Thursday, April 29, 2010

Integration of technology to support learning

Tech Tales: Marco Torres on Empowering Students Through Multimedia
Marco Torres, a social studies teacher and technology director at San Fernando High School, explores how the creation of multimedia projects empowers his students, as well as those who participate in the San Fernando Education Technology Team (SFETT).

Marco Torres: Challenge based learning in action (video)
St Agnes Catholic High School, 2009

Hawaiian students use sophisticated tools to learn and to learn to solve problems
Before Tamlyn and Quinn did their descriptive writing, they created storyboards about the action they wanted to represent in an assignment on "expanding the moment" -- making the story more intense by describing a fleeting instant in great detail. From their storyboards, they each created a computer animation of the action. Frame by frame, the animation in turn sparked their imaginations and helped them create word pictures. "It gives you ideas about what you see," says Quinn. HyperStudio and Kid Pix were among the computer programs they used.

Technology and Academic Achievement
Les Foltos, New Horizons for Learning
Recently, a growing number of researchers have published studies that provide substantial evidence that technology can play a positive role in academic achievement. Several organizations like Edutopia, the North Central Educational Lab (NCREL) and the Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) are documenting research studies that link technology to increases in academic achievement. Two studies are reflective of the growing body of research on technology's role in academic achievement.
Two research studies offer clear direction for educators who are trying to answer the questions raised by Secretary Paige. Both studies argue that improvements in student learning occur when technology is paired with instructional strategies like project-based instruction, which actively involves students in intellectually complex work that demands higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. Henry Becker's research adds further weight to the argument that technology is a particularly strong tool for supporting active, inquiry-based learning. Becker argues that the kind of active learning necessary to master principles and concepts and explain student work is easier to implement in a technology-rich environment where "students have a rich array of information to work with (rather than only preselected, quality filtered textbook content), when communications structures enable students to pose relevant questions to appropriate individuals…and when technology-based tools such as databases, analytic software, and composition software help them to extract understanding from information" (Becker, 2000).

Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Engaged Learning for At-Risk Students
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
An increasing number of educators are calling for high standards and challenging learning activities for at-risk students. New technologies can provide meaningful learning experiences for all children, especially those at risk of educational failure. Schools that capitalize on the relationship between technology and education reform will help students to develop higher order skills and to function effectively in the world beyond the classroom. Achieving such fundamental change, however, requires a transformation of not only the underlying pedagogy (basic assumptions about the teaching and learning process) but also the kinds of technology applications typically used in classrooms serving at-risk students.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mixed Ability and/or Streaming

Between-class achievement grouping for literacy and
numeracy: academic outcomes for primary students

AARE 2008 Conference in Brisbane QLD
Suzanne Macqueen, University of Newcastle, Australia

Achievement grouping has been practised in a number of forms and contexts for over a century, and has been the subject of copious amounts of research. Despite a general consensus in the research that between-class achievement grouping provides no overall benefit for students, the practice has persisted in various guises. Recent research in this field involving primary school students and teachers has investigated the affective outcomes of such practices, but academic outcomes at the primary level have not been studied in recent decades. This paper examines the academic outcomes of between-class achievement grouping in primary literacy and numeracy classes. The conclusion reached is that the current regrouping practice provides no academic advantage for students.

What lessons can schools learn from streaming by ability?

Tim Harford , 3rd January, 2009.
Published on Undercover Economist.
I have written before about “peer effects” in education, which are the influences, positive and negative, that classmates and school friends have on each other. They are hard to identify with much certainty. Bright children might make friends with each other without actually improving each other’s test scores. Or pushy middle-class parents might all flock to the same popular school. Or a class of smart kids might attract a good teacher. All these situations would produce clusters of high and low achievement, yet no true peer effects need be at play.

School streaming 'hurts' less-academic students'
New Zealand Herald, Tuesday May 20, 2008
By Vaimoana Tapaleao
Children at the lower end of a streaming system at school do worse, but it has no affect on brighter students, a British study has found. Less-able children achieve poorly when they are placed with children of the same ability but achieve better if they study with the rest of the class. More-capable students perform well regardless of whether they are in an exclusive class of high achievers or taught in a mixed-ability class, according to the latest reports of the Primary Review - led by Cambridge University.

Streaming and setting do not affect results.
Times Educational Supplement, 5/16/2008, Issue 4788
The article discusses research by the Primary Review, located at Cambridge University, and its investigation into how streaming and setting impact the educational outcomes of primary school children. It is noted that in Great Britain ability grouping in education has been politicized in that Conservatives preferred setting. The report did find that grouping in this way did impact the children socially and that the basis of the groupings was sometimes "arbitrary."

Children, their World, their Education: final report and recommendations of the
Cambridge Primary Review, 608 pp, Routledge, October 2009. ISBN 978-0-415-54871-7 (pb), 978-0- 415-54870-0 (hb).
This 608-page report draws on over 4,000 published sources as well as the Review’s extensive evidence from written submissions, face-to- face soundings and searches of official data. Part 1 sets the scene and tracks primary education policy since the 1960s. Part 2 examines children’s development and learning, their lives outside school and their needs, aspirations and prospects in a changing world. Part 3 explores what goes on in primary schools, from the formative early years to aims, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, standards and school organisation. Part 4 deals with the system as a whole: ages and stages; schools and other agencies; teacher training, leadership and workforce reform; governance, funding and policy. Part 5 draws everything together with 78 formal conclusions and 75 recommendations for future policy and practice. A report of this length and complexity is not readily compressed into a four-page briefing: here, by way of taster rather than summary, are some key points from the report’s concluding chapter.


Independent schools Queensland, 2007
Is there any benefit to grouping students depending on ability? If so, what type of grouping provides conditions for optimal performance?

The research on grouping students by ability is a difficult area because student performance is affected by many variables, including class size, ability range, teaching methods, resources, the degree of differentiation, the attitudes of the teacher and the curriculum content. However, there is some agreement worthy of note with regard to how to best group students.

Primary pupils' experiences of different types of grouping in school
The benefits and disadvantages of grouping by ability
, 2004
The practice of grouping by ability in school was popular after the Second World War. It subsequently fell into disfavour, according to the authors, for a combination of reasons. These included:
• evidence of low self-esteem and social alienation of lower stream pupils;
• inconclusive evidence for positive effects on attainment;
• a shift of educational focus towards equality of educational opportunity.
Over the last decade ability grouping in at least one subject has again become common in primary schools because it is perceived as a means of raising standards.

Grouping pupils and students – what difference does the type of grouping make to teaching and learning in schools?, 2004
Selection and ability grouping are issues that can cause heated debate amongst teachers, leaders and parents, as they can hold very different opinions about which of the alternative approaches to grouping they prefer. Those who favour streaming and setting make claims for its effectiveness in terms of pupil or student achievement; those against point to the 'unfairness' of the system and its potentially negative effects on pupils' and students' self esteem. This month, we look at a detailed study of ability grouping to help practitioners consider the various effects different grouping practices have upon learners.

Learning spaces

Understanding and managing classroom space
Classroom environment interacts powerfully with teaching and learning, so how can you ensure teachers throughout your school are making the best use of the space to maximise the learning that goes on? Jane McGregor explains how, even when changing the size of the space is not possible, there is much that can be done to change how the space within classrooms is used.

Optimal Learning Spaces Design Implications for Primary Schools
To achieve optimal design solutions is a complex and challenging goal. This report seeks to frame the multitude of opportunities within just a few major design principles derived from the basics of how people experience spaces in response to the environmental data they gain through their senses and synthesise in their brains. This leads to a focus on naturalness, individualisation and level of stimulation. The resulting practical opportunities have been illustrated / evidenced with case studies and we hope that this material will stimulate significant thought and experimentation about school design amongst clients and designers alike.

Redesigning the classroom environment
The layout of the classroom affects the behaviour of all those in it.
In my work as an educational psychologist I often encounter the difficulties that the physical environment poses to class teachers and children and I have been very struck by the way in which the layout of a classroom affects the behaviour of all those in it.

Educause has a variety of useful articles on Learning Space Design

View photos of school furniture for todays learning spaces:
Silverton Public School
Ordrup School Denmark
St Margaret Mary's Merrylands
and many more via
The Learning Exchange gallery

Previous references to Learning Space Design on this blog can be found by clicking on the "Learning Spaces" tag found on the right hand side column of the blog (may need to scroll down the web page to find the tag)