Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do objectives really make a difference?

My daughter has been learning to ride a bike this summer. We got her a balance bike and have been going outside to take lots of summer rides. 

In the beginning she would walk standing next to the bike and then walk riding on the bike. There was the moment when she picked up her foot a little bit and started to coast for a mini second. Then she was back to walking. A few weeks later, she did this again. Then, at some point, she got it. She was able to take longer strides, and then she was balancing! She was so excited, smiling from ear to ear.

This last year my school has been very focused on objectives. We are supposed to have language objectives posted for every lesson. We are supposed to have learning objectives for every lesson. They are supposed to be specific enough so that 80% of our students can master the objective in each lesson.

Now, what if her learning to ride a bike was based on objectives? Day one, what would my objective be? When my daughter sees the bike, she will know to put one leg over the pedal? She will walk forward? She will take strides that are 2 inches longer than her normal walking stride? Is this really how we learn?

It took my daughter a few months to learn to ride the bike, while it took her brother 2 or 3 days. If I were to actually use objectives that 80% of kids could reach, I would be using the lowest common denominator?

I do think there is a place for learning goals. It does make sense to say that we want our students to do X, and here are the specific skills that need to happen for the student to be able to do X. But, in my opinion, daily learning objectives do not differentiate enough for each learner. I would say that the more complex and interesting the task, the more variability there is going to be among your students. In that case, the less a daily learning objective is going to make a difference.

And, what does the research say? Do objectives really make a difference? If they do, why are so many schools using them, and yet so many students are still not meeting grade level? Maybe they are not as important as we have been lead to believe. After reading Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement, I learned what I've been suspecting for some time. Objectives make very little difference in achievement.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Helping parents help their children

Feel free to copy and use this with the parents of your students if it would be helpful.

Often parents ask for help with their children. What do I do if my child won't do his chores around the house or his homework? Do you suggest grounding children? How do I get my child to stop arguing with me? Here are three short videos (each under 5 minutes) that address these issues in a practical way by Dr. Charles Fey. I've included a bio about him at the end of this page.


Click here to see the video on how to get your child to do his or her chores. Did you know that research has shown the real chores does more to build self-esteem and responsibility than HW? Now is a great time to make sure your children have some real chores around the house.

This video will help you have some ideas on how to get your children to actually do those chores, without any nagging from you!

How to stop whining and arguing

I am sorry to say that all of us have dealt with our children whining or begging for something. "But all of my friends have . . ." Ever wonder how to get the begging and whining to stop? Click here to see a 2 minute web clip that will teach you just that.

The nice thing about this technique is that it works just as well on a two year old as on a ten year old.

Does grounding work? What actually works?

All too often I hear parents say, "You are grounded for a week."

What do you do if the child does another thing? Ground them for two weeks? Three weeks? As a consequence, I think it punishes you as much as the child and is not very flexible. If it works, great. But there are more effective alternatives you might want to consider.

If you want an alternative to grounding, you might like the energy drain technique. Take a look at the technique by clicking here.

Dr. Charles Fey
Charles Fay, Ph.D. is a parent, author and consultant to schools, parent groups and mental health professionals around the world. His expertise in developing and teaching practical discipline strategies has been refined through work with severely disturbed youth in school, hospital and community settings. Charles has developed an acute understanding of the most challenging students. Having grown up with Love and Logic, he also provides a unique…and often humorous…perspective." Read more. . .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What went well

This year I am starting to do an activity called, "What went well" with my students. Or the WWW of the day! They ask themselves two questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. How could you have more of that in your life or why did that happen?

So here is my first entry for myself:

What went well today was that even though I had a 100 degree fever yesterday and was still a bit sick, I had a great first day of school. The students were all very calm. I was able to get a sub I knew to come and cover me for the second half of the day. I was able to get some good rest in the afternoon and had support from my administrators about taking care of myself, even though it was the first day of school.

Why? I asked for help and decided to take care of myself, even though it was the first day. It was really hard for me to admit that I needed a sub on the first day, but it was absolutely the right thing for me to do. I am also so lucky to know some great people that I can lean on in my building and outside. And my family supported me in taking care of myself.