Evidence-Based Learning at School

Constructing the Mirror Example method

Part of the project was to make lessons using the same systematic approach in both countries (hence “mirror example method”) to evaluate the chosen method’s ability to reach the pupils and teach them the subject effectively. To do this, we decided that the method needed to be versatile and applicable to any subject and possible for any teacher to use. We started off by inventing how we on the Swedish side had done our teaching over the last year. The three of us tried to describe our teaching in detail and wrote it down. After that, we searched for common ground and tried to pinpoint which of the things we had done that we believed had best taught the pupil and that we knew from experience and research which sound methods to work with. Some more important aspects we found was that the teaching methods needed to be varied, that memory training reached many pupils and increased results, that learning conversations among the pupils was a good way to start a subject and was also a formative tool to evaluate their knowledge, that the use of ICT as a formative tool was a good way to get fast feedback and that the pupils enjoyed using it, that questions governed by the pupils increased their desire to learn, which meant better results and finally, that formative assessment in whatever way improved the pupils’ performances.

From this, we formulated an initial method backbone that both countries could use in the mirror examples. It looked like this:

Mirror Example

  1. The teacher chooses a topic from the curriculum that the students shall work with.
  2. The teacher asks each student to draw a mind map of their prior knowledge of the topic/subject.
  3. The students should formulate questions regarding the topic/subject that they are curious about or want to learn about. (goal: student motivated/driven lesson)
  4. The teacher categorizes the questions into a few areas/topics that will be covered in greater depth.
  5. The teacher then discusses with the students.
    • How to best learn these topics.
    • How to reach all the skills and knowledge they should get from studying the topic.
    • Whether there any skills or knowledge that can’t be addressed in these topics
    • And finally, how the students should be examined. The teacher makes clear what the students must know when the topic is done.
  6. Work according to the plan made.
  7. During the course of the work, hold one learning conversation around some points or topics to deepen their understanding, to learn from each other and as a formative check-up for the teacher before the final examination.
  8. Examination.

Following this, I held a Google Hang-out conversation with Martin Loder to pass on our idea to the German team and see how they liked it and if they had suggestions about modifications or other ideas all together.

They found that we had insufficiently addressed the ICT, one of the pillar aspects of the project, and that we needed to address it more in the mirror-example. Therefore, we added the following to the method.

  • We should make good use of the ICT tool in the process – at least several times. We advise an intermediary formative check-up to see if student learning is going in the right direction before the final test.
  • Learning conversations can be videotaped using mobile devices, which can be used as a teaching tool or starting point for further learning.
  • Visual aids (graphic organizers) provide structure such as with mind maps, Venn diagrams, timelines, concept categorization, and so on.

With this addition to the original backbone method, we decided it would do well for our mirror examples and we went along to test it in both teams.

Before the fifth working visit, we posted the question “How can ICT be used in teaching to enhance children’s learning” to all teachers in the project to further strengthen that part of the project. All teachers where given the task to write down three examples of answers to the question above from their teachings.

The collected answers were categorized. We came up with several aspects that we found to be the most beneficial for the pupils when using ICT.

  • ICT extends the classroom.
  • ICT gives feedback fast, easily and in many forms.
  • ICT motivates the pupil.
  • ICT is useful in visualization.
  • ICT is useful in research.
  • ICT helps out in skill building.
  • ICT facilitates presentations.
  • ICT improves communication.
  • ICT is at tool for creativity and creation.
  • ICT is a tool for the single pupil or teacher and a tool useful in group work.

After the categorization, we weighed the groups and we found that presentation, feedback and skill building were the most important aspects and the ones we thought enhanced pupils learning the most. All of us agreed that these categories demand our consideration in planning future lessons. Especially formative feedback should be emphasized further in the mirror example guidelines.

A final addition was therefore made that stated that ICT as a formative feedback tool should be used to a greater extent and be used more often in general, but above all, that it should be used early on in the process for the rest of the project.

Per Lundholm