Starting with the Pisa scores
I recently read this article in EdSurge news about the latest PISA scores.
Where there are rankings, there is a natural tendency to compare, contrast and compete. And to seek remedies. But Andreas Schelicher, director of education and skills at the OECD—the Paris-based organization behind PISA—cautions against knee jerk reactions. “The temptation is always to look for a quick solution, to say, ‘Oh, that seems to be working. Let’s just copy and paste it.’” The latest results, he adds, offers an opportunity to “step back and see how your local education system fares in a broader perspective—both its strengths and weaknesses.” Source: Edsurge News.
The article goes on to explain the importance of a growth mindset and quotes Carol Dweck. Students who have adopted a growth mindset are more inclined to do well on these Pisa tests. In fact, ninth-graders who took an online growth mindset course reported higher grades than those who didn’t. But not everywhere. It turns out it is important to have the right culture at your school. “By giving students optional questions that were more difficult and encouraging the students to try them. The researchers then classified schools based on how common it was for students to accept the challenge and attempt the harder questions. As the study put it: “The growth mindset intervention effects on grade point averages were larger in schools with peer norms that were supportive of the treatment message.”” It turns out the countries that do best here are Denmark, Estonia, and Germany. Something to think about. Source: Edsurge News. Watch the video below. Or try the online training called Growth Mindset for 9th Graders, free and available to any school to use.
Another interesting fact is the importance of the enthusiasm of the teachers. Goes to show how important teachers are. Happy teachers lead to better results. That’s hardly a surprising revelation, says Scheleicher. But professional development support is one thing that can sometimes be overlooked by policymakers when so much of the focus is on test scores.
It’s “absolutely fascinating” to see the relationship between teachers’ enthusiasm, students’ social-emotional wellbeing and their learning outcomes, Schleicher notes. As one example, he noted in his summary report that “in most countries and economies, students scored higher in reading when they perceived their teachers as more enthusiastic, especially when they said their teachers were interested in the subject.” see table below.
Fighting Fake News in the Classroom
Hos does fake news factor into this? I actually started off reading this article in Edsurge News. The angle was, of course, the Pisa results.
PISA scores were recently released, and results of the international test revealed that only 14 percent of U.S. students were able to reliably distinguish between fact and opinion.
I do not have the number for the Norwegian students but I am pretty sure that this is an area we need to work on continuously. The article written, by Chris Link had some pretty smart webpages to use in class. I am sharing them here. He also mentions great ways to teach students about cell structure and function related to how cancer originates and progresses in the body; and also a science unit on water, where students can visit this website and research the effects that DHMO has on the environment, cancer rates and even the dairy industry. I recommend reading the article here.
- Common Sense Media has free K-12 curricula and lesson plans to promote digital citizenship.
- KQED has classroom resources like Engineering for Good that support teachers as they bring engineering design (which involves researching and brainstorming solutions) into the classroom, as well as KQED Learn, where students build media literacy and critical thinking skills while researching and discussing contemporary issues.
- has free resources for teachers that facilitate research, vetting of information, critical thinking and Socratic discourse among students.
- PBL Works has tons of sample problem-based learning units, guides and rubrics that will give your students opportunities to research and vet information while developing solutions to real-world problems.
- The New York Academy of Sciences has a free Innovation Curriculum that supports teachers as they get students thinking critically about a topic by asking questions, performing research, interviewing experts, etc.
Additionally, add some research-based instructional strategies to what you’re already doing in your classroom:
- Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) is a strategy in which students make a claim, support it with evidence and rationalize how the evidence supports the claim. You can even apply the CER strategy to news or journal articles that you have students read. Ask students to highlight claims in yellow, evidence in pink and reasoning in blue. After that, you can discuss whether the claims are based in fact or opinion.