Assessment for Learning in History: Maximizing Error Analysis to bridge students’ learning gaps in answering Source-Based Case Study Questions, pp. 5 of 13

(ii) Lesson Enactment

1. Establishing Lesson Objectives

Once the pre-lesson preparation is completed, the first step in the lesson enactment stage is to establish appropriate lesson objectives with students and to state explicitly how the error analysis lesson is going to be different from a usual corrections-styled lesson. For my class, I informed them that the lesson objectives were as follows: (a) to develop the ability to critique each other’s answers, (b) to create new answers and (c) to self-reflect on their own answers. Teacher-student relationship in terms of the rapport and positive social and emotional connections are of vital importance throughout this process. Positive teacher-student relationships refer to the extent to which students perceive they are respected, supported, and valued by their teachers (Doll, Zucker and Brehm, 2004). It is vital for the teacher to lay the ground for a positive and respectful classroom climate in order to carry out an effective critiquing session. In my case, I did this by thanking the students whose answers were selected for the error analysis lesson and was mindful of how my comments were crafted and communicated during the lesson. The bedrock of trust and respect needs to be firmly built right from the start and throughout the lesson students are reminded to be respectful when dealing with the sample answers during the analysis of the thinking behind the responses. The teacher’s own attitude and a mindful growth language is critical in fostering a positive way forward in the classroom.

2. Applying Gradual Release of Responsibility

The second step is applying the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) to facilitate active participation of students in the co-construction of knowledge (see Figure 3). For this transfer of responsibility to occur, teachers must recognize the recursive nature of learning and cycle purposefully through purpose setting and guided instruction, collaborative learning and independent experiences (Fisher and Frey, 2008). It can positively move classroom instruction from teacher-centered to collaborative work and finally to independent learning.

In the “I do” stage, although the focus is on the teacher who is going through a comparison question and using a particular Student B’s answer, the students are also making sense of the teacher’s thought processes. Step 1 of Figure 4 shows how prompts and questions are explicitly used by the teacher to role-model the thought processes as the teacher verbally skims through Sources B and C to understand the main ideas of the sources. This is followed up by the teacher reading aloud Student B’s answer and then finally evaluating what works for the answer. Step 2 of Figure 4 shows the “You do it together” stage, where students work in small groups to develop their thinking as they collaborate to discuss and jot down points of learning on the worksheet. The responsibility is now shared with peers as they add new ideas or build on other’s responses. The teacher spends less time talking and more time listening to what students are discussing. This is followed by the teacher facilitating whole class discussion. According to Mercer and colleagues (2004), “when students are actively involved in discussion, not only do they learn more but their general ability actually increases”. In such a scenario, all students would have the opportunity to contribute to ideas as they have had the prior chance to engage directly in the earlier small group discussion. Step 3 of Figure 4 shows the “You do it alone” stage where the individual student takes full ownership of their learning and moves away from peer collaboration to self-management when answering the questions.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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