Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SECRETS TO EFFECTIVE LESSONS

Effective lessons are really neither fable nor fantasy. Neither are they hit and miss, a product of chance. By bearing in mind these 5 truths, you too will be able to not only construct but replicate successful and effective lessons each and every time.

So what are these truths?

Learning occurs all the time
Our students are learning all the time. Everyone they come into contact with, either consciously or unconsciously, purposefully or inadvertently, teaches them something.

This also means that experiences are constantly being committed to their memories. Be it for the short or the long term, experiences are continually being etched into their lives.

Learning must be a deliberate construct
So if we want to leave our ideal experiences, our desired Key Learning and other such meaningful memories in their lives, we need to be deliberate with the way we help them construct meaning from their learning.

We need to help our students distill, from their prescribed learning, the things that will be relevant and important to them long after they have left the learning experience, so that the right knowledge will be retained for the long run.

Everything must point to the Key Learning
To achieve this, every aspect of the learning process must point to the Key Learning to be acquired.

The Essential Questions, or mid-point markers that help us chart the course of their learning, should also purposefully bridge the gap from where they are to where we want them to be.

The Desired Outcomes should also give us some assurance that because they are able to apply the knowledge or perform the skills, they have indeed acquired the intended Key Learning.

The tasks given to reinforce and measure the acquisition should also be accurate and give meaningful feedback on their learning. They should assess based on rubric that is appropriate to the task, level and circumstance that our students are in.

The activity should also become the platform on which all the desired outcomes are realized. And we should always bear in mind that it should be the outcomes that drive the activity.

Understand the audience
Teaching cannot be done independent of the student. Therefore, understanding our students underpins our ability to achieve all that we have mentioned thus far. We need to be aware of what drives them so that we can help them make the connection between their prescribed learning and their sources of motivation.

We also need to understand their circumstance and situation so that we can make meaningful and reasonable demands on them for their learning. By so doing, we hope that it will motivate them and increase the chances of long term retention.

Multi-disciplinary educators
Through this discussion, one thing that must have surfaced in your mind by now is that educators are increasingly called upon to become multi-disciplinary in ability and practice.

Our students are becoming increasingly varied in their interests and consequently, their drive. If we are to have any hope of giving them a meaningful education, not only must we help them make meaning of what we are teaching them, we sometimes have to help them draw the connections between our Key Learning and the learning they have received from other sources.

For example, in the chocolate factory owner role play mentioned earlier, the teacher had to be conversant with the importance of transportation costs in manufacturing. In the deforestation debate, the teacher would have to be familiar with the geopolitical situation of the country studied.

To compound the situation, not only must the teacher understand the concepts from areas not of his own, he must also convey these concepts to the students in a manner that is accessible and yet not excessively time consuming since it is nonetheless still merely extra, out of syllabus knowledge that is being imparted.

We are therefore constantly walking the tight rope in the circus that is today’s educational landscape, balancing the goal of education and the practical constraints of everyday life.

We succeed each and every time we decide to prioritize what is truly important - long term retention, over our own preferences and habits. By making the conscious effort to focus on helping our students retain Key Learning for the long term, we will be able to make learning more meaningful for them and therefore make our lessons more effective.

Understanding Education

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