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Articles, Books and Research That Guide Us

As teachers we have all had those moments that have greatly influenced us. This post shares a few of the articles and books that have guided the educators at gotLearning.

Carl Anderson’s book

How’s it Going?

The question “How’s it Going?” is so incredibly powerful when you use it with a student. I was lucky enough to watch Carl work with students in my classroom! He truly used the phrase “How’s it Going?” with the students. What happened next was 10 minutes of masterful conferring with 4 students during a writing lesson. The learning conversations he had with them provided incredible feedback that was goal-referenced and actionable. This experience with Carl and the book solidified for me that the conversations with students about their thinking/work is where so much learning occurs.

Available from the publisher’s website.

Grant Wiggin’s article

“Seven Keys to Effective Feedback“

Grant Wiggin’s article “Seven Keys to Effective Feedback” is pure gold in regard to what feedback is and what it is not. My favorite part of the article:

Feedback Essentials:
Whether feedback is just there to be grasped or is provided by another person, helpful feedback is goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable; user-friendly (specific and personalized); timely; ongoing; and consistent.”

This is a worthy read for all educators, coaches and anyone else who gives feedback to others. There are also great examples of each of the feedback essentials. Available on the ASCD website.

Paula Rutherford’s

Instruction for All Students

Besides this being written by my first year mentor teacher, this is my go to “If I was teaching on a desert island what book would you bring?” answer. One of my favorite quotes is:

“A wise educator said: We will conduct all of our interactions with students based on the most current data, research and current thinking in our field. When this information changes we will change our practice.” Paula continues with “I do not believe that this statement in any way implies that we should continue to hop from bandwagon to bandwagon looking for materials and programs that will ensure quick fixes or successes. Quite the contrary. It means that we must constantly reach out to analyze, reflect on and react to the massive body of research on teaching and learning that comes not only from those doing formal research, but also from those of us working directly with students.”

This book is dog-eared, coffee stained and been referenced more than any other book I own.

For more information visit the Just ASK Publications & Professional Development website.

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s

Understanding by Design

Over 20 years later, Understanding by Design (UbD) is still influencing the thinking and planning of educators worldwide. The premise is simple in process but profound in its impact. Plan backwards from your goals and base your goals on transferable performances of understanding. Assess student performance against the goals throughout the learning process and use feedback to help students as they learn and grow. UbD’s “think like an assessor” is fundamental to the development of gotLearning and educators who are familiar with the tenets of UbD will comfortably incorporate this platform into their educational practice.

The clarity and simplicity of the backward design process and the corresponding UbD template allows educators worldwide to use this thinking in their context and adjust the process to their needs. gotLearning’s platform is designed with the same idea, create a clear and elegant process, laser focused on the essential elements of how classroom conversations work, allowing educators worldwide to use this platform in their context. 

Bruce Oliver’s article

“Growth-Producing Feedback”

Bruce Oliver’s wife Nancy was my 8th grade counselor – she was (and still is amazing). When I was a K12 technology training specialist I was lucky enough to work with Bruce when he was a middle school principal. His article “Growth Producing Feedback” is a must read for all teachers. While there are a multitude of resources (including research) explaining the importance of feedback, this article is the perfect spark for a teacher to immediately change and improve their practice. The best part is the Growth-Producing Feedback Discussion Tool that you can use with your colleagues to talk about what is and is not growth-producing. In my teaching and athletic coaching I consistently refer back to the phrase “Growth-Producing Feedback” to make sure the feedback I am providing is goal-oriented, emphasizing progress, timely.

The full article is available from Just ASK Publications & Professional Development’s website

John Hattie’s book

Visible Learning

Hatties research synthesis highlights the importance of feedback. Feedback is central to my teaching, empowers students and is exactly why I built gotLearning in the first place. Hattie refers to the “what happens next” phase of learning and describes it as follows in his book. 

“As will be argued throughout this book, the act of teaching reaches its epitome of success after the lesson has been structured, after the content has been delivered, and after the classroom has been organized. The art of teaching, and its major successes, relate to “what happens next” – the manner in which the teacher reacts to how the student interprets, accommodates, rejects, and/or reinvents the content and skills, how the student relates and applies the content to other tasks, and how the student reacts in light of success or failure apropos the content and the methods that the teacher has taught.

This perfectly describes the importance of the learning conversation. The back and forth between the student and teacher(s) is the “what happens next” – the “art of teaching and its major successes”. This sums up why I built the first version of gotLearning as a middle school teacher.

John Hattie’s Visible Learning is available from his website.

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