Hello and welcome to the 28th edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Things in Education.
As we continue our 2nd anniversary celebrations, today's edition brings you the highlights of how a human mind learns and how knowledge of this can be leveraged in classrooms. Students can be motivated and kept engaged with the lesson, and learning goals can be achieved more effectively, when we know how the human mind learns and how it can trick us into believing that we have learned something, without really learning it.
As always, we would love to hear what you have to say. Tell us what you liked or disliked. Did you strongly agree or disagree with anything we said? Or just drop in and say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continuing our celebrations of two years in existence and one year of this newsletter, we aim to make sense of all the editions we have offered in the last few months. In our anniversary edition last fortnight, we shared a summary of our editions on early learning and ended it with what more is in store for the coming year. Today, we summarise the editions that talk about the basics of learning and pedagogy – what are some of the great ideas of teaching and learning and how these can be applied to your classrooms in a straightforward manner.
We kicked off the newsletter with two provocative questions. First, we asked why teacher professional development programmes fail. We used our experience with teachers and school management to highlight the key mistakes that you can make while planning a teacher professional development programme in your school. The piece also offers solutions on how to avoid these common pitfalls.
The second question we asked was why students don’t like school. This piece was our ingress into the world of student motivation. We made the point that provoking curiosity is an effective method to motivate students. When there is lack of curiosity, the motivation to study and hence like school is low. We begin to answer the question: How can we engage a student’s often-fleeting curiosity to get them to engage with the content?
We delved deeper into what student motivation is. Is there a way to break it down? In this in-depth piece we write about different types of motivation – internal vs. external and also explore how motivation can be stable or unstable. Knowing this helps create learning strategies for different students.
Along with being highly motivated, it is important that students then remain engaged with the lesson. Motivated students are a great asset in the classroom, but what happens when a motivated student is motivated by multiple things?
For example, a curious student may be equally curious about the lesson in class as the chirping sound that an unknown bird is making near the window. Or what if a motivated student comes across a lesson that they are not able to relate to? As this piece suggests, motivation alone is not enough. An educator needs to plan for the student to pay attention, relate to the lesson, make connections between the lesson and previously made memories, and recollect the lesson.
All through the last year and also in this summary edition so far, we have emphasized on student motivation being a primary driving factor for student learning. But there can be pitfalls to this as well. Sometimes we go overboard with keeping up the motivation of a classroom of students. How and when will students have fun (and hence be motivated) becomes the primary goal of lesson plans. The goal of lessons – getting students to learn, remember and recall – gets obscured and replaced by the goal of having fun. In this edition we write about how we create a process to ensure that learning goals are always primary when designing a lesson plan.
Speaking of lesson plans, sometimes the best thought out lessons do the worst in class, like this science teacher found out. Can you evaluate what went wrong for the teacher? Here are some questions to help you evaluate:
Were the students motivated? How were they motivated? Was this motivation internal or external?
Was the teacher able to hold the students’ attention? At what times did the teacher have the students’ attention and at what times did he not?
Was the teacher able to make connections to already known material for the students?
Was the teacher able to ensure that the students explored, made mistakes and created their understanding?
Were the students able to evaluate their understanding?
An eagle-eyed reader will probably see that these questions map to the MARGE approach to lesson planning, which we discussed earlier in this summary. Although, we give some suggestions in the piece itself as to how the teacher could do things differently, we also wrote about what a good science class could look like.
Apart from understanding and following the process of scientific inquiry, there are two more important aspects in science classrooms. They are critical thinking and creative thinking. We wrote about both – and the parallels and divergences between the two are uncanny. Can you find the differences and similarities between them?
We have asked you multiple questions in this edition. Please feel free to respond to these questions as a reply to this email. We want to start conversations on approaches to lesson planning, and we have taken the first step of asking some questions. Please participate by responding to them.
In case you missed our previous summary on foundational learning, please check it out. This concludes our second summary highlighting key learnings on how students’ brains work and hence how they learn. In our next and final summary, we will focus on various pedagogies like inquiry classrooms, project-based learning, etc. along with some highlights on how to create meaningful assessments.
If you found this newsletter useful, please share it.
If you received this newsletter from someone and you would like to subscribe to us, please click here.