Building Relationships with All Students
By: Ali Tanner
Every day in classrooms across Jeffco, whether virtual or in-person, educators are working hard to build and maintain relationships with their students. This is no easy task. We aren’t just building relationships with students on the surface, but striving to cultivate a lasting connection with far less face-to-face time than ever before. Our ‘teacher hearts’ know the positive impact that relationships can have on the learning culture of our classrooms. Research also supports this idea, with Teacher-Student Relationships having a whopping 0.52 effect size according to John Hattie’s work in Visible Learning. We know quality teacher-student relationships play a foundational role for student success.
As we reflect on the culture of our classrooms and our touchpoint with students, we might consider these questions (adapted from the Distance Learning Playbook, pg. 51 and 62):
One strategy you could use to continue to deepen your conversations and relationships with students is called “What’s in MY News?”. This strategy, shared by Sarah K. Ahmed in Being the Change, provides a place and space for your students (and yourself if you’d like to join in) to share what is on their mind - what is currently ‘their news’. Examples of student news could range from “I am worried about my grade” to “tomorrow is my birthday.” This strategy could be adapted for content specific news (maybe tied to self-reflection and assessment) or more open-ended depending on your students and your classroom.
Start off with a blank table like the one shown above. Model for the students how they might complete each section of the table, being sure to make connections between what we are feeling, why we might be feeling it, and what we can do moving forward. Once they have completed the table, you could create an opportunity for students to share their news, or use this as a silent reflection tool. To start, you might consider using only the first two columns. Then, as your students grow comfortable with the strategy, you can add in the identity and action pieces. Any way you choose to adapt and use this strategy in your classroom, you are sure to learn a little bit more about your students and, in turn, strengthen your relationship with them.
The Power of Questioning
By Lindsey Kjoller
As teachers we know the benefits of supporting students with small groups or individually based on specific learning needs. The ability to masterfully guide students’ thinking and foster a learning environment of curiosity and discovery, is the magic of powerful coaching in these small groups. In this section of the Distance Learning Playbook, Coaching and Facilitating, Fisher, Frey, and Hattie dive into the importance of questioning and prompting in successful coaching and facilitating. Second only to teacher talk, questioning is the number one teaching strategy used by teachers.
John Hattie has done extensive research on effect size, ranking 138 influences that are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects. Hattie identifies 0.4 as the hinge point, or the point in which an influence impacts a students growth about a year. Questioning has an effect size of 0.48. Teachers ask a lot of questions, in fact between 100 and 350 a day (Brualdi, 1998; Clinton & Dawson, 2018; Livin & Long. 1981; Mohr, 1998). If we can incorporate metacognitive strategies into these questions, the effect size increases to 0.55.
Being specific with the types of questions we use can help guide students towards meaningful learning. When students are unable to answer questions, teachers can use prompts to focus on the cognitive and metacognitive processes that support students. There are several different types of prompts teachers might use to support student thinking including prompts that:
Similarly, simple cues can artfully guide a student's thinking. Types of clues include:
Teacher talk moves that focus on revoicing, repeating, reasoning, adding on, and think alouds are another way teachers might thoughtfully push students with their cognitive and metacognitive thinking. Although these teacher discourse moves were designed to support student engagement in mathematical discussions, they are general enough to apply in many different content areas.
If you are interested in learning more about the art of questioning and metacognitive strategies, consider diving into more from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in the Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework.
Feedback: the Gateway to Student Success
Have you ever run into a former student out in public like the grocery store, or a concert? Most likely, that student shared a memory with you about something that you said to them or how you showed them support. Providing feedback is a powerful way to influence a student’s thinking, achievement, and progression of learning with content as well as non-academic components that attribute to student success. Feedback as defined by Hattie and Timperley, “Feedback relating to actions or information provided by an agent (teacher, peer, book, parent, internet, experience) that provides information regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding” (2007). It is timely, specific, and corrective. For example, “You paid attention to detail and used appropriate inverse operations to find solutions. You seem to be having some trouble with outlining your steps in a sequential way. This video might be helpful. We will continue to work on this together until you have it mastered!” in lieu of “Good job, or you need to fix your assignment”. Hattie’s work on effect size describes .40 as the “hinge point” for identifying what is effective in the effort to advance a student’s achievement. The effect size of feedback is 0.66, showing positive results in student growth and learning (Hattie, 2018).
Providing corrective feedback paired with processes information is even more impactful. This feedback structure should address three questions for learners(Fisher et al., 2021).
For more information on tech tools to support giving virtual feedback, visit Jeffco Ed Tech Blog, Fine Tune Your Feedback With Digital Tools.
Finding the Relevance
By Magali Saez-Cox
If you’re like me, you’re not sure what it means to be bored. My to-do list is so long that even when I find a few minutes to myself, I have a long list of fun things to do. So, what is boredom? According to merriam-webster.com, boredom is “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” Well, now that makes sense, a lack of interest. Hattie’s research mentions boredom having a -0.49 effect size in our classrooms; A NEGATIVE EFFECT SIZE!?! So, how might we turn a lack of interest into engagement and connection to the subjects in our virtual classrooms? The Distance Learning Playbook suggests finding the relevance. When students find the content relevant, boredom is turned into engagement. There are three aspects of relevancy: 1. personal association, 2. personal usefulness, and 3. personal identification. Combating boredom in the classroom is not about being entertaining or feeling like we have to move at the pace of video games. When we understand the depths of relevancy and how a stressed brain can feel like boredom, we can help our students connect to the content.
Relevancy is personal. What I find interesting may not be to someone else (I am keenly aware of my nerdiness). Same goes for each of our students. We can help them find relevance through personal association (Distance Learning Playbook, p.98). Personal association is when students can connect the content through an object, person, memory or something outside of the classroom. When this connection is made, a spark to learn more occurs. Personal usefulness is the second aspect of relevance. What personal goals have students set for themselves that tasks or assignments in our classrooms will help them achieve? A student who desperately wants a dog might engage in non-fiction reading to find reasons to share with his family to convince them to get a dog. A high school student who has goals to become a doctor will be vested in her biology class. The final and most motivating way for students to find relevancy is through personal identification. The Distance Learning Playbook says, “When students get to learn about themselves, their problem-solving, and their ability to impact others, relevance is increased” (p. 99). When the content or task aligns with students’ identities, boredom is not an option. Not all of the responsibility of relevance falls on teachers. Helping students identify feelings of boredom can help them refocus and find their own relevance.
Studies have shown that boredom is related to stress. When students’ brains are overpowered by stress, distractions from emotional trauma, and ADHD, they can disengage, feel distracted and bored. The answer is not to provide more assignments or to overstimulate which can create even more stress and disengagement. The key is to support students in identifying what is stressful, when they are bored, and what feelings of boredom are so they can self-regulate, ask for help and find ways to re-engage in tasks, texts and content. Helping students find their personal associations, personal usefulness, and personal identification can support their engagement.
As teachers, we strive to find the magic button to engage our students. Knowing more about relevancy, how to create relevancy for students and what might be causing boredom can be the key to engaging our students.
ARE MY STUDENTS GETTING IT!?!?!?!?1?
Formative Assessment in a Distanced World
By Grant Euler, Assistant (to the) Executive Director
Welcome to the latest installment of The Distance Learning Playbook K-12 blog. We are sharing tips and tricks around teaching for engagement and impact in any setting. The ideas shared in this blog series come from the Fisher, Frey and Hattie book, The Distance Learning Playbook and their recent webinar.
How do we know if our students are getting it? That question was hard enough to answer when we saw our students in person every day. Now, seeing them less frequently or perhaps not at all, this question requires some new ideas like so much else in lives right now.
The idea that struck me most about this section of the book was the idea that good formative feedback needs to be both actionable by the teacher and the student. With less direct teacher contact, students must take more responsibility for their own learning, and if we think about the student making a change in their learning based on the feedback (in the same way we would change our teaching), then formative feedback could actually scaffold the growth of students’ personal responsibility for their learning!
Here are some ideas to help implement this idea.
VIRTUAL EXIT SLIPS: Have students just respond with number corresponding to their level of understanding, such as
VIRTUAL STORY RETELLING: For younger students, orally retelling a story can remove the writing constraint when trying to measure student’s understanding. If students record themselves retelling you have shared (perhaps recorded as well), it allows you to rewind and hear the student’s retelling more than once as well as providing a record to show growth over time. This strategy could be used in any content or age, where students would retell a story or explain a concept from a reading (such as osmosis from a science text).
There are other ideas in the book as well. If you have any questions, please contact me, I would love to chat with you!!
By Kristina Harris
A well planned think along ensures a higher degree of clarity for students. These can be recorded or live depending on the learning environment. However, teachers should be careful about not including too many ideas or allowing a stream of consciousness to be what is shared. In order to be succinct and simple teachers should keep the following in mind:
When using a think along consider using first person language to mirror what internal dialogue students may use. It is human nature to respond to empathetic statements such as the use of “I” statements.
Novice learners need to know not only the strategy but when to apply it.
Engaging Students who are Hard to Reach
By Anne Folsom
There are learners in every classroom that are hard to reach. We teachers know the value of relationships, and we work our hardest to build connections with all of the kids in our room. We know that ALL of our instruction and ALL of their learning will be better if we start with a respectful and caring relationship.
But sometimes, it doesn’t work quite as well. We have students that are more challenging to connect with and who are more disengaged. The Distance Learning Playbook invites us to, “[Flip] the switch on this narrative by intentionally increasing your positive attention efforts with students you have identified as being difficult to reach.”
The book suggests using a chart to record your interactions with 3 students who you’re having a hard time reaching. Challenge yourself to interact with them each day by:
Use your data to make decisions about how you might increase your positive interactions with these students. And track the changes you see - positive relationships are sure to increase!
By Marci Hellman, Math Coordinator
Welcome to this week’s blog post in The Distance Learning Playbook K-12 series. We are sharing tips and tricks around teaching for engagement and impact in any setting. The ideas shared in this blog series come from the Fisher, Frey and Hattie book, The Distance Learning Playbook and their recent webinar.
Did you know that optometrists share growing concern over the eye strain that our increased use of screen time is causing? A quick solution is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes you (and your students!) should look away from the screen to a distance of 20 feet or more for at least 20 seconds. This shifting of focus allows your eye muscles to relax for a time and reduces eye strain.
Instead of trying to remember to build yet another thing into your lessons, you can embed opportunities to look away right into your lessons. Here’s an idea.
Build an old-fashioned paper and pencil graphic organizer into your lesson. Students will automatically have to look away from their screens when they shift to writing on their graphic organizer. Here’s one to try during class discussions. It is simple enough that students can make it just by folding a plain piece of paper!
Students take their own notes, and they record ideas from their peers during the discussion. They summarize their thinking in the center. For accountability, students can photograph their graphic organizer to turn in or enter their summaries into an electronic platform.
Need more convincing? Here are five more benefits to taking screen breaks.
Do you have any jokes about eyes? We’d love to hear them...the “cornea” the better!
By Heather Waldron, STEM Pathway Designer
Module 7 of the Distance Learning Playbook focuses on designing learning opportunities that are engaging for students and employ what we know to be effective instructional strategies. One area of focus is the use of classroom discussions.
Hattie has found that classroom discussion has a .82 effect size, making it a highly effective teaching strategy. Regardless of setting, effective classroom discussions should be introduced with a focus question that prompts critical thinking, supported with a collaborative structure, and resulting in a student product that makes thinking visible. The structures that support effective classroom discussion are not new for many teachers, however they may need slight modifications for use in today’s learning environments.
Recently, as part of the Distance Learning Playbook Virtual Institute, Doug Fischer shared a number of examples of effective structures to support classroom discussions. Two of these structures are highlighted here with remote modifications noted in red.
A few key takeaways when implementing classroom discussions in any setting:
See this article from ASCD express for more ideas on supporting online group discussions. For additional classroom discussion strategies check out this post on Cult of Pedagogy.
Distance Learning Playbook K-12 Series
By Jef Fugita
Welcome to the second blog post in The Distance Learning Playbook K-12 series. We are sharing tips and tricks around teaching for engagement and impact in any setting. The ideas shared in their blog series will come from the Fisher, Frey and Hattie book.
John Hattie explains that while distance learning has an effect size of .14, the setting of the learning is not a deciding factor, rather the methods of teaching are more important.
Hattie & Zierer believe positive student-teacher relationships are the heart of learning. During distance learning, we are no longer able to “see” all our students and are lacking the face-to face interaction. Module 3 in The Distance Learning Playbook K-12 goes deeper into strategies for forming and maintaining teacher-student relationships. One of the strategies is having a system for calling on students and keeping track of who has not participated. A positive outcome of having a system is providing teachers with a way to assess the level of understanding at a moment in time. There are many different methods of calling on students. In a distance learning classroom, the strategies are the same. For example, announcing the students name and making sure you have their attention before you pose the question. This method contributes to a positive relationship through respectful interactions. Additional methods include keeping tally marks on class roster or student names on cards. These are not new strategies; however, it is helpful to hear from education experts about their effectiveness in remote learning and remembering to trust our professional judgement in using highly effective teaching strategies that work whether in-person, hybrid or remote learning.
Here are some additional participation strategies from Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/article/8-strategies-improve-participation-your-virtual-classroom
Curriculum & Instruction