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High Performance Learning Environments


In the lesson above, I felt like there was a great deal of depth involved in planning and execution of the lesson. Students had the opportunity to create a roller coaster simulation. The thing that really amazed me about this lesson was the fact that students had the opportunity to test their hypotheses graphically, collaborate and brainstorm ideas for improving their work, and then reattempt the project in an effort to build a successful roller coaster model. Embedded in these activities was the notion that it was okay to make mistakes and fail and from student failure, they could generate enough feedback from team members to solve problems inherent in their system design. I think this is the essence for developing learners’ abilities to take risks and approach problem solving proactively. It is something that is missing from most of the other lessons observed in this activity.

Furthermore, the aforementioned lesson contained detailed guidelines for the students about the project work that they were to engage in. It provided a basis for high expectations for all of the students in terms of setting clear attainment targets for the students to reach.

I believed the teacher in this video high very expectations for her learners and constantly challenged and encouraged the students to pursue their project work to perfection. By providing clear examples at the beginning of the lesson, this would be a good example of the “Format” strategy described by Lemov (2010) in which the teacher provides clear guidelines about what is expected in the final product of student work. This encourages all students to work toward a standard. If I were this teacher, I would provide more differentiation in the lesson plan structure to support students at differing levels of attainment.

The teaching style in this video is quite familiar to me. It involves rote learning which is common in the Confucian teaching tradition, which represents a common teaching practice at my current school. It doesn’t seem like the teacher has high expectations for the students but, in fact, she does hold the students in high regard. She uses whole class teaching to model the correct answer and expects that all students will be able to memorize the rules through repeating constantly. This is a collectivistic teaching style that puts an emphasis on conformity as opposed to individuality and self-exploration found in the first lesson discussed in this post. The focus in this teaching style is on being correct and avoiding mistakes, hence the teacher makes use of error correction frequently and also does not let the students get off task.

The Math teacher definitely made use “No opt out” strategies. Students were required to respond to the teacher and were not allowed to keep quiet. If I were this teacher, I would have tried to call on more students to participate so that I could check for comprehension.

Personally, I like the first lesson better as it gives students a bit more autonomy to direct their learning. Obviously, in the teacher centered lesson above, students are not allowed to explore and make mistakes. On the other hand, the teaching style in the second video is more geared toward helping students be successful on standardized tests where form and structure are more important than meaning making.

So, how can we determine which method holds higher expectations for students? I think that depends a great deal on the teaching context one finds him or herself. Obviously, in a learning environment where testing solely determines my chances of being successful in life, the teacher-centered lesson would be preferred and this is true in many countries in East Asia. On the other hand, if I live in a society where creativity is valued and means to success, then the first lesson style would be more appropriate. The answer, to my mind, then is that the teacher expectations will vary depending on the environment where he or she happens to be.

After watching the videos this week, one thing was certain: I really wasn’t very excited by this lesson.

I felt that the lesson might be more appropriate for younger students at primary school level but not for high school students and the repetition seemed to be remedial.I felt like these students could be pushed to produce more at their age, particularly along the lines of getting the students to engage in exploratory learning and reflection. I liked the idea of getting students to do brain based learning, but then what about having students get into groups to discuss, compare and contrast the brain based learning with other types of learning. I didn’t see any sort of error correction or direct feedback from the teacher as could be observed in the first two videos. All in all, I didn’t feel the teacher had as high expectations for the students as in the first two videos.

Works Cited
Lemov, D. (2010). Teach like a champion: 49 techniques that put students on the path to college (K-12). John Wiley & Sons.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Ascd.

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