Program Standard #2: Instruction
How do teachers meet the needs of all of their students? What kind of ways can teachers engage their students to ensure that they are meeting standards and learning goals? How can teachers support students with varying learning abilities and needs? The answer to all these questions can be summed up in one answer: use research-based instructional practices. While the answer may sound simple enough, understanding how to implement and balance such practices can be more of a challenge. The following research-based instructional practices were taught in the course Content Methods. I have included a brief summary of the instructional practices we were taught in the course, why they are important and a suggestion of how it may be implemented.
Teachers should assess each of their student’s prior knowledge of content by using informal assessments such as lesson review, question/answer and content pre-tests. Using these types of informal assessment can help a teacher determine how to plan instructions as well as modify lessons to meet students needs. Likewise, understanding student assets is also beneficial. If a teacher understands the community a student comes from they are able to connect valuable cultural comedies to teaching instruction.
Teaching Academic Language
A teacher needs to be able to determine what sort of academic language is needed during instruction that is aligned with learning targets and tasks. Academic language instruction should include the vocabulary of the content subjects, the syntax and text structures. The article, “Developing Academic Language: Got Words?” explains that teachers should be highly selective about which words to teach and provide multiple encounter with the target words. In addition teachers should provide students direct instructions on how to infer word meaning (Flynt and Brozo, 2008, page 500).
Scaffolding and Supporting a Variety of Learners
If teaches have background knowledge of their students, then it is easier to determine how to scaffold and support each student. Theories and ideas such as the Piagetian theory that “students should be provided tasks just a bit beyond their current competence”, as well as the related Vygotskian idea that “teaching should in the zone of proximal development and scaffold” should navigated a teacher’s choice in planning scaffold instruction (Child and Adolescent Development for Educators, 2007, p. 264). Furthermore, teachers should make sure to provide information in a variety of ways to meet the varied learning needs of their students by providing them not only with visual representation of what they are learning but also a hands on activity like note taking, using graphic organizers and manipulatives (The Art and Science of Teaching, 2010, p. 32).
Providing and Responding to Feedback
This is often overlooked when it comes to teaching instruction. It is easy enough to give a grade on the top of a paper, but it is so much more effective to give specific feedback on what a student did well on and/or areas that may need improvement. Providing feedback can be given in written or oral forms.
Teachers can enhance their instructions by thoughtfully eliciting and building on student responses in way to develop and deepen content understanding. This is one of my favorite areas of instructions. In Doug Lemov’s (2015) book Teach Like a Champion he explores research based strategies and techniques that enhance student participation and engagement with content. Some of the strategies he suggests for deepening student knowledge are: think-pair-share (page 324), quick writes (page 282) and prompting questions (page 318).
Reflection is beneficial for both teachers and students. Reflection is a valuable tool for teachers to use in order to improve and modify lessons. Reflection also aids in assessing what types of techniques and strategies need to be implemented in order to enhance students learning. The second way reflection can be utilized in teaching instruction is by teaching students how to reflect on their own learning. I have found that exit tickets are a great way to elicit student reflection. Having students pause and reflect on what they are learning is a wonderful way for students to process and connect what they have learned are learning and what they would like to learn.
It is important that teachers find the right balance of research based teaching instruction. It may seem overwhelming for new teachers to look at all the components of researched based instructions and figure out how to most effectively use them, but over time and with more practice teachers will discover balance and determine what works best for their class. The following links offer more specific examples of how a teacher might implement and use components of research based instruction:
Lesson plan example: Reading.TallTales
Tips to new teachers website:
Flynt E. and Brozo W. (2008), Developing Academic Language: Got Words? Retrieved from the Seattle Pacific Banner data base.
Lemov, D. (2015). Teach like a champion 2.0: 62 techniques that put students on the path to college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Marzano, R.J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Pressley, M., & McCormick, C.B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York: Guilford Press.