Todd Finley is one of my favourite writers at Edutopia (you may have seen these posts: Ride the recency effect or Group reading galore), so it was even more exciting to stumble upon this cool infographic by him:
I can easily see it on a poster in the teachers’ room or above a desk, to use as a lesson planning aid. Bloom’s taxonomy? Check. Assessment for learning? You got it. Sense of progress? Very much so!
If you have often heard, or said, that language learning is a bit like a spiral, Nigel Caplan takes this metaphor even further: it’s a tornado because it expands (and is probably just as chaotic, though hopefully not as destructive). You can read more about this in his post if you need any more convincing! For example, if you say, ‘We’ve already done the Present Perfect’, you can’t be more wrong, either as a learner or as a teacher. It’s never over because there are always new and more complex contexts and situations where this language could be applied, and the knowledge doesn’t transfer automatically.
So, next time a student comes to me with a question about his or her sense of progress, I know what picture I’m going to draw!
Here is a great example of how tech can help teachers track students’ progress in the most painless and time-saving way. The author uses extensive reading as an example, but this method can be applied to anything else you would like to track, especially if there are a lot of students and a lot of checkpoints. The answer is simple: Google Forms: you input the results with one click and get statistics in a neat spreadsheet.
Could be useful for that action research project you have been planning for ages!
Here is an example of a pre- and post-assessment task in a history class that could be easily transferred to a teen or adult ELT classroom. A great way to highlight the students’ achievement (yes, sense of progress). What makes this post special? Well, first of all, you can copy a nifty Google Docs template for the task. Secondly, you get a full description of how and why the activity works. And last but not least, I just love the enthusiasm and warmth that comes through every line 🙂
Here is an interesting article warning against the dangers of ‘folk teaching’ – following only our hunch, or teacher’s intuition, when making educational choices. If it can be detrimental in our own classrooms, what about school-wide or larger-scale academic management? I am more and more convinced that we need to read more ELT and educational research – and continue checking our progress, testing, collecting evidence of anything we do. What about you?
Have you started a monthly reading challenge with your learners yet? Here is an excellent description of a foldable book report that can be used in an ELT classroom, even though the author, Robert Ward, created it for his English classes in an LA middle school. It’s very hands-on, very creative, easy and fun: the learners will get to think of a new title for the book they’ve read, devise metaphors for the main character, create a licence plate for their car and critique the book. The benefits? Language and skills development, motivation and engagement – and of course revisiting the book is an opportunity for revision and achieving a greater sense of progress.
Would you do something like this in your classroom, or you prefer more digital solutions?
I’ve just read this article emphasising the importance of growth (and the feeling of progress) for a teacher. Terry Heick is trying to explain how the teacher’s work is a journey and what can help us measure how far we’ve progressed on it, or whether we are “trending upwards”. The problem with our job, however, is that the metrics are very vague and we do not see direct outcomes of our work and don’t get to close the feedback loop. Solutions? Look for ‘other data’ – the smile of a student, a good question asked. Find little ‘data points’ that can truly show progress to you. Or look at the big picture and make sure you’re growing, in spite of those little ups and downs. Makes sense, doesn’t it?