Explicit Instruction and Not Quite Blended (NQB) Classrooms on the Road to BYOD

“BYOD” by AJ LEON is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

BYOD So Far….

Federal Government funding in Australia for a 1:1 ratio of devices to students is long gone. This has left most school in the situation of having something like a 1:5 ratio, of school owned devices,  that they can barely sustain. There has been an attempt, by most schools, to address the shortfall with a Bring your Own Device (BYOD) program. This has largely been unsuccessful; a strawpoll of schools around the region suggests a less than 10% uptake. Even in places where students have multiple devices at home, they rarely bring them to school. When asked why they generally respond, “My teacher doesn’t do anything with it.”

Why is it so?

The main problem is the focus on the device and the technology, rather than the pedagogy. As articulated by Michael Fullan, “Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” So, when we were given devices but no training or the development of a culture of growth and reforms to our practice, we did the only thing we knew and substituted this tool for something we were already doing. Internet connected devices certainly are useful for ‘research’ or other online content. For a variety of reasons we did not engaged in practices that let us see how transformational technology can be in the process of learning. Meanwhile, students and their parents have not developed a value for technology as an indispensable device for learning.

 

 

Where to now?

The only way devices are going to make it through your classroom door is by students bringing them. Parents will not provide devices and students will not bring them until they both value them for learning. Therefore, we need to make the first moves and begin to demonstrate the value that technology adds to learning. We can do that by shifting to Blended Learning.

What Will the Shift to Blended Learning Look Like

Blended Learning is a mix of face-to-face and online learning, along a learning path or sequence. Blended Learning is also Personalized, so students have an element of agency over the pace, place and path their learning takes. Before we leap straight into this and because we don’t have devices, we need to start with ‘Not Quite Blended’. This will then be the foundation we need to journey all the way to learning opportunities afforded be Inquiry-Based Learning such as Project-Based Learning.

Not Quite Blended

The major difference with this approach is that it does not have all the systems and processes you need to Personalize learning. This is more of an explicit approach rather than an implicit one, so students are more likely to be consumers of information rather than producers of knew knowledge; you might post content online and guide students through it rather than guide students through an inquiry process. At this stage, technology is used to enhance pedagogy with Substitution and Augmentation (SAMR Model), with some creep into transformation. This may be in the form of starting to use the 4C’s of 21st Century Learning:

  • Communicate – students might blog their learning and receive feedback
  • Collaborate – students may develop shared artifacts of learning with wikis, blogs or other web 2.o technologies such as Padlet.
  • Critical Thinking – this might be made more visible in combination with Communicate and Collaborate strategies
  • Creativity – instead of the product of learning presented as text, other media may be used in creative ways. Students may also synthesize knew knowledge via inquiry learning.

How can I do This with Explicit Instruction?

If you have read this far, then you already know that it’s all about the Pedagogy! The Pedagogical Framework we use is Explicit Instruction (Archer & Hughes 2011) overlayed with the Gradual Release of Responsibility:

Explicit Instruction

Warm-up ideas

  • Play a youtube video as students enter
  • Pose a ‘Socratic’ question
  • Give a short pre-test using Kahoot
  • Have students play a game
  • Project an image at the start of a lesson
  • Demonstrate a physical behaviour such as a chemical reaction and ask ‘why is it so?’
  • Read an interesting quote from a famous person.
  • Analyse a tag cloud of the topic for high frequency words
  • Hold a Seed Discussion online
  • Have students post an Anticipation Guide

WALT/WILF ideas

  • Always have these accessible 24/7 in your Virtual Classroom (Blackboard for senior, Edmodo for Junior).
  • Have students track their learning, either on paper or online.
  • Try using a KWL, either on paper or preferably online (have students post this in their online journals).

I Do ideas

  • Create a Virtual Classroom (Blackboard for senior, Edmodo for Junior)to curate ALL content
  • Reduce cognitive load for students by sourcing multi-modal content
  • Let the content do the “chalk and talk” for you. ie: there is probably a youtube or teacher tube clip out there that will say it better and students can watch it several times until they get it.
  • If you do “chalk and talk”, record it and upload it to provide a bank for review/revision. You can then build on this to ‘flip’ your classroom. ie: have students review the material for homework and then go straight into the ‘we do’ step.
  • There are a heap of online learning activities , around content and input experiences, that you can access.
  • Why not explain a concept with someone else’s animation.
  • Chunk‘ content into digestible bites
  • Identify critical input experiences
  • Manage response rates with Kahoot, Padlet and a host of other technologies.

WE DO ideas

YOU DO ideas

REVIEW & REFLECTION ideas

WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY FOR ME TO DEVELOP THESE SKILLS?

1. Develop a Growth Mindset

2. Deliberate Practice

In Hattie’s “Teachers Make a Difference What is the research evidence?”, Teachers accounted for 30% of the variance.

The research also tells us that Teacher reflective practice leads to increased pedagogical skill which results in increased student achievement.

Deliberate Practice is about refinement of practice over time:

3. Couple Deliberate Practice with a Collaborative PLC Cycle, for you and your colleagues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracking Learning in a Blended Classroom using Journals

One of the reasons I can’t live without Digital Technology is that it actually makes my job of teaching easier. Without technology, I’m not sure how I would share the responsibility for learning with my students and have them track their learning, in a place that we both can access. I have seen star charts used in Primary settings, but I’m not sure these would work in the insecure world of teenagers. This is where technology comes to the rescue and enables a strategy modified by an online world.

The video below shows one way to track learning using the journal feature of Blackboard. This can only be viewed by individual students and their teacher. The journal is being used at the beginning and end of the video. I have left the Reading To Learn strategy (the middle) in for those that may be interested.

 

I have previously written about this here: http://www.throughtheclassroomdoor.com/an-easy-way-to-track-learning-in-a-contemporary-classroom/

But this video gives some more details about what it looks like in a Virtual Classroom.

An Easy Way to Track Learning in a Contemporary Classroom

“The three forms” by Christopher Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

1.Define Learning Goals in answer to the question: “What do we want students to learn?”

For this I create a Proficiency Scale, for a topic,  so that students and I can track learning within the topic’s learning sequence. This also provides both the cognitions and qualities required for success at each stage of mastery. In practice, it looks like this:

WALT/ WILF Scale Standard 4 Standard 3.5 Standard 3 Standard 2 Standard 1
Implementation and evaluation The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of a variety of complex technical skills and resources to present an efficient and effective solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
  • Shape tweens
  • Symbols
  • Motion tweens
  • Publishing
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of a variety of technical skills and resources to present an efficient solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
  • Shape tweens
  • Symbols
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of technical skills and resources to present a solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of basic technical skills and resources to present a partial solution:

The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of isolated technical skills to produce an output:

The easy part is that this is lifted straight out of the syllabus and I have just added lists of content as a way of adding a quantity dimension to the descriptors. The P-10 equivalent of this are the Standards Elaborations provided by the QCAA. So, now my scale has cognition, quality and quantity. Instead of A-E, I use a 4-point scale, with a B being roughly 3.5. The reason for this is that I want to use this for formative assessment and not as a final summative grade.

2. Design Instructional Strategies in answer to the question: “How can we design learning to support student engagement and progression?”

Both engagement and progression can be achieved with Personalized Learning strategies. At the beginning of the topic I introduce students to the WALTS and WILFs and have them set goals (feedup) in their online Learning Journals (Blackboard). They do this by copying the scale and highlighting where they wish to end up. Then, as they master the skills at each level, they highlight in a different colour (feedback/feedforward), until they reach their goal. This is mostly a self-assessment, but I facilitate by conferencing with students about how they are going and give them feedback as well.

3. Assess Learning

This is the really easy part, because students have managed this for me.  Remember, differentiation is something a teacher does (monitor learning and re-design for different learner needs), while personalization is something a student does. Technology has also enabled this process of personalized formative assessment. Then, in a PLC meeting, it is easy to flip through student journals and collaboratively evaluate the effectiveness of instructional strategies and the progress of students.

Additional Strategies

The Single Point Rubric

These are useful for students to use in order to understand and demonstrate the level of mastery they have achieved and to decide if they have achieved their goal. This could also be incorporated into a portfolio reflection and could be annotated in student learning journals in the same post as their learning goal tracking process.

Single Point rubrics work by having students create three columns, with the goal in the middle and, the evidence that they have met the goal on the left and any concerns they have on the right. Remember, this is more a self-evaluation, rather than a reflection and students need to “argue their case” for mastery based on evidence from their work.