Dr Mark Weston PhD makes very interesting points on ICT for learning

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Recently I was reading a post by Dr Mark Weston PhD, the global education strategist for Dell Inc. He made some great points about how ICT should assist the teaching and learning environment. I’ve had a chance to reflect on his suggestions and I am encouraged to see how the leaders at my school have dealt with some of these important issues. Dr Mark Weston’s comments stem from his initial remarks that:

Timing matters a lot in education, especially when teachable moments are lost and the educational clocks of students stop ticking far too soon.

Four aspects of the one-size-fits-all approach to education contribute to a high rate of such occurrences.

I will note each of his suggested approaches in bold and then comment.

  • One, the approach rarely acknowledges that students learn in different ways and at different rates. Visit most classrooms and you will see this is the case.

At our school we certainly acknowledge that students learn in different ways. This impacts the way that our buildings are designed, the way that technology is applied and the way that our school day is planned. Currently our Year 7 and Year 8 students participate in a student directed, collaborative, inquiry based, learning matrix. The program has a foundation in Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory and Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. Additionally, learning takes place in a ‘learning space’ in addition to the classroom where all of the students can be working on different projects at different rates. Technology plays a significant role through the use of moodle and Web 2.0 tools. There is a strong accountability process in place and we have seen dramatic increases in student engagement because of this program.

  • Two, standardised education practices offer little room for “double-loop learning”. Feedback loops are important in the learning process because educational practice improves via on-going cycles of feedback and adaptation.

There is a culture of reflection in order to refine the teaching and learning strategies that are implemented. Every term there are lessons, lectures or projects that don’t necessarily meet all the outcomes that were initially set. By noting down reasons for their failure and then suggesting enhancements for the next time we aim to see improvements on a regular basis.

  • Three, research only minimally informs typical instructional practice. As John Hattie reveals in Visible Learning, not all educational practices are equal. For instance, feedback, self-report grading, and formative assessment have much greater affects on student learning and achievement than other practices.

We have identified and implemented practices that have a positive impact of student learning and engagement. Diagnostic and formative assessments are used to provide feedback for students. The concept of self assessment is also used. On a regular basis our students have been setting learning targets for each subject of the Report Cycle so that teachers can help students reflect on how they are progressing.

  • Four, the approach engages parents too little, too late and too lightly in their student’s learning. In sum, learning and instruction suffer when a classroom does not reflect these aspects.

In order to provide earlier feedback to both students and parents our school implemented a new Report Cycle. Now, after the first four weeks at school, parents access an online report for their child. Then, every seven weeks, parents are given more detailed updates on their child’s progress. This means that barriers to student learning can be identified and corrected earlier in the academic year.

Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning


Building the learning spaces of the future

June 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Do you what schools are going to look like in 2020? How will the change in pedagogy affect the way that schools are designed and built? The Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning hosted a CEFPI event where architects and educators met together to consider how best to meet the needs of students through learning space design. It was fascinating to see how the design of our new school buildings aid student learning. Every single aspect has been carefully planned including the selection of  furniture, the lighting, the envionmental impact, and the use of recycled products. I found this video to be very challenging in the area of pedagogy informing design.

I bet you $300 that we can use Maths to predict the winner of the World Cup

June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Before moving to High School Maths teaching I used to work for an Australian Bank. We would create models to predict the likelihood of survival of our staff in a CBD terrorist attack. Sometimes they would be Monte Carlo models to work out how much should be set aside to meet the liability of superannuation life payments using 50 000 years worth of random numbers to give 95% certainty.

Now we see the application of high powered Maths being used for something that people will really pay attention to. In my Maths class tomorrow we’ll be considering the analysis and modelling from this J.P Morgan World Cup 2010 report. It looks at an array of factors to determine who is most likely to win this year’s tournament. I’m just glad that I selected England to win in our sweep. J.P. Morgan – World Cup Research[1]

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