Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, & John Hattie Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom—K-5 Classroom Companion
Fisher, Frey, & Hattie have once again empowered educators with a clear understanding of the elements of instruction needed to enrich and impact our students with their new book, Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom, K-5 Classroom Companion. For those who teach our youngest learners the love and power of reading, the book is a must have. For those who desire to teach more literacy, this companion will be a key resource when planning, implementing and reflecting on their instruction.
Throughout the text, Fisher, Frey, & Hattie give authentic snapshots of what visible learning and teaching looks like in an elementary school classroom. There is something truly magical when both students and teachers are authentically engaged in the learning. There is a rhythm and a beat as students move toward the learning intention guided by skilled teachers, “who have worked to make learning visible for their students and have impacted learning in significant ways” (p. 4). It is not easy, but it is purposeful and driven by a desire to make learning relevant for our earliest readers.
Hattie’s effect sizes from Visible Learning are revisited. The authors strategically outline when during the instructional teaching and learning cycle they are most powerful at the surface, deed, and transfer level. Moving many of our students up to meet their grade level learning intentions requires catch up growth. Teachers must be purposeful on what instructional strategies to implement and when. With the limited amount of time they have with students, teachers must choose wisely and do what has proven to work, rather than what may have worked in the past.
Fisher, Frey, & Hattie remind us literacy is more than just reading. Students must be learning to write and reflect about what they are reading, listen and respond to the text, articulate their thinking about a piece of text, and view text to understand and navigate the author’s meaning and purpose. These skills include; using language, cognitive thinking, creating and reading text to develop fluent readers. Not to read for the sake of reading, but to find the rhythm and fluidity of meaning of text in our complex world.
The authors give the reader a practical framework to use in our literacy lessons. Included is the power of authentic assessments and how they are used to guide the teacher’s next instructional step. Allocating consistent time within the school day to develop and teach literacy skills is important, but so is including these instructional strategies throughout a student’s entire school day. Fisher, Frey, and Hattie stress balancing whole group and small group instruction and what specific components are listed in the lesson from the start of the lesson to the culminating activity and everything that should happen in-between to ensure that learning is transparent.
Students are not passive participants in the process of learning. They are informed, engaged, and developing ownership of their learning. The authors describe them as “The Visible Learner.” With clear guidance and direction, they; determine what they are trying to accomplish, use strategies to support their learning, navigate and monitor the effectiveness of their attempts, and finally determine their next steps. Their skillful classroom teacher recognizes this is not an easy task for the learner, but as partners, they learn the value of showing persistence and effort.
Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom is a comprehensive instructional planning companion for teachers in our elementary classrooms. The K-5th-grade classroom guide could also be utilized by as a book study by coaches and administrators who want to purposefully and mindfully rollout it’s important teaching and learning strategies in chunks of learning strategically throughout the academic school year. Using data as a guide, coaches and administrators can collectively determine together what instructional strategies will impact your students to improve their learning.