- 01 Overview
- 02 Listening How They Learn
- 03 More Than Just an Interview
Listening to Learn
Backpack had the chance to help Heinemann Publishing launch Listening to Learn, a math educational tool, consolidating and interpreting over 15 years of research by accomplished educators Marilyn Burns and Lynne Zolli into a cohesive digital experience. Through a series of professional learning labs built into an intuitive webapp design, Listening to Learn allows teachers to discover how to determine the thought process behind how students arrive at answers to mathematics problems.
Listening How They Learn
The tool guides educators through a structured interview with their students, asking them to verbally answer math questions while digging into what they do to solve them — if the prompt is 9+7, do they count on their fingers? Do they round it to 10+6? Burns and Zolli posit that there isn’t a wrong answer to how students approach these questions, but there may be more effective strategies you can help them learn. It’s a way of “getting under the hood” of how students K-8 think, and adapting instruction to help students develop better problem-solving strategies.
More Than Just an Interview
We’re data geeks at Backpack, and the wealth of research that Burns and Zolli brought to the project kickoff started our wheels turning. What started as just an interview tool evolved into so much more over the 18 months of development — discovering that an educator could use the interviews with their students as a way to develop teaching strategies, generate reports for future lessons, and find the best methods for connecting with their classes.
That knowledge, hours of videos of Burns and Zolli administering their teaching method, and close collaboration with the two educators allowed this project to open up beyond the team’s original vision. We started developing the Listening to Learn tool in November of 2019, and when classrooms shifted to a digital model in early 2020 we ensured that our program could work virtually with students over video chat (and even user-tested it with our creative director’s son). Adapting the program to a post-Covid world has given us the opportunity to make Listening to Learn a more integral part of the teacher-student relationship.