Share your thoughts / reflect on the article by W. James Popham.
Social Studies Group

We thought the article made sense in that learning progressions can be used to improve student learning. We agreed that they must be set up in systemic manner and a pedagogically defensible order. We also agreed that they must be simple to follow and have a few key blocks rather then many. We also agreed that these blocks need to be thought out over time before being put to use rather then using trial runs.


The Lowdown on Learning Progressions

A learning progression is a backwards analysis, it is a roadmap that shows where you want the students to be and where they are coming from. There is more than one way to construct a well-developed learning progression. Learning progressions should contain only the most significant building blocks. Learning progressions require rigorous cerebral effort.


The best learning progressions are fashioned according to a less is more model. We need a Professional Development field trip to Australia to learn more.

Literacy/Foreign Language

A lot of building blocks in learning progressions, but not too many. Less is more!!! It is a road map, leading us where we need to go.
A learning progression goes from 12th grade down.
Formative assessment for learning can pinpoint why children have problems.
Establishing a common vocabulary is important. What is grain size? We are just interested in high yield!


- Learning progressions do not have to be similar to achieve top results
- Learning goals should concentrate on the big picture with smaller learning blocks but not too small: less is more
- Learning goals are accomplished by working backwards and take time
- Learning progressions is not a new idea, it has a direct correlation to the mathematics curriculum (benchmarks and standards)


The first thing that jumped out at us from the article was the backward analysis of learning progressions. This made a lot of sense to our group. The building blocks should be appropriately sized and carefully sequenced. There is no single or absolutely correct learning progression and it is not easy to create them. The progressions are always evolving.


Our thoughts on "The Lowdown on Learning Progressions"-

-the idea of having students master one step before moving on to another isn't new to the CTE department, we haven't called it learning progressions in the past but have always used building blocks in hands-on learning projects
-this article was much easier to understand and in simpler terms than the other on this morning
-in many classes it is assumed that the prerequisists are met before coming to the classroom, learned in earlier grades or classes
-less is more, smaller and simpler steps are more manageable
-students need to understand each step as they go, need to master each step before moving onto the next
-we need to teach to all students, all students can learn though they may learn different things or at different levels and in different steps
-there is no one absolute correct learning progression
-start with the little things, the building blocks
-where do we fit in the little things?
-as CTE teachers we need to focus on the step-by-step processes of essential life skills that are so important
-similar to content maps done years ago


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    August 2010