beliefs may not be viewed as important in other classrooms. The teacher who teaches using inquiry approaches frames their folk pedagogy within an inquiry framework. The teacher who teaches using instructional frames their folk pedagogy within an instructional framework. The teacher of students in the first years of school frames their folk pedagogy entirely differently to the teacher of students in the final years of school… you get the picture.

Within the narrow pedagogical setting of our school this individual folk pedagogy isn’t usually isn’t viewed as a problem. Teachers in a school who teach similar students using the same approaches can build a strong shared understanding of what is quality pedagogy in their classrooms.

Unfortunately a narrow folk pedagogy doesn’t work when teachers who teach different students using different practice try to understand and discuss learning and teaching. Even when they use the same words, words like feedback or outcomes, their usage is personally defined and their understanding limited to their own experience. Ask a hundred teachers to define inquiry or personalisation, for example, and you’ll probably get one hundred different definitions.

The limitations of folk pedagogy do however become apparent when teachers seek to explore pedagogical innovation. When teachers are limited to a pedagogical understanding that is formed only from their own singular experience, they run the real risk of excluding learning and teaching innovation that sit outside of these self-referential pedagogical experience.

Learning and teaching innovators usually choose to take one of three paths: 1) build on the current strengths of their current learning and teaching approach, 2) address the weaknesses of the current learning and teaching approach, or 3) modify a component of their current learning and teaching approach based on a new opportunity. With a self referential understanding of pedagogy building on strengths may be possible, but addressing weakness and modifying practice is much harder as the new opportunities most likely sit outside of the teacher’s everyday pedagogical understanding.

The IOI Process uses the Modern Learning Canvas to move from from folk pedagogy to a more sophisticated, inclusive understanding of pedagogy. The modern learning canvas enables teachers to understand the black box of learning and teaching by defining nine essential components of learning and teaching. It gives teachers a framework to separate pedagogical beliefs that impact student learning from other educational beliefs that do not.

It is essential that a shared pedagogical definition is not pejorative, but rather is inclusive of any and all learning and teaching approaches. This is to ensure that all teachers can accurately describe their pedagogical practice no matter whether their practice is highly teacher centric, highly student centric, or anywhere between. The IOI process in this way is a broad and inclusive church, seeking to provide teachers and schools with a process of learning and teaching improvement through innovation, as opposed to offering a set or specific learning and teaching approach.

As teachers develop a more sophisticated pedagogical understanding they are more likely to understand and assess the worth of new innovative opportunities that sit outside their current practice. They are also more likely to understand the impact that new innovative opportunities will have on student learning, and more likely to be able to make a compelling case for change. They are less likely to see learning and teaching as a mysterious black box!

 

 

Teams at the IOI Weekend will use the Modern Learning Canvas to understand the black box of learning and teaching, and to understand, discuss and design innovation learning and teaching practice.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

 

Photo credit: Emergence of mysterious Black Box – DDC_0210_800 by Thierry Ehrmann CC By 2.0

What should I expect from the IOI Weekend Melbourne Experience?

What should I expect from the IOI Weekend Melbourne Experience?

We have been writing posts about the theory behind the IOI Weekend, something we plan to continue right up to the event, but today I wanted to broaden the picture by describing the experience of IOI Weekend. Thanks to our venue sponsor New Era, we have an awesome space for the weekend, in North Melbourne with a short tram ride to the city circle trains, as well as ample parking out the front. We’ve engaged a number of speakers and mentors to help guide participants throughout the weekend, more announcements on this soon. We’ve taken what we and others have learnt about how successful learning and teaching innovation best happens and squeezed it into a powerful weekend experience of hands on learning.

The weekend is all about doing, while there is a fair bit of theory, only one of the activities is scheduled to take longer than 15 minutes. Short sharp 15 minute presentations that will provide teams with information of the process, but the learning doesn’t happen by listening, the learning happens by doing.

The doing and learning happens in teams. All participants will explore an new innovation idea in a team. You will work with this team throughout the weekend. That’s not to suggest that teams will be isolated from each other, there will be lots of opportunities for teams to share and test ideas on and with each other. In fact Friday night is all about getting to know the whole group and making connections, over drinks and nibbles, and a number of interesting activities.

Teams can pursue any learning and teaching innovation they chose. We don’t know what ideas teams will develop over the weekend. Maybe it will be ideas around authentic projects, game-based learning, maker movement, student voice, or something completely new, we don’t know, and that’s pretty exciting. What we do know is that teams will be taught a process to enable their ideas to be better realised, and taught how to identify and communicate the impact on student learning that drives the idea.

Teams will share and celebrate the results of their work. The IOI Weekend will conclude with every team sharing the results of their journey, their learning, and their ideas and plans for the future. This isn’t a competition, there are no prizes. Teams will be provided with feedback from a panel of experts, and from members of the other teams.

Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of the IOI Weekend experience. So, is IOI Weekend for you?

Experienced teachers should participate if they’re dissatisfied with their ability to adequately communicate why innovation in learning and teaching matters. The IOI Weekend provides a process to identify, justify, and measure the impact of their learning and teaching approach. As such, teachers who attend will be equipped to communicate more clearly the quality and impact of their innovative learning and teaching practice.

New teachers should participate if they lack confidence to adequately communicate why and how learning and teaching innovation is part of their role as a teacher. The IOI Weekend provides a process for developing, language for communicating, and a means for measuring the impact the impact of learning and teaching innovation. It will also equip you with some ideas of where to start, and connect you to a great group of similarly passionate educators.

School leaders should participate if they’re dissatisfied with their ability to adequately communicate the impact that learning and teaching innovation is making in their school. The IOI Weekend provides a process to identify, justify, and measure the impact of learning and teaching over time. School leaders seeking who attend will be better equipped to communicate, measure and report more clearly the impact that learning and teaching innovation is resulting in across their school, and make better decisions about future learning and teaching innovation opportunities.

 

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

 

Photo credit: Inside out Experience white water rafting Kananaskis Alberta Canada taken by Dave Bloggs CC By 2.0

How do teachers best decide which learning and teaching innovations to pursue?

One of the biggest challenges for teacher innovators is deciding which compelling opportunities to pursue.

For some the low hanging fruit, the opportunities that present quick, relatively easy wins are the most appealing. A decision to pursue the quick win of low hanging fruit often arises from a need to bring others on side, to prove to them the importance of pursuing innovation. Quick wins are quick wins, because they usually don’t need much effort to convince others that they will lead to benefits for student learning, they’re also quick wins because they’re almost certainly guaranteed to work. Of course, focussing on the quick wins can be counter productive in the long term, especially if the focus is solely on pleasing school leaders and other teachers rather than increasing student learning outcomes.

Still the question must be asked, if you’re not focussed on quick wins, how do you decide what learning and teaching innovations to pursue? Given the never ending invention of new technologies, new apps, and new websites, not to mention the different learning and teaching approaches… challenge-based learning, project-based learning, problem based learning, game based learning, this and that based learning (there is even zombie based learning, look it up) how do teachers make the best decisions about which innovations to pursue?

Lately, I’ve been increasingly seeing the usefulness of teacher innovators developing an innovation thesis. Borrowed from Trevor Owens and Obie Fernandez’s book The Lean Enterprise, an innovation thesis is a short statement describing the types innovations that a teacher innovator recognises as worth pursuing.

Great, but how do teacher innovators write an innovation thesis?

The answer lies in our definition of pedagogical quality, a definition of pedagogical quality that is unique to our individual setting. If our definition of pedagogical quality is appropriate of understanding and measuring the impact of learning and teaching, then by implication it is also useful for setting the scope for learning and teaching innovation. Basing your innovation thesis on your definition of quality pedagogy also makes it very easy to articulate the importance and power of the innovation.

If you haven’t read the post on Defining Pedagogical Quality, now is a good time to do so.

A good innovation thesis therefore considers the four dimensions of pedagogical quality, educational goals, teacher role and moral purpose, student needs, and compelling opportunities. A bad innovation thesis is usually bad because it doesn’t consider all four dimensions. A bad innovation thesis, for example, might focus solely on the compelling opportunity such as a new technological device without considering how it fits with the educational goals, teacher role, or student needs. A bad innovation thesis might focus solely on the educational goal without considering the impact on students and teachers.

Once teacher innovators have developed a clear and concise innovation thesis, deciding on which innovation opportunities to explore and pursue becomes much easier as they can use their thesis to evaluate the merit of new technologies, new learning and teaching approaches, and other innovations.

Of course, this approach to evaluating innovation opportunities should still have flexibility. If a compelling opportunity outside the scope of the innovation thesis presents itself, you should still go for it. However, if this is happening too often your innovation thesis probably needs re-evaluating.

Teams at the IOI Weekend will create their own innovation thesis which they will use to guide their innovation across the weekend.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

 

Photo credit: Directions taken by Peat Bakke CC By 2.0 

A quick case study using the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework

A quick case study using the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework

In yesterday’s post I outlined the IOI pedagogical quality framework. In today’s post I will use the IOI pedagogical quality framework to retrospectively define pedagogical quality at a school at which I taught. Note: it has been more than six years since I taught at this school, and therefore this most is not meant to describe the school’s current beliefs about what constitutes pedagogical quality. Also, my views are a singular view based on my experience, there are many aspects of student learning that occurred off campus that I was not involved in.

This school was a specialist school for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities in Melbourne’s north.  I was employed as the ICT Leader, and it was my role to promote technology-based innovation across the school. You can read about some of the things we did in the document Concord School Web-Based Social and Collaborative Learning.

Using the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework how would I describe pedagogical quality that I was advocating? Let’s explore each of the four dimensions:

1. Educational Goals
In Victorian schools at the time the Victorian Education Learning Standards set the curriculum. Given our school cohort, we also created extra lower levels to complement the VELS for english and mathematics. That said, curriculum goals that covered skills, competencies and ways of thinking were given a lower priority than they are given at most mainstream schools. Developing students as creative individuals wasn’t a really a priority either, however developing students as positive members of society definitely was. For our students priority was given to developing social, communication, and travel skills; skills that other students would develop outside of school, in order to prepare them to positiving participate in society in their post school lives.

2. Teacher Role and Moral Purpose
Having previously taught at a mainstream primary school, my beliefs about teaching and learning, and my role as a teacher, was probably an even mix between developing positive relationships, imparting knowledge, and searching for new ways to improve student learning. At this new school my role as teacher and school leader definitely was much less about imparting knowledge to students and much more about developing relationships, and finding new ways to improve student learning and teaching practice.

My personal beliefs viewed modern technologies, particularly one to one laptops, as a driver for student learning that was more inquiry-based, enabling students to follow their passions.

3. Student Needs
For students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities a major need is to have age appropriate learning experiences. For example, a fifteen year old who reads at the level of a seven year old has trouble finding age appropriate texts. Mostly due to this many of the higher functioning students in particular didn’t deeply engage in their learning. Their awareness of their situation and their post school options led to many of them lacking confidence. Additionally as most of society assumes people do not have disabilities, many services and groups that others take for granted are difficult for these students to access, and fully participate with.

4. Compelling Opportunities
Around this time, I was began teaching at this school in 2006, Web 2.0 was just starting and I believed that it provided a compelling opportunity for student learning. Social communication and micro communication, such as liking, offered simple age appropriate and interest appropriate learning opportunities. Social communities such as Flickr, social bookmarking, blogging, and other web 2.0 activities appeared to offer powerful opportunities for learning that would enable students to engage in rich social interactions beyond their immediate community and circle of friends.

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This post has hopefully illustrated how the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework can be used to measure pedagogical impact. Participants at the IOI Weekend will gain expertise in using this framework.

You can download a printable version of the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework which is creative commons licensed here.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

Defining Pedagogical Quality

In the first blog post of this series, I suggested that pedagogical quality can be used as an effective counter narrative to teacher quality for school improvement. I argued that pedagogical quality is a unique yet powerful description and measurement of learning and teaching as it happens in the school. As such, pedagogical quality is directly related to the core beliefs that schools hold about learning and teaching and as such, the purpose of school and education…

Pedagogical quality isn’t a universally agreed on though, and nor should it be, so our rationale of what constitutes pedagogical quality must be broad enough to include a wide variety of interpretations, yet succinct enough for us to understand, discuss and design innovative learning and teaching approaches. The IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework uses a simple model that identifies four dimensions that comprise pedagogical quality: 1) educational goals, 2) teacher moral purpose, 3) students needs, and 4) new opportunities.

Let’s now unpack each of these dimensions:

1. Educational Goals
The Melbourne Declaration for the Educational Goals for Young Australians does a pretty good job at unpacking educational goals. It identifies three distinct goals: 1) develop necessary the skills, knowledge, competencies, and ways of thinking, 2) develop creative and confident individuals, and 3) develop active and informed citizens.

So, what are the educational goals for your students? How closely do they align with the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration? Clearly identifying these goals is the first step in building a clear definition of pedagogical quality.

 

2. Teacher Role and Moral Purpose
Teachers bring their unique skills, knowledge and beliefs about learning and teaching, often this is referred to as teacher moral purpose. As such, what teachers individually themselves believe and understand to be their role as teachers also forms our definition of pedagogical quality. For some teachers the compelling motivation will be a focus on high level content knowledge and teaching strategies, for others a focus on developing individual connections with students is given greater importance, while others a desire to find new ways to improve both their practice and their student’s learning is paramount. In reality, most teachers will hold a mix of these three identities.

As you seek to redefine pedagogical quality in your school and classroom what is the role of your teachers? Is it consistent across the school? Does it need to be?

 

3. Student Needs
Just as teachers’ individuality influences our understanding of pedagogical quality, so does the individual needs of the schools students. There may be localised cohort considerations based on the unique makeup of the school’s students. There may be widespread generational shifts in the interests, experiences, and home learning adjunct to the curriculum. There may be shifts in societal and post school needs and priorities. Any of these factors may cause teachers and schools to redefine their understanding of pedagogical quality.

What are the needs of your students? Are these needs consistent across the school? How do these needs influence your definition of pedagogical quality?

 

4. Compelling Opportunities
New ways that modern technologies are being used outside of school settings and new learning spaces inside of the school are the most prominent examples of how compelling opportunities force a rethink of our definition of pedagogical quality. It is useful to examine these compelling opportunities in light of the new learning strategies that they afford. This might include looking at how the compelling opportunity changes the way learners learn with others, who they work on complex projects, and how they make decisions about their own learning.

What are the compelling opportunities for learning outside of your school’s current practice? How might they build on and redefine current pedagogical strengths and weaknesses?

 

By combining these four dimensions schools and teachers are able to construct a clear and powerful definition of pedagogical quality. A definition that will differ from school to school, and a definition that will grow over time. By focussing and measuring pedagogical quality schools and teachers can develop a powerful and convincing narrative for lasting and meaningful school improvement.

 

Participants at the IOI Weekend will get experience using the IOI pedagogical quality framework as they use it to identify innovation opportunities and measure pedagogical impact. 


You can download a printable version of the IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework which is creative commons licensed here.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

 

Photo credit: Feature image Roof Ladder taken by Photo taken by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho 
CC By 2.0 

Pedagogical Quality: A counter narrative for school improvement?

Much of the rhetoric around school improvement is centred on teacher quality. The argument goes something like this… improve teacher quality and you improve student learning. The problem is that a focus on teacher quality often isn’t ideal, and usually doesn’t reap the promised benefits for student learning and school improvement. Instead of teachers feeling supported and empowered, a focus on teacher quality often results in a narrative of good and bad teachers, and of teacher blaming and shaming.

Particularly for teachers in schools where student performance in standardised testing is below the desired levels, a focus on teacher quality tends to result in the deskilling of teachers. Rather than being empowered to trust their professional judgement and be informed by their professional knowledge, a focus on teacher quality often results in a narrow set of practices being forced upon teachers, reducing the teacher’s ability to modify their practice as they see fit.

Even for so called high-performing teachers, the narrative of teacher quality doesn’t provide these teachers with much scope to evaluate what actually makes them a good teacher, or what makes their pedagogical practice, good learning and teaching practice. What evidence can these teachers gather to prove (to themselves and to others) that they are in fact a good teacher?

The IOI approach proposes a counter narrative to this focus on teacher quality, by suggesting that schools and teachers instead make pedagogical quality their number one priority. This enables learning and teaching to move beyond the how, and instead focus on the why. Teacher quality focusses on how teachers teach, pedagogical quality focusses on why teachers teach.

A focus on pedagogical quality therefore enables schools and teachers to make a compelling case for change as it provides scope to redefine quality as needs and circumstances changes. Indeed, the language of pedagogical quality directly connects to the unique circumstances of the school, teachers, students and wider school community, and is much more relevant than any externally imposed definition of teacher quality. By providing schools and teachers a context and language to understand pedagogical quality, the IOI Weekend approach enables them to construct a meaningful and powerful narrative that measures improvement and impact on student learning resulting from teacher and school-led innovation.

The major goal of the IOI Weekend is to provide participating teachers and school leaders with language and tools for determining pedagogical quality. Teams will form around their shared definition of pedagogical quality, and pedagogical quality will be one of the measures used to understand the impact of their innovation project. (Note: I’ll share about the other measures in future blog posts.)

If you’re looking for an alternative narrative to understand, discuss and design quality teaching and learning, then we’d love to have you join us at IOI Weekend. 

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

 

Continue to the next post in this series Defining Pedagogical Quality.

Photo credit: Quality and value taken by wetwebwork
CC By 2.0

Announcing IOI Weekend Melbourne

Announcing IOI Weekend Melbourne

It has been a long time in the planning but we are excited to announce our first IOI Weekend.

The weekend is designed for teachers and school leaders who want to be more effective as learning and teaching innovators. Over the weekend teachers will be taught a process and how to use a number of pedagogical design tools, but mainly this weekend will be a very hands on experience. Teachers will work in teams throughout the weekend to design and test innovative learning ideas, seeking to identify exactly how new learning strategies improve learning and teaching. At the end of the weekend each team will present their story to a panel of education experts.

We really believe this weekend will be highly valuable for teachers and school leaders who are interested in better ways of pursuing and understanding learning and teaching innovation.  We hope you can join us.

 

Photo credit: Party time ! in Istanbul Taken by Jesus Solana
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