Evidence-based ideas for the classroom

Following on from last week’s blog where I wrote about making use of evidence-based practices in the classroom …

Good examples of evidence-based strategies include the sharing of learning intentions with students, providing effective feedback and making use of cooperative strategies.

Learning Intentions can become boring and routine and students easily turn off.  But if you vary the way you present them …

1. Scramble the words in the learning intention and ask students to re-arrange so that they make sense.  This helps them to focus on the key words and encourages the use of contextual grammatical clues.  (You could even turn that aspect into a ‘teaching moment’.)

For example, a literacy learning intention for primary students might look like this:

ways  we  our  to  different  the  begin understand which  narratives  in  can

Unscrambled, it would read: to understand the different ways in which we can begin our narratives

(Thanks to David Didau for this idea.)

2. Alternatively, provide students with a list of key words or ideas relevant to the learning intention and ask them to work in groups to decide what the learning intention might be.  For example, the words associated with the above learning intention might be:

narrative,  beginnings,  question,  statement,  direct speech,  introducing a character,  creating a setting

The discussion that follows will take you straight into the lesson.

Feedback can be enhanced by using a variety of techniques, rather than the same one all the time.

1. If students have presented work electronically, use a screen capture tool (Camtasia is one, but there are many others) and provide the student with oral feedback that they can read and respond to later.

2. We all understand students’ need to be motivated. This video describes a way of making feedback more positive.

3.  And this video reminds us that feedback can be made even more effective if we start by looking for strengths rather than mistakes.

Do you sometimes need to convince your students that cooperative learning can be much more effective than individual learning?  Try this activity:

Provide students with a detailed photograph or image such as an infographic, and give them a limited amount of time to remember as much of it as they can.  Ask them to write down what they remember.  Then ask them to work in pairs, within a time limit, to combine their lists and to note how many more details their combined memory is able to come up with.  If you want to take this further, each pair could share their list with another pair, and so on.  A whole-class discussion should reveal the effectiveness of cooperation.

This activity could be used as a lead-in to a group task.