Cooperative Learning: Kagan Structures for English Language Learners.

The teacher no longer is the “sage on the stage” but rather a model and facilitator of learning

Why use this method of teaching?
The 21st century learning skills* require students to build reading, writing, problem-solving and application competencies. The teacher is supposed to teach less content and more skills. Cooperative learning is the perfect teaching methodology to teach students strategies and skills. It also a great model to show students how to apply those skills to study content.

*The 21st century learning skills are often called the 4 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating. These skills help students learn, and so they are vital to success in school and beyond.

If you teach your students skills, they will become proficient, adaptable and life-long learners. And this works for ALL SUBJECTS. No matter the content, students who are skilled learners can study any subject, at any time and at any place. Cooperative learning also fosters a student’s ability to work in a team and to regularly reflect on his/her learning.

Groupings
The teacher* assigns students in groups with specific roles and jobs. After team members are organized into these small groups, usually of four people, and receive instruction from their teacher, students within the team cooperate with one another and work through the assignment until each team member successfully understands and completes it. Ultimately the shared goals are accomplished individually by each team member, and collectively by the group as a whole.
Teacher-selected groups have been proven time and again to be the best method of forming teams because it ensures a good mix and avoids friends from working together, which neglects to achieve the goal of improvement of social interactions among students who do not know each other as well.kaganpresentation

Team members.

Team members are responsible for their own individual learning as well as for their teammates learning. Members benefit from the contributions of the individual team members. Groups are heterogeneous are made up of high, medium and low academic achieving students. Team members acquire new skills and knowledge. Rewards are oriented towards individual and group.
Classroom Management
If cooperative learning is not accompanied with an effective classroom management system, serious problems are likely to occur. (Spencer Kagan)

Teachers usually provide verbal information along with worksheets, outlines and study guides during a cooperative learning lesson.
Students who are unfamiliar with the cooperative learning model will need to be taught about the model and be clear on their roles as well as the teacher’s expectations during this type of lesson
Reflection (group processing) is an essential part of the cooperative learning process. By clarifying and describing which actions and decisions were helpful and unhelpful the group continues the learning process and improves each members effectiveness when contributing to a collaborative group.
Researchers
The leading researchers of cooperative learning include Robert Slavin, Roger & David Johnson and Spencer Kagan, all of whom have slightly different approaches and emphases

The research of David and Roger Johnson, provides the foundation for how cooperative learning is structured in most of today’s classrooms. Their research shows that merely because students work in small groups does not mean they are cooperating to ensure their own learning and the learning of all others in the group.
Dr. Slavin suggests that cooperative learning is doubtlessly a great tool for handicapped and disabled students. Cooperative learning encourages these students and molds them to work in a professional environment. Cooperative learning of disabled and normal students is another great way of encourage disabled students. According to Slavin, when disabled and handicapped students work in mainstream and heterogeneous environments, they learn in a more productive and skillful manner.

Spencer Kagan has developed more than 100 structures to incorporate the basic principles of cooperative learning. “We are very clear with teachers that they should make cooperative learning part of any lesson,” Kagan says. “Ours is an integrated approach rather than a replacement approach.”

Kagan Structures
Kagan Structures are easy-to-learn and easy-to-use instructional strategies, ideal for promoting second language learning. In classrooms in which the Kagan Structures are used regularly, students for whom English is a second language learn both English and academic content far more quickly and far more thoroughly than when traditional instructional strategies are used. The Kagan Structures also promote language and content learning far more than does group work.

All of the Kagan Structures are very carefully designed. They are carefully structured to implement four basic principles of cooperative learning, PIESPIES

P  = Positive Interdependence
I  = Individual Accountability
E  = Equal Participation
S  = Simultaneous Interaction

For example, Kagan instructs teachers to use a “Timed Pair Share” structure. In this exercise, the teacher divides the class into pairs of students and poses a question. Within each pair, Student A talks about his or her answer for one minute, then Student B does the same.

The following examples illustrate a few of these instructional methods used:

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“Which Kagan Structures should I learn and use first?”, and “Where do I begin?”

Inside-Outside Circle: In concentric circles, students rotate to face new partners and then answer or discuss teacher questions.
Rally Table: In pairs, students alternate generating written responses or solving problems.
One Stray: On each team, one teammate “strays” from his or her team to a new team to share information.
Rally Robin: In pairs, students alternate generating oral responses.
Rally Coach: Partners take turns, one solving a problem while the other coaches.
Showdown: One teammate reads a question or problem aloud. Students work independently to solve the problem, then show their answers when a teammate calls, “Showdown!” They then celebrate the correct answer or coach to get the correct answer (Kagan 1994).

For more details about Cooperative Learning

On Kagan Institutes, workshops and conferences go to www.T2TUK.co.uk and www.Kaganonline.com

The “Round robin” technique

What is cooperative learning? SlideShare

Cooperative Learning Lessons Starter Kit

The Essential 5: A Starting Point for Kagan Cooperative Learning

FIVE COOPERATIVE LEARNING ACTIVITIES TO DO ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Kagan Structures for English Language Learners

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Lost In Translation: Every language has its ready-made expressions

When an idiom, saying, proverb or ready-made expression is translated into another language and, because of differences of the languages, some of the original meaning is lost. Due to the original meaning can not be perfectly translated into the other language. So you have to rephrase or say what you mean in a totally different way.

The common and very familiar Spanish expression “contigo pan y cebolla” is used in Spain in a humoristic way to let your partner know “how deep is your love” but means literally “with you bread and onions“. The fact that a couple may not have a lot of money is not an obstacle for them to get married and live a happy life as long as they love each other. The idea of “contigo pan y cebolla” may be expressed in English with expressions like: with you through thick and thin, against all odds; If I am with you I do not need anything else; I’ll forbear any burden in life being with you. Although not any of those has the accurate meaning of the Spanish expression.

By and large we express what we mean with the help of proverbs, sayings or ready-made phrases, We often have the tendency to translate them word-for-word in the middle of the conversation with a foreign friend and without us being actually aware of it. That, instead of clarify the meaning, has an opposite effect. People who do that “no tiene dos dedos de frente” (literally: Not having two fingers of forehead, but it is used as: He/She is not smart) because you can make a big mistake or make a tactless remark: “meter la pata” (you can make a bit of a blunder).

Normally these remarks are innocent and never intentional, but can nevertheless lead to embarrassing and tense situations, and sometimes may even have some unpleasant consequences. More often than not, however, these type of mistakes and inappropriate comments have no major consequences and with time become funny anecdotes. Conversely, your interlocutor may think that you “estas como una cabra”. This is another commonly used Spanish idiom for when somebody is doing something bizarre or a little out of the ordinary. The literal translation is “to be like a goat” and the English equivalent is saying someone is a little nuts or crazy. So if you translate to a foreign friend Spanish expressions literally, you might say: “tu estás como una cabra.(you are a little crazy.) Or They might think you are “corto de luces” literally, “short of lights,” in English “not the brightest bulb on the tree.In this site you can find 100 ways to say “not the brightest bulb on the tree.

Those phrases, idioms or ready-made expressions, which, taken out of their original context, or to the ears of a foreigner, sound so very bizarre. When you think carefully about the words that make up these idioms, you realize there is a major leap from the literal meaning to the figurative meaning, and that’s where it gets funny.

On the other hand, people use them on a daily basis, but often don’t know about their origins. They may not stop to reflect on some of the expressions that come out of their mouth, but to other people, some of these idioms can be truly shocking. For instance “Estar en Babia” (to be in Babia) means “to be distracted or inattentive”, but where this expression comes from back in the Middle Ages, when León was a kingdom, the royal family lived in their palace in the city of León, but they used to come to Babia to hunt and fish. And when people requested an audience with the king, the chamberlain used to say he was in Babia, he was away of the bustle and noise of the city, he was absent, missing ….In Spain “to be in Babia” means having your mind in one place and your body in another.

babia

But to learn a language is better no tener pelos en la lenguanot to have hairs on your tongue”, meaning that someone is a straight shooter and will always speak their mind. And don’t Tomar el pelo (to take the hair) to your teacher, used when someone is tricking or making fun of someone else, but in a good-natured way: to pull your teacher’s leg.

Resources for Learning Spanish Idioms

15 Common Spanish Idioms

To be healthier than a pear: Funny Spanish idioms: Nice collection of funny Spanish idioms here, with many new ones.

Catalog of Spanish Expression Proverbs

Why do the Spanish “shit in the sea”?

Spanish Phrases That Literally Make No Sense

9 ridiculously useful Spanish expressions: Great post that also includes embedded sound files.

Practical Precepts: Proverbs

Every culture has a collection of wise sayings that offer advice about how to live your life. These sayings are called “proverbs” (practical precepts). Very often these pieces of advice, precepts or principles of one culture are precepts or principles of another, for they are an outgrowth of common experiences.

Each language has its own proverbs. Although the phrasing is unique and contributes to the color of the language, many proverbs convey similar meanings in different forms. For example, the Spanish proverb “Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando” (“A bird in the hand is worth more than a hundred flying”) finds an equivalent in the English proverb: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, in the Dutch proverb: “better one bird in the hand than ten in the air” and in the German proverb: “Lieber den Spatz in der Hand als die Taube auf dem Dach” (Better the sparrow in the hand than the pigeon on the roof).

250px-A_Rolling_Stone_Gathers_No_Moss

“A rolling stone gathers no moss”

Interpreting proverbs is often complex, moreover, interpreting proverbs from other cultures is much more difficult than interpreting proverbs in ones own culture.
Even within English-speaking cultures, there is difference of opinion on how to interpret the proverb “A rolling stone gathers no moss”. Some see it as condemning a person that keeps moving, seeing moss as a positive thing, such as profit; others see it the proverb as praising people that keep moving and developing, seeing moss as a negative thing, such as negative habits. Bob Dylan’s 1965 song “Like a Rolling Stone” may refer to the original proverb.

Not all who wander are lost

Not all those who wander are lost

Some authors have created proverbs in their writings, such a J.R.R. Tolkien, and some of these proverbs have made their way into broader society, such as the bumper sticker pictured here:

 

“Not all those who wander are lost”, a line from the poem “All That is Gold Does Not Glitter” (some things are not as valuable as they appear to be) written by J. R. R. Tolkien for his fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The poem reads:

All that is gold does not glitter

“All That is Gold Does Not Glitter”

Proverbs are used by speakers for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they are used as a way of saying something gently, in a veiled way:
“Two’s Company, but Three’s a Crowd” (couples often enjoy their privacy and dislike having a third person around). This is a proverb, a saying which expresses a general truth. It is not at all impolite, rude, or obscene when used to express a general truth. However, you make it impolite when you use it as a sort of weapon in conversation, a way of suggesting that someone else is in the way and ought to leave.

two is a company but three is a crowd

“Two’s Company, but Three’s a Crowd”

Other times, they are used to carry more weight in a discussion, to support his position, or even to argue:“Actions Speak Louder Than Words” (people’s actions are more convincing than their words are)

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Proverbs can also be used to simply make a conversation or discussion more lively. In many parts of the world, the use of proverbs is a mark of being a good orator:

 

There are often proverbs that contradict each other, such as “Look before you leap” (consider all aspects of a situation before you take any action) and “He who hesitates is lost.” (a person who doesn’t act decisively is unlikely to succeed) These have been labelled “counter proverbs”. “Counter proverbs” are not the same as a “paradoxical proverb”, a proverb that contains a seeming paradox: “The pen is mightier than sword” (the written word is more powerful than physical force) but “Actions speak louder than words”

 

the_pen

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of moral and religious teachings in the form of sayings and proverbs. From The Book of Proverbs of the Hebrew Bible we can conclude with this one:

“A fool can use a proverb about as well as a crippled man can use his legs” (Proverbs 26:7)

 

The sky’s the limit

There is no limit to what someone can achieve. LWL from the research to the ideal school

The Learning Without Limits (LWL) project is based on the idea of transformability and by the concept of learning capacity that is very different from the concept of ability.

Transformability is a firm conviction that there is the potential for change, that things can change and be changed for the better, sometimes even dramatically, as a result of what people do in the present.bookcover1small Learning capacity is transformable because the forces that shape it are, to an extent, within teachers’ control. In contrast with the implied fatalism of ability labels. Teachers who built their pedagogy around ability labels influence negatively in young people’s self-belief, sense of personal competence, attitudes, expectations and hopes for the future. Ability labels explain differences in young people’s learning and attainment due to fixed differences in intellectual endowment. A young student with ‘low ability’ now, in the present, is assumed to have more limited potential than others who are judged to be ‘average’ or ‘more able’ and the expectation is that these differences will persist and be reflected in comparable differences in academic performance in the future: the self-fulfilling prophecy (achieving fulfillment as a result of having been expected or foretold).

bookcover2_smallCreating Learning without Limits (CLwL) builds on the Learning without Limits study by exploring the wider opportunities for enhancing the learning capacity of every child that become possible when the educational community work together to create an environment free from the limiting effects of ability labels and practices.

CLwL was set up to explore the process of whole-school development driven by the core idea of transformability: the conviction that all children (not just some children) can become more powerful, committed, successful learners given distinctive supportive conditions and generous opportunities for learning.

Wroxham classroom

Mr Davy at Wroxham school

CLwL builds on the Learning without Limits study by exploring the wider opportunities for enhancing the learning capacity of every child that become possible when a whole staff group works together to create an environment free from the limiting effects of ability labels and practices.

The Creating Learning without Limits project was based at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, in collaboration with colleagues at The Wroxham School, Hertfordshire. Dame Alison Margaret Peacock is co-author of Creating Learning without Limits, and Executive Headteacher of The Wroxham Teaching School. 

Dame_Alison_Peacock

“Dame Alison Peacock” by Lee Allan – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The following short passages are taken from an interview with Dame Alison on The Guardian on March 29th.

The headteacher [Alison Peacock] says she never set out to get rid of ability labelling at the school. It grew from conversations with staff, and when it worked the idea was developed. Pupils are never set tasks by ability. Topics are taught to the whole group and students are then chosen from a range of activities of varying complexity. If they begin a piece of work and think they could try something more difficult, or need something easier, they can change”… “The assumption that you can reliably put a number against what a child is capable of is flawed and dangerous. Potentially, it leads to the individual and the people around them having a very limited set of expectations.” She believes it is detrimental even if the student is given a high grade, pointing to research by Carol Dweck from Stanford University to illustrate this. When two groups of children were given a complex mathematical task, the group that was told they had good problem-solving skills progressed much further than the group that was simply told they were very good at maths…. “If teachers feel constrained, judged and labelled, then they can’t lift the limits on pupils,” she says. Extracts from http://www.theguardian.com/

Taking inspiration from the book Creating Learning without Limits, the University of Cambridge Primary School (UCPS) is the first primary to open as one of the government’s flagship university training schools and was set up as a free school. The UCPS will be governed by a charitable trust, UTS Cambridge. The school will be a mixed-ability co-educational school for children aged three – 11 and it will be highly inclusive where pupil diversity is welcomed and children will be encouraged and enabled to excel.The school will focus on exemplary teaching, high-quality governance and innovative learning practice. The Trust is delighted that these plans have been approved. They are high-quality, innovative and inclusive, reflecting the planned character of University of Cambridge Primary School.Uni Cambs primary school 01 site plan

The three-form entry primary school will open in phases from September 2015 and will serve the development site and a local catchment.

The information used in this post is excerpted from the following sites with non-commercial purposes:

http://learningwithoutlimits.educ.cam.ac.uk/

http://learningwithoutlimits.educ.cam.ac.uk/about/key.html

http://learningwithoutlimits.educ.cam.ac.uk/creatinglwl/

http://thewroxham.org.uk/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alison_Peacock

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/mar/29/label-child-ability-flawed-dangerous

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/mar/17/design-primary-school-learning-no-limits

http://www.nwcambridge.co.uk/news/primary-school-designs-approved

Sayings, Idioms, Quotes and Proverbs

A saying is a short, clever expression that usually contains advice or expresses some obvious truth. An idiom is a group of words in current usage having a meaning that is not deducible from those of the individual words. A quote (or “quotation”) is usually a short text written or spoken by one (usually famous) person and often repeated or at least known by others. And a proverb is a phrase expressing a basic truth which may be applied to common situations.

Many idioms originated as quotations from well-known writers such as Shakespeare. For example, “at one fell swoop” comes from Macbeth and “cold comfort” from King John. Sometimes such idioms today have a meaning that has been altered from the original quotation.

It’s high time we start with the examples because we haven’t got a “whale of time” and “Time is gold ….”

 Time is gold, don't waste it, don't take it for granted, always make the best of it... 'cause you never know when you might run out of it.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

It’s one of the most recognizable expressions around: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But besides the fact that it rhymes, which makes it fun to say and easy to recall, does it really have any value? Could the common apple honestly help a person to maintain perfect health? It’s unlikely that the saying would have maintained such popularity if there wasn’t some truth to it.

When the opportunity knocks I answer the door naked. 

You will only have one chance to do something important or profitable. Some say opportunity knocks only once, others say that opportunity knocks all the time, but you have to be ready for it. If the chance comes, you must have the equipment to take advantage of it. But there is another formulation of the proverb: If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

“The world’s my oyster” William Shakespeare quote

If you boast that “The world’s my oyster” nowadays, you’re claiming that the world’s riches are yours to leisurely pluck from the shell. “The world’s my oyster” has become merely a conceited proclamation of opportunity and means that one rules the world, one is in charge of everything. 

“Better to walk without knowing where than to sit doing nothing” Tuareg Proverb

On the one hand, when we sit for long periods, circulation is constricted, metabolism slows, muscles shut off and connective tissue tightens…..uffff¡¡¡ Bad news for your health. On the other hand, and on  another quotation: “Keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths“. Walt Disney

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. Confucius.

Everything has an intrinsic value. But the valuation is subjective, not objective. In others words or in other saying: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Different people have different ideas about what is beautiful.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours; quid pro quo

This for that; giving something to receive something else; something equivalent; something in return.

No pain, no gain

One must be willing to endure some inconvenience or discomfort in order to achieve worthwhile goalsRelated terms:

If one takes no risks, one will not gain any benefits.

To be on cloud number nine

A state of happiness, elation or bliss; to be on seventh heaven (the outermost of the heavenly spheres; a dwelling of the angels)

Every cloud has a silver lining

Means that you should never feel hopeless because difficult times always lead to better days. Difficult times are like dark clouds that pass overhead and block the sun.

Why? When we look more closely at the edges of every cloud we can see the sun shining there like a silver lining.

People sometimes say that every cloud has a silver lining to comfort somebody who’s having problems. They mean that it is always possible to get something positive out of a situation, no matter how unpleasant, difficult or even painful it might seem.

The controversy about the value of Homework

There is controversy about the value of homework, with critics saying it is either ineffective or potentially harmful if the extra work is so dull that children switch off.

Few years ago, a group of French parents and teachers called for a two-week boycott of homework in schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children. They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.

This is a representative sample of what the detractors argue against having homework, but we can add others arguments opposed to homework: The school day should be long enough to allow the child to learn and write everything they need to” homework, whether good or bad, takes time and often cuts into each student’s sleep, family dinner, or freedom to follow passions outside of school”. “Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring”. “Teachers don’t realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under”.  (should children have to do homework? comments)

And what the students have to add to this scenario against homework. For too many students, homework is too often about compliance and “not losing points” rather than about learning: “…it’s worksheets and problems at the end of the chapter. Just busywork”, “It doesn’t matter how I get the homework done, just as long as it is done before the teacher checks it. Right?” . “If I haven’t succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don’t see how I’m going to succeed at home”.

From another standpoint, there’s pressure from external sources to set homework and a lot of teachers see that as if they must be setting homework all the time, even if it’s not necessary. There is also a parents’ common misconception that teachers and schools giving more homework are more challenging and therefore better teachers and schools. This is a false assumption. The amount of homework your son or daughter does each night should not be a source of pride for the quality of a school.

These are not good news for “homework”, but if so why it is so popular and widely applied. Maybe what we need is a new word instead of “homework”, how about “continued learning” or “ongoing growth activities”?

We want children to understand that they are always learners even outside school. So it makes no sense to even advertise a “no homework” policy in a school. It sends the wrong message. The policy should be, “No time-wasting, rote, repetitive tasks will be assigned that lack clear instructional or learning purposes.”

As a teacher, we know that by assigning homework, the teacher significantly extends the classroom learning time, that a teacher should never assign homework on a topic that has not been practiced first in the classroom. It should be difficult enough to challenge a student, but not so difficult that the student feels overwhelmed. Assignments should be graded and feedback should be provided.

Homework will be extended learning time if the students are inspired enough to want to practice the skills obtained class. Then make homework worth doing so they will want to do it.

What about Blended Learning? In Blended Learning teachers set up learning management accounts (LMS) on places like Moodle. They assigned students work and research projects through the LMS and students did the work at home. When they came to class, the teacher would either review what they had done individually, or step up the learning by providing further opportunities to apply their knowledge in group projects.

Children should be encouraged to read, write, perform arithmetic, better understand the world around them in terms of civics, science, and the arts, and, of course, develop their people skills: their emotional intelligence. This encouragement should be part of everyday family interactions outside of school, and the school should provide developmental guidance to all parents, in the appropriate languages, to help them do this. Experts agree on the value of parents taking an interest in their children’s intellectual and academic life.

Above all, schools should remind parents to never lose sight of modeling for their children the value of close relationships, support, caring, and fun. That is the most important “home work” of all.

Reference

Two hours’ homework a night linked to better school results

Homework guidelines scrapped to give headteachers greater freedom

EDUTOPIA BOOKMARKS

Peer Observation as a way of Teacher Professional Development that improves teaching practices and student performance

There are several ways in which teachers can develop in their profession. These include reading educational studies, attending conferences, workshops or courses, joining webinars, talks, discussion forums and communities on-line, keeping blogs and reflecting on them your teaching practices. Another powerful learning tool for teachers is Peer observation: teachers observing teachers.

Peer observation is when one teacher watches another while teaching, then gives feedback, for the benefit of both of them. It’s a simple and powerful development activity. It is an uncommon practice in Spain but according to TALIS* research 57% of Teachers in the UK reported having participated in mentoring and peer observation.

coachwordle

Peer observation can be very effective when teachers acquire new skills or ideas at conferences and then model those new approaches for their colleagues and when it is used as a means of sharing instructional techniques and ideologies between and among teachers.

Being observed in the classroom can get on teacher’s nerves, and that’s because teacher observations are seen as a performance evaluation rather than a tool for professional development and, in turn, for student learning. It can be uncomfortable, intrusive or can curtail academic freedom. This is why Peer Observation should be designed to be non-judgemental and developmental rather than evaluative and externally required.

The aim is not to make an overall judgment about the standard of the lesson or the teacher’s strengths and weaknesses. The aim is to be of benefit to teacher and observer, giving both the opportunity to think more deeply about particular teaching and learning issues. The teacher gets another perspective on aspects of their teaching, while the observer has the opportunity to learn about new and different ways of doing things. The most positive benefit of teacher-to-teacher observation is that it makes teaching a public rather than a private act.

Peer observations often work best when there is a specific focus for observation identified by the teacher herself. This could be to investigate an area the teacher wishes to explore in more detail, or a problem the teacher wants to try to solve.

peer coaching activities

In peer coaching, the focus is on the teacher as learner

The process involves the following stages:

  1.  Pre-observation discussion of the lesson and focus of observation.
  2.  The lesson.
  3.  Post-observation reflection on the lesson, learning points and action plans.

These stages will be developed in the next post in this blog, although, if you want to move forward, here are some practical guides and documents that will guide you to the process of peer coaching:

A Guide to Continuing Professional Development – Peer observations. www.teachingenglish.org.uk © British Council 2012
Doing Peer Observation as Part of Teacher Research. Cambridge English Teacher © Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment 2014
Peer Observation Professional Development Tasks by Alex Tilbury. Cambridge English Teacher © Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessment 2015

Teachers Observing Teachers: A Professional Development Tool for Every School

*The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn.

Thirty years ago, some theories about teaching and learning were based on training exercises and drills. The idea was that if facts were repeated enough, then students would memorize them, and this was learning. Under this concept learning is shown by a change in behavior as a result of experience, but nothing is mentioned about what students believe, what process they use to solve problems, or their own awareness of their thinking.

This post is based on the idea that teaching means teaching students to think. It assumes that teaching is not just about communicating facts or mechanical skills like Math rules (of course, you must have facts in order to learn), but is a process of coming to understand how you think.

The idea that all students should learn how to think critically is a relatively new one (certainly since the turn of the 20th century) and one for which most schools are not well prepared. The point is how we teach thinking, and how to make students aware of their thinking.
vtVisible Thinking is a flexible approach to integrating the teaching and development of thinking with your content and curriculum. This is a project of Harvard University. The essence of this project is a series of routines for thinking. They are simple and to the point.

The idea of visible thinking helps to make concrete what a thoughtful classroom might look like. At any moment, we can ask, “Is thinking visible here? Are students explaining things to one another? Are students offering creative ideas? Are they, and I as their teacher, using the language of thinking? Is there a brainstorm about alternative interpretations on the wall? Are students debating a plan?”

The central idea of Visible Thinking is very simple: making thinking visibleWe learn best what we can see and hear, although thinking is pretty much invisible. Mostly, thinking happens under the hood, within the marvelous engine of our mind-brain.

Visible Thinking includes a number of ways of making students’ thinking visible to themselves, to their peers, and to the teacher, so they get more engaged by it and come to manage it better for learning and other purposes.

In DEEPdt, visible thinking is a game changer. Thankfully, Harvard's Project Zero has created some pretty awesome routines that can easily be utilized in the DEEPdt process. In trying to visualize ...

Here are some of its key goals (extract from his website www.visiblethinkingpz.org):

  • Deeper understanding of content
  • Greater motivation for learning
  • Development of learners’ thinking and learning abilities.
  • Development of learners’ attitudes toward thinking and learning and their alertness to opportunities for thinking and learning (the “dispositional” side of thinking).
  •  A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners.
    Structure.

The routines are structured well and only take a single page for each. It covers:

• The thinking routines itself
• Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
• Application: When and where can it be used?
• Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?

pageshot

Visible Thinking Routines: SEE THINK WONDER

If you go to the Visible Thinking website you can download these in zipped packages of PDF files. I have also upload these and you can get them from here. The Routine cover the following aspects of Thinking:

This visual features a number of key thinking routines together with examples of how to use them with learners:

visible-thinking

Resources:

Creat_pdfs.zipCreat_pdfs.zip 472 KB

Fairness_pdfs.zipFairness_pdfs.zip 544 KB

Truth_pdfs.zipTruth_pdfs.zip 357 KB

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Sing Songs while you learn English

I am back again and I have missed this little blog and you all! I didn’t realize how much this little space on the internet actually meant to me until I kept apart for weeks. I felt a little guilty not posting more frequently and although I cannot find a good enough excuse, I have to say that It has been a busy few weeks. This post is to encourage you as well as me to undertake new projects to learn and teach second languages.
To begin with I would like to start very energetic and courageous with this quote: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can: positive thinking is half the work …”

Having said that, I would like to show you a new free on-line language learning tool that is particularly useful for students of foreign languages who want a fun and entertaining way to learn the correct pronunciation of words and it will improve their listening skills as students must identify words from a song. One of the best ways to learn English or any language is music. If you would like to know what the lyrics of your favourite songs say and, moreover, improve your English, playing Lyrics Training is a good alternative.

That is:  .

In LyricsTraining you can choose from a wide selection of songs and try to complete their letter while watching video clips. LyricsTraining also has a special Karaoke mode that lets you sing and enjoy the full lyrics.

There are three levels of difficulty Lyrics Training: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Depending on your choice, you have to hit a single word or directly the full track.

LyricsTraining helps you to learn new vocabulary and expressions, and reinforce grammar concepts through continuous exercise of writing the missing words.

But above all, LyricsTraining helps you train your ear to improve your capacity to recognize sounds and words of a foreign language in a very short time, training your brain almost unconsciously, whether you know the meaning of all the words or not.

Just try it and let me know your experience in this web application that allows you to read and listen to the lyrics from music videos and can be used as a fun and interactive way for language teachers and trainers to introduce new vocabulary and grammar to their students in a classroom setting.

Please write your comments or leave me a reply.