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Explanation andy tharby

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Explanation andy tharby

  1. 1. Explanations have a range of purposes: • to make something understandable; • to clarify and expand an idea; • to give the causes, context and consequences of a situation or event; • to show how facts and concepts are related and connected.
  2. 2. “There is a reason why it took humans such a long time to discover the laws of nature, even though the evidence for such laws was all around them in the environment. We do not find it easy to learn new information when we have no or minimal guidance.” Daisy Christodoulou, Seven Myths About Education (2014)
  3. 3. Evidence supporting teacher-led teaching: • Teaching is usually more effective when teachers use methods that activate learning rather than methods that facilitate learning. (Hattie and Yates, 2013) • Cognitive science reveals that the less prior knowledge a student has about a topic, the more teacher guidance they need. (Kirschner et al, 2006) • Students’ learning and persistence outcomes are better when they take in-person courses than when they take online courses. (Bettinger and Loeb, 2017)
  4. 4. “Your number-one mission as a speaker is to take something that matters deeply to you and to rebuild it inside the minds of your listeners.” Chris Anderson, TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking (2016)
  5. 5. Art or science? “In his youth Albert Einstein spent a year loafing aimlessly.” “gigantic flexible snail-shell” “a marble that rolls in a funnel” “The gravitational field is not diffused through space; the gravitational field is that space itself”
  6. 6. Six keys to great explanation 1. Strong subject knowledge 2. Credibility and clarity 3. Concise design – less is more 4. Concepts supported by real-world examples 5. Metaphor and analogy 6. Storytelling 7. Chances to elaborate (Note: explanation ≠ lecture)
  7. 7. 1
  8. 8. Introducing the subject discipline What’s amazing about this subject? Why do I find this subject fascinating myself? Why do we study this subject in school? What are the main debates and disputes within the discipline? What distinguishes this subject from others? How do we do well or badly in this subject? Where are we heading this year?
  9. 9. The subject as an interconnected tube-map
  10. 10. The curse of knowledge
  11. 11. 2
  12. 12. Ethos (a credible authority) Logos (reason and logic) pathos (provoking/anticipating emotion) Aristotle: the three appeals of rhetoric
  13. 13. Crystalline clarity 1.The ‘through-line’. 2.Concise learning objectives. 3.Examples to set the standard. 4.Precision and brevity.
  14. 14. 3
  15. 15. Bit-by-bit
  16. 16. Funnel attention Physical proximity Integrated labels Fewer resources Colour-coding Gestures Arrows
  17. 17. Dual coding – visual alongside verbal
  18. 18. 4 Concepts and examples
  19. 19. Concepts are central to learning “with the help of the concept, we are able to penetrate through the external appearance of phenomena to penetrate into their essence”. Lev Vygotsky Concepts … • Transcend individual experience • Create efficiency • Form building blocks • Allow for abstraction and generalisation
  20. 20. … however, they should be supported by c concrete examples “We understand new things in the context of things we already know, and most of what we know is concrete … to help students understand an abstraction is to expose them to many different versions of the abstraction”. - Daniel Willingham, Why Don’t Students Like School?
  21. 21. What makes for a good example? •Connects to prior knowledge. •As simple as possible. •Appeals to the senses. •Comes in multiples. •Provokes an emotional response.
  22. 22. Examples of examples “If you burned this book now, its matter would be changed to ash and smoke, but the net amount of stuff in the universe would be the same.” “Think how many cubic centimetres there are in the world outside your window – how many sugar cubes it would take to fill that view. Then think how many it would take to build a universe. Atoms, in short, are very abundant.” - Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything: A Journey through Space and Time
  23. 23. Concept templates
  24. 24. 5
  25. 25. Technical, abstract language is difficult to grasp
  26. 26. A metaphor is a bridge
  27. 27. “Human thought processes are largely metaphorical …” Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (1980)
  28. 28. 6
  29. 29. “The story’s power, then, is twofold: It provides simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act). Note that both benefits, simulation and inspiration, are geared to generating action.” Chip and Dan Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck (2008)
  30. 30. What does psychology tell us? Stories are interesting. Stories are easy to understand. Stories are easy to remember. See Daniel T. Willingham, Ask the Cognitive Scientist: The Privileged Status of Story, American Educator (2004)
  31. 31. Storytelling strategies 1. Find the human 2. One trumps one million. 3. Obstacle – conflict – solution. 4. The curriculum as a Russian novel. 5. Beware!
  32. 32. 1. Watch them 2. Collect them 3. Model them 4. Archive them 5. Prioritise the curriculum 6. Reading as CPD