I have learned/am learning so many things here at KSI that I want to bring to my teaching- how can I do it all? Would it be overly ambitious to do it all? How can I change how I plan and prepare? Basically, how do I not forget any of this important stuff I have learned and become the “perfect” teacher? (before being outraged at the notion of a perfect teacher, please go to end note 1).
Dr. Kelley Nicholson-Flynn talked at the beginning of the institute about behaviorism, cognition and the science of learning. She spoke of the importance of schemas. Bransford, J.D., et al. in How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (2000) described “schemas” in their chapter “Experts and Novices”, when noting the importance of knowledge of the “big ideas” of a discipline, or the ability to recognize patterns or access “conditionalized knowledge”. These big ideas and pattern recognition are what differentiate an “expert” from an “accomplished novice”. I wondered how I can apply the notion of a schema to remember some of the lessons I have learned here? How can I become an “expert” at applying this material (really I am just shooting for “accomplished novice” again see end note 1#).
I have often used a template to design my classes thinking about what the homework will be, what class topics will be, and what skills will be introduced and/or practiced. When working to generate a “Performance Based Assessment” at the end of last week, we were given a template I found very useful. After crafting a “unit understanding” with my group, (an excruciating, but transformative experience my colleague Leslie wrote about here), we used this template, given to us by KSI and based on Wiggins and McTighe (Understanding By Design, 1998). Leslie used her experience working in Ontario to introduce other frameworks for designing learning experience that we added into our PBA. (Frameworks such as GRASPS (check it out here), KICA= Knowledge, Inquiry, Communication and Application, and “By the end of the unit students will: ‘Know’ ‘Understand’and ‘Be Able to'”). Our final result on Gilded Age America is here.
I have modified this template in order to try and “remind” myself of things to focus on when planning. I am not sure if it counts as a “schema” but it does let me organize some of the information I have learned this week on a framework I have used before
It already had for each class day:
Learning Goal…Topic/Agenda…HW Due…Skills Introduced/Practiced…Knowledge/Skill Formative Assessment…Prior Misconceptions/Prior Knowledge
WHAT I ADDED TO THE LEARNING PLAN from the PBA exercise
Windows: I clarified the phrase “learning goal” with the term “window”. I hope the learning goals I articulate are actually “windows” into the broader world and not just repeating things my students already know. For more on windows (and mirrors) check out an earlier blog post here.
Mirrors: I added a space in my planning document for “mirrors”. In my curriculum, what identities are mirrored? Too often it is rich, white men, and I need to be aware of how I may be unconsciously perpetuation the “great man theory” in my curriculum. Furthermore, after hearing Dr. Derald Wing Sue speak about micro-aggressions, I need to consciously reflect on how to present contentious material, like “Who discovered America?” (not Columbus by the way).
Reflection: thinking about how we think, and how we learn is important in any discipline. We study meta-cognition in history through historiography , other disciplines might phrase this type of study as “literature review”. Giving time for reflection on the learning process is very important towards greater levels of understanding and learning. Again Leslie described this as a type of assessment really well with an Ontario framework: “Assessment AS learning”. (There were also “assessment OF learning” = summative assessments, and assessment FOR learning= formative assessment).
As a group, when constructing our PBA, we added the “Learning Goal”, “Formative Assessment” and “Prior Misconceptions/Prior Knowledge” categories. Thinking about these categories as we planned, reinforced the message and importance of formative assessment and prior knowledge for me.
Given the shout outs for Leslie and Ontario teaching in general, here are some resources she shared specific to history. Also- the independent schools in Canada have to follow these regulations, I wonder how common core and standards in general would differ if American independent schools had to follow them?
CHECK OUT my new template what do you think? I would love feedback. How do you plan your units? Are there other categories I should be considering on a daily basis? Perhaps differentiation? What about if a student misses class, should I have a plan for them ahead of time? At what point does it become overwhelming when planning? More or less?
1. I am being completely facetious with “perfect teacher” and “expert”, but not really. A bit… I was a perfectionist…and still remain a closet perfectionist. I try not to lose sleep over the typos in this blog, but I have to admit I still hesitate over the publish button and struggle to read past blog posts with typos….it is late, and I just put an end note in a blog, that happened.