Samantha Rodgers' blog

A ‘must read’ book!

I have just purchased John Hattie’s latest book- ‘Visible Learning for teachers- maximising impact for teachers’ and I’ve got to say… I’m already hooked. Serving as both a literature review for 50,000 educational research papers and as an instruction manual on what educational programs have worked best over the past 15 years, I have found it to be incredible food for thought. Hattie makes the distinction between ‘expert’ teachers and ‘experienced’ ones and gives checklists throughout on various moments during a lesson for inspired and passionate teaching. Pitched at a level easily understood by the layman, rather than PhD candidates, it serves as a reminder to us all as to why we are teachers in the first place, and how, by employing the ‘right’ initiatives, we can really make a difference in the learning of our students, doubling their learning compared to that of a student with an ‘average’ teacher. Who wouldn’t want that!

Without going into too much detail- the book does it WAY better than I would- it explains the research methods used and how he determines the Effect Size of the programs he looks at.

Just to give a hint as to the types of methods that appear to make a visible improvement in learning, here are a few that seem to resonate most with me in terms of what I can offer students and and those that I am able to implement easily:

– concept mapping

– acceleration

– metacognitive strategies

– positive teacher- student relationships

– reciprocal teaching

– use of feedback from student to teacher

As I get further into the book I will post about some of these programs and my thoughts about them. Give it a squizz if you have the time- I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

 

A new beginning for a great school

I just visited the website for Cornish College in Melbourne, Australia, as it is newly named after breaking from its previous affiliation with St Leonard’s College. A colleague of mine and I visited the school just on one year ago, looking for new, innovative and sustainable education models. This school did not let us down on that score! From the moment we arrived till the time we left in our two day visit we were awed by the students, the staff, the environment and the curriculum. We went into classrooms at ELC, primary and secondary levels, visited the farm on campus, had the children explain the habitat as we walked around the lake, saw interdisciplinary subjects such as ‘What Lifetime, What Learning’,¬† spoke with ‘Scinglish’ teachers (a Year 10 combination subject of English and Science), saw students digging up veges in their vegetable garden and making rhubarb crumble from their school garden plots. All around the school the students’ artwork is proudly displayed: sculptures, drawings, collages, personal¬† garden ‘letterboxes’ and more. As a visitor you know exactly who the most important people in the school are: the students.

Cornish College truly lives up to its name of an award winning school- yet it is the feeling of ‘family’ in the school community and the connectedness of staff with students and them with the surrounds that struck us most.

On this new webpage the curriculum is clearly laid out, with unedited testimonials from parents, students and the community on the education they provide (how many schools would be willing to do this, I wonder?).

If you are at all interested in ‘whole child’ pedagogies, curriculum innovation or sustainability, or in a school that ‘gets it right’ in my opinion, a visit to this site will be well worth your time: www.cornishcollege.org

And if you do visit in person, tell them I sent you!