Part II of – Hattie – What does he suggest is a good learning plan?

Be a good idea to read part I before you read this part. But who am I to tell you what to do?  😎


Teacher clearly explains the thing(s) to be learned


This is a part of the learning process that some of us had lost sight of. In our rush to do the exciting things, the things that engage pupils we have not remembered that they need to know some stuff. They need to know what they need to know so that we can THEN do the exciting things. We have had students practising before they have been given the knowledge that they need to use in their practices.


Sure, pupils can learn knowledge from books, YouTube or any other medium that ‘tells’ them but the teacher is usually the best placed to do this. The teacher knows which bits of knowledge they need, in what order, with what emphasis etc. I will confess that most of my assemblies as a head teacher were based on one theme – sit down, be quiet and listen to your teacher. I also told my children that getting clever was easy. They just had to know more. The clever person next to them was only clever because they had learned more stuff. Actually, being clever is not much more than that. The first part of our job as a teacher is to tell pupils what they need to know. There are lots of ways to tell but tell and tell clearly is critical so that they get the knowledge sorted as well as possible.


Teacher clarity comes very high on Hattie’s effect sizes list.


Let me add. I am fine with all sorts of different teacher delivery. I will credit the more engaging ways of ‘telling’ as much as the less dramatic. What is vital is that the children are told enough to allow them to then think at a higher level.


Stop the rush to higher order and to deeper until the shallow and low order knowledge has been secured. Why do we have such pejorative names for the knowledge based elements of the curriculum? Someone invent a name for the process, knowledge acquisition and recall, please. A nice, exciting name.


Teacher models what the the learning looks like


You know when someone explains something to you but you don’t quite get it? You ask then for an example. Then you understand – or understand enough.


That is what modelling does. The teacher shows you what it looks like. Or shows you a video of what it looks like. You begin to see more deeply what you have just been told. You also get a view of what quality looks like. You begin to understand how to do it. It being the learning, the skill etc. That’s what modelling does for a learner.


Hattie talks about a child who is not able to do a maths problem. “Just give them the answer”, exhorts Hattie, “Then they can focus on the process!” We are after them understanding how to do something not just what the answer is. We have, in my opinion, become too entranced with the mystery and magic of not simply and clearly revealing methods to children. We think that by making them work harder and struggle that they will learn better. We do want them to work hard but we need to be doing that when they mostly know how to do it. If they have the skills then they will then gain the insights that turn them into high quality, engaged learners.


“Just show them” still rings in my ears from the Hattie videos, “Just show them.”


Pupils try the activity, not totally successfully


It is not the intention of this part of the learning that children will not be successful. It is that we should expect them to make mistakes with some parts as well as get some bits right. It is during this stage that true learning will occur. Provided we have the right tasks, set at the right level of challenge, and we provide opportunities for peer interaction. BUT, especially important is to have great teacher feedback to the child.


Don’t set up activities that require children to discover any really significant new information. Information that has not been given to them in the teacher explanation and modelling parts of this learning. Make sure they are able to explore and challenge their emerging knowledge. Make sure you design the tasks well but somewhat openly so that there is also the possibility for students to clearly display their learning, and mislearning (is that a word? It should be) to the teacher.


Part III when I get so itchy I just have to write some more.

Part III will, I hope, cover the remaining parts of what Hattie might have as a great learning plan.

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