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Wednesday 13 May 2020

Visible Learning for Literacy - a review by John Bowyer.

As part of our ongoing 'self CPD' John Bowyer chose to read 'Visible Learning for Literacy'
by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Hattie'. His reasoning for choosing this book focuses on the fact that for several years, arguments have been raging in education over whether or not collaborative learning or a more teacher directed, didactic approach get the best results. He summarises that this book argues that both are necessary - the important thing is when you use them. 
John kindly explains: The writers argue that the teaching of new content should come in three phases, as outlined below. 
1.Before teaching: It is paramount to build positive relationships, as it assumes that many students are not bothered about whether or not they get into trouble so we need to build an atmosphere where students do not want to disappoint us. 2. Scheme of Learning: start with a thorough pre-assessment - what knowledge, understanding and skills do the students already have?
Phases of Learning
What this means
Most appropriate teaching approach
Formative Assessment
One: Surface Learning - what is
Basic knowledge and facts around  a concept
Direct instruction, annotation, Cornell note taking; summary writing.
Quizzes, asking students to write summaries of what they understand
Two: Deeper Understanding - how to use it
Understanding how and why 
Concept mapping, repeated reading, discussion, self testing
How and why questions; listening to student discussions
Three: Transfer Knowledge - when to use it
Understanding how and when to apply new learning
Discussion based tasks, more open ended work, students produce extended work
Feedback and drafting - students held accountable for producing something.
3. Work out your impact as a teaching with a post assessment. Subtract the mean post assessment score from the mean pre assessment score and divide by the average standard deviation for the class (yes really!!). The authors regard this step as essential. It’s quite easy to work out. You end up with one of the famous John Hattie effect sizes:
This has certainly given me a lot to think about and I think the main thing that I will try to change is to balance my efforts more towards planning over a term rather than concentrating so much on trying to teach good individual lessons.
Thank you so much John for this clear and diligent summary of your key takings from this text. As we continue to share our main findings we are able to eliminate the workload for each other. This homebred style of CPD is paramount to building our culture for Teaching and Learning discussion so please do continue to forward your book synopses as and when you have the time. If you wish to read more about John Hatties effect sizes, can I recommend this blog post:

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