Online Learning Plan

If I am being honest, I am apprehensive about this term.  Mostly because I am overwhelmed with information and tasks and feeling as I am having a difficult time sorting through everything and sorting out both teaching, curriculum, and administrative responsibilities.   For me, I really just have to get into it and figure it out as I go along, and once students are in the room and I know exactly what I am working with, can I make plan.  I will be using some of the things I learned through recent studies which I believe are applicable to our current situation, such as interest inventories, and hoping that most, or if I am really lucky, all of my students are present.  However, I know already this will not be the case, as I have already polled some of my students and while most are in Beijing, there were plenty of answers that indicated out of the country.

Cognitive Load Theory Action Plan

Potential Actions

After reviewing cognitive load theory, reading a few articles, and a bit of thinking about my classroom practices, I’ve developed the following list of behaviors to work towards when conducting lessons.  I am considering developing measurement tools for these routines.  However, intuition says do not proscribe it too much.  So, I am going to try it less formally and see how it goes.


  • Make a list of checks to see that students working memory is not taxed.Mentally go through it before every lesson.
    • Music is off
    • Laptops are closed
    • Breathe three times
    • Use audio and video and check that neither are redundant.
  • Look at overall task and break it down into simple steps
  • Change problem solving methods to avoid means-ends approaches that impose a heavy working memory load, by using goal-free problems or worked examples.
    • For example, showing students one aspect of painting at a time, reviewing only one assignment a class
  • Mentally review what you will say to students at the beginning of the class to keep it short and direct.
    • This means do not go off on tangents. Speak like Hemmingway
  • Give thought to big concepts and skills that are universal as well as tasks and techniques, break these into smaller components.
    • This requires planning and in my experience is a multi-year process. We rarely have time to do this much thinking and planning given the amount of meetings, and duties, and of course classes and assessment.  So, keep in mind that this will need to be continuously refined and stop getting stressed out by either the amount of work or whether it is perfect.  Treat it like art, you never complete you just keep working on it.
  • Show Students final goal and allow them to self-assess against their progress.
    • Again, more planning – See above.
  • Develop a series of self-assessment tasks throughout the term.
    • This can be done more informally. In fact, I do it , but it is unorganized and sporadic. Develop one method and test it out.
  • Examine tasks that students will need to perform and divide them into levels of difficulty.
  • Peer assessment opportunities.

Cognitive Load Theory Notes

I did a little research on consolidation which lead me to cognitive load theory.  I found two scholarly articles and did some research.  Following are the notes from this research.  Next step will be to use these notes to develop teaching strategies.

Cognitive Load Theory

·      Schema –  An automatic, unconscious coding or organization of incoming physiological or psychological stimuli, giving rise to a particular response or effect.

  • Students become better at a given task, be it physical or mental, by developing schema, that is cognitive systems, that make handling the information easier.
  • In formation must be processed by working memory to develop schema for handling it, thus becoming better. To better improve the acquisition of schema the working memory should be reduced.
  • Cognitive load theory are techniques for reducing this working memory load to better improve schema development
  • Working memory = short term memory
  • I have rather complex thoughts and ideas I want to get across to students. What I am reading here is to break it down even further into smaller parts.  My approach in recent years is not to tell the students all of the background, but to have them complete tasks
  • Change problem solving methods to avoid means-ends approaches that impose a heavy working memory load, by using goal-free problems or worked examples.
  • Eliminate the working memory load associated with having to mentally integrate several sources of information by physically integrating those sources of information.
  • Eliminate the working memory load associated with unnecessarily processing repetitive information by reducing redundancy.
  • Increase working memory capacity by using auditory as well as visual information under conditions where both sources of information are essential (i.e. non-redundant) to understanding.
  • Cognitive Load Theory, John Sweller November 2018
  • Long term memories (which lead to developing schema) when auditory and visual information is processed or rehearsed to a greater degree than other, everyday observations.
  • Intrinsic, extraneous or germane
  • Intrinsic deals with complexity of information being processed by learner.
  • Make intrinsic easer by breaking down into smaller steps
  • Extraneous are those implied by how the teacher delivers information
  • Reduce the amount of symbols the students need to decode
  • Germane deals with the creation of schemas
  • When we are forming new schemes the cognitive load is increased.
  • Reduce means – ends task
  • Avoid spit referencing of information and have uninterrupted videos


Fred Paas, Tamara van Gog, and John Sweller – Cognitive Load Theory:  New Conceptualizations, Specifications, and Integrated Research. 2010

  • Among the more important questions of CLT is how we present information so that it is stored in LTM the most efficient way.
  • Things coming into WM from LTM do not have the restrictions of new information
  • Germane load refers to the WM resources required to deal with intrinsic conative load
  • From a instructional design point of view it is important to consider germane and extraneouscognitive load as communicating vessels.


van Merriëboer, Jeroen T., Sluijsmans, Domonique M. A. Towards a Synthesis of Cognitive Load Theory, Four-Component Instructional Design and Self-Directed Learning

  • Cognitive Load focusing on instructional design materials and 4CID o design of educational programs.
  • Based on rich learning experience, in which students are confronted with tasks that are likely to come up outside of school but which may be overly complex for navice learners
  • 4C design (I think) has to do with individual learners self directing task. The concept is base don a) students take responsibility for learning b) assess strengths and weaknesses of performance c)select learning tasks that offer best opportunity to improve
  • 4CID = a) learning tasks b) supportive information c) procedural information 4) part-task practice
  • Monitoring – the student gauges progress against the final goal
  • Evaluating – assessing the results of the task
  • Planning – adjusting the tasks based on evaluation
  • “IN order t promote reflection on past performance, learners receive whole and meaningful assessment right from the start of an educational program. Such tasks ask learners to assess the quality of their performance in relation to agreed standards so that they can formulate readjusted or new learning needs.”
  • Self assessment comes slowly, as in the students first get an example to assess themselves against, then a rubric, then independent
  • It is helpful to divide tasks into classes, from lower to higher order
  • 360 degree feedback – allow the students and teacher and selves to assess their work
  • Peer assessment allows students to justify their assessment givin g them better insight into the criteria



Based on student survey results, my weakest area is consolidating knowledge so my professional learning goal for the year will be to work more consolidation activities into my classroom practice.  I read the Tripod 7C activities, but I found it thin, so I did some more research and found the following:


  • Review and highlight what we’ve done at the end of the lesson
  • Activities where students summarize what they have learned
  • Questions about connections between previous lessons and the current one
  • Make explicit connections between lessons
  • Bring in prior learning into each lesson
  • Try to use a Know Want Learn chart in your lessons
  • Ask students to make connections to other lessons
  • Begin each class with a review of what we did last time, highlighting important concepts to the entire unit
  • Offer more guidance along the way
  • Research cognitive load theory
    • Choose some of these to add to your lessons regularly
  • Use Bloom’s Taxonomy Understanding and Applying action words in activities at the end of lessons.



There is a little more research to do, such as cognitive load theory, as well as a bit of refinement, such as choosing some of those activities linked, and developing activities that reflect Bloom’s.  Once some activities are designed, then it will be time to have them make a regular appearance in the classroom.  For the time being, however, I can make simple, verbal reviews at the end of each class.


Response to Survey

I cannot recall exactly what I wrote for my initial impressions about the 7C Tripod Learning attributes, but Knew consolidation would be an issue for me and sure enough this what the survey said. I am going to review the 7C explanation again and develop some strategies from there.

Seven C Response

I am going to respond in note for to each section where I feel that I have room to grow, or an idea that struck me as I was reading.



How much interest in the personal lives of students should I have?  Surely, I care about them having a fulfilling life and helping them through obstacles that impede their learning, but at some point, we draw a line.  I have found this line is largely based on school culture.  For example, at ISB I feel there is a more formal relationship between students, teachers, and parents.  My previous school was a lot different and I had a multiple parents that treated the teacher and school much closer than typical, American relationships between teacher and parent.


I like the idea of a ‘Dear Teacher’ letter.



In my notes I wrote “Sometime shy about these questions’ but I cannot recall which questions these are nor the nature.  I also have that sometimes students are not interested in sharing and while I want everyone to have the opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts, I am also cognizant of the fact that some people do not like to speak in large groups. I include myself in this category. At meetings, conferences, and workshops, I am listening, and making connections but if the group is larger than five or so I am not interested in sharing.  I think there are students that fall into this category as well and it is a matter of differentiation that we should require students to do something they do not wish or feel comfortable doing at all times.



Whenever I am teaching a new subject I struggle with the first year in being able to give clear, structured instructions.  Part of this is lack of confidence but it is also related to wanting the students to have the best and I have found through experience that it is better to discover along with the students than it is to give them poor or disjointed information.


There is still the student concept that assessment is paramount.  I have yet to work in a school where students understand the opportunity to learn is more important than the final assessment.  For the record, I agree with the former and have remedied this schism by making my assessment rigorous.


My teaching is lacking in video.  I think this is a problem because video is becoming a strong and important form of instruction and truthfully, I do not like video.  I do not dislike it, but I will always choose to read instructions over watching a video.  I have also found that available, instructional videos are often superficial and do ot give me the information I need.



I need to review more, since I deal more with concepts than information, I should be asking students to consider the concepts, or parts of the concepts in more detail every class. As my instructional approach is cyclical with ever increasing complexity I should also refer to past units and concepts in current units and concepts.


What is KWL?



I think I am good at encouraging students to do their best work at all times.  The deficiency in my encouragement is that I most often take the defensive side of the argument instead of the offensive.  Meaning I am explaining why they should be doing their best and pointing out areas where the students can improve their work.


I use thinking routines all the time, even in Diploma.


Classroom Management

Particularly with Publication Design, I need to model activities better.


Welcome to your Professional Learning Blog! This is a place for you to post your goals, and reflect on them throughout the year.

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