Dr. Robert Marzano, ICE Conference 2010

For the second year in a row, I’ve been able to attend part of the ICE Conference in St. Charles, IL.  This year I attended the Friday sessions.

I enjoyed every aspect of the conference, but the highlight for me was hearing Dr. Robert Marzano speak. His presentation showed correlations between interactive white board usage in classrooms and student achievement and engagement. He first referenced ongoing research that takes the teacher out of the equation. In this study, data is collected on two classes taught by the same teacher: one class using an interactive white board, the other without. I found it fascinating that both achievement and engagement improved by relatively high percentage rates. According to Marzano, when interactive white boards are used  about 75% of class time by an experienced teacher, who has also used the technology for some time and is comfortable using it, the best results are realized. He was careful to caution teachers on several points:

  • “Nothing is a silver bullet.”
  • Interactive white boards are best used by multiple students at a time rather than only teacher “stand and deliver” methods.
  • Make sure the use of the whiteboard focuses primarily on subject matter content. Use the technology as a means for students to interact with the content.
  • Teachers need to keep best practice in mind and use the whiteboard with those principles in mind (previewing, chunking, scaffolding, pacing, monitoring, physical movement, games, humor, pacing, friendly controversy, immediate feedback, questioning, wait time, etc.)
  • Remember, when we really know something we know it both linguistically and with mental imagery. He cautioned teachers to help students use one predominant form of learning.
  • Keep the presentation clean and simple. Marzano referenced Richard Mayer who has found students learn best when mostly words or mostly pictures are chosen in presentations. This avoids too much busyness.
  • Results don’t just happen because of the technology but rather how we use it. In the hands of the right teacher using the whiteboard in the right way, the technology is very effective in improving student achievement and engagement.

Marzano also gave several more specific helpful hints:

  • A few examples of immediate feedback the whiteboard provides are with the drag and drop, hidden content, and virtual applause features.
  • The random selection feature is very effective in keeping students engaged.
  • When questioning students, change the method of answering. Sometimes have students vote with their hands, sometimes with their feet (move to a room area designated for each answer), or use the whiteboard voting technology.
  • Students can type in their responses which can appear as text boxes on the whiteboard. The teacher (or students) can then manipulate the boxes. The students’ responses then become the content where learning takes place.
  • iTunes University is a site to watch.
  • Brain Pop was mentioned.
  • “Multimedia Learning” by Richard Mayer was referenced.

Marzano encouraged educators to remember that teaching is still an art even though the profession is becoming more of a science. Teachers can teach their own way, with some guidelines.

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