“I don’t want to just teach you science in this class. I want to teach you how to be a powerful learner”
Inspired by a workshop in Complex Instruction that I was introduced to by the Knowles Fellowship, I am focusing again this year on implementing three "actionable norms" in my classroom: Work Persistently, Communicate Productively, and Take Risks. I really like this list because it is simple, group-centered, and easy to positively reinforce. I also appreciate how all of these are framed as actions that students SHOULD do rather than actions that students SHOULD NOT do.
There are many ways that these norms can be presented, defined, and applied to situations. To help my students grasp the categories a little better, this is how I unpacked the norms. I find it helpful to explicitly state things that I'm looking for and listening for that show me the norms are being followed. This helps provide easy actions for students to try and allows a framework for the stamp quizzes described later in this post.
Working through challenges especially when it is tough
Sharing ideas clearly using gestures, pictures, etc. OR listening closely and asking, pushing or explaining
Moments you appreciated others taking risks. Offering an idea before you are sure or asking when unsure.
I summarized these unpacked norms into posters that I hang up at the front of my classroom. Feel free to download, modify, and use :)
Actionable Norms - "Stamp Quiz"
One great way to highlight actionable norms in the classroom is by implementing a technique called a "stamp quiz". This isn't something that I use a lot in my class but it has definitely been a great way to give value to the part of the task that isn't graded.
After the task, it's good to reflect on how the norms were present. These discussion starters are a good way to turn the conversation to the students.
Practicing Actionable Norms in First Week -
I spend most of the first week of school introducing these actionable norms one day at a time with group challenges and introductory activities
Complex Instruction at Stanford - Some excellent resources about complex instruction and all of the other great methods besides actionable norms that are part of this teaching philosophy
Equitable Groupwork - Great resources about actionable norms and their use in groupwork
Complex Instruction in Science Course - A Knowles Academy course focusing on complex instruction and it's use in a science classroom (many of the other resources out there are for math)
Examples of Complex Instruction Tasks
Father, Physics Teacher, Knowles Fellow, Friend, Techie, and Musician