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41. Inquiry-Based Learning

Definition

Inquiry-based learning involves the teacher presenting a problem for the students to solve by making their own inquiries. It is similar to discovery learning, but is different in that inquiry based learning generally involves the teacher setting out a puzzling problem to solve at the start of the lesson.

Benefits

  • Students ‘find’ the answers rather than being given them by teachers.
  • Answers emerge out of exploration,  problem solving and discovery, meaning students learn why something is true, not simply what is true.

Challenges

  • Significant support is required to help guide students through their inquiry. Students need to be taught how to inquire and given the right inquiry tools (such as books, appropriate websites, etc.)

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Students learn through constructing ideas in their heads rather than being told the facts.

42. Reciprocal Teaching

Definition

Reciprocal teaching involves having students facilitate their own small group lessons. It is usually used in reading lessons. 

The teacher first models how to guide group discussions before sending students off to facilitate their own lesson. In groups of four, students usually take the roles of: questioner, clarifier, summarizer and predictor. Students read stimulus materials then self-facilitate a group discussion about the text.

Benefits

  • Students learn self-regulation learning skills which are essential for later in their lives.
  • When students are trained up, the classes work very effectively and the teacher can fade into the background.
  • Students learn group work, communication and negotiation skills. They also learn how to speak up in a group.
  • Students learn to be mature even when the teacher isn’t looking. By taking on responsibility as ‘teachers’, students should rise to the challenge.

Challenges

  • Requires a lot of pre-teaching so students have the required skills for these sorts of lessons to work.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: working in groups, communicating and sharing ideas help stimulate thinking and encourages students to challenge their own ideas in order to improve them.

Example (Modelled off the I Do, We Do, You Do approach)

  1. The teacher should model the four roles required in front of the whole class, with several volunteers to act as the demonstration group.
  2. The teacher assigns groups and the four group roles: questioner, clarifier, summarizer and predictor.
  3. When students do the activity in small groups for the first time, explicitly walk the students through the steps. Use a bell or similar audible cue to cycle students through the group work steps.
  4. Allow the students to work in independent groups – walk around and help groups who are struggling.

43. Blended Learning

Definition

Blended learning involves a mix of online instruction and face-to-face learning. This strategy can be employed by giving students part of their instruction as homework online and part of it in class. It differs from flipped learning because a flipped classroom involves at-home instruction and in-class practice. Blended learning can have both practice and instruction occuring at home and/or in class

Benefits

  • Gives the teacher flexibility to teach partially during homework time and partially in class.

Challenges

  • Students need access to technology at home unless the at-home parts are only reading and printouts.
  • Usually only suitable for university students who are short on time. Blended learning allows them to do some of the learning in their own time.

Examples

  1. Used regularly for distance learning students and rural and remote students.
  2. Used regularly at university level.
  3. If using this method, I recommend taking a look at the flipped learning model for some ideas of how to split your distance and in-class segments efficiently.

44. Growth Mindsets

Definition

A growth mindset focuses on teaching students that they have the power to improve and succeed if they put their effort into it. The opposite would be students refusing to try because they don’t think they have the power in their own hands to succeed.

Teaching growth mindsets is all about modelling positive behaviors. Include growth mindset in your lesson plans by finding points in the lesson to discuss specific strategies to move toward success, strategies for studying, and positive thinking.

Benefits

  • Focuses on helping students see that they have ‘agency’ (in other words, they are capable of improving their lives)
  • Motivates students to improve their own lives

Challenges

  • Many students have many barriers to success. If you ignore those barriers and simply say ‘you can work harder’, this will make students feel disempowered. Teachers need to show students the pathways to success.
  • Ensure the content is actually achievable for your students.

Examples

  1. Break down tasks into manageable chunks so that students know the steps toward success. Then, use encouragement to motivate students to put in their effort.
  2. Celebrate success to show students that they are competent and capable.

45. Culturally Responsive Teaching

Definition

Culturally responsive teaching is an instructional strategy that involves ensuring students’ cultures are integrated into lessons. This includes celebrating students’ cultural backgrounds when relevant and using learning styles that are dominant within your students’ cultures.

Benefits

  • Includes children from cultures that have been traditionally marginalized within the classroom.
  • Minimizes the impact of Westernization of education.
  • May make new students from cultures that are different to the majority in the class to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging in the classroom.
  • Helps all students see the world from a variety of perspectives and learn to respect pluralism.

Challenges

  • Teachers need to be sensitive to cultures different to their own.
  • Teachers should consult parents and community members about best strategies for the cultural needs of the students in the class.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: sociocultural theory believes

Examples

  1. Have role models from minority backgrounds come into the classroom to share their backgrounds. 
  2. Consult with parents about ideal teaching methods within their culture.
  3. Avoid nonverbal gestures that have different meanings in different cultures.
  4. Another example: eye contact is considered respectful in Western cultures but acts of defiance in Indigenous Austealian culture.

46. Teaching to Mastery

Definition

Mastery learning and teaching is a strategy for ensuring all students meet a certain standard of understanding or ability before moving on.

Teachers set a benchmark of knowledge 9r ability for students to meet. Then, all assessment in this method is formative, where students are given feedback and as much time as possible to improve before progressing.

Benefits

  • Students are not left behind and gaps in their knowledge are not overlooked.
  • Students may feel less stressed or rushed with this approach.
  • There is no talk of inability or failure in this method as teachers and students keep working away at the task until success is achieved.

Challenges

  • There is not enough time in traditional school systems for this approach.
  • The difference in abilities between students means some students will get a long way ahead while others remain a long way behind.

Theoretical Link

Humanism: there are elements of unconditional positive regard in this approach (see Carl Rogers).

Examples

  1. An example.may be that all students must get 80% on a test to progress to the next unit of work.
  2. This approach is common for getting a “handwriting license” in primary / elementary school.

47. Stimulus Materials and Props

Definition

Stimulus materials are tools that a teacher provides during lessons to spur students into engaging with the lesson or thinking more deeply about the content provided. They include videos, educational toys (manipulatives), worksheets, visual prompts, objects from outside the classroom, and so on.

Without stimulus materials, the classroom feels empty and detached from real life. Bring stimulus materials into the classroom to help students make stronger connections to things going on outside.

Benefits

  • Provides something for students to focus on which can focus students’ minds.
  • Helps students to learn actively if they have the opportunity to touch and manipulate the props.
  • Can inspire and draw-in students at the start of the lesson.

Challenges

  • Stimulus materials can be very expensive.
  • Students can get distracted playing with the materials rather than listening to their peers or the teacher.
  • Students need to learn to share materials.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: constructivists encourage the use of props so that students can ‘learn by doing’ and be ‘hands on’ in their learning.

Examples

  1. Place several props into a bag. Have the students put their hands in the bag and see whether they can guess what the props are.
  2. Place an unusual prop related to your lesson in the middle of the classroom. Get the students to guess what it is before beginning the lesson.

48. Service Learning

Definition

Service learning involves having students meet learning outcomes while contributing to and ‘giving back to’ their community. This often involves volunteer work, internships and placements within the community where assistance is needed.

Benefits

  • Students can increase their sense of belonging within the community.
  • Connections between learning and life are made explicit in this sort of learning.
  • Learning moves from the theoretical to the practical.
  • Students can come to see how they are connected to a wider ecosystem, and that they have an important part to play in serving that ecosystem for the good of all.

Challenges

  • It can be hard to place all your students in a service learning placement if there are many students to allocate.
  • It may be impractical given safety and security requirements.

Theoretical Link

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory: EST highlights that people are situated within community from whom they get their values and beliefs. By being more connected to the community, students learn who they are and how they’re connected to a society and culture that surrounds them.

Example

  1. Prepare your students in the classroom. Consider having organizers or community members come into the classroom to tell the students what to expect.
  2. Have students write preparatory notes about what the intend to learn, who they intend to speak to, and what their day-by-day goals will be whilst doing the service learning.
  3. Have students complete their service learning / voluntary work in groups or individually.
  4. Meet with the students intermittently during the service learning and have student-teacher conferences on how it is progressing. Intervene where needed.
  5. Have students come together at the end of the project to reflect on what was learnt and how their understanding of their place in the community has evolved. Discuss possible future involvement and engagement in the community to emphasize that community involvement is an ongoing project.

49. Situated Learning

Definition

Invented by Lave and Wegner, situated learning involves learning by being embedded within a professional environment and slowly picking up the ways of doing and speaking within that context. 

It has similarities to other instructional strategies outlined in this article such as service learning and cognitive apprenticeships. However, its defining feature is the slow absorption of knowledge through prolonged exposure to an authentic professional setting.

Benefits

  • Students learn the most important practical information required for a job.
  • Students learn the ways of speaking and behaving that are required within a professional situation.

Challenges

  • Not practical as a teaching strategy in classrooms. It works best as an apprenticeship model for new graduates from university.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: the situated learning approach emphasizes the importance of learning from ‘more knowledgeable others’.

50. Sixty-Second Strategy

Definition

The sixty second strategy involves having students review one another’s work in three steps which take 60 seconds each. The steps are: respond, reflect and review. This usually takes place after a student presentation where the students give a cumulative 3 minutes of feedback and reflection on the presentation. 

The goal is not just to give feedback to the presenter, but for the listeners to also think about how they would have done the presentation and what their own thoughts on the topic are.

Benefits

  • Students learn how to give feedback to others in positive and constructive ways.
  • It is a great way for students to actively engage with other students’ presentations.

Challenges

  • Students need to know how to be positive in feedback and not be hurtful.

Example

  1. Have the student who is presenting their work give their presentation.
  2. The students who watched the presentation have 60 seconds to write their thoughts on the topic that was presented. 
  3. Next, the students have 60 seconds to write down feedback on the presenter’s work. 
  4. Then the students have 60 seconds to provide positive affirmation and praise.
  5. At the end, have the students share their feedback with the presenter in small groups so that the environment is not so intimidating for the presenter.

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