Windows apps for the classroom

Take a look at this curated list of apps from the fab Microsoft Australia team.


Teaching reads – Constructionism

There seems to be a constant battle in education between those with what they call a progressive philosophy of teaching and those who advocate for traditional approaches to teaching.

If you have already read John Hattie’s work, you would know that neither camp has a monopoly on wisdom about good teaching. Rather, there are faults and nuggets of insight on both sides.

This book takes a balanced and evidence-based look at constructivism, a philosophy that has been blindly accepted by the majority of educators.

Given the degree to which constructivism underpins so much of what goes on in modern classrooms, it would be remiss of any experienced educator not to know the facts.

The book – Constructivist Instruction: Success Or Failure is the next best read.

Teaching must reads – Visible Learning – John Hattie

Visible Learning is perhaps of the single most significant book ever published on education. If you haven’t read this book, you are doing your students a great disservice.

There are actually several books in the series, but the must read is Visible Learning: A Synthesis Over 800 Meta-Analyses On Student Achievement.

The book is a review of research, so it is not a light read – but it isn’t hard to understand. It compares the relative effect of 138 different factors have on students’ achievement. These factors include everything from various teaching strategies (e.g. inquiry learning, reciprocal teaching, phonics) to things such as class size, socio-economic status and moving from school-to-school.

Some of the findings will confirm what you already believe, while others will shock you.

There is a reason that many educators refer to Hattie’s book as their Bible.
Michelle Ash

The book shows you whatthings have the largest impact on student achievement. It doesn’t always give details on howto do those things – which is one reason I started this site.

I strongly recommend that you read Visible Learning: A Synthesis Over 800 Meta-Analyses On Student Achievement before anything else. Yet, if you have already read it – other related books include:
•Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising Impact On Learning
•International Guide To Student Achievement
•Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn

Evidence based teaching strategy #8 – Meta cognition

Many teachers believe they are encouraging students to use meta-cognition when they are just asking students to use strategies – strategies such as making connections when reading or self-verbalising when solving problems. Don’t get me wrong, as I stated in the above point, encouraging students to adopt strategies is important, but it is not meta-cognition. Meta-cognition involves thinking about your options, your choices and your results – and it has an even larger effect on student results than teaching strategies. When using meta-cognition your students may think about what strategies they could use before choosing one, and they may think about how effective their choice was (after reflecting on their success or lack thereof) before continuing with or changing their chosen strategy.

(Original article source:

Evidence based teaching strategy #7 – Group work

Group work is not new, and you can see it in every classroom. However, productive group work is rare. When working in groups, students tend to rely on the person who seems most willing and able to the task at hand. Psychologists call this phenomenon social loafing. To increase the productivity of your groups, you need to be selective about the tasks you assign to them and the individual role that each group member plays. You should only ask groups to do tasks that all group members can do successfully. You should also ensure each group member personally responsible for one step in the task.


Evidence based teaching strategy #6 – Learning takes time

The idea that given enough time, every student can learn is not as revolutionary as it sounds. It underpins the way we teach martial arts, swimming and dancing. It is also the central premise behind mastery learning6, a technique that has the same effect on student results as socio-economic status and other aspects of home life7. When you adopt mastery learning, you differentiate in a different way. You keep your learning goals the same, but vary the time you give each child to succeed. Within the constraints of a crowded curriculum, this may be easier said than done; however, we can all do it to some degree.


Evidence based teaching strategy – Feedback

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and it is the breakfast served by extraordinary teachers around the world. Put simply, giving feedback involves letting your students know how they have performed on a particular task along with ways that they can improve. Unlike praise, which focuses on the student rather than the task, feedback provides your students with a tangible understanding of what they did well, of where they are at, and of how they can improve. In John Hattie’s view5, any teachers who seriously want to boost their children’s results should start by giving them dollops and dollops of feedback.

Asking questions and giving feedback – Noam Chomsky