Monday, April 24, 2017

Learning in the Fast Lane - Success Starters

Unpacking Chapter 3 "Success Starters" from:

Learning in the Fast Lane
by Suzy Pepper Rollins (201$

"The opening minutes of a lesson hold tremendous potential for all learners"

The brain is ready for new learning at the beginning of a lesson, fades a bit then picks up at the end. Review work at the beginning of the session does not capitalise on the brains potential for new concepts in the first few minutes of a lesson.

The more novel and interesting the first part of the lesson is, the more the brain will hold on to new concepts and keep them stored as being important. Hands on is preferable as the retention will be higher. Routine will only flatline the brain's involvement. Keep things interesting and unpredictable but find ways to connect with student's prior knowledge, remembering that everyone's is different.

We are aiming for authenticity and relevance in this part of the lesson. It has to engage every learner and not take too long.

Some ideas for success starters:

1) Role play

Put the students in charge. Get them to make the decisions and experience the "problem". Critical thinking and decision making are necessary. Put the drama into the learning.

2) Surveys

Connect the learning back to the student. Are relevant and answers can be shared with the whole group.

3) Prediction

Is all about student's anticipating new learning. Sorting is a good way to do this. This could be sorting items, words and/or pictures. Student's are keen to know if they are correct.

4) Questioning

Questioning allows us to be curious. Students can create their own questions about a topic and share them with a group. Question starter cards (who, what, why, how etc) can also encourage students to engage in questioning.

5) Brainstorming

Sharing each others thoughts and knowledge in a range of brainstorming activities promotes high interest and participation. Those that don't know much yet will start picking some key ideas up from other students.

6) Concrete Representations

Using equipment in maths or science, looking at photos, graphs, videos, picture books to engage interest and strengthen learning.

Some things to reflect on when planning lessons.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Learning in the Fast Lane - Chapter 1

Learning in the Fast Lane
by Suzy Pepper Rollins, 2014

A literature review...

Key idea behind ideas in the book:

That high impact instructional approaches will effectively improve outcomes for all students including those who are struggling. Targeting only the "tail end lag" with remedial gap filling will not help accelerate learning.

Chapter 1: How can we help students with gaps from the past succeed today?

  • Prior knowledge frees up working memory (Hirsh, 2003)
  • New concepts need to be connected to existing schema
  • The misconception is that to learn new things, one must go back and "fill the gaps"
  • Going backwards decreases student motivation
  • Acceleration is about having success in the present by preparing the student for what is happening that week
  • Acceleration puts students in the "fast lane" as they already have the prior knowledge and the basic pre-requisite skills ready to learn the new content alongside their peers
  • Vocabulary is key - students need to know both the pre-requisite vocabulary and the new vocabulary as it will help to link with prior knowledge.
  • Student confidence and participation will increase when they are prepared for this new learning
  • Time needs to be set aside to work with the acceleration group
The framework for Acceleration

Step 1: Generate Thinking, Purpose, Relevance, and Curiosity
Hands on starter activities that get students wondering. Concrete before abstract. Real world examples and thinking. Success starters.

Step 2: Clearly articulate the learning goal and expectations
Explicit and student friendly. Helps define the purpose of the learning.

Step 3: Scaffold and Practice Essential Prerequisite Skills
"Students could master this if they just knew xyz". What are the high priority gaps? Create scaffolds for success.

Step 4: Introduce New Vocabulary and Review Prior Vocabulary
What does it mean? What does it look like? Need multiple representations. 

Step 5: Dip into the New Concept
Needs to be something that the rest of the class won't see - cannot repeat the learning experience. Idea is that the student can say during the class session "I know something about that!"