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Teachers: your guide to learning strategies that really work.

2nd January 2019

In an extract from his book on bridging the gap between research and teaching practice, Carl Hendrick picks key techniques for teaching effectively. Carl Hendrick is an English teacher, head of learning and research at Wellington College, and co-author of “What does this look like in the classroom”?

Please note, the original article appeared on The Guardian’s website.

We are dissecting this original article, and outlining how our solution, DisplayNote Classroom can help teachers adopt Hendrick’s techniques into everyday teaching.

DisplayNote Classroom allows teachers to wirelessly share what’s on their screen to students’ connected devices.

1) Revisit previous learning.

A core element of effective learning is that a class is exposed to new information a number of times. The beginning of a lesson is an excellent place to consolidate previous learning and to create a sense of continuity.

With DisplayNote Classroom, teachers can save any previous lessons within the app. If they are starting a new lesson, and want to start off with a reminder of the last lesson, they can simply open the set of previous slides with one click, and instantly revert to the current lesson again.

2) Check for understanding.

Various techniques can achieve this. An expert suggests that “hinge-point” questions are of great use here.

“Firstly, it should take no longer than two minutes, and ideally less than one minute, for all students to respond to the questions; the idea is that the hinge-point question is a quick check on understanding, rather than a new piece of work in itself. Second, it must be possible for the teacher to view and interpret the responses from the class in 30 seconds”.

DisplayNote Classroom has ‘polling’ functionality, which allows teachers to pose questions, and send these questions directly to students’ devices for them to answer. Once they’ve answered the question(s), the teacher can instantly see how many (and who exactly) answered correctly, thus gauging understanding on the topic.

3) Give feedback on students, not work.

This is an interesting statement. Marking and feedback are not the same thing, according to experts. A key aspect of a successful classroom is that feedback is given to improve the student rather than the work.

“Too many teachers focus on the purpose of feedback as changing or improving the work, whereas the major purpose of feedback should be to improve the student. If the feedback isn’t helping the student to do a better task and a better job, the next time they are doing a similar task, then it is probably going to be ineffective”.

Once a teacher gets into the habit of regularly checking for understanding, they are in a position to provide meaningful feedback. The polling functionality mentioned in the previous step helps the teacher give meaningful, personalised feedback to students who need assistance. There is also a messaging function, whereby students can send a message or question to the teacher’s device, and this won’t be shared on the main screen, so it’s kept private. It’s particularly useful for students who find it difficult to speak up, to let the teacher know if they need something explained in more detail. This can also help the teacher provide feedback to the students.

4) Offer plenty of guidance.

The limitations of working memory can be particularly problematic for novice learners. The vast majority will need careful guidance, especially when encountering new information, in order to reach a time where they can work independently.

With DisplayNote Classroom, students can make their own notes and annotations over the top of teacher’s slides, and save these personal notes down to their own device. The slides act as guidance, but the ability for the student to add their own notes promotes self-learning. These are stepping stones for the student to become more of an independent learner, and it’s easier for them to dissect and learn their own notes, rather than solely the teacher’s.

5) Reduce cognitive load.

Reducing the level of information to an optimal amount, which avoids overloading or boring students, is crucial to effective learning. Once learners have built up schemas of knowledge that allow them to work on problems without exceeding their cognitive bandwidth, then they can work independently.

Experts advise teachers to present new information in small steps, providing worked examples, and offering images and text simultaneously so that the student isn’t trying to remember too much.

DisplayNote Classroom allows teachers to import images, annotate over content, pose questions and enable two-way live collaboration between students. All of this provides a much more engaging lesson than a typical ‘speak/listen’ session. Students have as much of an input on the lesson as the teacher, and because it’s more interactive, it’s also much more engaging.

Want to make your lessons more interactive and engaging today?

Try DisplayNote Classroom absolutely free for 30 days. 

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