A requirement of the course is to implement several strategies and ideas from the course with students and to submit a report on the implementation experience. Below are some example implementation reports.
I created a Metacognitive assessment for Year 8 doing algebra. I spent quite a bit of time explaining the expectations verbally, as well as making sure that everybody had a copy of the matrix, to ensure they took this seriously. The assessment did not take a long time to create and I supplied them with all the information they needed to complete it to the best of their ability. Overall, I am astounded by the results. Not for their understanding, but for the insight into the way they approach tasks and how they actually talk to themselves. I think for some it was an eye-opening experience too. The students engaged really well with it, and for the most part, did everything they were asked of them. I think only 2 of the 30 missed the point entirely. Some have more work on themselves to do, as they don’t pay appropriate attention when marking their own work. Some are trying to convince me that they truly understand when I can clearly see they don’t. “Learning to be honest with yourself…” was a phrase I used a lot in their feedback. That was the best part, the feedback. I always give feedback. I thrive on it, but it has never been this meaningful before. I was able to give pinpoint feedback on a person’s individual weaknesses, how to tighten up their mathematics, or the next step they need to work on to get better. Even the people that got all the questions correct, and knew what they were doing. The students that were truly honest were able to explain, they make silly mistakes and are not always so comfortable. This class will be getting another run through with equations, as I think it will help them to become better students in the end. Belinda Naujok, Moss Vale High School, November 2019
For the student-centred approach, I consistently used a WRS equivalent for all of my classes and worked on strategies to increase independent learning. The checklist (WRS) I created for every topic in maths since the beginning of this course has been modified as my experience in using them has increased. The checklist included: minimum requirements for each exercise, extension tasks, glossary words, work habits and reminders of class protocols.
To implement this strategy we did a class discussion/brainstorm on independent learning; how it looks in the class and examples. We came up some trouble-shooting protocols - seek assistance from the worked examples (or textbook), previously completed work, peers and then finally a teacher. That being said, it was stressed that they were always welcome to seek assistance from me at any time, however, I would guide them through the other trouble-shooting protocols as part of my assistance. Initially, they struggled with independence and got annoyed with me for putting the responsibility back on them, however with the support of the WRS, students became more confident in collaborating and assisting each other.
It's now to the point where I hear them referring to the WRS themselves, they'll ask for one if I haven't handed it out to them yet and I've now provided the resources to other teachers because they keep asking their other teachers for it too. I've overheard " I can help, you don't need to ask Miss yet.." and " just use your checklist!".
The independent learning is a work in progress but the WRS is a great resource in supporting that endeavour and I will definitely be maintaining it's implementation across all of my classes. I'm now more confident in building independence skills in students and I'm also going to be circulating my version of the WRS resource to other staff teaching the same classes, to support them as well. Samantha Laird, Lalor Secondary College, Sept 2019
What I like in this course is the challenge to the conventional notion of a teacher and how students learn. So, I put on a brave face and turned the control of the learning process over to my Year 10 students giving them an assessment task vastly different from the traditional pen and paper tests. The task, on the topic of similarity, I have found students tend to have the highest rate of disengagement. I decided to utilise Richard’s suggestion of an “I can do” task. The task was wildly open-ended. I provided students with the syllabus dot points, shown below, and asked them to demonstrate an understanding of each point by presenting detailed and practical examples of the concepts. The emphasis was to be on reasoning and presenting rather than the formal proof. The format of their “I can do” task was itself open-ended with some students choosing to make a video while others created PowerPoint presentations. Proves triangles are similar and uses formal geometric reasoning to establish properties of triangles and quadrilaterals. MA 5.3-16MG Uses deductive reasoning in presenting arguments and formal proofs. MA 5.3-WM: Worried that I had made the task too open-ended, I provided an opportunity in class for students to work in groups on their project. This allowed me time to move around and assess ideas and provide preliminary feedback. My Year 10 students were certainly not used to this style of learning, and initially, they were a little off task. But as the task was assessable, the students quickly made an effort and surprisingly (for me) turned out to be extremely engaged. One group had made a video with a murder mystery plot which could only be solved from correctly identifying similar triangles that betrayed the location of the shooter. Sounds complicated? It was! Importantly the students reported how much fun they had in making it. I believe this led to a deeper understanding and engagement of the subject material. What began with a trial of an open-ended assessment task has certainly encouraged me to explore this avenue further. Brett Scovell, Fort St High School, August 2019
I have really learnt so much from this course and have gained the confidence to try new things which are working well. I use the 9-second rule in all my classes and it has given the weaker and quieter student a chance which they never got before because the quick and smart kids were always answering the questions. I have been using the brick wall strategy as often as I can and it has helped engage all students and mostly leads onto peer questioning and assistance which again has worked well. In Year 7, I put up a few questions about collecting like terms and I wrote a few different answers on the board. Each student had to state why the answers were either correct or not and explain why to the rest of the class. Everyone wanted a chance and the lesson was completely student centred and controlled with discussion on each incorrect/ correct answer. They soon realised only like terms could be added or subtracted from each other. This lead onto removing grouping symbols once multiplication had been learnt and once again I put 2 sums on the board and the answers and with working backwards they had to state the rules which they got or were helped by their peers. There were lots of aha moments in class and they all went on to complete the exercise without any complaints. I used a metacognition assignment of a few simplifications of algebra sums where most students gave themselves over 70 % as they felt confident with their knowledge and hardly needed second attempts to correct their work as they were getting it correct. I have also used the work required scheme with year 11 doing linear functions and put 2 graphs on the board, one with a positive gradient and one with a negative gradient. I also wrote the equations down. I then asked a few open-ended questions using the conceptually based approach, like why is that graph sloping the way it is? what is the point y-intercept telling us, where do we get that information from? what would be the equation for a line without a slope? whats the equation of the y-axis? x-axis? What do we need to make graphs parallel? Whilst they did not use the words like gradient and intercepts they could eventually work out what numbers were causing the slope and intercepts. I then got them to draw their own lines in an attempt to do an" I can do" exercise and most of them managed fairly well. Gail Bachmann, Kesser Torah College, May 2019
I tried out the Brick Wall strategy to challenge my students from the very start of the year. I told them that I would be trying some new things this year to what they are probably used to. Have done it with 2 classes so far but I want to tell you about my year 9's. With Year 9 (low ability) I popped up a really curly collecting like terms question and asked them to simplify it. Most of them had blank stares at first, a few asked if I was going to show them how to do it first (to which I answered no). All but a few engaged and gave it their best shot. I walked around the room answering questions. But the questions were "am I on the right track" not "can you show me" I was taken aback at how many of them gave it a go. After about 10 minutes, I noticed they were helping each other, then I told them that my expectation was that most would probably struggle and get it wrong. Lots of relieved sighs around the room, I then asked for people to offer me their answers (I got four with one being correct). We then discussed each option and the "how". Then I told them the correct answer and gave them a few minutes to see if they could work out for themselves how to get that answer. Once we went through that I gave them a basic sheet that got harder as they went along (with no real explicit instructions) and again they all (but 3) engaged eagerly to see if they could do it. By the end of the lesson, I had many students telling me that when they first saw the question on the board they were scared and felt stupid because they didn't know what to do, but at the end, they looked at it and realised that it was easy and that they could do it. I pointed out them that I didn't tell them how to do it, that they worked it out for themselves with my help and guidance. I even got some WOAH's for my efforts :) Was a great lesson! Oh, and I used the spoon idea mentioned by someone earlier - worked really well! Triscia von Pralitz, Wadalba Community School, February 2019
I have moved to a more student centred approach with my Year 10s. I have observed that a class that was already quite motivated were now more engaged. I have also been able to identify areas of weakness by not teaching in a compartmentalised approach - in particular, I asked students to consider how they can use this data to predict other scores and it lovely to see that students were able to draw in a trend line but some struggled to use techniques taught in linear functions to find the equation of the line. I then had to reevaluate how I taught linear functions. From this, when I start teaching patterns to Year 7s, I need to be holistic in how I deliver it and have a conceptual approach to minimise this occurring.
The student centred learning approach with my Year 7s has paid off well - the pay off has been the students are being extended and remediated on a more personal level. Recently, I delivered a lesson using elevators to introduced integers. There was a lot of noise but it was purposeful and the students did a lot of organic peer tutoring when it came to describing patterns and explaining any "shortcuts" they noticed ie if I am moving from floor -3 up 5 floors, where did I end up? Describe how you worked out your answer. This question provided a challenge If I am on floor -1, what floor did I start on if I moved three floors? Why is there more than one answer? I think the teams of 3 peer coaching will work well with this class.
In terms of questioning techniques - I am using them a lot more open-ended questions during the teaching and putting multiple answers on the board and asking students to challenge. Rhiannon Geddis, Head of Department, Governor Stirling Senior HS, Woodbridge, WA, April 2018
This course provided excellent information and strategies to improve engagement. I have trialled many ideas presented and with time I hope to improve those requiring adjustments to cater for challenges faced in their implementation. I have found different year groups and classes with different abilities responding differently to different approaches to learning. With persistence I would like most classes to be able to adapt to these changes. The Socratic method for explaining binary numbers was well received by my Year 11 General class and fun to work through. Most students were willing and able to contribute to the discussion. The 9 second rule approach I found was more successful with the more advanced students. The less engaged students did not wish to partake no matter how long I waited. The younger students I found are much more willing to get up and explain answers which had been written on the board. I think once I have the less engaged become more engaged then this approach will be more successful. The Trigonometry brick wall strategy worked well for Year 11. I didn’t use work sheets due to time constraints but presented a dozen questions on the board for length calculations but included among them an angle question. Peer discussion on the question enabled a successful solution. As part of this sequence of learning I was also able to have the students calculate elevation of buildings using a tape measure and an inclinometer. It was interesting to discover that quite a few students did not know how to use a tape measure. The students appreciated seeing trigonometry in action. Having students investigate where the current day or weeks learning can be used in a real life context I will be introducing wherever possible.
Introducing the Trigonometry conceptual approach in the course will be for the next time I do this learning sequence. I will also be looking to initially expand this concept using Geogebra to topics like gradient, distance, midpoints and various aspects of calculus. My current limitation is access to computers at school but students working on Geogebra at home may improve their focus. I am gradually updating my lesson plans with more open ended questions to use in as many lessons as possible. It is pleasing when students come up with inventive answers to a question such as equivalent fraction for 3/7 = 5034/11746. An “I can do” assessment task was implemented for the Year 8 topic of area and volume. The high achieving students went very well with this task. A set of 15 questions was handed out at the beginning of the teaching sequence. The students were told that it was in their interest to answer the fifteen test questions as we worked through the various topics. Eight questions were selected to be in an end of topic test. It would appear that about half the class did not follow the instructions I gave them maybe due to unfamiliarity of the task. When I take this assessment method again I will be collecting their answers to the fifteen questions on the test day and tell them that this will account for 40% of their test mark. This I hope may improve their motivation. Persistence should bring improved results. Also, as suggested, I will give them all fifteen questions, grouped into 4 sections, and instruct the students to select 2 questions from each section for answering. I will be proceeding with the Metacognition assignment next for this class.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have lots to think about and do …. Glenn MacLaughlan, Kogarah High School, Sept 2017
The executive Summary:
Classroom management incidents have reduced as more students are on task at any one time.
Student bookwork has taken a significant improvement from what I remember them to be in Year 9.
Several students have had lunch time catch up classes to help them achieve their work requirements. These have been constructive times where my approach has been to support students to complete what they know they need to do.
I need to do more work prior to the topic commencement. Planning the work requirements takes time and I overestimated what some students could do. Still a work in progress on that one.
The rewards are definitely in the classroom. Less stress, more productivity from students and definitely more ownership of their learning.
Student results were strong in the assessment task.
I've been so impressed that I've commenced a trial with both of my Year 9 classes to observe its effectiveness with younger students.
The details: I decided to trial my the Work Requirement Scheme and mini- lesson combo with a Year 11 General-2 class. The topic chosen was Earning Money and Tax During the First lesson I explained the concept of the new class approach, giving them a modified "Richard's blurb". The interest level was primed. I then gave them the Work Schedule for the topic. Most students immediately commenced the WRS activities. Others took several classes and needed me restating the goals to help them to adjust to the new methodology. Definitely a lot less of me at the front. The chronic spoon-feedees were openly sceptical and initially used class time to do as little as possible. During the 3 weeks of the topic students have responded far more positively than I had hoped. The motivated group have thrived on the lack of interruption. They completed the topic, undertook additional homework activities and wanted the extension activity provided (a collection of HSC questions from past papers). This generated a level of interest in the others and a group of advocates for me. I often get these students to support others. At times I've directed one student to another with a comment "I've just helped so and so with that same question, see if they can explain it to you, raise your hand if you feel you need some more instruction". No one has come back to me so far. The middle group took some time to adjust but they too have seen benefits to the approach. The chronic spoon-feeders have taken more time to settle, were slower to engage in the activities, and needed more prompting to remain on task. However, they have appreciated the extra individual support received from myself and the other students. Andrew Gear, Cedars Christian College, March 2015
I started implementing most ideas towards the end of last year just to get a 'feel' for them and became quite excited at the immediate impact each made. Needless to say, I was keen to start teaching this year with the new ideas. I set each class up with a learning journal and a formula book for 10, 11, 12.
9-Second Rule: The 9-second rule became easier to use as I got conditioned to being patient. This really does help the students work through their understanding without pressure.
WRS: I am also making progress in implementing a 'work required scheme' to compliment the outline of the topics.....I am finding I have to be super organised and allow for the impromptu lessons. I'm all over it for year 12!
Brick Wall Strategy & Open-Ended Questions: I find the most enjoyment out of using the 'brick wall strategy' and open-ended questions. I have adapted this idea and added another aspect for my Year 9 5.3 class … Lots of 'Ahh' moments!!
Explicit instructions / Peer teaching: My year 8 require explicit instructions and are responding to lots of praise. These students find the use of YouTube clips/songs etc. a great way to remember the ideas/concepts being taught. I am enjoying this as well. They are now starting to use peer teaching without me even suggesting it. That is a pleasing thing to see.
Summary: Overall, I am still a work in progress, but I feel more confident with the fact that I can motive and engage all levels of students with a variety of techniques that I have learned from this course. Linda White, Terrigal High School, February 2016.
I have implemented more Open Ended Questions as well as the 9-second rule particularly with my year 10 class as well as the Assessment for Learning Coordinate Geometry Activity with my top year 8 students.
Assessment for Learning Whist a few students struggled with this independent learning experience, the majority have enjoyed the activity, commenting “It is more hands-on and solidified our knowledge”, “This was a great activity that helped us to revise and implement what we have learnt in Chapter 7 in our minds”, “It is better than individual learning as you communicate with your peers by co-operating with them and is much more enjoyable”.
Peer teaching I usually have to spend a whole lesson going over an examination paper, forcing students to sit through an hour of me lecturing away. This experiences always wear me out, with students’ misbehaviours, most often than not, escalating, out of boredom and unable to remain focus. So I took up the challenge of Peer Teaching, employing the 'Teams of Three' peer teaching competition with my year 8 class. I organised the students into groups of three, based on their exam results, combining students who 'Got it', 'Nearly got it', and 'Not got it'. I encouraged them to purposely embrace “We learn 10% of what we hear and 90% of what we teach” and with the promise of prizes for the most improved groups after re-testing next week. At the start, I found students were hesitant, but with some prodding, they effectively and collaboratively engaged in peer teaching. I was very surprised how successfully it was, student tutors have gained confidence whilst the others have gained a one-on-one assistance with their learning. This has freed me up to facilitate students with harder to solve questions. What a great strategy! My Anh Ho, Georges River College, October 2015
The course contained so many good ideas that could be usefully employed, it was rather difficult to choose a focus! Student-Centred Learning - The WRS But for me the idea that stood out as potentially being very effective, and also which could be made to encompass a number of other ideas (independence, self-learning, brick wall strategy, peer teaching, motivation) was the WRS. Accordingly, I attempted a modified implementation with my Year 9 5.2 class, which have had a history of poor engagement and a spoon feeding culture. We had a class discussion about the change in approach to a more student-centred, independent learning focus, which allowed different students to progress at different paces and at levels that suited their ability. The reaction I must say was unenthusiastic - fear of the unknown I guess. There was only time for about 2 weeks of trialling the new approach. I've had difficulties in keeping different subgroups within the class "on task", especially while I was giving others mini-lessons; several immediately went into learned helplessness mode and just waited (and were distracted) until I could wield the spoon. This is a behaviour I need to work on.
HOWEVER, after a few lessons I could see there were others who relished being able to help/teach others in their group and to progress independently and on balance I definitely could see that there was more and better learning going on than would have occurred under my previous more traditional teaching approach. I also was able to focus on three other strategies where I felt I could improve ie giving explicit instructions, better questioning techniques, and open-ended questions. I have always struggled to differentiate adequately in my classes and the WRS is a big step up for me in this regard. While I still need a lot more rubber on the road with this approach, the signs are favourable and I'm keen to introduce it into all my non-HSC classes in the new term. I do have a concern about what happens when the good students complete a topic "early", part of me wants to have everyone finish at the same time so we can begin a new topic at the same time. I'm hoping that extension activities will allow this to happen. Peter Bennett, Marist College March 2015