Saturday, March 03, 2012

Instruction: Modeling the Learning Process

In April, I'll embark on a concerted focus related to instructional finesse and growth.  I will do this in tandem with my math instruction for fourth graders.  I will enlist my fourth graders as my instructional coaches and guides throughout the process.  I will do this for several reasons.  First, I want to model the learning process for students.  Next, I want students to understand the learning process.  Finally, I want students to utilize what we learn together as they teach the class at the end of the month and the start of the next month.

How will this work?

At the start of April, I will tell students that I've set a learning goal for myself and that goal is to teach children as best I can.  Then I will ask them to tell me what they think makes good teaching.  We'll brainstorm a list of actions.  Then I will tell them that the focus and goal of that day's math lesson, and ask them to try their best to learn the math I present, and also to watch for ways that my instruction helps them to learn well and ways that I can improve my instruction so that they learn.  At the end of the lesson, I'll ask them to write a few sentences about what they learned, and how I could have helped them learn even more.

I'll continue a similar process targeting the aspects of good teaching they've identified throughout the month.  We'll review and revise the teaching action list as we move along with the math standards, projects and activities. Finally, at the end of the month, each child will choose a math topic to teach.  Students will teach individually or in small groups.  Together we'll create the teaching parameters and rubric.  I'll model a lesson and let them score me, then they'll each teach a piece of the math curriculum for review, and we'll score their teaching if they are comfortable with that.

I'm looking forward to this process for many reasons:
  1. I love to learn and I especially love to learn with others.  This process will bolster our Team 15 learning community.
  2. The discussions and process will broaden students' understanding of teaching and learning.  They will better understand their role as learner and the role of a teacher.
  3. I will improve my instructional repertoire to the benefit of students.
  4. Children will learn the math skills, concepts and knowledge in meaningful, student-centered ways.
  5. Students will take ownership for review and reteaching of the concepts, skills and knowledge presented.
  6. I will have the chance to share cognitive strategies and other information related to optimal teaching and learning with students.
In the meantime, I'll continue to create my own list of what creates optimal instruction.  I'll keep you posted on this learning adventure as it unfolds. Let me know if you have any ideas to add.