Thursday, November 20, 2014

If you missed the webinar: Make Learning Personal...

click on the image to go to the archive of the webinar from its Learning

Thank you Lisa Dubenard, Andy Ryff and David Hyde from its Learning for giving us this opportunity to share Make Learning Personal with the world and your audience! What a great webinar with around 100 people from around the world! We set up a backchannel in Twitter using #plearnchat and archived it for you here also:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Proving Performance vs. ImProving Learning

Chris Watkins' article, Research Matters: Learning, Performance and Improvement, is about the relationship between learning in schools and performance in schools. Effective learners understand how they learn with strengths identified as metacognition, self-monitoring, and self-regulation. Learners vary orientations between learning and performance where there is a concern for proving (Performance) or improving (Learning) orientation. We adapted and summarized key components in Watkins’ research in the table located here. 

In his research, Watkins defines the term "learning" with a range of meanings. Most of us only know what we know about learning from our own experiences as a student: "being taught." Research in the 20th century highlighted learning as a change in knowledge through a process of knowledge construction. Watkins explains how the social context of learning as a shared phenomenon is important. Views of learning are present, yet he states about the long-standing culture of classrooms is "teaching is telling, learning is listening, knowledge is subject matter taught by teachers and found in books."

Watkins shares that in England and other countries including the United States, there has been a focus on performance tests for learners, performance ratings for schools, and performance management strategies for teachers. In most cases, teachers are held accountable and responsible for what learners learn. This is a concern from educators around the world "that managing teachers on the basis of such performance has lowered teacher morale" and led to some of our best and brightest to leave the profession. 

When a learner focuses on learning orientation, it means "the motivation to prove one's competence is immaterial without the motivation to improve one's competence." Watkins provides an instrument to determine one's learning orientation and compares how performance is achieved in other domains such as sports and business. 

Success in a competitive context is not defined by
a competitive attitude but a learning attitude.

The evidence in Watkins' research concludes that a focus on learning can enhance performance, where a focus on performance alone can depress performance. With traditional instruction, the climate in the classrooms becomes more performance oriented over years of schooling. 

A performance-oriented environment focuses on looking good rather than learning well.

The evidence in this research demonstrates that learning about learning is an educationally important strategy that improves performance. 


We highly recommend you to visit and download this article, Research Matters: Learning, Performance and Improvement. 

We are honored to know Chris Watkins, have learned so much from his research and encourage you to read and review his work around meta-learning along with all of his research at Watkins' site.  Read more on this post from Watkins: Making Sense of Learning.


Chris Watkins was a Reader Emeritus at the Institute of Education, London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Faculty Member. Chris has been involved in projects with a range of schools on meta-learning and learning about learning, effective learning, classroom learning, and teachers and school learning. This work culminates in the idea of classrooms as learning communities. Since, 2005, Chris has been an independent consultant and project leader with a range of schools, mainly in the London area, but also way beyond London.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Learning Environment as the Third Educator

The Reggio Emilia approach is about having children seen as competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative, inventive and to possess a desire to interact and communicate with others. The environment invites learners to explore and discover on their own as teachers and parents observe and document the process.

The ’Reggio’ vision of the child as a competent learner has produced a strong child-directed curriculum model. The curriculum has purposive progression but not scope and sequence. Teachers follow the children’s interests and do not provide focused instruction in reading and writing. The Reggio approach has a strong belief that children learn through interaction with others, including parents, staff and peers in a friendly learning environment. The main concepts include:
  • The child as an active participant in learning.
    Learners are allowed to follow their own interests.
  • The significance of environment. The environment of the school is seen as the third educator, after the teacher and the parent.
  • The teacher, parent, and child as collaborators in the process of learning.
    The Reggio approach views the parent as an essential resource for their child’s learning.
  • Making learning visible. Teachers use a variety of documentation methods, such as cameras, digital recorders, and journals, to track children’s thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with materials.
Reggio approach is not a formal model with defined methods (such as Waldorf and Montessori), teacher certification standards and accreditation processes. But rather, the educators in Reggio Emilia speak of their evolving "experience" and see themselves as a provocation and reference point, a way of engaging in dialogue starting from a strong and rich vision of the child. In all of these settings, documentation was explored as a means of promoting parent and teacher understanding of children’s learning and development.

The ’Reggio Emilia’ approach was founded by Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994), at a city in northern Italy called Reggio Emilia. The ’Reggio’ approach was developed for municipal child-care and education programs serving children below six.  Reggio Emilia approach is now expanding across K-12 especially the Reggio influence on the design of the learning environment.

Want to learn more about Reggio Emilia?