Sunday, June 26, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 2

Because this book is property of my school, I've been recording my thoughts in a spiral notebook (with absolutely horrible handwriting... apologies to my elementary school teachers that tried to teach me penmanship!).  Typically, I highlight / annotate in my actual book using either Kindle tools or post-it notes, but I kind of like recording my notes this way.  This book isn't an easy read... I often find myself re-reading the same paragraph, trying to understand what the author is saying, but when I look back over my notes, I realize that I got more out of the chapter than I originally thought!

Here are my quotes and notes from Chapter 2 with any additional thoughts in italics:

  • How does learn to teach well?  **This was the opening question to the chapter and one that really made me pause.  This morning there was a twitter discussion about "high vs low" classes and I stand by my statement that for me, teaching remedial courses made me grow as a professional more than any other class.  I learned more about differentiation, instructional strategies, and classroom culture from those classes than I ever have from teaching AP classes.
  • We judge teaching effectiveness based on student absorption of material with the student in a passive role.  The focus should be on the learner, not the teacher.  With a shift in focus, the role as teacher shifts from content delivery to fostering engagement.  **In many states, there is a trend to include VAM (Value Added Measures aka test scores) to teacher evaluations.  These tests do measure how well our students have memorized processes and procedures, but if our true goal is learning and understanding, then we need to move beyond this passive memorization.  This reminds me of the quote of "The person doing the work is the person doing the learning."  In many classes, the teacher is the one doing the work, running around like crazy while the students sit there passively. 
  • When there is something important and worthwhile to think about and a reason to think deeply, our students experience learning with a lasting impact - they not only learn, but learn how to learn!
  • When we reduce the amount of thinking we ask of our students, we reduce the amount of learning as well.  **Be less helpful.  Sometimes I think I'm being helpful with scaffolding, handouts, foldables, etc, but am I truly creating a learning issue because I've taken away the productive struggle?
  • Uncovering student thinking gives us evidence of student insight as well as misconceptions.  **In this chapter, one of the stories talked about a chemistry teacher asking "why?" on an assessment and not very pleased with the results.  If the teacher had asked "why?" prior to the assessment, she/he would have been able to see the misconceptions and correct them prior to the assessment.  As teachers, do we sometimes avoid asking the hard questions like "why?" because it's easier to ignore the underlying issues than it is to address it head on?  In today's test-taking culture with a focus on multiple choice and memorization of procedures, getting at the deeper thinking often takes a backseat... are we "sticking our heads in the sand", hoping that the deeper understanding will eventually fix itself?
  • The students in our charge need to see an image of us as thinkers & learners that they can imitate and learn from.  **Modeling is key :)
  • Once teachers start noticing and naming thinking (aka making it visible), both the teacher and the students become more aware of thinking, which makes thinking more difficult to ignore. **Knowing is half the battle!  Once you are aware of something, it becomes impossible to ignore.  This is true outside of the classroom as well :)    
  • True generative questions have legs - they propel learning forward!  
  • "What makes you say that?"  **I need this made into a poster :)  This shift in language can have a huge shift in culture
  • Questions that drive learning don't come from a list, they arise in response to student contributions. **You have to listen to students in order to have the information necessary to ask good questions.
  • Listening conveys a sense of respect for and an interest in the learner's contributions.  In order for students to feel safe sharing their thinking, they need to know we are truly interested in hearing them.  As teachers, our listening to students provides a model to our students of what it means to listen.
  • If we routinely ask "What makes you say that?", kids will pick this up as a way to respond to their classmates.  **I really need this as a poster! :)
  • To capture and record student thinking, teachers must be vigilant observers and listeners.
On to Chapter 3!

Edited to add:  Storify of Chapter 2 Chat

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