Transparency of Learning
By: Hayley Johnson
Have you ever been teaching and feel like your students are listening but not understanding, or your students are in class but aren’t actually participating in the learning? (I can admit that I have done this many times as a student, too) Well, this blog is here to introduce some ways to get your students more involved in their own learning, and how they can show it.
Making Thinking Visible
A wonderful book that reveals efficient methods and ideas for dissecting your students’ knowledge and understanding. The book proposes over 20 methods to use in your classroom to get students to think and share their thoughts. These methods will help stimulate your students’ critical thinking skills and showcase their creativity and thought process. This book showcases how students learn by explaining their thinking.
Visibility, opportunity, understand, dissect, purpose, explore, powerful, identify
Let’s see how we can use MTV strategies in the classroom:
Topic: Environmental science
Phase of the learning cycle: Explore
Directions: Give your students stations with large poster paper and colored markers at each. Write one of the following prompts on each poster and have them silently rotate around the classroom writing initial responses/questions/thoughts, as well as responses to their classmate’s ideas.
-Climate change is largely man made
-Zoos and aquariums should be abolished
-Animal testing should be illegal
-Deforestation should cease
-There should be more intense restrictions on waste disposal/recycling
-Food industry should be penalized for overcrowding, mistreatment, artificial insemination, etc.
-Clean water usage should be regulated
Purpose: This will allow students the opportunity to question and respond to various topics that will be focused on in a unit. This also gives the students who wouldn’t typically raise their voice in class to answer/ ask questions. It gives each student an equal voice and equal opportunity in the classroom. It can be used as an explore activity since the students can use any prior knowledge to respond to the prompt or simply ask questions that they are curious about exploring.
The Explanation Game
Topic: Environmental Science
Phase of the learning cycle: Explain
Directions: Students in pairs will be shown the following image. For the game, the partners will name it, in which they will name key aspects of the drawing. They will then explain it, by discussing what it could be, what it represents, or why it looks the way it does. The next step of the game is to have the partners give reasons, where they will give support for their explanations in the previous step. Lastly, the partners will generate alternatives. This is where they could give alternative explanations for what the object shows or represents.
Purpose: This activity will have the students analyze and use their prior knowledge as well as new knowledge they recently learned in the unit to dissect the image and explain how it might represent concepts in the environmental unit. This is an opportunity for the students to build their own explanations and interpretations without being given a specific answer and they can make connections to what they know/have learned.
CSI: Color, Symbol, Image
Topic: Environmental Science
Phase of the learning cycle: Elaborate
Directions: The students will individually read through an article, textbook chapter, or watch a video. They will then choose a color that they feel represents the core ideas. Then, students will find a symbol that they can use to represent a concept or idea in the piece. The students will also sketch their own image that they think encompasses the main idea of the piece. Lastly, the students share with the class and explain their chosen methods to represent the piece.
Article: Air and Water Pollution: KidzWorld
Color: Symbol: Image:
Purpose: This is an opportunity for students to make a deep connection to a subtopic in the unit. The students formulate their own symbolic connection to the article by designating a color, symbol, and exemplar image of the concept. This will heighten their understanding of the concept and help their brain make connections in the future when they think back on this knowledge as well. This takes the explaining phase one step further and access their creativity by having them elaborate their understanding and share it with their classmates.
Theses activities can be easily incorporated to just about any lesson plan. It would be beneficial to the teacher and students to at least have one of the phases of the learning cycle include an MTV strategy. This will allow for the teacher to assess where the students are at with their learning and will also help the students understand and take control of their own learning in the classroom, rather than routinely taking notes, listening, or reading.
^Not quite, but a valiant effort