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51. Thumbs Down, Thumbs Up

Definition

Thumbs down, thumbs up is a simple strategy for getting immediate feedback from students. During a lesson, pause after each step to get instant thumbs down, thumbs up feedback on whether students understand the previous step.

If there are thumbs down, the teacher should ask those students if they have direct questions or whether they might want that section to be covered again in different language or more slowly.

Benefits

  • Enables the teacher to gauge students’ reactions in real time.
  • Gives the students an opportunity to give the teacher feedback immediately so that they don’t fall behind or become frustrated.

Challenges

  • If the majority of students give thumbs up but only one or two give thumbs down, this is not endorsement to move on. Rather, the teacher should make sure no students fall behind.

52. Summarizing and Paraphrasing

Definition

For this teaching strategy, either the teacher or student summarizes something someone previously said in their own words in order to ensure they understanding each other without any misconceptions.

Benefits

  • In having a student repeat the teacher’s statement in their own words, the teacher can see whether students actually understand something.
  • In repeating a student’s statement in different language, the teacher can see whether they truly understand what the student means.

Challenges

  • The biggest risk here is in the teacher ‘putting words in the student’s mouth’. This may give the student a free pass.

Examples

  1. The teacher explains a concept, then asks the student to repeat it without using the same words. A pause of a few minutes between the teacher’s explanation and the student’s response can be helpful in preventing the student from directly copying the teacher’s language. As time passes, the meaning should stay but the exact words should be forgotten.
  2. Alternatively, the student makes a statement, and the teacher translates it in their own words and finishes with “Is that what you meant?”

53. Demonstration

Definition

Demonstration involves showing the students a practical example of something that is being learned in class.

The difference between demonstration and modeling is that a demonstration usually: 

  • does not involve explicit explanation of all the steps, and 
  • is usually not followed by students having a go themselves. 

Demonstration (rather than modelling) may be necessary when the concept being demonstrated is dangerous or requires expertise.

Benefits

  • Having something complex or theoretical demonstrated can be exciting to link theory to practice.

Challenges

  • Demonstrations may require expensive field trips or inviting experts and expert equipment into the classroom.

Example

  1. A demonstration could be as complex as going to watch a space rocket launch or as simple as a ranger demonstrating how to use bear spray.

54. Role Modelling

Definition

Role modelling involves demonstrating the requisite behaviors or ideal way of acting within a learning environment. Role modelling has the intention of positively influencing students into copying the teacher’s positive learning behaviors.

Benefits

  • Students are socialized into behaving and learning in socially appropriate ways.
  • A teacher who sets personal high expectations for their own learning will have those high expectations flow on toward the students.

Challenges

  • A teacher needs to be aware that all of their behaviors rub off on students. This means they need to ‘put on their happy face’ despite what’s going on in their private lives.

Theoretical Link

Bandura (Social learning theory): Albert Bandura believed that observation was important in influencing how people will behave and learn. See his famous Bobo doll experiment where children were more aggressive toward a doll when they observed an adult being aggressive toward it.

Examples

  1. Male teachers may role model positive masculinity, such as politeness and respect to all people regardless of gender.
  2. A teacher can be a role model my demonstrating engagement and volunteering within the community, insisting on respectfully welcoming guests when they enter the classroom, or having high regard and respect for reading, learning, and apologizing.

55. Predicting

Definition

Predicting involves asking students to make predictions or ‘guestimates’ before a study is undertaken. The teacher may make a prediction for the students to respond to, or ask students to make predictions themselves.

Benefits

  • It stimulates students to think about the logical flow-on effects of the things they are learning about (such as in science: gravity, momentum, etc.)
  • Students are asked to think forward rather than simply react in the learning environment.

Examples

  1. At the start of a lesson (before introducing too much information), ask students what they think will happen during the lesson.
  2. Show the students a diagram or comic strip demonstrating sequence of events with the last few events missing. Have students fill-in the gaps.

56. Intentional Mistakes

Definition

The teacher inserts intentional mistakes into their teaching materials (such as misspellings in their presentations) or their speech in order to: 

  • Check students’ depth of knowledge,
  • Make memorable teaching moments, or
  • Keep students critically engaged.

Benefits

  • It keeps students on their toes throughout the lesson, particularly during the boring parts.
  • It can make learning into a game if you let the students know to look out for the mistakes in advance. You could also offer a reward for the person who identifies the mistake.
  • It can lead to critical discussion about common mistakes that students make in a topic.

Challenges

  • You may risk having students believe you had made the mistakes intentionally.
  • Students may believe the mistakes are truths and end up believing things that are untrue.

Examples

  1. Create intentional spelling errors in your worksheets and powerpoint presentations.
  2. Mispronounce a word and see if students realize.
  3. Flip two words in a sentence and see if anyone realizes.

57. Reflection-in-Practice / Immediate Feedback

Definition

Immediate feedback is any feedback that takes place during a lesson rather than after a lesson or exam has been completed.

There are two primary types of immediate feedback: feedback from students to teachers, and feedback from teachers to students.

The feedback’s purpose should be to make impromptu changes during the lesson before it is too late.

Benefits

  • Teachers can adjust their teaching methods in the moment to ensure the lesson is a success.
  • Students can adjust the ways they are going about completing a task to ensure it is successful.

Challenges

  • In large groups, one-to-one feedback can be difficult.
  • Teachers need to be able to think on their feet to make immediate adjustments.

Theoretical Link

David Schon’s ‘Reflection in Practice’: According to Schon, successful practitioners reflect in practice rather than just on practice. Reflection in practice requires practitioners to reflect on what they’re doing while they’re doing it.

Examples

  1. Asking for a thumbs up / thumbs down from students to see if they understand something.
  2. Looking over the shoulder at children’s work to see how they’re coming to their conclusions.
  3. Accepting ‘hands up’ questions at any point during an explanation or lecture.

58. Whole Group Class Discussion (a.k.a Circle Time)

Definition

A whole group class discussion gets all students in the class talking to one another in one group. When I use this strategy, I try to get students sitting in a conversation circle. The benefits of students sitting in a circle include:

  • There is a neutral power structure with no one at the head of the discussion.
  • All students can see one another.

Benefits

  • Whole class discussions encourage all students to develop the confidence to share their own views publicly.
  • If the whole class gets into it, there can be a lot of great back-and-forth.

Challenges

  • Often, the loudest and most confident students dominate the discussion.
  • Some students are too shy to speak up.
  • It is easy to embarrass a student, so be careful to be sensitive.

Examples

  1. Use a speaking stick so only one person speaks at a time. The only person who can speak is the person with the speaking stick.
  2. Use discussion circles so that all students can see each other when talking.
  3. If conversation is slow to start, consider asking individual students direct questions.
  4. Use open-ended questioning to force students to answer in full sentences.

59. Concentric Circles

Definition

Concentric circles is a method that builds on the whole group circle time discussion. Students sit in two concentric circles with the inner circle facing the outer circle. The students in the inner circle should be paired one-to-one with a student in the outer circle (like speed dating). 

The teacher poses a question and the pairs are given 60 seconds to discuss the problem. Then, the students from the inner circle rotate one person to the right so they are facing a new partner for the next question. 

Benefits

  • Disagreements about pairing and students working with their friends are resolved because each student gets a turn working with another student.
  • Students get to learn and communicate with other students they don’t usually spend time with.
  • Discussion can help students see perspectives that they did not come up with on their own.

Challenges

  • There needs to be an even number of students in the class so each student has a partner to work with.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: students learn by interacting with others to help them test, challenge and extend their own ideas.

60. Hot Seat

Definition

One student takes the role of a character from a book, history, etc. They dit in front of the class and get interviewed by their classmates. The student must stay in character and answer the questions from the perspective of that character.

Benefits

  • Students explore topics from perspectives other than their own, helping them to develop lateral thinking skills.

Challenges

  • Students need time to research their character and brainstorm their character’s perspectives on various topics before being put in the hot seat.
  • Shy students or students who are not confident with the material may be intimidated by this instructional strategy.

Examples

  1. This strategy can be linked up with strategies like De Bono’s thinking hats where students would answer questions from a particular perspective.

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