From the desk of John Walsh
What if your students had to perform every Friday night in a stadium of cheering fans? If you observe them preparing for that performance during the week, you will notice two key ingredients also found in a quality curricular lesson. The athletic skills utilized during practices are the number of repetitions each athlete practices for the skill they perform and the number of athletes engaged in performing that skill at any particular time during that practice session. Regardless of the sport you observe, these two attributes are always present at a high level. You will find the same two attributes in quality lesson designs for the classroom. Think about the implications of repetition and engagement in inclusive classrooms for collaborative teachers.
How can we apply the qualities of repetition and engagement to a collaborative classroom lesson? The answer is simple. A quality collaborative lesson utilizes these attributes through the use of instruction strategies, flexible grouping and the six approaches to collaborative teaching.
Any quality lesson begins with a quality planning session. But, how can we ensure that the lesson planned will produce the intended outcome?
The planning session should begin with the lesson objective. The lesson must duplicate the nouns and verbs identified in the objective. The noun defines what we will be learning and the verb tells us the action we must duplicate with that learning. Ex: Objective – The student will round answers to the tenths, hundredths, and thousandths place when dividing decimals. Therefore our lesson must give students the opportunity to practice rounding up to the thousandths place when dividing decimals.
Once the lesson objective has been clearly stated, an instructional strategy should be selected that enables the maximum number of students to practice the skill with the greatest number of repetitions. At all stages of the lesson; direct teaching, guided practice, checking for understanding, re-teaching if needed, and independent practice – identify the number of students that are actually working with the skill and the number of repetitions attempted while striving to acquire the new skill. Through the use of effective teaching strategies, the number of engaged students increases, therefore providing more time to produce an increase in the number of repetitions. Teaching strategies such as: Numbered Heads, Jig-Saw, Give-One Take-One, Quiz-Quiz-Trade, and Traveling Showdown all provide opportunities to increase the number of students practicing the skill and the number of repetitions with the skill through flexible grouping opportunities.
Through the use of parallel teaching, team teaching, station teaching and alternative teaching in conjunction with the teaching strategy already designed into the lesson, educators can increase academic learning time which in turn provides opportunities to increase the number of repetitions of the skill being taught. Educators should consider using one-teach/one-observe during the “check for understanding” phase of the lesson along with a strategy such as response cards. By following this up with alternative teach it provides the educator an opportunity to reteach students not yet ready for independent practice. While one teacher does the reteach activity the other teacher can assist students in the independent practice activity.
By increasing the number of students engaged at all phases of instruction and ensuring increased numbers of repetition during the academic learning time, students will be able to perform the newly acquired learning under the spotlight on a “Friday” night.