How to plan and monitor effective teaching and learning - a video presentation

Today, we have added a new presentation to The Literacy Bug's YouTube channel. The presentation is entitled How to plan and monitor effective teaching and learning, and it can be found at the following link: https://youtu.be/cZrtB8dTZEg.

Like its predecessor,  How to plan and monitor effective teaching and learning clocks in at just about one hour long. So grab your popcorn, sit back, watch/listen and enjoy. The presentation slides are available for download here.

Please note that the presentation does NOT explore what to teach or how to teach in detail. Instead, the presentation provides advice on general planning, monitoring and reflection principles. To be exact, the presentation sets out to meet the following objectives:

  • to encourage informed, intentional, evidence-based teaching, which takes into consideration the learners’ currents skills, knowledge and intentions;

  • to emphasise the importance of gradual, progressive, sequenced practice that allows learners to become proficient, confident and knowledgable;

  • to reinforce how instruction may need to include both “intensive” and “extensive” activities; and

  • to reinforce why it is important to reflect regularly on teaching and learning activities.

Let us know what you think. It's another longer presentation. We hope to produce some shorter ones in the future.

Below is the audio from the presentation. Whilst it includes references to the visuals, the audio may well make sense on its own. If you would prefer to listen, feel free to play online or download for offline use.

We hope the presentation is useful and thought-provoking. Please explore and enjoy!

Some Rough Notes on Certain Elements Contributing to Literacy Learning

 

The following are types of focal learning areas:

  1. Word study (including early language and beginning vocabulary development)
  2. Vocabulary development
  3. Early composition (creating sentences, usually based on some stimulus)
  4. Reading practice (for fluency with some comprehension)
  5. Reading practice to deploy strategies
  6. Close comprehensive reading (and responding)
  7. Reading to respond (focus on text type)
  8. Writing workshops (with portfolio development and mini-lessons)
  9. Writing for a purpose (to real audiences)
  10. Facilitating oral language
  11. Emphasising oral language in learning
  12. Developing skills in specific spoken discourses, genres, contexts and/or registers
  13. Academic/disciplinary literacies
  14. Anchored learning (instruction)
  15. Functional literacy

 

There following skills areas are developed within and across the above sequences:

  • language skills;
  • literacy skills;
  • knowledge development;
  • learning skills (how do I learn? how/why do I remember something? how do I defer gratification?, how do I maintain focus?);
  • social and emotional qualities (including trust, confidence and self-concept);
  • schemas, routines, habits and practices;
  • independence and resilience;
  • interests, identities, expertise and careers;
  • acumen and awareness of talents/specialisation
  • deliberation, familiarity and situated cognition (how to attack and solve problems in context? how do I deploy this strategy in context? and to what effect?);
  • critical thinking; and
  • cultural and political awareness

 

We must be mindful of:

  • time allocated to learning;
  • the richness of the learning spaces/resources;
  • the organisation of learning; 
  • the appropriateness and challenging nature of the content;
  • the available of material conditions and opportunities to practice; and
  • issue affecting trust, power and access.

Let the Teaching (folder) Begin ...

"Thinking too has a time for ploughing and a time for gathering the harvest." Ludwig Wittgenstein, from Culture & Value

It is with great pleasure that I announce the beginnings of the Teaching Folder of the Wittgenstein On Learning website. The Teaching Folder is and will be a special section on the site. Its pages will seek to apply Wittgensteinian principles to practical, balanced teaching techniques and examples.

For some visitors, this section might appear to stray away from direct commentary on the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. This is true. This section will be the one that is the most Wittgensteinian and the least Wittgenstein in nature.

In the Wittgensteinian spirit, it will provide teaching advice, strategies, assessment techniques and examples that meander between cognitive and socio-cultural explanations of learning. The advice will straddle structural and contextual considerations as well as individual and cultural perspectives. Over time, I hope the section will provide visitors with ideas that facilitate rich, meaningful teaching that is multifaceted, developmental and experiential.

A few housekeeping tasks have been completed to pave the way. The Topics Folder has been rebadged as the Background Folder, which now includes the Why Wittgenstein? and Initial Notes pages that previously could be found in the Home Folder. The Overview page has been retitled Key Themes and the Essays page has been moved into the Teaching Folder.

There is much work that still remains ahead. Visitors will notice how the Balanced Teaching, Planning & Assessment and Example & Case Studies pages are all currently under construction. Nevertheless, the bones of the skeleton are in place and a bit of flesh has already started to take shape. To receive updates, I encourage visitors to select the link below -  "Subscribe to the Journal". 

In the meantime, enjoy and explore!!

A Comprehensive Literacy Pedagogy Would Account For ...

"In becoming literate, one must acquire skills that are only remotely related to print as well as those that are directly related." (Snow, et al, 1991, p. 5)

McKenna, M. C., & Stahl, K. A. D. (2012). Assessment for reading instruction. 2nd Edition. Guilford Press.

Catherine Snow's observation is particularly relevant to managing balanced literacy instruction. In addition to attending to comprehension skills, compositional skills and print-based skills (e.g. phonemic awareness, spelling skills, fluency, etc), such instruction must take into account the learning of the language itself; the situations in which we speak, listen, read and write; what we are actually trying to learn (e.g. cooking, gardening, football, etc); and the desires, needs, preferences, relationships, experiences and knowledge that we bring to the learning. The diagram to the right represents this parallel development of word recognition skills, strategic reading skills, and language and knowledge

A comprehensive literacy pedagogy would be one where developed a mastering of "the code" along with ample and diverse experiences of using language and literacy in everyday practices and in learning. Such a balanced literacy pedagogy  would include a focus on:

  • creating environments and experiences that foster learning, language & literacy;
  • scaffolding reading;
  • scaffolding writing;
  • developing word recognition skills;
  • expanding vocabulary and depth of word meanings;
  • encouraging the representation & retention of knowledge; and 
  • keeping a pulse on a learner's development, interests and motivation.

Such a pedagogy would recognise that:

  1. Human language is a practice and it involves practice.
  2. That practice involves attending to and mastering salient aspects of language.
  3. Whilst spoken language is arguable developed by all, literacy is the acquisition of a code that many take for granted.
  4. This development is incremental and moves through stages. Adults must be ever vigilant and sensitive to this development.
  5. At every stage it is important to emphasise and model that language and literacy should be meaningful, purposeful and about discovery.
  6. The teacher’s role is to help the child by arranging tasks and activities in such a way that they are more easily accessible. The teacher must also ensure that adequate time and space is made available (especially in the great hurly burly of contemporary life). It is important that learners achieves closure.
  7. This requires an introduction to the routines, habits and ways of using language and literacy as mediating tools.
  8. It is vital that the learner has adequate time and space for this engagement (a) to be modelled for them, (b) to participate in guided practice, and (c) to try out new strategies and skills on their own.
  9. We should not underestimate the important role that emotional commitment and attachment plays in the intake, uptake and embodiment of learning.
  10. We must acknowledge that all learning is conducted with others in context and is dependent on access to tools and resources.
  11. It is important to recognise that there are multiple ways of reading/writing and it is vital to create contexts where a range of literacies can be developed.
  12. An individual's reading and writing practices become more specialised as he or she grows into social, community and economic spheres.
  13. Teaching practitioners must be aware of the material and social factors that impinge upon an individual's successful development of a range of language, literacy and learning practices.
We must remember, in the words of Moyal-Sharrock (2010), how "acquiring language is like learning to walk: the child is stepped into language by an initiator and, after much hesitation and repeated faltering, with time and multifarious practice and exposure, it disengages itself from the teacher's hold and is able, as it were, to run with the language." (2010, pg 6)

 

Reference

Cavell, S. (1969). Must We Mean What We Say?. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Moyal-Sharrock, D. (2010). Coming to Language: Wittgenstein’s Social “Theory” of Language Acquisition. In SOL Conference 6-8 May 2010. Bucharest.

Snow, C., Barnes, W. S., Chandler, J., Goodman, I. F., & Hemphill, L. (1991). Unfulfilled expectations: home and school influences on literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

What is essential for language & literacy learning? (UPDATED)

The following is an updated version of a previous post. The post now includes minor edits as well as two new sections. First, I have provide a list of 10 factors that enhances one's opportunity to learning. This list of 10 factors will be expanding in an upcoming journal post. Second, I have expanded the conclusion by including paraphrase on a related journal entry. Please enjoy and explore.

"Literacy can be seen as dependent on instruction, with the corollary that quality of instruction is key. 

"This view emphasizes the developmental nature of literacy-- the passage of children through successive stages of literacy, in each of which the reading and writing tasks change qualitatively and the role of the instructor has to change accordingly." (Chall, 1996 as referenced in Snow, 2004)

What is essential?

Gaining a command of language and literacy over time is the essential bit. In this, I want to keep things simple. The literacy learner acquires alphabetic knowledge. That is, the individual learns that letters are meant to represent sounds, and that these sounds are combined to form words. These words can come to represent aspects or objects in one's environment, experience or imagination. One is better prepared to break a word down into its sounds (or component parts) if the word is familiar to one.  So we have a picture in which objects or concepts in someone's environment or imagination are connected to words uttered by a person which can be broken down into sounds that can be represented by a written system. And this written system is rule-governed.

Individuals should be motivated by the desire to represent or convey observations about objects, which requires one to string words together in the form of sentences (or propositions).  It is essential that the learner is also able to extract meaning from them, as well. In this case, an individual is motivated to report or narrate or recount, and to interpret reports, narratives, recounts, etc. One can imagine a learning experience in which a finite portion of the language is selected that allows one to learn a portion of particular sound patterns, develop a thematic vocabulary, and use this knowledge to read, write and discuss observations in a particular domain.

More advanced language is merely an extension of the earlier practices. In other words, if one develops the cognitive habits of seeking out sounds, understanding how sounds are put/blended together, knowing how words are formed, building a robust vocabulary, forming meaningful expressions, and interpreting expressions with intent, then one is in good place.

Read More

Glossary Updated

A range of new terms have been added to the glossaries of Wittgenstein On Learning, particularly in the general, aspect seeing, practices and language glossaries.

As a summary you will be the following newly added terms in the respective glossaries:

  • GENERAL GLOSSARY: bootstrapping, components of a message, discourse, elements of language, expertise, heteroglossia, ill-structured tasks, inclination, language learning, language/literacy as social practice, joint attention and intention, meaning blindness, practical holism and theoretical holism;
  • ASPECT SEEING GLOSSARY - bootstrapping, inclination, and meaning-blindness;
  • LANGUAGE GLOSSARY - bootstrapping, components of a message, discourse, elements of language, heteroglossia, ill-structured tasks, language learning, language/literacy as social practice, joint attention and intention, and meaning blindness;
  • PRACTICES GLOSSARY - bootstrapping, expertise, ill-structured tasks and inclination.

Please explore!

We transmit so much knowledge through the written word

Recently, I have found myself seeking to justify literacy. You would be right to think it is silly that one would need to justify such a thing. Nevertheless, there is a part of me that hears a voice that repeatedly asks, "what's all this fuss about literacy?" And I found that many of my responses were inadequate. I would respond with, "it is a vital skill in today's workforce" or "with literacy one can explore the world of the imagination" or "literacy is central to learning." And the voice would respond with quite reasonable objections. One can learn skills without literacy. One can convey information through the spoken word and through visual representations. One can be apprenticed by a thorough and patient master who shows us the ropes of what needs to be done.

"I can get by without learning to read ... I'm a car mechanic, and I have a cousin whose always up to date. He tells me and shows me what I need to know. Sure, he can read ... He stays up-to-date with all the new technology. That's how he works. But me, I'm hands on. I need to be hands on to learn. Give me an instruction manual, and it's all gibberish to me."

In practice, so much of our knowledge is transmitted through the written word. This is not to say that the written word is all that is required to understand a topic, such as medicine or auto mechanics. One still requires experts to demonstrate skills. One still requires teachers to ask the right questions and to prompt our thoughts. One still requires certain experiences to have the background knowledge that will be necessary to make sense of what one reads (to apply what one reads). Despite all this, if one is not able to read, then one is restricted in the ability to extend that knowledge. To build an extensive understanding one needs quality teachers, enabling experiences, and the ability to further one's understanding. One needs the ability to source information, read it, understand it, critique it and put it into practice.

Reading is not the key to learning. Good teaching, quality experiences and passion & purpose are the necessary keys. Reading and writing are the vital multipliers. They can help quicken the pace at which one learns. Why? Because we transmit so much our knowledge through the written word.

What is essential for language & literacy learning? (Part One)

"Literacy can be seen as dependent on instruction, with the corollary that quality of instruction is key. 

"This view emphasizes the developmental nature of literacy-- the passage of children through successive stages of literacy, in each of which the reading and writing tasks change qualitatively and the role of the instructor has to change accordingly." (Chall, 1996 as referenced in Snow, 2004)

What is essential? 

Gaining a command of language and literacy over time is the essential bit. In this, I want to keep things simple. The literacy learner acquires alphabetic knowledge. That is, the individual learns that letters are meant to represent sounds, and that these sounds are combined to form words. These words can come to represent aspects or objects in one's environment, experience or imagination. One is better prepared to break a word down into its sounds (or component parts) if the word is familiar to one.  So we have a picture in which objects in someone's environment or imagination are connected to words uttered by a person which can be broken down into sounds that can be represented by a written system. And this written system is rule-governed, but one call also argue that the practice of literacy is also rule-governed. 

Individuals should be motivated by the desire to represent or convey observations about objects, which requires that one to string words together in the form of sentences and propositions.  It is essential that the learner is also able to extract meaning from them, as well. In this case, an individual is motivated to report or narrate or recount, and to interpret reports, narratives, recounts, etc. One can imagine a learning experience in which a finite portion of the language is selected that allows one to learn a portion of particular sound patterns, develop a thematic vocabulary, and use this knowledge to read, write and discuss observations in a particular domain.

Read More

Literacy is a complex and multifaceted skill which changes enormously as it is acquired

The following is a paragraph from a chapter written by Catherine Snow that I am keen to share. Why? The paragraph (and the chapter) engages with the changing nature of literacy as the child (or individual) develop, which requires teachers to be vigilant in providing the right instruction, opportunities and extension at the right time. Please enjoy ... and also seek out the chapter.

From Snow, C. (2004) What counts as literacy in early childhood? In K. McCartney & D. Phillips (Eds.), Handbook of early child development. Oxford: Blackwell.

"Everyone agrees that literacy is a complex and multifaceted skill which changes enormously as it is acquired ... [For instance], the typical three-year-old can recognize some books by their covers, knows how to hold books upright and turn pages, listens when read to, expects to be able to understand pictures in books, may distinguish pictures from print, may recognize some letters, and produces purposeful-looking scribbles.

"The typical four year old has learned to recite the alphabet and to recognize several letters, connects events in stories to ‘real life,’ understands that stories are different from notes or lists, may produce rhymes or alliterations, and may scribble, pretend-write, or draw with a communicative purpose.

"The typical kindergartner knows about titles and authors of books, may track the print when being read to from familiar simple books, can name all and write most of the letters, can recognize and spell some simple words, spontaneously questions events in stories and information books, and uses mostly invented spelling in writing.

"The typical first grader is starting to get a serious handle on the system of writing, is able to read accurately and fluently texts that include previously taught spelling patterns, uses letter-sound correspondence to sound out new words, spells with a combination of conventional and invented spelling, monitors her own writing and reading for correctness, and understands the differences among a wide variety of texts (informal notes, informative texts, stories, poems, slogans, lists, and so forth).

"In 2nd and 3rd grade, the typically developing child becomes increasingly accurate and fluent with an ever wider variety of spelling patterns, becomes able to tackle more complex texts independently, knows how to seek help from a dictionary or an adult with difficult words or ideas, writes a wide array of text-types increasingly conventionally and with ever greater capacity to revise independently, and infers the meanings of unfamiliar words encountered in otherwise comprehensible text.

"Of course, literacy growth continues after grade 3—the capacity to read with different purposes, to learn from reading, to critique the text, to compare and contrast points of view when reading, and in other ways to produce and process complex tests may continue to develop through adulthood. But the skills acquired by 3rd grade (acquired only, of course, if children enjoy home, preschool, and primary grade environments that support these learnings) constitute the firm foundation on which those more complex skills depend."