Professional Learning

Professional Learning – Newsletter #1

There many things that influence student learning.  Some influences have a large positive effect, some have a small positive effect, some have a negative effect and some have no effect.

Some influences can be changed and some cannot.  Of the influences that can be changed, some are easier and some are harder.  Some require less work and some require more work.  Some are inexpensive and some are costly.

Ideally we want to do the things that have the biggest positive effect, are the easiest to do, and require a manageable amount of effort.

Teachers make a huge difference.
What we do matters.

In the context of positive teacher-student relationships, classrooms where students can confidently answer the following three questions (Timperley & Hattie) have the highest achieving students.

Where are you going with your learning?
How are you doing?
What next?

Strategies that Get  Us There

Building a classroom where students can confidently answer these three questions takes time and a framework (adapted by Halbert & Kaser from Wiliam).  A framework which:

  • makes explicit the what and why of student learning
  • shows what success looks like
  • encourages open-ended and probing questions
  • allows students to receive, and give, descriptive feedback
  • ultimately results in students owning their learning and recognizing the influence that they themselves have on their learning

This framework of strategies is useful for starting this work.  And the work starts with Clear Learning Intentions that are shared with students.

Example of what it could look like for a Science 9 Biology Unit

First, start with the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) in the Integrated Resource Package (IRP).

Level 1: Photocopy & handout the Suggested Achievement Indicators
Level 2a: Re-write in “student friendly language”
Level 2b: Re-vise/Re-order and Emphasize/De-emphasize
Level 3: Separate into KNOW’s & DO’s
Level 4: Articulate the “Big Ideas

Sc9 Reproduction Learning Intentions – Levels 1 & 2

Sc9 Reproduction Learning Intentions – Levels 3 & 4 – drafts


About J Martens

Educator living in Vancouver and working in SD37 Delta. Supporting Numeracy while learning how formative assessment, literacy, inquiry, and technology serve to improve learning and increase engagement (for teachers & students).
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5 Responses to Professional Learning

  1. faye brownlie says:

    A very nice step into clarity for both teacher and students! I particularly like your focus on the big ideas, with know’s and do’s contained within. Thanks for sharing, Jacob.

    • J Martens says:

      Know, Understand, Do comes from Cindy Strickland and her work around Differentiated Instruction.
      Thinking more examples of Level 4 unit plans might be of interest to science teachers.

  2. Judy Halbert says:

    Hi Jacob
    You are helping make the six key formative assessment strategies that we have been working with in the Network readily accessible. Your practical applications to Science are going to be immensely useful.
    You might want to acknowledge that these strategies have been adapted from the work of Dylan Wiliam. and that the three questions are based on the work of Timperley and Hattie. One of the key principles we think is really important is to share knowledge and resources freely and always make sure to reference the source. Thanks!!

    • J Martens says:

      Thank you the feedback. It is taking time to process and articulate all the great thinking. Glad to hear it is being presented in an accessible format.
      Missing source credits were an oversight — too busy thinking.

  3. linda kaser says:

    Dear Jacob –

    love this – clear and succinct. Debbie Koehn said yesterday – in Terrace – that she can take what you do and adapt it for primary and intermediate learners – that is pretty darn nifty.


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