START STRONG, FINISH STRONG – strategy 1

In the previous post, I introduced the rationale for implementing a range of strategies to help students start strong in their University courses. The implications for failure extend further out than we might imagine, and can have severe effects on students and staff alike. In this post I introduce the first of 3 teaching and learning strategies that lecturers can use to assist students in being able to make a more informed decision about their academic aptitude in a course.

1. THE SEQUENCE OF LEARNING AND ITS PURPOSE

Effective and precise design of a learning sequence is imperative if students are to succeed in a course. Clear and manageable learning outcomes must drive the design of learning activities and assessment. Whilst it is not necessary to cater to the whims of students’ interests, it is necessary that a student sees a purpose of taking the course in relation to their personal aspirations. One way to begin the design of the sequence that covers these demands is to develop a visual curriculum map. Such a map shows a student how the topics within the course are intertwined and how the accumulation of the knowledge taught within the course leads to future opportunities. 

CREATING A VISUAL COURSE MAP

WHY IS THIS EFFECTIVE PRACTICE?

‘The scientist must organise. One makes a science with facts in the way that one makes a house with stones. But an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a pile of stones is a house.’ Henri Poincare

As the expert, trained for many years in your respective field, you would have built and developed a large web of interconnected ideas (schema) for your subject. It is this schema, or parts of it at least, that you will teach. As the expert, you understand how the parts of the schema fit together, how they feed off each other, and the sequence of learning required to arrive at such a full and complex understanding. But the novice learner arriving into your lecture theatre has little of this knowledge. To them, everything will initially appear very abstract and disparate, particularly pre-census. The abstraction makes it difficult to make connections that will lead to the acquisition of schema, an essential determinant of further learning.  

The visual course map serves as a model of your thinking, an explicit representation of the processes required to create relevant schema. As Clark and Mayer (2008) suggest, this immediately offers some context and orientation to your students, and facilitates what Willingham believes to be an essential need in learning in making the abstract more concrete. Such a process is easily recognised considering our own learning – we naturally convert the abstract into meaningful concrete information. Showing students the journey they are about to embark on and providing an otherwise closed window into your mind, and into the course’s structure, helps novices to transform the abstract into the more digestible concrete.

So, SHOW STUDENTS THE SCHEMA!

THE WALK THROUGH

Once made visible, walking students through the schema is the next step. Explaining how each piece of the puzzle fits in with the next is crucial in a sequence of learning. Focusing on the connections and links between disparate ideas is how we move from a pile of stones to the building of a house. Ensuring each connection is secure through formative assessment, particularly through the online supplement, is necessary to avoid the ‘curse of knowledge’ and to know that your students are able to move onto the next component of the course. The curse of knowledge is the idea that when you know something well it is difficult to imagine that others don’t, and so we tend to brush over simple but important links and connections between content. Often, these links are actually vital for a novice to develop their own schema on a topic.  This 1976 cartoon by James Stevenson visualises the issue well:

USING TECHNOLOGY TO ENHANCE LEARNING

Shortly, I will be able to provide you with an example of this map being interactive, where students will be able to click on a relevant section and be taken to the relevant learning associated with it. This can be done using H5P and then utilising mastery pathways (more on this soon in the 2nd strategy post).

MODELLING THINKING AND PROCESSES

There is an enormous amount of research (Clark and Mayer 2008) validating the effectiveness of modelling your own thinking and processes to students to move them from novices with immature schemata to experts with developed, sophisticated schemata. The novice is indeed a different type of learner to the expert, their less developed schemata severely impacting the cognitive load on working memory, and thus having significant implications to the types of questions and activities you engage them in. The table below illustrates the need to understand the learning continuum when planning a sequence of learning.

Actively explaining the ‘glue’ that binds topics and how you arrived at your understanding provides a model for students to learn and use in subsequent learning, learning in which they are more likely to make their own independent ‘glue’ as they will have more knowledge to draw from and more automaticity in their working memory.

KNOWING WHERE YOU ARE GOING INCREASES ENGAGEMENT

Not only is it useful to highlight to students how each topic fits together to form the schema in a course, but it is also useful to show students how the course fits into a larger picture of learning. A course map should also articulate to students the possible exit pathways that acquiring the knowledge in the present course facilitates. The TEQSA framework for teaching (3.1.1) is clear in this being required:

 The design for each course of study is specified and the specification includes: g.  exit pathways, articulation arrangements, pathways to further learning.

Research has found that students are often ‘… not aware how different elements of courses functioned as building blocks in the development of their research skills and knowledge.’ An increased awareness of the connections between courses within a program would serve to provide greater opportunity for students to think more about them, and consequently develop the necessary schemata. The visual course map is ideally suited to provide the context and purpose of a course in relation to others in the program. Seeing possible overlaps in outcomes by viewing colleagues’ maps provides opportunity to identify the connections and make them explicit in your teaching sequence. This will deepen learning as the explicit connections will strengthen students’ memory of the content through the continuous retrieval process that such a strategy affords.

This then further encourages students to participate in your course as they will revisit/need the content in other courses too, and the overlap will reduce pre-census cognitive load.

WHAT’S THE EFFECT ON METACOGNITION

STUDENTS: The visual journey map allows students to self-evaluate their own understandings of each section, and source extra information, resources and practice to fill any gaps. This is particularly important in the first 4 weeks of teaching, even though the schema at this point would be only partially complete. I will provide lots more advice on metacognition in the 3rd strategy post.

YOU: The added benefit to this strategy is that it helps you fine tune your course, ensuring that there is a logical sequential flow to the sequence of teaching. It will help you define the key aspects that you want students to focus on, and give you direction on how to structure resources and assessment based around those.

HOW TO CREATE THIS RESOURCE

  1. Create the map as a rough mind map articulating the key components of your course.
  2. Work backwards and add in assessment (see part 2) at key junctions
  3. Then either on your own, or with help from a learning designer, create a series of visuals that sequence the growth of the schema.

HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE

  1. The map would be displayed as the first image in your first lecture, as well as the dominant image in the online supplement.
  2. The first teachings would then highlight the section of the map currently being addressed, with the remaining sections faded out.
  3. Crucially though, the map should be continually referred to as the learning continues and builds on itself. This not only provides context, but assists the retrieving of knowledge, as students make stronger neural connections to what has already been taught from the map because of it being continually referred to and thus recalled. The students are then beginning to build the schema in their own minds.
  4. The final lectures would display the map and encourage learners to fill in the links. This could form an excellent formative assessment task prior to exams to help students identify areas of weakness. 

The next post will provide strategies for designing the support presented to students in terms of scaffolding cognition.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter (@edmerger) or on LinkedIn for more discussions about learning design.

Cover image: Credit: © Images.com/Corbis

DUAL CODING and ART – is there a connection?

I recently tweeted an imploration to primary teachers to teach more art in order to help secondary students become better at utilising the method of dual coding. The response to the tweet certainly took me by surprise, with a mix of responses ranging from:

  • support, to
  • indignation at the notion that art should not be taught to benefit secondary students but be taught for art’s sake, to
  • indignation that primary teachers shouldn’t be serving secondary teachers

But most surprising of all was the assured dismissal of the notion from one of the strongest proponents of dual coding in the present climate: Oliver Caviglioli.

My position is this: a student who is better at art, and specifically drawing (a distinction I admit I should have made clear in the original tweet), is more likely to dual code because they are more confident in drawing and more able to represent their conceptual understanding.

There is an important distinction to be made here however. If the conceptual understanding is already there, then there isn’t much more encoding happening, so technically, it is not dual coding. The benefit of drawing would be in the retrieval process, strengthening the memory by creating another neural pathway to it via the drawing. However, it could also be argued that the drawing is still serving teh encoding process by strengthening the coding, forcing teh drawer to think deeper about the concept. It is from this position then that i shall continue in this line of argument. Thanks to Dan Williams for this insight.

I’m certainly not suggesting that someone who is not good at drawing is excluded from dual coding, a point that Oliver understandably exhorts in order to open the practice to as many as possible. Oliver states that dual coding is not about drawing or perception, but is more a means of translating conceptual thinking. I completely understand this distinction, however I believe that a more confident drawer is more able to represent concepts and understanding because they possess the ability to convert what’s in their brain onto the paper with greater ease than someone who isn’t a good drawer. The automaticity that resulted from the development of the hand eye/brain coordination would free the working memory, and should significantly speed up the process of encoding with dual channels*.

I use myself as the example of this: I am always trying to dual code my understanding of what I read, but my lack of drawing ability forces me to go to google and search for images, which takes time, and is at the mercy of what is already there. My ‘search’ is my conceptual understanding, it is what I want, but if the drawing I have in my mind isn’t there, perceptually, not only has it taken considerably more time than if I drew it myself, but worse is that I have to take the second best image. A student in the classroom trying to conceptualise their understanding to improve the encoding process is also at the mercy of such conditions, but worse without google, clumsily and painstakingly attempts to transcribe their ideas onto the paper. It’s demotivating.  

One of Oliver’s retorts to this is that the skill of line drawing is simply a 5 minute training exercise, and thereby negates the connection between competency in drawing and dual coding. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Oliver, but I believe there is some creeping in here of the ‘curse of knowledge’. All skills are arrived at via a process of the acquisition of schema. It is the accumulation of knowledge and indeed its practice that eventually leads to automaticity when new contexts present themselves, and without the underlying acquisition of a ‘learning to draw’ schema, the skill of dual coding suffers. Take for example the images I’ve chosen in the post’s front image. Getting line drawings to reflect the differences between the old aged person and the zombie and the assertive flag bearer (in other words, numerous and maybe even countless concepts) is not something that can be mastered in 5 minutes.

Alex Quigley also challenged the tweet suggesting that there is no evidence linking the idea of better drawing with better dual coding, intimating that the connection between effective drawing and dual coding would in fact be quite the jump, an example of ‘far’ transfer of knowledge. I replied that using this as a basis for not engaging in the development of ‘drawing’ knowledge to develop a broader skill is dangerous ground as it effectively renders the accepted argument for the concerted development of distinct knowledge that doesn’t resemble the final skill as redundant. Daisy Christodoulou succinctly addresses this here with her marathon analogy. She also recently addresses an ostensible contradiction with ‘far transfer’ and the distinct development of knowledge here, leaning on the idea that there are alternating stages in a larger cycle of learning, and that well thought out learning design essentially replaces the ‘far’ with ‘near’; with the larger goal in mind, all knowledge acquisition is a part of the journey, and the concept of ‘far’ becomes ironically short-sighted.

I would place learning to draw as a useful component on the journey to mastering the larger broader skillset of dual coding. And because of that, I would say there is a connection between art and dual coding. Of course, as Alex states, there is no evidence to truly affirm this, but it seems pretty logical to me. Open to being wrong.

*I don’t have any evidence of this. It is an intuitive assumption.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger and follow this blog, if you’d like.

SHOWING and telling your CURRICULUM’S STORY

Last year I posted how I approached my GCSE Literature course design; it was one of my most read blogs (thank you to all). I suggested the course should essentially be a story, with each new learning sequence inextricably connected to the last, and indeed, to several other parts of the journey. The story would be continuously referenced when every new piece of content was added, the discussion of the links significantly helping my students to understand that the course was a whole being, and not to see it merely as a disparate collection of units: a process that would significantly aid their memories as the links would effectively and continuously and unconsciously build a strong schema that could be referenced to reduce cognitive strain in new learning contexts.

Well, it most definitely worked. The post is below.

What I Would Change

I should have added a visual map of the final product, as well as making each stage of the journey visually explicit so students could see how the journey unfolds. This would have helped students see how each new piece was connected to what had been learnt. The map then would have become a representation of the schemata that would form in the student’s brain, and helped secure the links of knowledge that enable understanding.

So I’ve added the visual map now. The video shows the content incrementally building and connecting to various other content.

This visual display also serves other very powerful functions

  • It helps you as the teacher to see the key elements of your course, and design a relevant sequence that will piece it all together.
  • The visual aspect to the mapping provides a more concrete demonstration of how lesson after lesson actually fits together. Obviously the final map presented at the beginning of the unit of work won’t mean very much to your students, but as the units unfold, the connections will become more tangible. I would always have the final map as well as the map in progress visible to students somewhere in the classroom.
  • Students themselves could be adding to their own map using dual coding as the learning sequences are presented to assist developing understanding. See how I have done this for A Christmas Carol here and the entire poetry anthology here.
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  • Students can then also self-evaluate if there are any gaps in the sequence; they will be able to see why they can’t engage with a certain topic because they have a clear visual display of the gap leading up to it.

Zoning in and Mastery

  • This process can be emulated in micro, at every stage of the learning journey. Each new topic should have a small concept map that the teacher frequently refers to, that articulates and visually shows the various links of importance.
  • Each map, once secure in the student’s mind (effectively turning them into an expert on this particular learning continuum), presents opportunities for more open ended questions and tasks to be explored and undertaken. Designing learning that incorporates this balance between higher order thinking and more concrete closed knowledge chunks is an essential component of healthy retrieval practice, as suggested in this latest fascinating research by Poojah Agarwal.
  • Retrieval practice – remove sections of the map; remove words in each circle; remove some of the lines connecting the topics and have students create new connections justifying their choices in writing along the line, as Sophie has done with her excellent reading connections post here. There are also other options for mixing up retrieval here.

The Power of the Map

Of course, the links are subjective, but that only serves to strengthen the learning as links are debated and justified. In fact, this process presents many higher order learning possibilities, all serving to deepen the understanding of the key concepts and constructing new thinking:

  • Justifying the links and connections strengthens the understanding of each aspect of the map
  • Strengthen comparisons – Once individual content is secure, the student can ‘think’ with what s/he has, and with comparison a must in all literature courses, this process pushes thinking to connect ideas. The comparisons can also be made with context, and students can more easily see how certain eras and writers are affected by others.
  • Each section can have many more contextual links added if time permits, which continuously builds a cultural literacy that can have a big impact on the Language course comprehension tasks and general reading proficiency.

Here’s the explanation as to how the map has been constructed from the previous blog. In the explanation I’ve covered every text/element of the Eduqas GCSE English Literature and Language courses. 

The courses offer a wonderful web that spans centuries of time. The oldest text is of course Shakespeare. What’s good to know when thinking of Elizabethan context is that the time is dominated by religious conflict, with the heirless Elizabeth I’s court choosing James I (James IV of Scotland) to succeed her primarily because he was Protestant. His continuation of the persecution of Catholics is what led to the Gun Powder Plot, and James’ consequent fear of assassination. In Jacobean times the showing of Macbeth served to illustrate that corrupt ambitions lead to tragic outcomes, but the theme is pertinent still because it can be accessed on a variety of levels: selfishness, greed, lying etc, and thus becomes a central strand of the moral and affective learning in the entire course. 

Jumping to the late 1700’s, George III lightened some of the anti-Roman Catholic laws, but Catholics still couldn’t vote in parliament. George is disliked for extending the war in America after the failed prevention of American independence, intransigent in his view that the new state should be made to pay for its disrespectful arrogance of wanting such freedoms. William Blake references this in the poem London: ‘The hapless soldier’s sigh/ Runs in blood down the palace walls.’  Soldiers are disillusioned in being forced to fight for things they don’t believe in. The blood down palace walls is perhaps a signal to Londoners to rise up against such tyranny like those involved in the French Revolution.

Shelley reiterates opposition to George’s warmongering, in the metaphorical Ozymandias, a tale of an arrogant egotistical ruler who proudly expresses his ‘sneer of cold command’, and who doesn’t realise the futility of demanding to be seen as the ‘king of kings’. Shelley’s reference to the bible’s labelling of Jesus is likely the result of exhaustion from the continuous battles between Catholic and Protestant religious factions. Shelley’s solution: become atheist, a stance that had him expelled from Oxford. (Shelley essay here)

Shelley’s, and indeed all of the Romantics insistence that it is really only nature that lasts and therefore warrants our ultimate attention is confirmed when a book of poetry by one of the strongest ‘natural’ poets, Keats, was found on his drowned body in 1822. Wordsworth too could be considered in this vain, with Excerpt from The Prelude adroitly referencing the importance of nature in grounding the developing individual, as well as Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist that similarly uses nature as a cover to examine the human condition, but Shelley was more aligned to the newer Romantics. Keats’ instruction to cherish the moment and to accept the inevitability of death in To Autumn, an admirable feat considering that death and loss dominated his life, is a timely message for students whose culture demands that what is now is irrelevant and that the next best thing must be acquired at any cost. The perpetual message, interminably promoted on social media, that the grass is always greener on the other side is an incredibly damaging one for our students. The message corrupts and distorts into the belief that what is on the surface must be prioritised, and that we must look and act like the unrealistic impressions generated by media… Continue reading

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger and follow this blog, if you’d like.

NOT ACTUALLY LEARNING

Today I spent 7 hours on a mandatory course required to gain Teacher Registration in South Australia. For once, I was a student, and so unbelievably bored during the presentation I can’t describe it. I wanted to learn, but maintaining attention, an essential component of learning, was incredibly difficult. Why? Because the design of the learning was poor. But that’s not even the worst thing. The worst thing is this: there is no follow up to the session, meaning that most of it, if not all of it, will be forgotten, rendering the entire experience redundant.  

Delivering content 

 Simply presenting slide after slide on ppt whilst talking at the same time is highly ineffective pedagogy. The auditory channel has 2 stimuli both competing equally for the same spot in the working memory. One must be compromised, and is. I found myself alternating between what was being said by the presenter and then deciding to focus only on the slides.  

It is essential that a multimodal approach to delivering content is taken. Slide after slide with sentences of words needed to be broken by image, and preferably dual coded. Yes, every now and again an image was used, but again it was word heavy as annotations and labels peppered the screen.

The presenter attempted to engage the audience, but when a question was asked, they took the first person’s answer as proof everyone knew what was happening. There was opportunity to discuss answers to posed questions with other attendees at the tables, as an obvious attempt to break up the slides, but again the interactions were almost meaningless, with some dominating the conversations, others disengaged, and others not understanding the level of depth required in answers. Feedback asked for by the presenter again only took the first answer presented. Some answers moved off topic and presented opportunities for some venting that unfortunately had little to do with the course. 

All in all, the enormous amount of content could actually have been summed up in about 5 slides, and delivered in ¼ of the time. 

Retrieval? 

Without testing the attendees the instructor has no way of knowing who has learnt anything on the course. Certificates were handed out, and I now have completed the mandatory training, but no one knows if I actually know anything about it. But even if there was some testing there and then, the performance would have been quite good, but illusory in terms of actual learning. This is because when we are tested straight after being taught something, recalling the content is easy because there hasn’t been any other information to displace it from our working memory. The retrieval strength is extremely low. It is only after some time after many things have displaced the desired content, but we can still recall it, that we can infer that we have learnt the content.

If trainers and facilitators and the departments who engage them to deliver their mandatory content want to ensure learning has taken place, it is essential that follow up retrieval takes place. I can’t even say that this is one area that the training industry could do better, because without this element added to the offering, the industry is irrelevant.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

We’re all in this together

One of the most pernicious forces that creates fraction between secondary and primary sectors is the implicit understanding, perpetuated by the current accountability system, that the buck stops with the last teacher. The pressure with the need to succeed creates a defensive front, and instils the notion in secondary teachers that what has come before is not as important as what’s happening now, and that the most important stage is the current one. This is particularly the case for those teaching GCSE, A-level and SACE classes, where examination is looming large, and the pressure to produce results similarly so.

But ask any teacher in these years, and they will tell you emphatically that one year of education doesn’t maketh the student, and that expectations placed solely on the shoulders of those teaching the last year are unrealistic, unfair and damaging. Of course it works both ways, with a successful examination period rendering the last teacher the hero of the day, but it’s a short sighted ephemeral position to take, one that will come back to bite you at a future date.

Important then is the need for secondary teachers to honour the work done by those who have taught the students before them. And to take a real interest in what is being taught, and support and get behind those in primary when they face cuts in budgets and curriculum time in certain subjects, or any obstacles whatsoever to delivering a quality education, because it inevitably affects all of us.

Essential primary

Things that primary teachers do benefit secondary teachers enormously. Take the teaching of reading for example. Secondary teachers can’t teach unless reading is secure, so secondary should have a very large interest and understanding in how it is done. Jennifer Buckingham is forthright in her claim that it’s nothing ground-breaking in claiming that every teacher should know how to teach reading, but I would hasten to guess that lots of secondary teachers wouldn’t know how to do it. That’s not an indictment on secondary teachers, more on the aggregation of misguided pedagogies including insufficient training in reading in initial teacher training, assuming students would be proficient in reading and concentrating on subject disciplines, and it being believed to be the job of someone else. Reading blogs on phonics and reading best practice should be a priority of all secondary teachers, and primary teachers offer plenty of resources and discussions on reading, like here, and here, here and here.

Or take the teaching of art in primary, and it potentially being squeezed out of significance with increased time dedicated to English and numeracy to satisfy SATS and NAPLAN examinations. Secondary teachers are unlikely to be too aware of this issue or to be frank, care too much about it as it doesn’t directly affect their situations; the greater the workload the greater the need to focus on yourself increases. But think of some of the benefits of our students coming through into secondary with excellent art skills. Students will have excellent fine motor skill, will be better trained at paying attention to detail, and thus have better attention spans, have greater capacity in taking their thinking from the local to the global perspective, better able to persevere through a series of processes, can become more comfortable using image as metaphor, and can use image as an effective dual coding exercise when note taking and revising. Add to this the affective benefits of art to young people’s development.

A generation on of course would mean the teacher herself would be a competent drawer and can incorporate dual coding frequently, and use images as metaphor to deepen understanding of themes and characters and contexts, and model application of knowledge by representing and symbolising content in creative ways, an ultimate goal of building knowledge.

So we need to take notice of any proposed changes, contribute to discussions regarding its implementation, and most importantly, defend the importance of art in primary school with primary colleagues, because if we lose it, not only will our teaching potential be significantly diminished, but our cultural literacy endangered.     

Noble primary

One of the main goals of teaching is to be able to take pride in the knowledge that you have contributed to society by producing knowledgeable emotionally competent well-adjusted people. It’s a noble profession. It’s a job that few could claim such an outcome, and it almost compensates for the disproportionate pay. Primary school teachers get lots more opportunity to practice this nobility because their teaching is such a long way from the final year of education, and the selfless nature of the role is furthered when primary teachers think about the bigger picture of where a student will be in 5 years time, and give the student the tools that are going to help them succeed in further learning. For example, it’s going to be pretty certain that a student in 5 years time is going to have to know about Victorian times, so teaching that in primary school is going to help the secondary students have an excellent grasp on the context of a Victorian novel, which not only would make the reading of that novel or poem significantly more meaningful and therefore pleasurable, but would also free up working memory, increasing the opportunity for students to engage in discussions and critical thinking about the text, and explore interpretations in essays and other assessment activities in a deeper more productive way. If you are primary and want to speak to someone in secondary to ask about later stage requirements, there are lots and lots of secondary teachers who could provide information about secondary curricula, like @ensermark (geography), @xris (English), @MrThorntonteach (history), @mathsmrgordan (maths), @adamboxer1 (science), @teachartdesign (art).

Barriers to collaboration

One of the main reasons why there potentially isn’t a greater link between two sectors is the unpredictability of curriculum and expectations/standards that students need to have mastered by the end of school. It’s hard for primary school teachers to have a five-year future in their minds when planning curriculum because it’s changed so many times over the years, and potentially could again. However, it would also be hard to imagine that any current teaching based on what students are presently doing at the end of their schooling careers would be wasted. Learning about contexts of Victorian times or Jacobean times or Elizabethan times or colonial times et cetera is all valuable knowledge in terms of cultural literacy and reading comprehension at later stages.

With this in mind, it is certainly quite a admirable undertaking for a primary school teacher to base a curriculum on where a student will be in five years time, considering that very little praise or recognition would be awarded to that teacher. How many secondary teachers with the latest exam results have thanked primary school teachers for the ground work they established? Of course it’s not practical for a secondary teacher to have awareness of every single teacher that the students have had throughout their schooling careers, but it’s not about specific acknowledgement, it’s about a general acknowledgement and recognition of how crucial the work of primary school teachers is. It’s just as important as the secondary, and confirms that we’re all in this together.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more educational and English teaching discussions

Dual Coding the EDUQAS Poetry Anthology

I’ve talked about the usefulness of and science behind dual coding here, which includes an example of the process on the novella A Christmas Carol. Now I’ve created a resource for the Eduqas Poetry Anthology.

The images – a rationale

The file containing all the images can be downloaded here. The images are a mixture of quite explicit connections to the quote, whereas others are more metaphoric of the quote. The rationale here is to take advanatage of the understanding of elaboration in encoding. The dual channels of information processing, the auditory concurrent with the visual, may be assisted by symbolic representation within the visual pathway. When the image is recalled, multiple triggers are initiated, providing students with a deeper level of encoding. This also improves the retrieval of the information significantly, as explained here. I am really only learning about this and am open to these ideas being challenged, but for now it seems logical.

Where an image is abstract, an explantion is offered. Of course, your interpretation may be different, and you may want to include a different quote. There are only 5 images per poem, and this is designed with cognitive load in mind. Of course, this would, or maybe even should, serve simply as a baseline depending on your context. My choices are based on several elements: the contexts of the poems and what possibly drove the poet to write their poem, here, and here, the pragmatic approach to revising them, here, and my own writings that helped me flesh out a firm understanding of the key aspects of each poem, here (rationale found here).

My fabulous colleague Rebecca Walker assisted in designing the slides.

Applications

You may have other ways of designing your own. You may want to add an image to reinforce structure, or context.

You may use them as retrieval practice. Activities to vary retrieval could include:

  1. having 2 poems (10 images) on a single slide jumbled, and asking students to reorder
  2. presenting an image on a slide and asking for information related to it
  3. presenting 2 images on one slide from different poems and asking for links
  4. removing the quotes and asking students to fill them in
  5. Creating flashcards of the dual coding – may be best done with predesigned templates (here)
  6. getting students to find their own images – the idea here is that the longer they spend trying to find the images the stronger the memory of the content is likely to be.

There are many other possibilities, and I would love you to add your own thoughts in the comments if you have strategies that you’ve found worked. 

Here are the images.

Image 2: brainwashed. Image 5 : throwing marriage rings away
IMage 1: making the most of a bad situation. IMage 3: identity.
Image 1: balance of good thing passing and a bad thing passing
Image 1: connection. IMage 4: shallowness of relationships. Image 5: superficial expectations of love aren’t fair
Image 1: the rubric(expectations) doesn’t work. IMage 3: possessive, holding on very tightly. IMage 4: love is reduced to a small thing (the wedding ring)
IMage 1: lack of clarity in teh society. Image 4: even less certainty in direction. IMage 5: missed opportunity
IMage 4: world changes
IMage 3: arrogance. Image 5: refusal to listen to another perspective
Image 4: focus on the beauty of now rather than the future
Image 2: robotic lives. Image 4: generational – issue will recur. IMage 5: identities are gone
Image 4: careless disposal of body (flung). IMage 5: propaganda
Image 4: futility
Iamge 1: tragedy. Image 5: stories finally heard
Image 5: growing older and becoing aware

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more English teaching resources.