I do. We do. You do.
This was the mantra I heard daily at several schools I was called on to help a few years ago. Everyday. Every lesson. The challenge with this–as teachers voiced–was that every lesson every day did not require this process, but teachers were required to write their lessons in this format everyday. That was problem #1. Teachers wrote lessons in this format to meet the expectations of leaders, but as they informed me, did not always teach those lessons because they didn’t always make sense to the teachers. That was problem #2. Problem #3, which I considered a larger problem, was that designing and teaching lessons in shrouds of secrecy did not allow for effective supervision or the ability to truly analyze student progress and growth through authentic teacher/leader reflection.
James (1885) suggested there are three levels of knowledge: (1) knowledge of – awareness of information; (2) knowledge about – ability to apply and analyze information; and (3) knowledge how – ability to solve problems with the information. When considering the three levels, one could infer that a major decision maker in the schools had knowledge of the need for students to practice, but was unclear about when to apply the method. Furthermore, there was an uncommon understanding about how instructional methods should be used and when each is appropriate.
Level 1 – Knowledge of: increasing awareness of novice to expert learners
The Common Core and other internationally benchmarked standards require clear thinking and common understanding on the part of adults mainly because we must deliver (or lead the delivery of) instruction that moves students from novices to experts. This notion has been explicitly shared here,
The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe ways in which developing student practitioners of the discipline of mathematics increasingly ought to engage with the subject matter as they grow in mathematical maturity and expertise (CCSS for Mathematics, p. 8)
and implicitly shared here,
They [students] build on others’ ideas, articulate their own ideas, and confirm they have been understood. […] More broadly, they become self-directed learners effectively seeking out and using resources to assist them (CCSS for ELA & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, p. 7)
Level 2 – Knowledge About: increasing understanding about novice to expert learners
Given the need to move students from novices to experts, the first thing we must get clear on is what the levels mean. The excerpt below from The Core Deconstructed helps with this first step.
Excerpt from The Core Deconstructed by Sheron M. Brown.
Level 3 – Knowledge How: increasing knowledge of how to plan for novice to expert learners
Entering the school year with common understanding and expectations can alleviate the frustrations I witnessed in the schools mentioned above. Consider the following steps for a professional learning activity. Use them to help move professionals from knowing of and about the need for advancing students from novices to experts to knowing how to do it.
Using the descriptions presented in the table above,
- Restate the meaning of a learner at the novice level
- List appropriate instructional methods that align with learning on this level
- Brainstorm acceptable examples of student work products that align with learning on this level
- Peer-review work products and provide actionable feedback (if necessary)
- Repeat steps 1-4 (perhaps in additional sessions) for apprentice, practitioner and expert levels
The Core Deconstructed Practice Journal further supports the development of your “knowledge how” level and will be released soon. If you’d like to know when, just let me know. In the meantime, please share how the professional learning action steps works out for your team.
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (n.d.). Common Core State Standard initiative: Preparing America’s students for college and careers. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Math%20Standards.pdf
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects (n.d.). Common Core State Standard initiative: Preparing America’s students for college and careers. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf
James, W. (1885). On the functions of cognition. Mind, 10, 27-44. Retrieved from http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/content/os-X/37/27.full.pdf