Take a look at the screenshot below. It shows a learning activity containing a menu with two choices. Clicking the right button leads to a problem that the student must solve, and clicking the left button leads to an example that shows the student how to solve that sort of problem. This activity is one … Continue reading Can Students Really Self-Differentiate?
Last week I attended a government-sponsored training on instructional video that began with three weird reasons for why teachers should use more instructional video: Instructional videos cater to students' learning stylesInstructional videos are more popular with students (i.e., they like them) than alternative methodsInstructional videos are the future of learning I'm sure fans of this … Continue reading Instructional Videos: Perfect for Learning Styles, Popular with Students, and THE FUTURE of Education!
If much of what we learned in teacher training was not very useful once we got to the classroom, and if some theories we were taught, like learning styles, were just plain false, it's tempting to conclude that theory has little to offer the busy teacher. Having used cognitive load theory to streamline my teaching, I can't agree.
Somewhere along the way I developed the habit of using an unproductive questioning pattern called "guess what's in my head." This is when I ask questions that the students couldn't possibly respond to because they haven't yet learned the material required to answer the questions.
There's an interesting essay called "Five Meanings of Direct Instruction" where the author (Rosenshine, 2008) shows how even a term as commonly used as direct instruction can take on different meanings depending on who you talk to. Some people use it in the pejorative to refer to non-stop passive lecturing, while those familiar with the … Continue reading 5 Meanings of Student-Centered Instruction
Most teachers will be familiar with Khan Academy, or similar learning programs, that offer a mixture of 1) problems to solve and 2) instructional supports that students can use to learn how to solve the problems. Common instructional supports in online learning environments include partial hints (e.g., click here for a hint to get you … Continue reading Does More Learning Happen When Students are in the Driver’s Seat?
I read an interesting article about collaboration and worked examples today. Worked examples, for those not in the know, are teaching objects that explicitly show students the steps for how to solve a particular type of problem, such as the one below for how to add fractions: Example of a worked example, shared with me … Continue reading Do We Learn Best Collaboratively or Individually?
When I first started teaching 9 years ago, there was a palpable buzz in the air around a pedagogical approach called "Genius Hour," also known as "20 Percent Time." This is where students choose a project that excites them, such as crocheting or building a rocket, and work on that project, unguided, every week during … Continue reading Why the Genius Hour Fad Died
More choice is good, right? We’d all rather have more items in the Taco Bell menu than fewer. People prefer to be, or at least feel like they are, in control of their destiny (just ask the anti-maskers of the pandemic!) and it seems likely that our students are no different. Theoretically, when students perceive … Continue reading When Student Choice Backfires
I recently gave a presentation called The Cognitive Science of Creative Subjects at Learning2Asia, a conference which I thought was an incredibly well-run by Nanjing International School. The format of the workshop was really fun: Teachers do mostly hands-on, design-related experiments on themselves to sort of demonstrate how different principles in cognitive science work. I also … Continue reading Lessons from Cognitive Science that I’ve Used to Improve my Teaching