One of the key things coming out of the research of cognitive psychologists is the importance of knowing what students already know about a subject when attempting to teach. In addition, also of importance is having a clear conception of what the learning target or goal is (Where are we going?) and knowing at any given point where are we in relation to that target or goal (How am I going?). Ideally, if this information is transparent to both the teacher and the student, both can work in concert to answer a third critical question, what next steps should I take as a learner that will help me to reach my goal? The following illustrate the 3 key questions identified by the research of Professor John Hattie that students and teachers alike should be able to answer in regard to learning: (1) Where am I going?, (2) How am I going?, and (3) Where to next?
A key caveat of this is being able to go beyond simply stating a learning goal or "I can" statement. The conception of “Progress” becomes critically important. That is, what will it look like, sound like, and even feel like when I have reached the learning goal or target? Ideally, these are common conceptions held by like teachers across content areas in regard to the objective academic content standards. This is important to providing the opportunity for all students to have access to rigorous learning outcomes. It may take different strategies and levels of support for various students to get to the target, the "where to next?" part, but all should have access to what Marzano (2003) called a “guaranteed and viable curriculum.” That is a curriculum that provides rich learning experiences for all students to access, regardless of the number on their classroom door, and with sufficient time to develop both the surface and deep knowledge required to develop a mastery level of learning.
Do the teachers in your school or district have a common conception of what progress is on the most critical learning goals for your students? Do students have this same conception of progress? How do you know?
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