Educators have been in search of “what works” for decades. Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey’s collective search for better ways to reach students and ensure that they develop knowledge and skills has resulted in thousands of books, hundreds of thousands of research articles, and countless websites. The truth is nearly all things teachers do work to increase student achievement. But a smaller number of approaches work at ensuring that students gain a full year’s worth of growth for a year of enrollment in school. Douglas and Nancy think it’s time we focused on what works, what doesn’t work, and what can’t hurt. To do this, they turned to John Hattie and his Visible Learning research (Hattie, 2009, 2012) for help. With him, they wrote Visible Learning for Literacy (Fisher, Frey, & Hattie, 2016). As this work makes clear, students must develop surface-level knowledge if they are ever going to go deep. And we know that deep learning can facilitate transfer, which has been a goal shared by educators for as long as there have been teachers. Timing is everything, and using the right strategy for the phase of learning ensures a year’s worth of progress for every year in school.

"Visible learning is about knowing that you have an impact on students. It’s about figuring out what that impact is and monitoring that impact so that you know you are making a difference. Visible learning makes the learning process obvious, clear, and notable for you as the teacher as well as for your students. Learning to share data with students and having them create their own goals is magic in the classroom.”
Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey


Visible Learning for Literacy offers a strategic and coherent approach to learning by applying Hattie’s effect sizes to literacy within the three-phase model. This approach empowers educators to select those high-yield literacy practices, plan lessons, and informs them on what works best in each phase of the learning.

Learning Defined: The Three-Phase Model

  1. Surface Learning is essential. It establishes the foundation for deepening knowledge by helping learners acquire and then consolidate learning.
  2. Deep Learning occurs when students assimilate knowledge and integrate it with existing knowledge. To do this, they use metacognitive strategies and move toward becoming self-determining learners.
  3. Transfer moves students from deep learning to the ability to apply previous learning to new situations by making connections across a continuum, from situations that are closely related to other increasingly more novel situations.


  • Identify the difference between effective strategies for developing students surface, deep, and transfer learning.
  • Describe the effect sizes and rationale for specific strategies that impact students’ learning.
  • Identify ways to determine impact of specific approaches on students’ learning.
  • Shows how to build successful relationships with students, critical to long-term student gains
  • Provides proven literacy strategies that work best at each phase of learning and offers built-in lessons and exercises
  • Explains learning intentions and success criteria and shows why they are critical to student success
  • Demonstrates how to use effect size— the magnitude of impact that a particular strategy has on student learning—and other pre- and post-assessment other assessment tools to measure student learning


This workshop demonstrates how using the right approach at the right time can help you more intentionally design classroom experiences that hit the surface, deep, and transfer phases of learning. This workshop covers Visible Learning research, its connections to surface, deep, and transfer learning as it relates to literacy, the most impactful approaches to use in each stage of learning, and the tools for measuring your impact on student learning.

Learning Outcomes:
Participants will:

  • Apply the principles of Visible Learning research to the literacy classroom.
  • Understand the three phases of learning and the unique importance of each: surface, deep, and transfer.
  • Learn which literacy practices have the greatest impact on student growth (and which have the least) to maximize and strategize teaching time.
  • Strategize what practices to implement at the right time in a student’s learning, while keeping rigor in mind.
  • Assess the impact of one’s teaching on one’s students—and what to do next as a result.


Douglas Fisher is a Professor of Educational Leadership in the Department of Teacher Education at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College.

He is the recipient of an International Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, the Farmer Award for excellence in writing from the National Council of Teachers of English, as well as a Christa McAuliffe Award for excellence in teacher education. He has published numerous articles on reading and literacy, differentiated instruction, and curriculum design.


Full Registration: $495 p/p
Combine and Save: $655 p/p
Receive a discount when you combine your registration with a new ACEL membership – normally $195.


Brisbane QLD
Monday 27th May 2019
Time: 9am - 4pm
Venue: Novotel
Click here to register online

Sydney NSW
Wednesday 29th May 2019
Time: 9am - 4pm
Venue: Sydney Masonic Centre
Click here to register online