Students demonstrate learning by demonstrating why each piece of information in the curriculum, or in a novel scenario, is important. Demonstrating the significance of any piece of information requires students to process the information and since the reasons for its significance are the same for all information on Earth and beyond (i.e., information is significant because it is a cause, an effect and data), then students can apply the same process to every piece of information that they are expected to know and understand.
This means that students need to learn how to process information in a way that demonstrates understanding. The PCAM set of eight CATS are a process that students may apply to information to learn about the information and to demonstrate understanding of the information, however, students must first learn how to apply this process to information, which is the role of methods.
Methods instruct students on how to complete CATS. CATS are actions linked to performance criteria for thinking critically about information and for applying skills. Teachers manage learning by designing and differentiating methods that teach students how to complete actions (CATS).
PCAM is a structure that provides students with a purpose for participating in learning activities. The purpose is to learn how to accomplish actions required to learn and demonstrate learning throughout life.
Methods teach students 'how', recognising that 'how' includes 'where', 'when' and 'who'. Methods may teach students how to interpret expectations from instructional materials, models and feedback. Alternatively, methods may provide students with a precise set of instructions for a limited set of actions that may be applied to all learning. The time that teachers put into developing and perfecting each method for each student reflects how often students will need to apply the action (CATS) across products, units of work and subject areas.
For example, a precise method for CATS 1 in the PCAM set of eight CATS informs students how to extract known information about a factor in a cause and effect chain from any text. The 'known information' may be a type of phrase that students extract from texts. This requires students to be taught how to find particular types of information and for precise observations to be written into methods. For example, one instruction may relate to adjectives only.
Not all instructions in methods relate to all texts, however, students will only extract types of information that appear in a text. Importantly, methods are so precise that students recognise them as instructions for ‘how’ to accomplish something that is valuable to their progress in all topics.
Teachers recognise methods for actions as ways of producing a correct answer during learning that indicates understanding of a text. Groups of students who apply the method to the same text should produce almost exactly the same answer because the method for each action will require students to structure their own writing in a set way (e.g., linked to the PCAM base set of eight CATS) and to annotate the text and their own writing in a way that matches phrases and words in the text with a single instruction in the method and to their own writing.