Thesis framework clicking into place: bringing together Task and Talk

An unrolled tweet thread, as the puzzle pieces of my MA Edu theoretical framework shake around again and fall into place…

Major conceptual breakthrough in my #csk8 MA theoretical framework tonight with my supervisor, Prof Annie Savard of @McGillEducation. Giant pieces clicked in place that i didn't know were still in suspense.

(Trying to get this into tweets while it's still fresh in my head. Clarity not guaranteed. And this is all provisional riiight up until my thesis is written 😉) So…

My thesis is the synthesis and testing of a "complex task" model for #csk8 teaching via @KidsCoding.

I came into tonight having just presented a poster at @FieldsMathEd , and tonight two pieces of the TF clicked together with our KCJ curriculum-writing framework.

At KCJ we've started writing our lesson plans in blocks, almost like "scenes" playing out in the lesson. This is the first draft, and once things flow nicely (sensible progression) we fill in the details.

In writing the lesson plan, when it is time to issue a question, task, or challenge, we draw from the many types we've honed in our 1000s of reps in classrooms across Canada. We write these into the lessons, and train and coach on them as well.

Meanwhile, my thesis TF is based on the Complex Task framework of Stein & Silver (math ed), and I'm drawing from LOTS of edu thinkers who define and study task types & teaching in math, science, and computer science.

Some of these researchers talk about Tasks, some about Talk Moves, some Instructional Routines… and some have their own named teaching strategy but may not see it as part of a larger taxonomy. (PRIMM, POGIL, etc.)

Tonight it finally clicked how those all fit together. My eventual "complex task model for #csk8", will map the above (tasks, routines, talk moves, etc) onto TWO phases of Stein & Silver: 1. The task on paper. 2. The task as set up (launched) by the Teacher.

On paper we will continue to lay out the "scenes" of a lesson, and hone the progression of ideas and techniques from start to finish.

Each scene represents a Task: a thing I'm going to ask us all to learn or do; an Interim objective we're going to try to reach on our way to the end goal of the workshop.

Within each scene, also on paper, will be a range of recommended Task Setups – teaching strategies or instructional routines or talk moves that we think offer different levels of complexity and are well suited to *that* Task.

These will be pulled from our repertoire of task setups: simple question/answer, think-pair-share, predict what this will do, fill this faded example, fix this bug, etc – all the way up to "build something that does _."

An instructor will be invited to pick from the recommended setups based on what they think any particular audience is ready to do.

Voilà- differentiation on the spot. The building blocks for a successful workshop with kids of any (or mixed) age, any (or mixed) experience level, any (or mixed) neuro/thinking/learning approach. Complexity and #ambitiousteaching every time.

Now, our AMAZING instructional team has already figured out how to do this, but it's been thru their own instincts and experience and CoP. – Now it'll be drawn systematically from a catalog of proven, research based models.

When an instructor has mastered a key set of instructional routines (/launches/moves), they theory goes, they'll be able to reach any learning goal, with any class, using appropriately-complex choices for the situation.

My supervisor says as much: "give me the objective, I'll use my bag of instructional tricks to get us there in a way I think will work."

… that’s the synthesis as it stands now. I think I’ve resolved Tasks, Talk Moves, Instructional Routines and Strategies, and one-offs, into pieces that fit together (1) foreseen on paper, and (2) played out in practice.

They should all work together to support instructor adaptation and complex, rich teaching. </>

Originally tweeted by Mike Deutsch (@mdeutschmtl) on February 5, 2020.