Saturday, April 29, 2017

Food For Thought: Conference feedback 3. Visible Learning

Dear all,

As it is a long weekend, and you may have a bit more time to go through this weeks Food for Thought I have broken it into two parts. The first part focuses on the conference I attended recently and the second part on views of our world that will provoke thinking for us in our role as teachers preparing students for an uncertain future.

Part 1

At the EduLead Conference Deb Masters from Visible Learning Plus presented the latest research from Hattie that is summarized in this short article by Shaun Killian. As you will know, Hattie's work is a mega data study of millions of students in hundreds of thousands of pier reviewed research papers from all over the world. In his work he identifies over 400 different teaching strategies and creates an effect scale to measure their impact on learning. There has been some criticism of Hattie's work since it first emerged in the early years of this century, however, one has to be careful not to dismiss his message because of technicalities that in reality have no impact on his effect scale results. He freely admits that cultures may play a bigger part than recognized and that criticism of the Common Language Effect size (CLE) is correct but is not the major statistical driver for his effect size calculations. What is important throughout Hattie's work is simply his message and that is to know and be prepared to measure our impact as teachers on learning. As Hattie says:

The major argument in this book underlying powerful impacts in our schools relates to how we think! It is a set of mind frames that underpin our every action and decision in a school; it is a belief that we are evaluators, change agents, adaptive learning experts, seekers of feedback about our impact, engaged in dialogue and challenge, and developers of trust with all, and that we see opportunity in error, and are keen to spread the message about the power, fun, and impact that we have on learning — Visible Learning for Teachers (2012), p.159

 Deb Masters expanded upon what were originally the 8 Mind Frames that made a difference to learning and showed that from recent Visible Learning Research teachers building the following responsibilities / mind frames have the largest effect:

  • I am an evaluator
  • I am a change agent
  • I talk about learning, not about taeching
  • Assessment is feedback to me
  • In engage in dialogue, not monologue
  • I enjoy challenge / high stakes
  • I develop positive relationships so it is safe to make mistakes
  • I inform all about the language of learning
  • I see learning as hard work
  • I collaborate

Deb said that 95% of what schools do has a positive impact on student learning, just some startegies have more impact than others. From the recent research the average impact is .53. She suggested that just 4 minutes of teachers talking about practice a month will make a difference to student learning. Hopefully at ISHCMC we have more pedagogical talk than this and can hope to be making a bigger impact on our students learning

Here are some of effect factors that we often associated with improved learning but in this research are described as being nothing more than 'the politics of distraction.'

  • Class size .21 ( reducing class sizes affects teacher talk and working conditions more than impacting student learning)
  • Ability groupings .12
  • Homework High school .59
  • Homework Primary school .11
  • Inquiry teaching .31 ( much higher impact if coming on top of surface based level, see below)

A few of the factors that have the highest impact on learning are:

  • Teacher Efficacy 1.57
  • Formative Evaluation for teachers .90
  • Classroom discussion .82
  • Teacher clarity .75 
  • Feedback .73
  • Creativity Programs .65
  • Prior Achievement.63
If you would like to see the entire list then please follow this link. 

In his latest work, 2016,  Hattie has produced a conceptual model that takes the 400 different learning strategies and groups them together in phases and stages of the learning process. I have taken the liberty of taking a few chunks of his latest article on Learning Strategies, to give you insight into where Hattie's researching is developing today. 

"The model of learning proposes that various learning strategies are powerful at certain stages in the learning cycle. The model describes three inputs and outcomes (skill, will and thrill), success criteria, three phases of learning (surface, deep and transfer) and an acquiring and consolidation phase within each of the surface and deep phases. His model looks like this:

Figure 1

Although not a hard and fast set of demarcations, surface learning refers more to the content and underlying skills; deep learning to the relationships between, and extensions of, ideas; and transfer to the proficiency to apply learning to new problems and situations. 

The ‘skill’ is the student’s prior or subsequent achievement, the ‘will’ relates to the student’s various dispositions towards learning, and the ‘thrill’ refers to the motivations held by the student. In the model, these inputs are also the major outcomes of learning. That is, developing outcomes in achievement (skill) is as valuable as enhancing the dispositions towards learning (will) and as valuable as inviting students to reinvest more into their mastery of learning (thrill or motivations).

There are four main messages to be taken from the model:
  • First, if the success criteria is the retention of accurate detail (surface learning) then lower-level learning strategies will be more effective than higher-level strategies. However, if the intention is to help students understand context (deeper learning) with a view to applying it in a new context (transfer), then higher level strategies are also needed. An explicit assumption is that higher level thinking requires a sufficient corpus of lower level surface knowledge to be effective—one cannot move straight to higher level thinking (e.g., problem solving and creative thought) without sufficient level of content knowledge.
  • Second, the model proposes that when students are made aware of the nature of success for the task, they are more likely to be more involved in investing in the strategies to attain this target.
  • Third, transfer is a major outcome of learning and is more likely to occur if students are taught how to detect similarities and differences between one situation and a new situation before they try to transfer their learning to the new situation. Hence, not one strategy may necessarily be best for all purposes.
  • Fourth, the model also suggests that students can be advantaged when strategy training is taught with an understanding of the conditions under which the strategy best works—when and under what circumstance it is most appropriate."

There is definitely some interesting learning for this mega data study that we can and should be using to inform our teaching at ISHCMC.

Part 2

The second part of this weeks Food for Thought is to with minimal commentary draw your attention to three videos that will encourage our thinking about education and our view of who we are.

Firstly, a short film, Alike, which we shared on the ISHCMC Facebook last week and encourages questions about school and the role of creativity, difference, well-being and individuality.

Secondly, the Pope speaks on TED about our relationships with each other and how important that is in our world today. 

Thirdly, a short music video that reinforces the Pope's message and illustrates how we can be the one who takes the first step and how that can cascade to others. There is nothing stopping each and everyone of us leading the way to a kinder and more tender world.

Have a good long weekend,

Yours as always,


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Food for Thought Reinventing Education Part 2

Dear all,

Attending the Grade 12 final assembly made me realize how close we are to the end of another year at ISHCMC and there still feels as if we have a great deal to do. Thanks to everyone for another good week.

This week's food for thought is a continuation of the World EducLead conference and focuses on one of the strands that emerged; assessment. What I will do is try and capture the key thinking of a few of the speakers on this topic. It was clear amongst the 1200 in audience that some found it hard to release learning to students so that they can inquire into their own content and still be able to give their traditional tests and assessments. As Heidi Jacobs bluntly pointed out to one question she was asked, " I think that you may be missing the point with your question."

Professor Guskey made it clear that from his research the assessment that makes the most difference to student learning is that which takes place in every class and is primarily formative in nature. His work has led him to believe that its is essential that we learn from what was done to us when we were students. His four key point were:

  • Assessment must be a source of information for students and teachers. We need to move away from making assessment a guessing game for students. Assessment, what ever form it takes should never be a surprise to the students. If it is it will teach our students that their hard work and effort with revision is a waste of time and that they should not trust their teachers. He suggested that at the end of every lesson students should be asked what have your learned in the lesson and the teacher should use this information for planning the next lesson
  • Assessment must be followed by high quality corrective instruction. Every conversation with a student about assessment should provide strtaegies for the student to improve in the future. Deb Masters and her work with Hattie further emphasized this point.
  • Students must be given a second chance to show improvement. Professor Guskey was very strong on this point when he raised this criteria for successful assessment in a school. He asked the audience how many had driving licences, how many failed their test first time and how they would feel now if that meant they could never drive? He talked about creating live long learners which means learning by doing. He pointed out that none of us are perfect and therefore we should be encouraging our students to develop resilience and grit which is built around learning from mistakes. He shared research that students learn more from making mistakes than getting it right first time. He used the Roger Staubach quote, " Spectacular achievements are always proceeded by unspectacular preparation," to further illustrate the futility of having assessment as a one off shot. He concluded by saying that all students should be given the opportunity to re do assessment task, but not the same one, one that is parallel so they can demonstrate how they have learned from their mistakes......and it should be this result that is recorded. When you stop and think about all the literate around resilience and like long learners this approach makes sense although it runs contrary to how we were treated in school.
  • We must ensure that students enjoy early assessment success. He started to talk about this by asking the audience how many of us started our course with a hard assessment to show that our course is tough and let the students know that they will have to work hard to be successful. He showed research that clearly shows students are quite malleable when they start a new course until the first assessment. This first assessment, for the majority, becomes self predicting of their future achievement. The first assessment defines how they feel they will do in the future and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for the majority. Hence, Guskey stressed that we should use the first assessment to create early success and that this will produce greater confidence, engagement and effort from our students. this approach is very similar to the use of kind words as part of the achievement culture in our mission. (This is further supported by Hattie because it creates student expectation which has an effect size of 1.44 compared with an average learning impact of .53)

In this session with Guskey he added one more important point that certainly applies to us as an IB School with a focus on AtL skills. It is one that I have never heard raised before. I did try and research it but there appears to be a great deal of information but not related exactly to what Guskey stated. The concept raised was categorical perceptions which he said explains why when students learn soft skill in one subject they do not automatically transfer these skills as we would hope and imagine to other classes. Guskey said that for skills to be transferred they have to be deliberately taught and linked in each subject. This certainly merits additional thinking and would have an impact upon how we think about soft skill acquisition across the school.

If you would like to read more detail about Guskey's work here is a link to ascd article linked to one of his books.

Dr Heidi Hayes Jacobs was without doubt the most provocative of the speakers at the conference. Here are just a few of the provocations that she raised in her first session.

" Everything should be for students not our old habits"

" We must be preparing our learners for the future not the past"

"Students must be taught the three new literacy's, Digital, Media and Global."

" We must make learning spaces that create responsive environment for students"

" All decisions regarding school should focus on pedagogy"

" We all need the courage to break the boundaries that need breaking and replace with fresh relevant solutions."

This short video catches many of the things that Heidi was talking about in her sessions. it is full of her ideas from  a great site to visit.

As this is a great deal to absorb and think about I will save the sessions on Hattie till next week's Food for Thought. Deb Masters provided many interesting findings that we need to be reflecting upon in order to develop our classroom teaching strategies across the school.

Have a good Sunday,


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Food for Thought: Reinventing Education conference Part 1, Intro to speakers

Dear all,

I hope you are all having an enjoyable and relaxed Easter weekend.

Last week I spent two days at the INTASE World EDULEAD conference in Singapore listening to some incredibly inspiring educational thought leaders and researchers discussing reinventing education. The two days were very reaffirming for our mission and vision for education and the direction that we are moving at ISHCMC, although there is some fine tuning needed and a few things that we need to learn and improve upon. I left feeling in no doubt that our ISHCMC students are and will be well served by the direction that ISHCMC is developing as a learning community. There was so much interesting thinking raised that I want to share with you, that I have decided to use my next three Food for Thoughts to firstly introduce you to the speakers and then provide you with the key points that they were making about education today.

The speakers were:

Sir Ken Robinson ( Live from L.A.) the most viewed TED speaker with over 300 million views of his TED talks. This was like a private TED session and he spoke and answered questions for over 2.5 hours. It was clear from what he was saying that a great deal of his thinking today is captured in his tow most recent books; "The Element" and "Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education"

Dr Heidi Hayes Jacobs, is the founder and President of the Curriculum Designers group that provides professional services to schools and organizations internationally to upgrade curriculum and support teaching strategies to meet the needs of 21st century learners 

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Sir John Jones, ex- Head teacher at three secondary schools over 17 years is now working for the UK government as part of the Governments Polcy action Team as well as being a resident expert for Educational Leadership at Mancester University. 

Dr Marcia Tate, is the founder and CEO of Developing Minds. she had a 30 year career in classrooms and as an administrator and won awards for her contributions to staff development. Today she is very much focused on ensuring that teachers have pedagogical  strategies that allow students the opportunity to achieve in their classrooms. Her latest work is around Formative Assessment and Brain- compatible classrooms: focusing on how we know students are learning.

Prof Tom Guskey, is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Kentucky, he has written over 20 books on education and in this conference focused very much on assessment and the need to create well designed assessments tasks as part of the instructional process.

Related image

Deb Masters, works very closely with John Hattie and his research into visible learning. her talks were very much based around the efffect size findings of Hattie's research and what we should be discussing in schools that has the biggest impact upon student learning.

Deb Masters summarizes Visible Learning Plus from Cognition Education on Vimeo.

Now you know something about all the speakers that I was privileged to have listened to last week. next week i will try and synthesize some of the thoughts that they shared.

I want to end with something that has been talked about before at meetings and that is the introduction of a management information system at ISHCMC. We were due to be installing iSAMS for August 2016 but during its delay we have been investigating more appropraite systems for our school and have moved to introducing PowerSchool instead.  We believe this will be far more useful to us and allow a gradual move to a single platform for the majority of our work with students as well as providing immense capacity for tracking student progress.  As I said last Monday Michelle had to pick an admin project for her Head training that covered collaboration, change management and school systems and she deiced that the area she could help most in was our move to PowerSchool as ISHCMC's Management system.

So just to whet your appetite her are two short videos that introduce PowerSchool. the first is 2 minutes and is an advert from Powerschool. the second 5 minutes is a more in depth coverage of what PowerSchool provides.

Have a good Sunday,


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Food for Thought: The need for revolution not just change

Dear all,

On Friday I was giving an interview to Oi magazine about the new secondary school campus and our vision for education in the new facility. The interviewer asked me how I could be so certain that our approach of inquiry, constructivism and individualized learning opportunities is better than traditional educational methodology. I suggested that he comes and visit ISHCMC and witness the release of learning that is prevalent across the School and speak to our students about what they are learning and why. I'm not sure if he will come or not.

Yet again I can start my weekly Food for Thought by pointing out that we have enjoyed another wonderful week of 'out of the box' activities at ISHCMC; an excellent music showcase, IB Diploma Art Exhibition, KG Mini Ex and Grade 5 students testing out their entrepreneurial skills in two different markets places. The diversity of the activities we are providing for our community is excellent and the way that our students are demonstrating their individuality is exactly what we are aiming for as we challenge the traditional model of schooling. The last month has clearly shown that our mission and vision for education is raising the quality and standards of our students ability to articulate their understanding and learning in an energetic and engaging manner

Two years ago I went to the World Educational Leadership Summit in Singapore and was fortunate to  attend a day long masterclass with Yong Zhao. I believe his articulation of education makes a great deal of sense and aligns closely with our vision and what we are doing at ISHCMC. So, my Food for Thought this week is to watch this Yong Zhao TED talk, where he amusingly and cleverly uses the case of Rudolph to describe his view of where education is and where it should be going in the future. For many of us this will be a positive reinforcement of what we are trying to achieve as we disrupt the model of traditional schooling at ISHCMC.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

Food for Thought: Teaching for Understanding Part 2

 Dear all,

Another awesome week at ISHCMC closes with HCMC STEAM Fair, Open House in Lower Primary, and Senior Football Teams in Thailand. So many good things going on around the school in all areas of student learning that it is impossible to record them all here.

This Food for Thought builds upon the ideas expressed last week and further reinforces our mission and vision for education. This article from Edsurge was shared with me following last week's post and discusses the important difference between Static and Dynamic knowledge. 

As Karen Cox points out in her blog Celebration education

"Not all learning is equal. Covering the material does not mean understanding, finishing a textbook does not indicate mastery. No real learning takes place until it moves from
surface knowledge to dynamic knowledge, to not only "know about" the information, but to be able to apply the skill or concept to real life accomplishment.
Surface/ Static  Knowledge
Surface knowledge is static and motionless, as when a student is exposed to facts or information, they then "know about" it, and they may even memorize it and pass a test where they repeat back the information, but there is no real understanding or application to life. Such surface knowledge diminishes the probability that long-term retention will occur. Yet this is the model that permeates modern education.
Dynamic Knowledge
Dynamic knowledge steps beyond just "know about" and steps into performance. It isactually doing something with the information, working with it, building skills and understanding on a deeper level. Dynamic knowledge is to gain a feel for something, to internalize information and have it become real and active in the learner's world. Students gain dynamic knowledge by experience. It takes more effort, but it reaps greater rewards."

Yet again this article paints a picture of a changing world in which jobs that require static knowledge are being replaced easily by technology and algorithms whereas those the involve dynamic knowledge a slightly harder to remove. 

“Over the past three decades, almost all job growth has come from the two categories of work that are nonroutine. … While routine jobs have gone nowhere over the past three decades, the number of people in knowledge work jobs has more than doubled, and there are no signs of that trend slowing. This strongly suggests that even though technology is eliminating some jobs, it’s creating even more in different fields.”

I refer again to the work of Yong Zhoa where her clearly articulates a changing world in which compliant labour based around static knowledge is no longer required and will be replaced. The article builds upon Zhoa's work with the complimentary work of Seth Goldin, again I have shared before, and his accusation that education today is stealing the dreams of the generation of students it is graduating, who are ill prepared for the world they face. His call for change is consistent with our movement to build a constructivist environment for learning and one in which students have the opportunity to create their own learning, relate to the real world and present to authentic audiences.

The article concludes by looking at the failings of universities and asks the important question; that if, as is characteristic of much of the learning in further education, it is built around the acquisition of static knowledge, is attending college/ university a worthwhile learning exercise for many of our students? Would they be better advised to be creating their own entrepreneurial projects, volunteering and interning in businesses? Simply is it time not only to rethink Primary and Secondary education but also further education?

One last thing to think about on the teaching for understanding strand. In the article last week it talked about the importance of embedding the learning skills and the need for consistent repetition before it became embedded. This interesting short video about riding a bike and how changing one fundamental aspect of this skill can completely disorientate our thinking. I believe the conclusion is clear that younger minds are more adaptable and that we must not miss the opportunity to develop creative, open minded and innovative thinkers as they journey through ISHCMC.

Have a good weekend,