25 February 2008

Top three components to build knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is accomplished with pedagogy. I think we’ll all agree that some degree of conceptual understanding is the goal of every lesson, and that in order to accurately measure the success of a lesson: 1) objectives must be clearly defined and presented beforehand and 2) at least one assessment is completed during the course of each lesson. It’s also worth mentioning the lesson map, no matter how well designed, to accomplish transfer of knowledge isn’t carved in stone and is best approached in a fluid manner.

3. Responsibility:
Students must be presented with some level of ownership to the material in a lesson. There are different levels of responsibility depending on the work at hand. For example, at the assignment level a rubric is required to define the expectation from student participation. When looking at the lecture/discussion level of responsibility, it's not enough to throw out information and expect students to lap it up, like a dog at the water bowl. Instead, information must be presented in such a way as to have students recognize their responsibility (emotional or social and so forth) and realize they need to step up to it. Yet, with other assignments the responsibility will arise during the course of the work on the project as in a project based environment or a service learning project. Along the way, one of the teachers’ responsibilities is to provide students with some clear signals as to what is expected in order for them to succeed at each responsibility level. I think it’s clear that as teachers support students growing their responsibility in a lesson - we also supporting them in building fundamental life skills.

2. Methods of teaching:
Teachers must continuously adapt methods used in teaching. A lecture style method used last year may not work this year. A slide presentation used for one topic may be the wrong method for teaching another topic. Teaching methods are the bag of tricks teachers use; we must get a whole lot more creative with those tricks to capture our student's attention span. One do: use as much technology as possible in lessons - like it or not technology is here to stay. One dont': never use the lecture method to deliver content for more than 30% of a class session. Teachers, we owe it to our students to get more professional development in methods and in integrating technology in lessons.

1. Measuring success:
Assessments are required to understand student learning. I'm not talking about worksheets: true/false, multiple choice or matching. Those are useful for a more long term focus. In the short term, during each lesson an assessment of some sort is necessary. There are two essential segments of a well designed assessment: 1) time for student reflection and 2) clear prompts. The reflection segment is giving students time to summarize their understanding and it can take different forms:

- writing in a journal
- talking in pairs/small groups
- reviewing notes

The clear prompt and response can also take different forms:

- specific question with written answer individually or collaboratively
- producing a graphic organizer: venn diagram, frayer model
- using white boards to draw ideas or model
- verbal discussion in class where teacher facilitates or directs students participation

What are your ideas?

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