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91. Word Wall

Definition

Word walls are sections on the walls of a classroom where teachers and students can record new vocabulary, quotes or key terms they encounter during a unit of work.

Benefits

  • Word walls can be visible evidence of progression through a unit.
  • Students can refer to the word walls when trying to explain their points and ideas to the class.

Challenges

  • During exams, remember to cover the word walls so students can’t cheat by looking over at the answers.

Examples

  1. Word walls can be great props for refreshing students’ memories at the start of a lesson. Start the lesson by reviewing the vocabulary learned in the previous lesson.

92. Goal Setting

Definition

Goal setting involves explicitly instructing students on how to set short (within a lesson), medium (within a unit of work) and long term (through the year) personal targets for success.

The goals can be for a whole group or individual. 

Benefits

  • Goal setting gives students something to strive toward.
  • It is a way of gamifying education. Students can challenge themselves to reach their step by step goals.
  • It helps students understand where they are headed and what the purpose of the lesson is.

Challenges

  • Ensure goals are achievable lo that students do not become disillusioned. 

Examples

  1. Have students prepare their daily goals at the end of the previous day or start of the current day.
  2. Reflect on medium term goals weekly.

93. Worked Examples

Definition

A worked example is a completed piece of work that students can look to as models for their own work.

A worked example could be a sample of a completed diagram our 3D model, a completed essay or anything else that is a finished product of something the students are about to attempt.

Benefits

  • Students feel more secure knowing what they are working toward.
  • Students can get ideas from the worked sample that they can adapt for their Ken work.

Challenges

  • Sometimes students copy the sample too closely rather than using their own thinking. Consider using a sample that requires similar skills and processes but a different end product.
  • Make sure you spend time discussing the steps it takes from going from nothing to the completed product.

Examples

  1. Provide students with past examples of creative writing pieces and discuss the strategies used by the authors.
  2. Show samples that are good and poor. Get students to discuss how the poorer samples could be improved.

94. Multiple Intelligences

Definition

Students have different learning styles (or more accurately, different learning preferences).

One theory proposes that there are eight ‘intelligences’. A student may have one that is dominant and others that are weaker.

The eight intelligences are:

  • Visual-Spatial: Prefers learning through images and visual arts. Uses diagrams to model relationships between concepts. 
  • Linguistic-Verbal: Prefers learning through storytelling, reading and writing.
  • Interpersonal: Good at working in social situations, gets energy from social interaction, and can empathize with others easily. Enjoys group work.
  • Intrapersonal: An introverted person who prefers learning alone. They do a lot of thinking and reading but mostly like to think through things in their own time.
  • Logical-Mathematical: Sees patterns easily. Enjoys mathematical puzzles.
  • Musical: Enjoys learning through music, songs and rhymes.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: Learns through movement. Prefers lessons that require moving about.
  • Naturalistic: Has an affinity with nature. Learns well in calm natural environments.

A teacher can integrate different activities into a lesson plan that appeal to different people’s learning preferences. In this way, they create a more inclusive classroom for multiple different types of learners. 

Benefits

  • Inclusion: Teachers can use this theory to engage students who do not learn well in traditional lessons.
  • Attempts to be student-centered and teach in ways that are appealing to students. 

Challenges

  • In 2004, a detailed study in Scotland found no evidence or scientific toxic basis for the theory that different people have learning styles. Furthermore, it argued that the 8 styles in the multiple intelligences model were a arbitrarily contrived. Thus, learning styles may simply be learning preferences.
  • It is unclear whether a teacher should create lessons catered to a student’s learning preference or help students strengthen their skills in areas students identify as their weaknesses.
  • If students are not given a chance to practice all “styles” (not just their preferences) they may miss important skills, such as mathematical skills or literacy skills.

Theoretical Link

Howard Gardner: The theory of multiple intelligences was invented by Howard Gardner in the United States.

95. Non-Interventionism

Definition

Non-interventionism involves a teacher taking the role of ‘unobtrusive observer’ while students learn. The students are left to come to their own conclusions, face up to their own challenges, and ‘struggle’ through the lesson. 

The teacher’s intervention may come through changing what they plan for the next lesson based on what they see, or lightly intervening after the students have struggled for some time.

Other reasons for intervention may be for safety or fairness reasons.

Benefits

  • Struggling to find an answer is Important for learning. Students can make mistakes and learn why the mistakes are wrong instead of just being told what us correct. 
  • Without a teacher imposing their views, students can come up with creative and thoughtful solutions to problems that the teacher dis not foresee.
  • Students develop independent minds.

Challenges

  • Many parents and mentors watching your lesson may come away with a sense that you were lazy or did not do enough to help the students. This approach needs to be clearly explained and justified in lesson plans (I’d recommend referring to Montessori in your justification) and situations when you would go from observer to intervener should be spelled out in advance.
  • If students are struggling too much, learning may not occur – there is a limit to this approach!

Theoretical Link

Montessori Classrooms: The role of the teacher as “unobtrusive observer” was pioneered by Maria Montessori. 

Montessori argued that children learn best when placed in resource rich environments and left to explore. Our interventions may impede creativity, self-belief, autonomy and self-discovery.

96.Constructive Alignment

Definition

Constructive alignment involves explicitly linking the lesson assessment tasks to the compulsory learning outcomes in the curriculum.

This is an impressive thing to see in a lesson plan.

Use language (including verbs and nouns) from the learning outcome in the assessment task. Furthermore, make sure to provide a criteria for what constitutes pass or fail.

Benefits

  • Teachers can easily justify their lesson choices to their boss or assessor.
  • The assessment tasks are always relevant and focused.
  • Students can see the relevance of the assessment task to their learning goals.

Challenges

  • If the language of the curriculum objectives are complex or obtuse, it may just confuse students to use that language in their assessment task.

Theoretical Link

Biggs: Constructive alignment was invented by John Biggs who designed this method to ensure all lessons are relevant and move students a step closer to completing all learning outcomes.

97. Zone of Proximal Development

Definition

The ‘zone of proximal development’ is a phrase used to explain the ideal difficulty level for a lesson.

A lesson that is too easy won’t help a student progress.

A lesson that is too hard will disengage a student who just won’t be able to do the task.

But a lesson that is difficult but achievable with effort will push a student forward. These lessons that are just hard enough but not too hard are lessons in the “zone of proximal development”.

Benefits

  • Students get lessons catered to their own needs.
  • There is always catered support for any student in the class.
  • By creating lessons that are always challenging, you are setting high expectations for all students.

Challenges

  • Differentiation like this can lead to bug Differences in ability levels across the whole class.
  • You’re often under pressure to teach content that is too hard for students to meet standardized curriculum requirements 

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: Lev Vygotsky, one of the most famous educational psychologists, invented this approach to help teachers provide lessons that are at the right level for progressing a student’s learning.

Examples

  1. Weave the ZDP into a lesson plan by stating that you will assess a student’s current ability then teach them the thing that is the logical next.step.
  2. Another way to do this is create three student worksheets for three different ability levels. State in your lesson plan that you will assess each student’s ability and give them the appropriate worksheet. Each worksheet should build on the previous to help students move through their ZPD one step at a time.

98. Positive Reinforcement

Definition

Positive reinforcement is the use of praise, stickers, candy or other rewards to show students that they have done a good job.

Teachers can stack positive reinforcements so students can take steps to get small, medium and large rewards to encourage students to keep on trying and working hard consistently.

Benefits

  • Students get clear signals to know when they have done well.
  • Students get encouragement to keep going and keep trying in order to get the reward.

Challenges

  • Too much positive reinforcement can come across as insincere and lose students’ respect. Furthermore, students may become desensitized to praise if it occurs too much. Praise ‘scarcity’ makes occasional praise more valuable.
  • Explicit reinforcements are extrinsic motivation. The best sort of motivation is intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something for the pleasure of doing it). For more, see my full guide on intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Positive reinforcement is believed to be beneficial for changing behavior over time. See: John Watson’s operant conditioning theory.

Examples

  1. Sticker charts
  2. Praise
  3. A subtle nod or wink
  4. Certificates and awards
  5. A smile

99. Negative Reinforcement

Definition

Negative reinforcement involves the removal of a privilege, points or tokens when a student gets an answer wrong.

This is often confused with punishments. For me, negative reinforcements should not punish but be used in limited learning scenarios as part of the learning ‘game’.

An example might be losing points in a gamified lesson so the student is less likely to win against their opponents. Students know it is part of the game and not a punishment designed to distress the student. 

Benefits

  • Provides very clear messages to students about what is correct and incorrect, helping them to learn quickly.

Challenges

  • Parents often do not like any negative reinforces, so be very careful to set clear guidelines and use this strategy in limited circumstances.
  • Be careful not to embarrass students in front of their classmates.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Watson brought negative reinforcements into education, arguing that repeated use of them can change students’ behaviors.

Examples

  1. Losing points in a class contest.
  2. Failing a level in an educational computer game.

100. Drop Everything and Read

Definition

Drop everything and read (DEAR) involves getting students to stop what they are doing and read for 10 minutes.

It is a strategy that helps build students’ literacy skills (especially when students can choose their own book). However, it is also useful for helping students get more depth of knowledge on a topic being taught when you give them all an article or book to read to help them have more knowledge for subsequent parts of the lesson.

Benefits

  • An effective way of getting students to spend intense time learning about a topic.
  • Helps integrate literacy into your daily activities.

Challenges

  • There will always be a small group of students who squirm and struggle when asked to read. Consider alternatives like the Read Aloud strategy or using videos instead if DEAR doesn’t work for your class.
  • Make sure to follow up DEAR time with discussion and comprehension tasks.

Example

  1. Introduce a topic with initial information to engage the class.
  2. Set a 10 minute silent reading task based on the topic. 
  3. Discuss what was read with comprehension prompts.

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