I’m reading John Hattie’s book Visible Learning, and he suggests three questions for schools to ask themselves: “What is working best?”, “Why is it working?”, and “Who is it not working for?”.
That last question seems like the most important. Something I want to avoid is saying “that worked” or “that didn’t” when the truth is, “that worked for most students, but not for the students who often struggle the most”. This led me to a little thought experiment.
Let’s think about two variables. Prior achievement — how successful have students been in math class in the past? And student learning — how much did they learn today? Here are some possibilities:
(I realize that this representation has lots of flaws. Lessons can have multiple goals, simplifying these variables onto a single spectrum loses important information, and it would probably be more accurate to think of these as scatter plots or probability distributions. And more. But I still think this is a useful exercise.)
Here’s the thought experiment. Which of these, if any, represents the “ideal lesson”? Which most often plays out in your lessons? Which distributions are acceptable outcomes? Which distributions are never acceptable? How can different types of lessons complement each other? What other questions are worth asking here?