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11. Guided Practice / Cognitive Apprenticeship

Definition

Students follow along with their teacher as an ‘apprentice’. By working side-by-side, they learn the subtle little things (‘tacit knowledge’) required to know in order to master a skill.

Benefits

  • Students get very close one-to-one interaction with an expert, helping them learn.
  • By learning-by-doing, the student learns not only the theory but also the skills required to complete tasks.

Challenges

  • An approach predominantly used for young children in Indigenous communities, which is not applicable on a wide scale in Western mass education systems.
  • Requires one-to-one support, which is not often available.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: Rogoff studied Guatemalan Indigenous teaching methods to come up with this approach. It fits under the socio-cultural theory because its emphasis is on social interaction between master and apprentice.

Example

Common in trade schools for students studying to be mechanics, engineers, etc.

12. Scaffolding

Definition

Scaffolding involves providing support to students while they cannot complete a task alone. Then, when the student can complete the task alone, the teacher withdraws their support.

Benefits

  • Students feel supported while learning tasks that are just outside of their grasp at the present time.
  • A clear way of guiding students towards new skills.

Challenges

  • May require a lot of one-to-one support, which can be difficult to provide in a classroom environment.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: Scaffolding was invented by Jerome Bruner (not Vygotsky).

Example

  1. The teacher models a task before students try it themselves.
  2. The teacher provides the student with a visual aid (the scaffold, in this instance) that breaks the task down into small parts.
  3. After 15 minutes of practice with the visual aid, the aid is withdrawn and the students try the task alone.

13. Direct Instruction (a.k.a Explicit Teaching)

Definition

Direct instruction (also known as explicit teaching) is a teacher-centered approach that involves the teacher using simple straightforward language to explain concepts to students.

Benefits

  • Provides clear and direct knowledge to students
  • Is sometimes the only way to teach something, particularly when introducing a new idea.

Challenges

  • Students cannot consolidate their knowledge with direct instruction alone. Explicit teaching should be followed-up with other teaching strategies that involve more active learning so students can practice and demonstrate their knowledge.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Traditionally, direct instruction was embraced by behaviorists who believed in teacher-centered teaching. Today, it is used in most teaching approaches.

14. Repetition (Rote Learning)

Definition

Repetition involves giving students time to retry tasks over and over again until it is consolidated in their minds. The information should be safely in a student’s long-term memory before moving on.

Benefits

  • Repetition commits information to memory, and is often one of the only ways to ensure something is truly remembered long-term.

Challenges

  • Repetitive rote learning that lacks contextual background is hard to remember. Sometimes, giving context through doing tasks through real-life scenarios can be better for memory long-term.
  • Repetition can disengage students and demotivate them.
  • Doesn’t account for social and cognitive aspects of learning.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Repetition is central to a behaviorist approach. Pavlov, a famous behaviorist found that he could teach his dog through repetitively associating a bell with food. The dog came to learn through repetition that the bell meant ‘food’.

15. Spaced Repetition

Definition

Spaced repetition builds on simple repetition. Spaced repetition involves gradually increasing the space between times you repeat something. Repetition of a task should be very common. Over time, the task should be re-examined less and less often.

The idea behind spaced repetition is that the concept being learned is re-engaged with just before it is forgotten so that it is consistently recalled into memory and gradually sedimented into long-term memory.

Benefits

  • Provides long-term support to ensure students remember information over a sustained period of time.
  • Perfect for revision and standardized test preparation.

Challenges

  • Can be disengaging and boring for students who tend to prefer active learning.
  • Doesn’t account for social and cognitive aspects of learning.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Spaced repetition was invented by behaviorist theorist Ebbinghaus in 1885.

Example

  1. Provide students with a sprinkle of review tasks as a part of their weekly homework.
  2. Start lessons (or set aside some time each week) with revision of tasks from months previously to jog students’ memory.

16. Prompting

Definition

Prompting involves providing students with nudges, guides and questions that will help them to move closer towards an answer. A prompt is a suggestion to a student that they pay attention to a particular aspect of a task that will help them get closer to the answer.

Benefits

  • Prompts are used regularly by teachers to get beyond blocks in student learning. Without prompts, students may never develop or improve.

Challenges

  • It is hard to know exactly how much prompting to give and at what stage. Students need time to think things through and make mistakes. Too much prompting too soon can prevent students from thinking for themselves.

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism: Social constructivists believe teachers have a role in helping students to build knowledge in their minds. Teachers’ interventions can help spur knowledge development.

Examples

  1. A teacher might ask a question to get the student to look at the task from a different perspective.
  2. A teacher may point at a section of a diagram and ask them about that section.
  3. A teacher might start a sentence and ask a student to finish it.
  4. Etc.

17. Differentiation

Definition

Differentiation is a teaching strategy that requires teachers to change their teaching styles and educational materials to meet the diverse needs of students within a classroom. It generally involves grouping students into several sub-groups in the classroom based on ability, skillset or learning preferences.

Benefits

  • Enables the teacher to more effectively address the diverse needs of students in a large classroom.
  • Ensures learning is more personalized in the hope that no child will be left behind in a lesson.

Challenges

  • Differentiation is often used as an excuse to dumb down a task – differentiated instruction should be paired with high expectations to ensure all students are working to their maximum potential.

Theoretical Link

Socio-cultural Theory: This approach acknowledges that all students have different social and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, each student requires a personalized learning approach. It realizes that one size fits all will not work because all students are different.

Examples

  1. Separate students into three ability groups: Advanced, Middle, and Lower. The advanced students can be provided with project-based learning tasks to complete while the teacher works with the middle and lower groups to provide additional support.
  2. Provide students with a range of tasks that addresses the same learning outcome. Students can choose between different tasks depending on their learning preferences.

18. Manipulatives

Definition

Manipulatives are physical educational toys (or: ‘tools’) which are used to support learning. Providing students with physical manipulatives during learning enables them to visualize their learning in a 3D space.

Benefits

  • Students can learn more actively when they have manipulatives than when learning through teacher-centered direct instruction methods.
  • Helps students who need to visualize information to learn.
  • Creation of physical models helps students to form mental models (‘cognitive schemata’).

Challenges

  • It can be expensive to gather enough materials for all students in a classroom.
  • Providing students with toys can distract them from the task. Strong classroom management skills are required.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Constructivists including Freidrich Froebel and Maria Montessori have advocated for the use of educational toys to help students to explore and discover in student-led active learning contexts.

Examples

  1. Base Tens ‘Dienes Cubes’ are cubes that can be bunched into singles, groups of ten, groups of 100, and groups of 1000 to help students visualize the decimal system of counting.
  2. Colored beads can be used to help students in early childhood learn to recognize patterns.
  3. Froebel’s Gifts are 9 manipulative toys that students can use to solve developmentally appropriate puzzles.

19. Prior Knowledge Assessment

Definition

Prior knowledge assessment entails assessing students’ knowledge at the beginning of a unit of work in order to teach students at an appropriate level. If prior knowledge does not take place, teachers may teach content at a level that is either above or below a class’s optimal learning level.

Benefits

  • Ensures the content being taught is at an appropriate level.
  • Respects the fact that students come into the classroom with pre-existing knowledge.
  • Identifies misconceptions students may have about a topic.
  • Enables teachers to take into account students’ cultural knowledge when preparing a unit of work.

Challenges

  • Ensure you assess prior knowledge well in advance so you can plan lessons based on prior knowledge. I’ve assessed prior knowledge at the start of a class before and realized the lesson I planned was completely useless!

20. Student-Teacher Conference

Definition

A student-teacher conference is a one-on-one discussion between a student and a teacher to take stock of a student’s needs. The conference usually involves a discussion of both strengths as well as areas for improvement. The conference should conclude with a list of goals for the teacher and student to mutually strive toward.

Benefits

  • An opportunity for both the teacher and student to express concerns and anxieties
  • Helps students to feel ‘seen’, valued and cared for by the teacher

Challenges

  • Hard to achieve in every lesson. Teachers could consider systematically conferring with one or two students per lesson until all students are met with.
  • There is a power imbalance in the student-teacher relationship which may prevent students from speaking candidly.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: Interactions between teachers and students are important to learning within the socio-cultural approach.

Example

  1. Print a list of your students with a column for ‘achievements’, ‘goals’ and ‘struggles’. Over the course of a week, meet up with your students and discuss with them what they’ve achieved in the current unit of work, what their goals are, and what the barriers are to achieving those goals.

1 Comment

Smitha Mahin · January 14, 2020 at 9:35 am

Thank you….

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