Ratio… Increasing Thinking in Class


(image from handresearch.com. I searched ‘literacy’ and ‘ratio.’ I thought I would share).

I came across the term “ratio” for learning in TLAC 2.0. Doug Lemov credits hearing the term first from Dave Levin, co-founder of Kipp. This is the earliest mentionfrom him I can find: KIPP Blog.

Ratio, in this sense, refers to the amount of “cognitive heavy lifting” every learner has to do in class. Low ratio activities include teaching from the front; “one person talks while everyone else listens”; video; silent reading.

Increasing the ratio, means more active thinking. There are lots of activities that make learners work: writing; answering challenging test questions; solving problems. The primary school strategy: Turn To Your Partner (TTYP) is high ratio because 50% of the class are talking instead of just one child.

Generally silent reading is low ratio unless the reader is using the text for a specific purpose. “Drop everything and read” is a low ratio activity. “Read this text to solve this problem” is much higher.

Paired reading is high ratio, especially if the listener has to do something with what she has heard.

There is evidence that when the cognitive load is too high for too long, learning stops. But low load is also bad for learning. Getting the ratio right is like balancing: the teacher will have to make constant judgements. In my classroom, the idea of ratio has helped me increase the amount of thinking, which is a very good thing.

Note: I don’t measure my children’s numeracy hands or literacy hands.


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