If the learning process is visible for students it is proven that this will improve their results, but what is visible learning? The idea of visible learning is to make students take responsibility for their learning by making them realize what skills or abilities they need to possess in order to learn. This means that the teacher’s role is no longer to give students tasks and grade their work, but instead focus on tutoring students on how to learn to solve problems.
In order for students to learn how to solve problems they must develop metacognitive abilities. These abilities will help them improve their learning which will result in deeper knowledge of the subject. The teacher’s role is of course to have a discussion with his students on what these metacognitive abilities are and offer regular feedback on how the students are progressing.
I have already discussed how I am implementing this in my teaching by using a “matrix for student abilities” (Are tests necessary? Part 2 – Grading without tests). The matrix sets a solid foundation for the students everyday work as it is a tool for the teacher to offer guidance and regular feedback for the students.
A teacher offering feedback to his students is of great importance but it is also equally important that the students become aware of their progress by reflecting on their work, and today I will share two ideas on how this can easily be implemented in the classroom. The first idea is simple and it ensures that the students are taking responsibility for their activity and at the same time taking responsibility for their own grade. The second idea is more modern and will also improve the students’ technological skills.
How is it that students can take responsibility for their own grade? The matrix I am using to offer feedback for the students will ultimately result in a grade, so it is important that the students are activated in the process of adjusting the points in the matrix. What I have done is, for example, when I have noticed that many students have not been putting a lot of effort into their homework I have had a discussion on what it means to have 2/2 points on “individual work”. Afterwards the students have graded themselves and I have adjusted the points accordingly. The students are honest when doing this and after realizing that they have not done their best work, they will start working harder both in order to get their points back but also because they know that working harder will lead to better results. This truly simple, efficient idea can easily be implemented to other paragraphs of the matrix. So what other things can you do to make students process their work?
During the first 6-7 weeks with my new students in grade seven I have been focusing on strengthening their skills in how to present problems with a clear structure, collaboration and using technology to find information in order to solve problems. In order for the students to process these abilities I gave them a task, but not any task. What I did was to let my students solve a problem in pairs and they had to document their work in order to make a movie presentation of their solution. But that was not all, they also had to explain the process of how they solved the problem, for example how they collaborated and what use they had of the technology.
The results were amazing. When they solved the problem it was obvious to me and the students that they had improved the skills mentioned, which made the task at hand seem easy. As a bonus, the making of the movie drastically improved their computer skills and most students really enjoyed making it.
The task was to calculate how many years it would take for a satellite to travel from earth to the sun in only 100 km/h and here is one of the movies that was made, enjoy.
Are you interested in having a closer look at this tool for grading students or learn more about a curriculum that supports the idea of students taking responsibility for their learning? Then please visit Ma.fi (available in English, Swedish and Finnish).