TOT012: Knowledge Management, Efficient Marking, Evaluating Evidence, and Hiring the Right Teachers

Teacher Ollie’s Takeaways is a weekly post (and sometimes a podcast!) bringing together all of the fascinating things that Ollie read throughout the week! Find all past posts of Teacher Ollie’s Takeaways here

A great summary of Cognitive Load Theory

For those interested in CLT, I’ve found no better simplified account of it than this whole website by Michael Pershan. Here’s an excerpt or two.

From the page: The Difference Between Solving a Problem and Learning Some Math From It

If problem solving was ineffective for learning to win a simple game, then it would likewise be trouble for learning something more complex, such as an algebraic procedure. Sweller designed experiments that allowed him to observe novices attempting to solve mathematics problems. He saw the same thing: beginners chose “search” strategies that drew attention away from the sorts of observations that might lead to obtaining a more powerful strategy. If teachers wanted to foster expertise, they would need techniques to circumvent these learning-killing search strategies.

To discover a pattern or a rule, one needs to look away from the goals and their present progress, and instead turn to work in the past. What moves have you already tried? Which combinations of moves work particularly well together? Which angles in a diagram, when derived, help you calculate other angles? By eliminating a single, clear goal for participants to fixate on, participants were free to notice patterns in their past moves. (And if there was a gap between their current status and a goal? They could discard the goal and choose another, instead of working backwards to derive it.) This freedom to think about the past is precisely what is needed for discovering useful, expert-like shortcuts. Sweller’s results showed that these discoveries did, in fact, take place more frequently when problems were given with nonspecific goals. Therefore, nonspecific goals were better for learning than conventional problems.

Worked examples are not problems – they are explanations of how a problem is correctly solved. Goal-free problems function by eliminating means-end search, instead drawing participants’ attention to their past successes.

In another series of experiments, Sweller carefully tested this idea. His results confirmed the hypothesis: the quality of learning was the same whether students learned via worked examples or self-discovered solutions. The major difference was time – problem solving took a lot of it! Worked examples took far less time. In this sense, explanations were more efficient than discovery.

From the page: The Invention of Cognitive Load Theory

“There can be only one ultimate goal,” he wrote, “the generation of new, useful instructional techniques.” Goldman may be right — CLT can not explain learning, in general — but that’s not its purpose. The purpose of CLT, for Sweller, was inventing new teaching techniques.

The best article I’ve ever read on knowledge management within schools

This article by Harry Fletcher-Wood suggests a tangible template that can be used to help experienced teachers to sketch out key information, like student misconceptions, horizon knowledge (how current learning is related to future learning), and key sequencing, to help with knowledge management within a school. Here’s what Harry says about it.

More powerfully, I think a template like this can draw on and collate the collective wisdom of teams of teachers. Lesson plans and powerpoints rarely travel well: collections of representations and misconceptions will: teachers can easily use a good representation, no matter what their teaching style or context. A collection of good representations is transferable between different contexts, in the way that a lesson plan is not. Much of this knowledge is tacit, held in the heads of experienced teachers, passed on by word of mouth and implicit in resources. Collaboratively constructing such planning documents could also be a productive way to share knowledge within departments.

Quick Tip for Leading a Team

And here’s the key takeaway for me.

You need to remember, it isn’t your job to lead each item. The more others take the lead, the more you will be working as a team rather than as a group of individuals that are doing what they are told.

How much do different types of teacher training cost? (plus, info on dropout rates)

Great publication entitled .

The Do’s and Don’ts of effective and efficient marking

Hot tip: The students should spend more time reviewing the feedback than you do writing it!

Nel Noddings… What is caring anyway?

Turns out that to be caring, the cared-for has to interpret the caring as caring. Interesting… has implications for looking after those who are struggling with mental health issues in particular. I like how it sets up a kind of society where I know my autonomy will be preserved

Understanding the types of evidence in Ed Research

Dylan William Treasure Trove of info!

And there are lots of videos too! . This list is awesome. And so many of them are super short too, really easy to digest : )

Four questions to ask yourself at the start of any initiative

In this post, Mark Enser suggests that we need to develop systems and culture in tandem to achieve sustainable change.

And here are the four questions:

1. What is the purpose? What culture are we trying to achieve through this? What impact are we hoping for?
2. How will it be supported? What structures will we put in place to achieve this?
3. What will be the success criteria? Set in advance please! How will we know it has been successful when we evaluate it?
4. How does it fit in the time budget? Where is the time coming from? Most school leaders say that they feel their teachers are already working as hard as they can – so what are you taking out to make room for this?

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The ultimate question to ask when lesson/unit planning

I think that any maths educators would enjoy reading this piece in full!

6 Edtech tools to explore in 2017

Systematic review of mindfulness interventions

Conclusion: “The findings show that MBIs in schools had a small positive effect on cognitive outcomes and socioemotional outcomes, but did not improve behavior or academic achievement. There was little heterogeneity for all outcomes, apart from behavioral outcomes, suggesting that the interventions produced similar results across studies on cognitive, socioemotional, and academic outcomes, despite the interventions being quite diverse. Overall, Brandy Maynard and colleagues found a lack of support at post-test to indicate that the positive effects on cognitive and socioemotional outcomes then translate into positive outcomes on behavior and academic achievement.”

Restorative justice questions

For more on this, listen to episode 6 of the ERRR podcast!

The ultimate guide to conducting school interviews

In this series of posts, David Didau brings psychology to bear on the teacher interview process. How do our unconscious biases skew our selections, and what can we do to get around this challenge?

Daniel Kahneman offers some useful suggestions in Thinking, Fast and Slow:

If you are serious about hiring the best possible person for the job, this is what you should do. First, select a few traits that are prerequisites for success in this position (technical proficiency, engaging personality, reliability, and so on). Don’t over do it – six dimensions is a good number. The traits you choose should be as independent as possible from each other, and you should feel that you can assess them reliably by asking a few factual questions. Next, make a list of the those questions for each trait and think about how you will score it, say on a 1 – 5 scale. You should have an idea of what you will call ‘very weak’ or ‘very strong’. (p. 232)

Didau offers just such a list for hiring teachers in blog post 2. Check it out!