Do we really know how to enhance student achievement?

For our assessment class we are each asked to read a chapter or article and present it to the class. My presentation is on John Hattie. Not many people have heard of this guy, but his research is very interesting. He is a professor and researcher in the education department at the university of Melbourne. He is passionate about visible learning and student achievement.

His latest work is the 138 factors that affect student achievement. With the help of a quarter of a billion students, he was able to determine these factors by looking at 6 categories that affect student achievement: student, parents, school, curricula, teachers, and teaching strategies. He then put these factors on a scale. These factors fell under one of three categories: decreases student achievement, has no affect on student achievement and increases student achievement.

Looking at the graph below, the red is decreases achievement, the yellow is it has no effect, and the green is it enhances achievement.


This bar graph brings about good news: there is not much that we can do to hinder student achievement. In fact, Hattie has found that it is extremely easy to enhance student achievement.

What I found most interesting about his research, is that a lot of the problems that we discuss about education, have no affect on student achievement at all. One prime example is giving students a choice over their learning. From what I understand, this means continually giving students a choice about a particular assignment. A lot of the times when students are to give a presentation, we give them the option to either hand in a paper, do a poster or PowerPoint presentation. Is this really helping our students? Think about it. Say that I am absolutely terrified of talking in front of the class so every time I choose to do a paper so I can avoid my fears. Am I really preparing myself for the future, or am I taking the easy way out. Now do not get me wrong, I believe that we have to build on children’s strengths. However I also believe that we need to push children outside of their comfort zone and encourage them to do new things. After all, it is our job to prepare these kids for the future.

Many people may not like or agree with Hattie’s research, but I have found it extremely helpful. All that I ask is for teachers to consider Hattie’s findings while you are teaching and see if what you are currently doing is actually beneficial to the students.


Should The Lord’s Prayer Remain in School?

The news story about the parent from Moose jaw who was complaining that Lindale school says The Lords Prayer, is old news. However, I have been battling with the idea of talking about it or not, and I have decided that it is okay to display my opinion publicly. I may be a bit biased because my pre-internship is at Lindale, but I think this woman took it a bit far. Lindale is rated one of the best schools in the province for a reason. The principle and rest of the staff are amazing and I have fully enjoyed my experience there. The parents of Lindale school were able to express their opinions of keeping The Lords Prayer in the school, and 90% of the parents were okay with it. This woman definitely has the right to express her own opinion, however I feel like she took it too far because she was upset with the outcome.

If this was to arise in my classroom where one of my students’ parents disagreed with how the school is run, then I would suggest these options:  that her student goes into the hallway when the rest of the class is reciting the prayer, the student stays in the classroom but does not recite the prayer, or she simply takes her child to a different school. When 90% of the parents are okay with it, then you either have to conform or take your child to a different school. I think she is making this school look bad, when in reality it is a great school. I would agree with her if the percentage was a lot lower, but 90% is very high.

However, I do realize that this is just my opinion and some may disagree with me and that is okay!

Yay For Lindale!

Today I got to choose where my Internship is going to be in the fall, and I am so happy to be returning to Lindale school! I have had such a great experience at this school so far that I wanted to go back. I cannot wait until the fall!

I came across an article this past week about Minecraft. This got me reminiscing about our awesome gamifaction presentation last semester. At first I was not a fan of bringing such games into the classroom. Reason being, I was worried about what parents and guardians would think of their kids “playing” games. I cannot remember the name of the person who gave the presentation, but I approached him with that concern and his advice for me was to make sure that I have whatever game they are playing connected to the curriculum. That way, if parents approach you about it you can show them what outcomes and indicators it fits with.

I think Minecraft would be a great resource for math. It’s fun and interactive and students are able to show their creativity. I believe math should not be so black and white; there should be multiple interpretations of how to do math. Many students fear math for this reason. They feel that they cannot do it because many teachers only give them one way of doing math. Minecraft fits right in with this statement! Students are able to explore a way or style that works best for them!

I am not able to teach math in my pre-internship unfortunately, but I hope to include gamification in some of the other subjects that I am teaching in March.