I. What strategies for teaching later years students appeal to you? Why these ones – is it because of your preferred style of learning?
I see my strategy to incorporate enjoyment for students and teacher alike. With students engaged in the class (i.e. not being distracted or bored), the learning experience is enriched for all. Engaged students are less likely to have behaviour issues. Enjoyment and engagement is a result of well-prepared classes, inclusion of humour/silliness/entertainment to exchange understanding and initiate learning exploration. To appeal to the variety of learning styles within classes, I would incorporate a number of techniques that resonate with the students.
With the use of comparison matrix as it is commonly used in the workplace to record information to compare and contrast particular features or attributes of ideas, plans, items etc. An example could include using a well-known music player such as iTunes where the song and selectable attributes appear in a table to include artist, album, year of production, length, song-writer etc. The user can discount information that is not important or relevant for the task (e.g. may ‘hide’ unwanted fields such as ‘genre’, ‘beats per minute’ etc.).
To assess the transfer of a concept or information, taking time for the students to visualise and report what is happening/happened in a text or concept and produce an output will allow them to explore their own understanding. Some will be able to re-tell in detail, others will be able to write, others might be able to draw a diagram or a combination of the above and this will reflect their learning experience. Especially when deciphering texts and concepts this strategy will reflect not only the exchange of information, but the students’ understanding.
Graphic Thinking Organizers
This method is useful as it can incorporate what the students already know, what they need to know and the connections between related concepts. To introduce this, I would refer later years students with nearly any crime/detective show on TV where the suspects and victims are depicted on a board and connections are made as to their relationship or discounting them. This method could be used to demonstrate a familiar topic (e.g. character and plot map of a familiar story such as Three Little Pigs) and express this graphically. Students may copy and annotate for their own record the organiser so as to shape the understanding for themselves. There are a number of online tools (such as MindMap) to create electronic versions of this.
Make your own notes about these strategies and how you think you would be able to use them in your teaching.
Note taking is important as it summarises the information given in a lesson for future learning and assists in the revision of the lesson. Obviously, not all information that is given in a lesson can be transcribed in a class (it changes the shape and focus of the lesson from a learning experience to one of dictation) so it needs to be structured as a prompt for further investigation or point to review resources. There are a few different methods with some cross-over depending on the learning styles of the student (i.e. incorporating colour, font styles, diagrams etc.)
This method helps students outline the main and sub-topics discussed in a classroom. The hierarchy allows for important information to ‘appear’ so by being located in the ‘important’ section of the page (e.g. left-most side for main points). This can easily be achieved with a program such as Word using the Heading Styles, tabs and bullet.
To introduce this, I would incorporate a story/topic the students were already familiar with (could be a nursery rhyme, or text previously studied). Discussing the text in a group and producing a sample notes page on the whiteboard is a good idea. Showing good note-taking techniques (i.e. keeping information in a context, structured and adhering to a hierarchy) will assist students develop their own note-taking skills in future.
The Cornell method is a way of arranging the notes page prompting action from the student to review and reflect as a way of improving the retention and comprehension of the class content. This method is important for the ‘motivated’ learner – i.e. one who understands the importance of note-taking and revision/review for later assessment. This is important for later years’ students as it prompts the further investigation. Effective instruction of this method ensures the timely follow-up and completion of subsequent research to respond to the questions.
Designed around a central theme, the mind-mapping tool is a visual tool to demonstrate content. This can appeal to visual learners with the break-down of complex ideas into sub-content and streams. It shows the relationship of existing knowledge and puts this into a visual representation. This can assist in the planning of essays and projects where ‘branches’ of the main idea can be discussed as sections, paragraphs, chapters etc. and marked when investigated, discussed or discounted as appropriate for the task.
Where a class engages in conversation, there is an opportunity for the teacher to gauge the understanding, or at times misunderstanding, of the content. Using well placed questions and prompts, the teacher can direct the discussion to where the known and unknown and other students may be able to assist others in their understanding and development of their own understanding and view.
Vocabulary is important as each subject area and content area has words, phrases and jargon that students will need to learn as part of their understanding of the learning. As the student develops the understanding of not only the word, but its meaning and uses it appropriately this indicates a level of learning about the concepts and words within that topic. Introducing key words to students is important as they can build their understanding through the important parts of a topic. This enables assessment by a teacher through reflective tasks such as a class discussion (e.g. where the students discuss a text and call the characters by name) where they have adopted the words to assist in not only their understanding but explanation.
II. Read the following articles, noting points of interest and useful ideas you could incorporate in your teaching.
The first article has a focus on how to encourage a deep learning through three different approaches. While the focus of the article is university students, parallels can easily be drawn with later years students.
What’s the difference between a deep approach, a surface approach and an achieving approach to learning?
|Deep||Intrinsically motivated; develop an understanding and create their own meaning; make links to previous knowledge and widen their knowledge-base; inspire a curiosity to explore further (life-long learning)
Encouraged by: engaging the students’ previous knowledge and experiences; allowing students to decide aspects of the course (contents and assessments); providing feedback rather than a mark; engaging students’ minds with questioning techniques;
|Surface||Students learning to pass exams – learn just enough to get through the exam and purge the information; Use of memory and repetition of information; “Is this going to be on the exam?” Turn off when information isn’t ‘needed’.
|Achieving||Competitiveness; challenge themselves by ‘training’ towards the exam/assessment through organising and allocating time to train/study; When used with deep learning, usually leads to subject success.|
The next article looks at some strategies for developing deep learning.
Teaching practice – Promoting deep learning
The RMIT (2014) articles discuss points similar to other research (Lublin, 2003) whereby the teacher’s enthusiasm and questioning techniques can have a profound effect on the depth of learning for a student. Applicable to later years students, where the students are generally interested in their subjects as they have chosen some or all of them, the options and decision-making about the direction of their learning is key in developing a deeper understanding – not surface learning to pass a final exam. Motivation of students (Baeten, Kyndt, Struyven, & Dochy, 2010) and providing supportive environments for their learning is important for developing the deeper learning skills.
The third article discusses the value of questions in the thinking and learning process.
The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning
This article looks at the importance of delving into content, rather than just accepting that there is one answer for each question. It discusses the importance of helping students develop an understanding through a teacher’s questioning techniques to provoke thought and further investigation. The student then develops further meaning and organises the information to create meaning.
This blog discusses the issue of how to read textbooks for meaning. Importantly, it outlines how teachers can assist students who may not be familiar with reading textbooks and recommends strategies such as ‘chunking’ (where the teacher familiarises themselves with the content and focusses student attention on specific chapters or pages), ‘revision’ (develop activities in class where the students are able to use the information contained in the textbook in discussions with their classmates) and helping students to develop study skills to ensure they understand the content. Pells (2016) recent article discusses the failure of UK university students to read textbooks with the academics posturing that the students don’t know how to prioritize information from textbooks whilst the student body blaming the assessment culture for this experience. By helping our students in later years to develop skills to help prioritise and arrange information, we can assist their further learning skills for later in life.
All teachers are teachers of literacy and we cannot assume that all later years’ students have the skills to read for meaning. A search of the internet will reveal lots of resources which describe different stages of teaching reading. There is a great resource on the NSW BOSTES website for teachers, student and parents called Learning through reading and writing.
The resource describes four strategies for high school teachers to use to develop students’ reading and writing skills preparing for reading, detailed reading, note-making and joint construction. This process can be used for later years students as well.
To overcome issues in reading in later years students, NSW BOSTES has come up with a strategy consisting of:
|1. Preparing for reading||This step helps initiate curiosity by helping identify and prepare connections the student has with existing knowledge and understanding. It is recommended that the teacher discuss some to the key topics of the text so that students identify these at they read the text.
|2. Detailed reading||Identify key pieces of information (words or phrases) which can give extra meaning to the read text. This might be to discuss or define these points within the class or further research for meaning.
|3. Note-making.||As this is a group activity, students are actively participating in the note making by writing notes on the board and/or copying this to their own workbooks.
|4. Joint construction||This is where the revised text is recorded providing for further understanding. The professional teacher is to provide an appropriate level of scaffolding to ensure the information is sorted and utilised in a logical and useful manner.
III. Read the following articles, compiling a list of strategies you could use to encourage active listening in your students.
Strategies for encouraging active listening:
Practice – introduce to the students the idea of active listening and discuss how to develop these skills. Students may not be aware of active listening as a concept and rely on a teacher’s experience to assist them with this important learning and skill (Taherkhani, 2011).Fun can be had in delivering ‘non-verbal’ communication and role-play this to identify how good listening body language is receptive compared to negative body language.
Environment – create a respectful listening environment by doing away with distractions and waiting until there is appropriate silence within the classroom before delivering speech. Remove obstacles such as boredom through well-planned lessons.
Lead by example – use the skills of active listeners by modelling behaviours such as showing full attention to students when they are speaking, paraphrasing their questions and comments (this is a good tool when delivering to a classroom as all students may not have heard the content initially) and being sincere – i.e. responding without sarcasm etc.
Non-verbal signs – showing receptive body language such as smiling (or reflecting the mood of the content where appropriate – e.g. surprise, shock) and leaning slightly toward the speaker attentively.
Verbal signs – seeking clarification of points made during the speech, paraphrasing the question in a response, summarising the points made etc. (SkillsYouNeed.com, 2016)
The concept of ‘Wait time’ enables the teacher to engage all thinkers in the classroom, not just the most extroverted or exuberant trying to please with the quickest and as evidence suggests, not always the best response to a question. With wait time, there is an expectant pause in the usual humdrum of classroom activity and it focuses students’ minds on the question at hand. Wait time encourages all students to contemplate their response and the deeper thinking students are given an opportunity to develop an answer in their own mind without the pressure of urgency from peers.
Whilst we have been socially engineered to reduce wait time in normal conversations, the use of wait time in the classroom allows for not only students to consider their response in the normal flow of a conversation, but a teaching using a pause before speaking demonstrates a level of deeper thinking – modelling good learning behaviour for the students (Ingram & Elliott, 2016)
V. Identify 3 active learning strategies you can use with later years students in your subject area. An internet search will give many subject specific examples.
activating prior knowledge
Explore the existing understanding of concepts prior to their introduction to the classroom with such questions as “What do you know about…?” or “When you hear the term (x), what does that mean to you?” to build a knowledge profile of the class and direct learning around this. This is an opportunity to correct inaccurate or erroneous information before the ‘new’ information is approached for learning.
Chunking involves the break-up of large, complex concepts and workloads into manageable chunks –or to put it another way, ‘How would you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’. This is a way to help students organise and priorities new and existing information for their learning. Key points for primary learning can be identified in the initial ‘chunks’ and those of lower priority can be investigated at another time.
Building on the existing knowledge and experience of the student, elaborating helps create links between the new concepts and knowledge with that which the student already holds. When introducing new content, the teacher guides the student through their existing, familiar knowledge and builds on this by comparing and contrasting the new information.
|ACS Distance Education (2011) ‘Home > Info > Education > Trends & Opinions > Listening Skills’ Retrieved from: http://www.acs.edu.au/info/education/trends-opinions/listening-skills.aspx
|Artze-Vega, I. (2012) ‘Active Listening: Seven Ways to Help Students Listen, Not Just Hear’ Retrieved from: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/active-listening-seven-ways-to-improve-students-listening-skills/
|Baeten, Marlies, Kyndt, Eva, Struyven, Katrien, & Dochy, Filip. (2010). Using Student-Centred Learning Environments to Stimulate Deep Approaches to Learning: Factors Encouraging or Discouraging Their Effectiveness. Educational Research Review, 5(3), 243-260.|
|Bergmann, J., Sams, Aaron, & Ebsco. (2012). Flip your classroom reach every student in every class every day (1st ed.). Eugene, Or. : Alexandria, Va.: International Society for Technology in Education ; ASCD.|
|Bonk, C., & Graham, Charles R. (2005). The Handbook of Blended Learning Global Perspectives, Local Designs. Hoboken: Wiley.|
|Boyles, N. (2003). From sparse to specific: Teaching students to write quality answers to open-ended comprehension questions. New England Reading Association Journal, 39(2), 16-22.|
|Foundation for Critical Thinking (2013) The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning Retrieved from: http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-role-of-questions-in-teaching-thinking-and-learning/524|
|Ingram, J., & Elliott, V. (2016). A critical analysis of the role of wait time in classroom interactions and the effects on student and teacher interactional behaviours. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46(1), 37-53.|
|Lorcher, T. (2014) Make the Best of Class Time with Cornell Notes Retrieved from: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/6561-make-the-best-of-class-time-with-cornell-notes/|
|Lublin, J (2003) Centre for Teaching and Learning Good Practice in Teaching and Learning: Deep, surface and strategic approaches to learning Retrieved from: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/ldc/development/pga/introtandl/resources/2a_deep_surfacestrategic_approaches_to_learning.pdf|
|Munro, J, (2012) ‘Improving literacy in the secondary school : An information to knowledge innovation’ The University of Melbourne. Retrieved from: https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/literacyld/Art_D_Brydon__04__sec_sent_.pdf|
|NSW BOSTES (2014) ‘Learning through reading and writing: information for teachers and schools’ Retrieved from: http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/7-10-literacy-numeracy/pdf-doc/literacy-teachers-brochure.pdf|
|Pells, R. (2016 Apr 16), ‘University students are struggling to read entire books’ The Independent Retrieved from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/university-students-are-struggling-to-read-entire-books-a6986361.html|
|RMIT University (2014) Teaching practice – Promoting deep learning Retrieved from: https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/bus/public/transnational/pdf/Teaching%20practice%20-%20Promoting%20deep%20Learning.pdf|
|SkillsYouNeed.com (2016) ‘Active Listening’ Retrieved from: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html
|Swiderski, Suzanne M. (2011). Transforming Principles into Practice: Using Cognitive Active Learning Strategies in the High School Classroom. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 84(6), 239-243.|
|Taherkhani, R. (2011). Active and Passive Students’ Listening Strategies.Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(3), 705-708.|
|Vander Ark, T. (2013.1) Leading for Deeper Learning: 10 Proven Strategies Retrieved from: http://gettingsmart.com/2013/08/leading-for-deeper-learning-10-proven-strategies/|
|Vander Ark, T. (2013.2 ) Deeper Learning–Not Just for Honor Students Retrieved from: http://gettingsmart.com/2013/08/deeper-learning-not-just-for-honor-students/|