Today in my Ed Psych course I asked, “Why do we want students to participate in class?” The preservice teachers easily acknowledged that increased participation likely leads to increased mental engagement & having students hear ideas of other students has clear benefits concerning the language accessibility of the exchanges. I then asked, “What things can a teacher do to discourage/encourage participation?” While there are obvious answers, I think one of the more nuanced ideas related to valuing student ideas. When exploring this, we noted that teachers need to flexibly use student ideas, but doing so requires a very well developed pedagogical content knowledge. Leave a comment sharing how you encourage your students to participate in class discussion or other activities?
Last night I tried a new approach with one of my college classes. The course is about science education. We read an article that summarizes a high school science activity that addresses climate, heat capacity, investigation design, & the nature of science.
I first had students read the article to identify how the authors addressed the nature of science as well as missed opportunities. Then, they went back through the article to note places when the activity fit with learning theory. In a third reading, I asked the preservice teachers to identify teacher actions/behaviors that seemed important for the activity to work. Fourth, I had students investigate ways in which the authors addressed safety issues. In a final reading, we investigated how the article sought to teach the science content. That is, how the authors organize & scaffold content learning for students.
In between each reading, we discussed ideas & pros/cons of the activity in relation to the lens through which we had just viewed the article. I imagine most people would consider reading the same article 5 times would be redundant. I found the students’ ideas to grow in sophistication as we progressed & the different lenses provided new perspectives.
Each time we read the article, we embarked on a new inquiry into the nature of teaching. This kind of close reading is not often achieved & asking students to view the same reading through different lenses provided scaffolding for them to dig deeper into the piece. Imagine if we encouraged younger students to read so closely instead of quizzing them on mundane details*.
*when I wrote the phrase “mundane details” I immediately thought of Office Space. ;-)
To promote our goals for students, decisions must be made as to which content, activities, and strategies will most effectively guide students toward the desired end. When making these decisions teachers should consider how people learn as well as what their goals are for students. Generally, content and activities should be appropriate to students’ level of development, as well as directed toward confronting common student misconceptions. Read the rest of this entry »