Monthly Archives: June 2011

Student-Centred feedback = class results


It has taken longer than I originally intended but, I have finally finished my, “Facilitating the Development of  Reflective Learners” activity!

This relates to a mini-research activity I wrote about in a previous blog. I have attached the power point from that post to this post as well (the introductory power point where I outlined what I was doing etc).



25 students: Of this number …

  • 12 correctly identified their final result.
  • 10 added a “qualifier” to their mark ie. B- , when it was a B. The students who did this were usually students whose work “sat” between two grade bands. See note at the end of this post.
  • 2  underestimated by a “complete” grade range. ie. C when it was a B
  • 1 was unsure of their grade and found the questions difficult to understand.

I was happy with the discussions that I had with the students as most were able to clearly identify where they may have lost marks/ areas for improvement. A number were able to clearly identify and explain what they did well.

CONCLUSION:   Was this worthwhile? YES – It gave me an insight into how students’ metacognitive abilities were developing. The written component students must complete that follows this discussion will also be interesting to evaluate.  Would I do it again? YES – Students have just submitted a letter writing task (see an earlier blog re this), which will complement this activity. I also will be applying the skills they have developed to their Movie Task, where in small groups, they are creating a movie about a country of their choice, to be shown to their parents/caregivers early next term. This will be part of a fundraiser to raise funds for an animal charity of their choice, but more on that later. 🙂

The teacher I work with (our school has a Middle- School philosophy, where students have two key teachers who meet each week to discuss, plan, implement and evaluate a variety of middle-school teaching strategies) commented during our weekly meeting today, that their metacognitive abilities had improved. We are both working on this with them so hopefully they will be able to develop skills that allow them ALL to achieve to the best of their potential.

“Aim for the Moon and you just might catch a Star.”

NOTE: SACSA grading (used when finalising the formal reporting process) does not allow for plus or minus grades. However, I use these as a teaching tool so that students develop an understanding of where they are on the grading continuum. This allows students who, whilst they may officially be a SACSA, C Grade, can receive positive reinforcement for their efforts during the assessment period, by granting C+ in order to communicate improvement.  

On a personal note … Whilst these sorts of activities may take a little longer to implement and manage, they provide “ahaa” moments when you realise just why you love your job! 🙂 🙂

Eric Jensen’s Latest Newsletter – the lowdown on music!


I am not suggesting that I have come across anything new but …

Interesting. It is commonly argued that music has a definite role to play in student learning. The other day, I allowed my Year 8s to listen to music whilst they were engaging in a simple and, some might argue, “boring” textbook task. I quietly observed them whilst all this was happening to note their levels of engagement and productivity. I also allowed them to quietly discuss their work if they wished to.

This was an “end of day” lesson.

Here is what I observed:

All students displayed a level of engagement.

90% were discussing the work and coming up with creative solutions to some of the extension questions.

Students were happy to discuss their ideas with me although there were less requests for help. I frequently allow them to discuss their observations with each other when engaging in this kind of learning, however, this time, they were asking for a lot less help.

The classroom had a relaxed tone.

Interesting to observe – but when reading the latest Eric Jensen newsletter, my anecdotal observations felt more substantive.

I have attached the article to my “Neuroscience” page.  🙂

Neuroscience thought for the day!


When we consider our language, it seems unified and indivisible. We hear a word, attach meaning to it, and use other words to reply. It’s effortless. It seems part of the same unified language sphere.  …  The seeming unity of language is really the work of different parts of the brain, which shift and change over time, and which fracture into receptive and expressive parts.

Taken from : “Buddhism and The Brain” (see my “Neuroscience” page!)

Students negotiate task


Today I gave my students the option of negotiating how they wanted to demonstrate their understanding of film techniques. The modality had to be written and after explaining to them the objective of the task, I gave them two choices:

1. A formal test of 45 minutes in length. Students would have to identify (using prompts) different camera techniques and explain how they could be used by the director to create a particular effect on the audience.

2. A letter to the Director of “Cool Runnings”, Jon Turtletaub, explaining what they liked about the film. They had to specifically refer to two scenes and two different film techniques(from a choice of 4 techniques).

The majority chose the letter and as a class, decided that in order to achieve the objective/outcome the letter needed to be between 1  – 1/2 pages in length. Interesting – the letter option is more difficult and they chose the letter knowing this to be the case. They, “don’t like tests”.

From this, I created a task sheet which was distributed at a later lesson (I see them 3 times on Mondays) and as a class,we discussed the task in greater detail. This discussion although scaffolded by me, required significant imput from the students to explain what they thought was  meant by key words.

They chose the due date (this Friday as opposed to Monday of next week).

I have attached the task sheet to the “Activities” Page. It has a number of activities all designed to develop deeper thinking about the task prior to submission and, after submission. It also provides clear scaffolding to ensure that all students can be successful.

Also … the students have chosen to send these letters to Jon Turtletaub! Some were not too keen, however, I chose to encourage this as, doing so will take the task from “just another letter task”, to the “real world”.


This week in Kpmetacog land


I haven’t forgotten my promise to update my research on students’ responses to the rubric activity. The last couple of weeks have been crazy busy with work, plus I have been struck down with a virus that had me bedridden, not only cancelling a holiday over the recent long weekend, but put me behind with marking etc. Oh well … Promise to have it all up on Tuesday night as I have completed half of the evaluations – just a bit more to go 🙂

My beautiful Year 8s were described as a “cracker bunch of kids” by a relief teacher the other day (I had been off sick with the lurgy). This week, they will be using a “post -it” note /Expert Station approach to revise recent learning. Students will decide the key sub-topics from the main topic and:

1. Create “Stations” around the room.

2. Add a post-it note fact from these topics to each station.

3. Using a Lotus Chart, move around the room, individually deciding what they think are key pieces of information from each station and write these on the relevant spaces on their Lotus Chart.

4. In a pair of MY CHOICE!! 🙂 explain what they chose and why (2 things) to each other. 20 seconds. 

5. Form “Expert Groups”  – and create 1 visual, 1 verbal and 1 physical actvity to reinforce key points from one of the Lotus chart sub-topics.

6. Student led Quiz Show. This will be student designed, led and arbitrated with appropriate scaffolding by me.

Anyway – something else to go on with for the moment!

“…the question is how can we best produce exceptional learning in young people?” (Jensen, 2005)

To produce exceptional learners we must first understand the diversity that exists within our classroom. This diversity encompasses but is not restricted to, the following factors:

  • Cultural / Religious
  • Learning style
  • Group dynamics; both small and as an entire class cohort
  • Gender
  • Learning needs

Understanding the above factors allows me to implement learning opportunities that critically consider both the individual’s virtual “backpack, and the group “backpack”. Firstly, before implementing the curriculum, a classroom culture based on the individual’s right to respect and dignity is established. This involves a whole class approach as well as consistent modelling on my behalf. Secondly, I develop an understanding of individual contexts by providing opportunities for engagement that incorporate a variety of learning styles. This facilitates the identification of each student’s domestic context (ie. distractions and difficulties), cultural markers ie Indigenous students, as well as general personal and group interests. After this process I implement instructional models designed to promote positive learning, catering for strengths, vulnerabilities and cultural sensitivities.

Mind/Shift – How we will learn.


The School Day of The Future is DESIGNED!

Just a few of the thoughts expressed on this page!

“If aliens landed on our planet and walked into our schools. what would they think the school is meant for? … Learning to stay in place for 40 – minute increments?”

“Designing the day around the discovery of information,connections to real world challenges, discussions digging into our experiences with the world.”

“One thing to keep in mind, is that not every child is starting in the same place, and not every child is heading toward the same place.”

By Tina Barseghian