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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Tell Students Why You Do What You Do

Today, armed with knowledge about the value of explicit teaching as well as knowledge of learning through exploration and discovery, I set forth to lead a math learning experience.

I started with a learning map--a set of steps to teach students a mathematical skill and concept.

Before I started, I said that sometimes I teach too fast, and that's not good for some learners so I'm going to slow down the introduction. I also said that some math is best taught explicitly and I was going to take a few minutes to explicitly teach the skill.

I noted that I understood that some already knew about this skill, but that I, myself, had revisited the skill numerous times and each time I learned something new. Willingham's book, Why Don't Students Like School, shows the value of repetition and review of known concepts/skills with regard to learning.

I then pointed out ways that they could access the lesson with strength including:
  • having their notebooks ready
  • taking notes, writing questions, sketching concepts
  • marking up the page
  • offering ideas and asking questions
Then step-by-step for about 10 minutes I reviewed the skill with students. After that I sent them off to either study the skill or work on their fraction projects alone or with friends. At that point I coached their learning as needed. 

Taking the time to give the rationale for your learning/teaching choices helps students to invest in the process. They get to see you as a decision maker, one who reads, researches, and deliberates a lesson's choreography. You model the learning process for them when you offer the story behind the choices you've made.

Also, when you share with students at that level, they're more apt to share with you. They'll share ideas for lesson change, enrichment, and possible modification if needed.

This is one way to improve the teaching/learning efforts.