Hello fellow educators, 

  Don’t you find that there is so much to talk about these days?    I did a deep dive this weekend into learning theory with the aim to remind myself how students learn and to determine what I could apply to the distance learning work I’m doing with my students and the teachers I support.   Is anyone else playing around with these concepts?    I’d love to talk further! Email me! mary@evolvededucationcompany.com   We have a lot to quickly learn, apply, and create. I think its worth a collaboration!    I took some notes on learning theory – and made some of my own conclusions based on those notes as well as my observations/experiences with the teachers I support, my own kids (learning in 3 different schools) and within my learning specialty practice. Click here for a PDF of this Exploration. Also check out this resource – which I love! https://alisonyang.weebly.com/blog/online-teaching-do-this-not-that I’d love your feedback! 

Notes on Learning Theory: 

    • From Piaget:
      • When a child has developed a working schema (can explain what they have perceived in the world -they have a schema in a state of equilibrium)
      • A learner moves into a state of equilibrium by assimilation and accommodation
    • From Vygotsky:
      • An educator’s job is to understand where your student’s Zone of Proximal Development is and to provide scaffolds to increase that Zone.
      • The teacher can facilitate a learner to move Social Speech to Private Speech (we teach the students the language for learning which becomes their internal dialogue – acronyms, quick hit lists, routinized questioning for comprehension)
    • From Blooms:
      • Educators can create lessons which encourage students to move along the taxonomy creating opportunities to Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, Create
    • From Rosenshine – 17 principles:
      • Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning.
      • Present new material in small steps with student practice after each step.
      • Limit the volume of material students receive at one time.
      • Give clear and detailed instructions and explanations.
      • Ask a large number of questions and check for understanding.
      • Provide a high level of active practice for all students.
      • Guide students as they begin to practice.
      • Think aloud and model steps.
      • Provide models of worked-out problems.
      • Ask students to explain what they have learned.
      • Check the responses of all students.
      • Provide systematic feedback and corrections.
      • Use more time to provide explanations.
      • Provide many examples.
      • Reteach material when necessary.
      • Prepare students for independent practice.
      • Monitor students when they begin independent practice.
    • From Gagne (9 levels of learning):
      • Gain attention
      • Inform students of objective
      • Stimulate recall of prior learning
      • Present content
      • Provide learning guidance
      • Elicit performance (practice)
      • Provide feedback
      • Assess performance
      • Enhance retention and transfer to the job
    • Bruner 
      • Students revisit the same topic multiple times throughout the school year
      • Complexity increases
      • New ideas are linked to previous ones – familiarity with keywords and ideas enables them to grasp the more difficult elements of the topic in a stronger way. 
    • Laird 
      • 75% of adults learn by seeing
    • Rogers
      • People have a natural desire to learn (to achieve self-actualization) — it is not the outcome that is most important, but the experience or process of learning. Students should be in control of their learning and it should be achieved by observing and exploring. The teachers should be a role model, motivating, guiding and supporting students on their own personal journey
I found some research, too, which I note here:   In the journal of Cognition and Instruction – Volume 19, 2001 – Issue 2:  The Case for Social Agency in Computer-Based Teaching: Do Students Learn More Deeply When They Interact With Animated Pedagogical Agents? Roxana Moreno, Richard E. Mayer,Hiller A. SpiresJames C. Lester 2010
Notes from Abstract: College students (in Experiment 1) and 7th-grade students (in Experiment 2) learned how to design the roots, stem, and leaves of plants to survive in 8 different environments through a computer-based multimedia lesson. 


(Group PA) They learned by interacting with an animated pedagogical agent who spoke to them


(Group No PA) or received identical graphics and explanations as on-screen text without a pedagogical agent. Group PA outperformed Group No PA on transfer tests and interest ratings but not on retention tests.  To investigate further the basis for this personal agent effect, we varied the interactivity of the agent-based lesson (Experiment 3) and found an interactivity effect:  Students who participate in the design of plant parts remember more and transfer what they have learned to solve new problems better than students who learn the same materials without participation.  Next, we varied whether the agent’s words were presented as speech or on-screen text, and whether the agent’s image appeared on the screen.  Both with a fictional agent (Experiment 4) and a video of a human face (Experiment 5), students performed better on tests of retention and problem-solving transfer when words were presented as speech rather than on-screen text (producing a modality effect) but the visual presence of the agent did not affect test performance (producing no image effect).  Results support the introduction of interactive pedagogical agents who communicate with students via speech to promote meaningful learning in multimedia lessons.


How we might frame and plan the lessons for students in distance learning: 


Components of Distance Learning Framework We Should Include How to do This Online On a computer without being in proximity to your student(s)
Activate prior knowledge Use a google form to inventory and use to plan lessons – individualizing content as needed through video instruction
Provide exemplars Place exemplars into a video that you tape and send to your students. Have the students highlight components of the exemplar you are trying to teach (for math, the keywords, the question, the aspects of HOW to record and work through the solution). Script the social speech you are teaching that you want to translate into private speech.
Video lessons Students learn from watching and hearing and doing (multi-sensory). Video the lesson AND script out what students should be doing as they watch the lesson.
Keep lessons within the student’s Zone of Proximal Development – provide access to scaffolds This is where the assessment of skills and knowledge prior to a lesson will be so helpful You can provide additional videos and study sheets to scaffold the content – For instance, if you are teaching poetry, you could be teaching about the connections and comparisons presented in the poem, but also provide students with basic terminology and context within a video or study guide which includes basic poetry terms, concepts and structure for students who need that scaffold. In a program such as Google Classroom, you can allow students to comment and ask questions about what they are learning – this way you know if the material is too challenging or appropriately gauged.
Observe a student’s process of doing work. When educators assign work and wait for its return, we miss out on observing and assessing a student’s process. We need to figure out ways using technology to understand HOW a student is working on the work. For instance, a student may be tasked with writing a Topic Sentence. The submission may show that the topic sentence is accurate, but the student may have spent 4 hours on this writing (not in line with how we want students to write a topic sentence). Thus, how do we gain an accurate understanding of a student’s process using the technology we have available? Option #1: Have the student work within Google Docs where you as the teacher can monitor the progress of the writing in real time- you can use the version history to see the student in action. Option #2: Break down the task into very small mini parts and guide the student through the process – video tape this. Then, ask the student to provide feedback at every step. This is a good process for reading comprehension tasks where you might read a piece of text on video and demonstrate Think Alouds and Reading Comprehension Strategies that help your student to engage in active reading – you can also anticipate the tricky vocabulary students may encounter and help them to navigate it. The feedback you get from your students will ask them specifically about the actions you want students to take as they read. * I made a video on this exact idea – on YouTube @ Mary Miele/ Evolved Education : https://youtu.be/Uxh3hlF9sBc Option #3: Have students fill out a questionnaire to learn more about their process. Questions could include:
  • Start time
  • End time
  • Where did you sit while doing the work?
  • Did you reference your exemplars to guide you as you wrote your sentence?
  • What is the topic sentence?
  • Do you have any questions about how to write your topic sentence?
Facilitate social dialogue between students in a class Even though we are online right now, that does not mean we have to eliminate the social aspect of learning. Teachers can partner students and teach them how to collaborate on a project or investigation using technology. This kind of instruction would require the teacher to teach the protocol for social engagement as well as very clear guidelines for the project – both with regard to the process and the product. Then, students can work on Google Docs together – teachers can see who is contributing and how. Videos can be provided to help students to follow the mini-deadlines within the project. I created a video on how teachers can do this on the YouTube Channel. https://youtu.be/eY3P08dQ1MU
Play! Children learn through play. We can play with children on Zoom, Google Meet. These play types can be included:
  • Physical play (run, jump, play hide-and-seek, tag)
  • Expressive play (express feelings and ideas through materials such as paints, water colors, crayons, markers, paper, shaving cream, bean bags, playdough)
  • Manipulative play (where children control or master their environment through manipulative play – babies — drop toys and parents pick them up; children put together a puzzle and take apart objects in their home to understand how they work)
  • Symbolic play (Children mimic what they see in their environment – they pretend to be the characters they see on TV, they can pretend to be in school or at sports or dance (very appropriate during COVID-19 quarantine)
  • Dramatic play – children act out situations that have happened to them or that they have seen.
  • Familiarization play – children handle materials and explore experiences in reassuring, enjoyable ways — this is why seeing teachers each day during quarantine is SO helpful!!
  • Games – video games, card games, board games, sports – all of it is so helpful to kids. Students can create their own rules to games too!
  • Surrogate play. For children who are not well or have lagging skills – a parent can play for the child and show the child how to do the play. Videos of play and how to spend time is really helpful for our kids (of all ages)
Communication We have a unique opportunity during quarantine to promote our students to communicate – this can come in many forms:
  • Writing – teach students SRSD writing and dig into the process of writing and regulation
  • Speaking – get kids to interview family members by calling them. Teach students to ask questions which facilitate conversation.
  • Drawing – Teach students how to draw and the skills for communication in the picture form.
  • Photography – Teach students how to take photos, edit them and communicate with them
  • Video editing – Teach students how to take video and edit it for a purpose
  • Coding – Teach students to code games and programs to share with others
  • Creating Art – Teach students about the value of art, art history and the way art often illuminates feelings, stories of society, and history
Spending time right now on bolstering communication skills is an awesome way to spend this instructional time.