This article is an example of teaching procedures

1 Journey 1 Using Good Learning Behaviours

Issue 114, page 10
November 2013
Ian Mitchell Pedagogical Purposes Group, Monash University

This involves introducing students to specific GLBs (Good Learning behaviours) that you want to promote (such as linking school ideas to personal life) and the more general notion that there are good learning behaviours. The goal is that students will display more GLBs as appropriate to a particular situation. There is no sacred list of GLBs,  A list is: 

1.                  Checks personal comprehension of instructions or other materials.  Requests further information if needed.  Tells the teacher what they don t understand.

2.                  Seeks reasons for aspects of the work at hand.

3.                  Plans a general strategy before starting.

4.                  Anticipates and predicts possible outcomes.

5.                  Checks teacher s work for errors; offers corrections.

6.                  Offers or seeks links between:

               different activities and ideas

               different topics or subjects

               schoolwork and personal life

7.                  Searches for weaknesses in their own understandings; checks the consistency of their explanations across different situations.

8.                  Suggests new activities and alternative procedures.

9.                  Challenges the text or an answer the teacher sanctions as correct.

10.              Offers ideas, new insights and alternative explanations.

11.              Justifies opinions.

12.              Reacts and refers to comments of other students.

What follows are some ideas about how to build these into your classroom.

1.1  Promote specific GLBs and highlight them, either as they occur, or in a debrief, or both (PEEL principle 11)

PEEL procedures are designed to promote particular aspects of quality learning and many of these are likely to result in specific GLBs that can be highlighted. For example a Predict Observe explain is likely to stimulate any or all of GLBs 10,11 and 12.


1.2  Capitalise on unexpected GLBs


GLBs often occur unexpectedly - student may use and build on the idea of another student for example, teachers who have thought about the learning behaviours they are looking for are better placed to be able to recognise, highlight and praise what has happened.


1.3   GLBs change what you are attending to as important


This agenda moves teachers from just looking for on-task behaviour and evidence of understanding to how students are learning. It changes what they are conveying to students as important.


1.4   GLBs provide teachers with new ways of praising students (PEEL principle 4)

A comment such as I would like to thank Sally for saying that she did not understand; she was smart enough to recognise this and was willing to share this with the class. It turned out that I had not explained it well and no-one else understood it either. Without sally we would not have got it sorted out. Reframes GLB 1 as a sign of good learning, not stupidity and raises Sally s intellectual self-esteem.


1.5  Try and maximise the use that you make of GLBs - build student s perceptions of why you value them

If, for example, a student makes an unexpected and perhaps offbeat link to their personal life, either by a comment or a question, think about whether and how you can actually weave this into the lesson - it is surprising how often this is possible. An explicit comment about why this was useful to the lesson also helps.

1.6   You might build up as a classroom artefact a list of GLBs

Primary PEEL teachers, who have their own room, have regularly done this. Rather than put up a whole list at once, it is better to build it up more gradually, perhaps one new one a week so that richer meanings can be built for each one.

1.7  Several GLBs are perceived as risky by many students, so build a safe environment (PEEL principle 7) 

The "Sally comment above is an example of this, making regular use of GLBs and establishing a no put downs   rule is also important. 

1.8  Use wait time to give students a chance to display a GLB, this can mean BOTH teacher wait time and student wait time

GLBs reflect deeper thinking and students often need a little time for this thinking, a few seconds pause can have a significant impact. The phrase wait time can be introduced as part of the language for learning. 

1.9   Have a rotating student monitor counting GLBs

See PEEL procedure C12. Several teachers have used this where each lesson a (different) student records GLBs, the list they are using needs to be fairly short (say 6 or less) 

1.10          Regular display of GLBs will change the classroom discourse (PEEL principle 5)

A glance down the list shows how this will occur. Data from non-PEEL classes showed that, for those lessons, GLBs were displayed between 3-4 time per 50 minute lesson, data from some PEEL classes had frequencies of over 50, this makes dramatic changes to the tenor of classroom discourse, often in the direction of language that is more tentative, hypothetical and exploratory. 

1.11          Many GLBs require a sense of shared intellectual control (PEEL principle 1)

This connection works in both directions. GLBs 8, 9 and 10 (just to pick three) are clearly more likely if students feel that their ideas, contributions, and comments are valued and are likely to be used. Points 1.2, 1.4 and 1.5 are all examples of building a sense of shared intellectual control by promoting GLBs

Relevance to later journeys 

GLBs lead to most of the remaining journeys. The use of GLBs enables the use of a developed language (Journey 3) among students and between students and teacher. GLBs will also be required in collaborative work (Journey 5) and where a student is required to make decisions or work independently on a task (Journey 10). GLBs are associated with different student and teacher roles (Journey 6). They are not roles themselves, but manifestations of roles such as taking more responsibility for learning and not regarding the teacher as the source of all knowledge and control. The explicit understanding of these roles will develop over time. 

A student will build a greater understanding of the purpose of the teacher s  purposes and long term agendas (Journey 7) by understanding and practising GLBs; opportunities for teachers to highlight and praise GLBs are important here especially early in the year. Students will also be able to understand why and how to actively monitor their progress (Journey 9) if they have an initial understanding of GLBs. Examples include students moving on when they have realised that they understand a particular task and therefore register that they have finished.   Using and understanding GLBs that relate to reflection (Journey 4) is an essential part of that journey.