This article is an example of teaching procedures

9 Journey 9 Regular independent monitoring

Issue 114, page 37
November 2013
Ian Mitchell Pedagogical Purposes Group, Monash University

Journey 4 refers to teachers initiating and scaffolding reflection. Journey 9 is about students independently and constantly monitoring what they are doing in any or all of multiple ways. In content related ways against task criteria, big ideas and key skills, in learning related ways about how effectively they are learning or ways they could do a task and in ways related to personal understanding - what do and don t they understand, what sort of assistance do they need and has their thinking changed (to take three examples). They do this by asking themselves appropriate self-questions or by selecting an appropriate thinking tool (a better name than teaching procedure in this context).

This can be a challenge for teachers to promote -  it can be seen by students as involving energy and effort relating to thinking that is unfamiliar. In the early years of PEEL we (secondary teachers) consistently found this difficult to achieve. Primary teachers had noticeably greater early success here.

A key reason for our early problems in this area was that it was very distant from what students saw as their role - doing the tasks set in an unreflective way. We wanted them to focus on building understandings and skills, not just on completing tasks. If students perceive their role as involving more independence and responsibility (Journey 6) then they are more likely to engage in monitoring. Part of this is understanding and accepting the teacher s long-term agendas (Journey 7). This involves several GLBs (Journey 1) as well as several elements of a language for learning such as linking to key ideas (Journey 3). Getting students to think about task purposes in terms of key ideas and skills requires students understanding and accepting the importance of this (Journey 8).

 A number of teaching procedures can stimulate and/or scaffold monitoring (Journey 2). If the task is a collaborative task and the monitoring includes monitoring how they worked as a group, then the monitoring will be better if students are skilled in collaboration and have mutual trusts (Journey 5). Procedures such as KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learned) help students identify and frame questions and then monitor what they are doing during a task against these questions.

 Finally monitoring before and during a task is a form of reflection and is helped by students having regular experience of reflection on their learning (Journey 4). This cuts both ways - better monitoring improves reflection after the event.

 Ideas

 9.1 There are multiple ways that students can monitor their learning and they should not all be promoted at once.

 Good learners monitor: how they are learning, whether they are improving how they learn, whether they are understanding, skills they need to improve, how well they are addressing what they have been asked to do, how the task was linked to the big ideas/key skills of the unit.

9.2 Monitoring  how they are learning. Structure situations that confront students with what they will see as costly poor learning tendencies

 This dates back to the first few weeks of PEEL when Damien Hynes asked his students to copy what he knew to be nonsense, but what he said were summary notes of several lessons work (see F5 Dirty Tricks and D12 What have I learnt?). What is crucial here is that the students recognise serious problems in their learning AND that the teacher has not used this as a way to demean students.

 9.3  Monitoring  how they are learning. Teachers encourage students to develop self- questions related to the skills of achieving the success/assessment criteria

eg Planning:   What strategies did I use to generate ideas   This involves students in thinking about the kinds of skills they need to develop.

9.4 Give students the 10 journeys and use this to discuss progres - this could be called reflection on their reflection

 

Tanya Whiteside did this with her grade 5 (after she had been promoting good learning for several months) and it worked remarkably well, the students, in later lessons, chose to  use this as a framework to analyse how they had learnt.

 9.5 Monitoring understanding. Students need to develop a sense of what it means to search for meaning and see a payoff when they say they do not understand.

 The above examples both involve students moving from no processing of what they read to searching for meaning and monitoring their understanding. If they are to move to doing this more independently, teachers can expect more questions and more students saying they do not understand something.

 9.6  Monitoring how the task was linked to the big ideas/key skills of the unit

This links directly to 8.8-8.11; in summary, these say that big ideas/key skills need to be a constant and explicit part of classroom discourse.

 9.7 Monitoring how well they are addressing what they have been asked to do. Class develops a set of learning goals and teacher puts out more tasks than may be needed to meet each of these goals. Students have to decide when they have done enough on anyone goal.

 This was discussed in 8.11 and 8.12, the point here is that this requires independent monitoring.


9.8  Monitoring how well they are addressing what they have been asked to do.  Develop he routine that students cannot ask is this all right  without being able to show how they have thought seriously about the piece in terms of the task criteria.

 

We realised that the way criteria are written are often secret teachers business - inaccessible to students and more explicit teaching around what these mean is sometimes needed

 Relevance to later journeys

 Engaging in monitoring before and during a task often involves decision making and leads to students working more independently (Journey 10); if a student, for example, has recognised that they are not yet clear on the purpose or significance of a task, and that they  should be, then they are more able to initiate action to do something about this. Similarly independently getting unstuck is much easier if students are clear about the overall purpose of the task. Students can also make decisions not to do any more work on building understanding of a particular idea/concept if they are monitoring their understanding and decide they have understand it well enough for what they need to do with it.