Using Visible Learning in my classroom

My journey to become a better teacher has coincided with my discovery of John Hattie’s Visible Learning principles, and I thought I’d record how my introspective reflection has led to my use of effect size, SOLO Taxonomy and visible learning mantra within my classroom.

My journey began four years ago, with a simple student survey of my teaching habits.
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The previous year, I’d moved from Fitzroy Crossing DHS to Goollelal – from a remote aboriginal community school, to a “leafy green” metro school – and through an analysis of my repertoire of teaching strategies, geared towards engaging weaker, disengaged indigenous students, I identified that there were aspects of my teaching that needed to change.

I have always encouraged my students to be critical of my teaching habits.  The simple student survey I conducted was a reflective PMI towards the end of 2009.  It suggested I wasn’t providing feedback quickly enough for my students’ liking.  Although we negotiated suitable timeframes and guidelines at the time, I began to research the techniques and methodology that other highly effective teachers use.

I began engaging with colleagues in professional discussions – both within my school and utilising my online Twitter network –  and was given a range of starting points – one of which was the research of John Hattie. After reading John Hattie’s Visible Learning, and more recently, Visible Learning for Teachers books, I began applying some of the key recommendations to my own teaching – such as identifying the importance of self-grading and making explicit learning intentions.

If you are unfamiliar with John Hattie, he is an educational researcher from New Zealand who has spent the last few decades examining as many studies into learning as he can.  Based on his meta-analysis of over 60,000 studies, he has developed a quantifiable list of influential factors on a child’s learning.

When you look at the three main recommendations that come out of his analysis – making learning goals transparent for the student, making the criteria for success explicit, and providing explicit feedback about student progress – you get an idea of why his reasoning for maximising impact on learning has been labelled Visible Learning – it’s all about making the journey for success as visible as possible for the student.

So I integrated the concept of SOLO Taxonomy and its explicit nature of expressing success criteria into my teaching and learning programs, and worked with my students to help them identify what was required for their learning, and what success would look like.
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After attending a professional development presented by John Hattie on Visible Learning, I adapted what I had seen of the  New Zealand asTTle student feedback system, to meet my own requirements of my own feedback model for my students, providing them with an overview of gaps in learning and strengths and also providing them with individualised, explicit feedback sheets which they use to identify for themselves areas they need to focus on. The examples here come from pre-testing:Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 12.09.57 am.

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I utilised Hattie’s effect size measurements to measure the effectiveness of my teaching practices across all areas, using the data I gathered to refine my teaching style into one which I believe is highly effective.

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If you are unfamiliar with effect sizes, it is a measure of learning growth over a period of time, with the salient message being that if we as teachers are to make a difference with our teaching , we need to set our student learning targets at an effect size of 0.40 or better over the course of one year or a unit of work. This is a fairly simplistic summary of effect sizes – I thoroughly recommend reading Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers.  Some light bed-time reading!

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