Ive recently been observed by senior management. I tried to keep the lesson as routinely normal as possible without dressing it up, so I opted for SOLO stations. why not? Students have already experienced the benefits and the challenge of progressing and seeing their own visible learning, they know and understand the language and the process involved. Done!
These are some post obs reflections.
Briefly, each station had a different activity. To start, Socrative was used to generate a hinge question and find a starting point for the students to begin working. There was a Flipped Classroom approach integrated with cooperative learning, there was peer critique on another station and finally hexagons for the Extended Abstract which was planned but not used. Students needed to pay extra attention on the relational stage.
Some may call the above a Blended Learning approach, who cares, I would just simply call it diverse teaching and learning to engage the students into personalised learning. The great @learningspy recently posted a blog called Is there a right way to teach? in which I totally agree with his sentiments. Direct Instruction has been found to be extremely effective in terms of student achievement (Hattie – 0.59 effect size). Just reflecting back to my lesson observation, did I exercise Direct Instruction? Most definitely because it was easy for me to create a success criteria through the use of SOLO levels, the students knew what had to be achieved and as the teacher I set clear learning intentions (cheers WALT) AND from time to time I was checking progress. This does not mean I used didactic teaching methods which is sometimes confused with the term Direct Instruction. No way. In fact did I mention that cooperative learning was used, the great Think-Pair-Share strategy pops up again (reciprocal teaching).
We LEARN 95% What we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE
There were times that as a teacher, I felt that my expertise needed to interject some of the conversation. As much as I felt it would be right to allow them to explore various avenues and allow them to make the mistakes in order to learn, there are some restrictions which prevent me from allowing this to happen. Mainly TIME. We have an even shorter academic year due to the cultural environment this school is located in and time is tight to finish off the syllabus. Fortunately, formative questioning steered them back on course and the students themselves questioned me and others for their own understanding (these were duly congratulated).
Hattie’s Visible Learning is not predictive, it is evidence based on many millions of students and a synthesis on over 800 meta analyses and if you want to know what impacts on student’s learning this should be a good starting point.
The lesson showed visible learning. Students achieved set learning intentions. They demonstrated the use of various skills, interdependence, accountability, formulated questions to consolidate understanding, and made mistakes which they learned from. They received feedback in order to feedforward. They gave me feedback in order for me to gain an understanding of their actual learning.
The use of teaching strategies are an important contributing factor (0.6 effect size). One thing Ive learned is that with my expert personal learning network via Twitter and the professionally written blogs being shared, diversifying the strategies has been made easier to use and explore. The Blended Learning (BL) approach is an interesting one in that it combines face to face interaction (teacher) and online learning (screencast).
The use of the SOLO stations fitted in well with the BL model Station Rotation with a few variances to make the lesson work. I would certainly use this model again as it allows more effective use of the teacher within the classroom in other words, there is more student-teacher time making effective use of feedback. Part of the reason why I used SOLO stations was that as a whole school, we are having a drive on differentiation. Students can start at any stage and their decision can be guided by the hinge question. Students then progress forwards or backwards (consolidate) at their own pace. During the flipped approach students could watch the screencast as many times as they wish (self paced). As highlighted, the BL model allows for differentiation.
Call it what you want but this lesson was filled with a variety of different tasks and activities pinned against learning criteria. The fact that I used a potential BL model is irrelevant. Diverse, specific and engaging teaching and learning tasks for me is a successful recipe in the classroom. I will however pay a little more attention on Blended Learning to see exactly what it can offer.