Guest Post: Representing lesson structure graphically

By Gavin Taylor

Lesson structure can be seen as a core aspect of teaching; the method in which lessons are planned can influence the whole learning process. Most teachers plan the structure of their lessons using a few well established techniques. One is a three level approach commonly known as a traffic light sequence, as shown below.

figure1 v4

This traffic light system can be used for assessing pupil progress and for differentiation of tasks, as well as clearly showing the lesson structure. This system however has various limitations. For example, this system implies that unless a pupil “moves” from one colour to another, progress has not been made, even though the pupil’s understanding may have been deepened. The criteria for progress also have to be correct; a pupil could, for example, achieve the red objective in the figure above without completing the amber, as these may not be progressive objectives.

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The mathematics of desire

By Gordon Rugg

When I was an undergrad, back in the day, a lot of the campus graffiti looked as if it had been written by someone who had dropped acid shortly beforehand. One example read: “The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao”.

Another said: “Tell me what you want, and I will give you what you need”. That particular concept stuck in my mind, and it’s one I still use in my work on requirements.

What do people want, and what do they crave, and what do they need, and what are the implications? Those are questions central to our world and our values, and they’ve been around for millennia, but they’ve never been properly answered. In recent years, though, research has produced some fascinating new insights into these old questions.

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Are writing skills transferable?

By Gordon Rugg

The short answer is: “Not really”.

The reasons for this answer take us through the literature on expertise, and through some little-known byways of history, including Caesar shouting “Squirrel!” and the strange case of the mesmerised trees.

Those byways should be a lot better known, because they have deep implications for education policy in theory and practice. This article unpacks the issues involved, and some of the implications.

Caesar, a squirrel, a tree, and Mesmerheader pictureImages from Wikipedia and Wikimedia – details at the end of this article

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The Perils of Premature Pigeonholing (or, What Shape is the Internet?)

By Gordon Rugg

This is a picture of my scroll boxes.

scroll boxCopyleft Hyde & Rugg, 2014

I use them to keep my scrolls in.

They’re a good example of the problems that arise when someone tries to cram a new idea into an old pigeonhole. A lot of the problems in current debates, such as the debate about the future of education, arise from that type of problem.

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How complex should models of education be?

By Gordon Rugg

There’s an old joke in the physical sciences, often attributed to Einstein, that a model should be as simple as possible but no simpler. The converse is that a model should be as complex as necessary, but no more complex.

In this article, I’ll discuss what the most useful level of complexity might be for education theories.

golden gate croppedClarity emerging from the fog: Cropped image from wikimedia

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The limits to literacy

By Gordon Rugg

There’s widespread agreement that rates of illiteracy are high, and that something should be done about it.

And at that point, the agreement ends.

In this article, I’ll examine some widespread models of literacy and some of the main proposed solutions.

Reading ability shown as a greyscale, based on statistical figures. Darker shading represents greater problems with reading.the twenty percent

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Gendered language in Shakespeare

By Gordon Rugg

To what extent does the language of Shakespeare’s plays indicate a male-dominated world? One way to see is by looking at the distribution of gendered words within the texts.

The figure below shows the location of the words he, him, his, she and her in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Each of the tiny rectangles represents a word in the text; the coloured words represent the keywords, and the blank rectangles represent the other words. This representation ignores linebreaks in the original text. The images are roughly equivalent to a miniaturised image of the text laid out as a scroll, with the keywords marked with coloured highlighter.

In each pair of images below, the nominative forms of the keywords are in red, and the other forms such as accusatives are in green, to show whether one gender appears more often in an active role.

(Apologies to any readers who are red/green colour blind; the Search Visualizer software itself takes account of colour blindness in its options, but shrinking the images down to fit into blog format loses the contrast.)

The column on the left shows the distribution of the words he/him/his in Midsummer Night’s Dream. The column on the right shows the distribution of the words she/her in the same play.

There are more male pronouns, but the difference is not huge; both male and female pronouns occur frequently throughout the play.

Here, for comparison, is the corresponding figure for Romeo and Juliet.

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Visualising themes in the Plowden Report

By Gordon Rugg

I’ve recently started looking at the Plowden Report, mainly because of my interest in sociotechnical issues. The method I was using may be interesting and useful to readers, so this article is a quick overview of the method.

I’ve been using the Search Visualizer software, which is available free online. (Declaration of interest: I’m co-inventor of the software.)

http://www.searchvisualizer.com

The software shows you where your chosen keywords occur within a text, representing each keyword as a colour-coded square, as if you’d gone through the document highlighting every occurrence of your keywords, and then miniaturised the document so you could see large sections of it at a time.

This is particularly useful when you’re dealing with very large texts, since it allows you to see patterns of distributions. It turns out, for instance, that there’s a fair amount in Plowden about furniture, and that most of those mentions are in one section of the report.

The image below shows where the word “classroom” appears (green dots) at the start of Volume 2 of Plowden.

Slide1Image copyleft Search Visualizer, 2014

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One hundred Hyde & Rugg articles, and the Verifier framework

By Gordon Rugg

This is the 100th post on the Hyde & Rugg blog. We’re taking this opportunity to look back at what we’ve covered and look forward to what comes next.

The image below shows some of the main themes and outputs so far, in the “knowledge cycle” format that underlies our Verifier framework for tackling human error. If you’ve come to this blog after reading Blind Spot, you might be pleased to discover that we’ve been covering the contents of Verifier here in more depth than was possible in the book, and that we’re well on the way to a full description.

In the image below you can see some of the main themes and topics we’ve covered so far in the “knowledge cycle” format that underlies our Verifier framework for tackling human error. If you’ve come to this blog after reading Blind Spot, it’s worth knowing that we’ve covered some of the the contents of Verifier in more depth here than was possible in the book, and that we’re well on the way to a full description.

The knowledge cycle, and topics that we’ve blogged about

overview and hundredth articlev2Copyleft Hyde & Rugg 2014

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