Mahar recently had an all-day PD on Poverty and the Brain. Frankly, I expected a day full of hearing about the needs of our students with little practical use in the classroom. I was pleasantly surprised to experience a speaker who provided specific techniques that are backed by research and were modeled throughout the day. John Almarode kept us actively engaged and humored from 8AM until 3PM. Here are some of his main points and ways I hope to change my teaching style.
1. “Learners need opportunities to recall, reorganize, and make meaning of learning.” The “rule of three” says people need to recall something three times in order to retain the information. Having students repeat after me, then fill in a blank verbally a few minutes later, and one more time toward the end of the lesson will help ensure lasting recall. We did this as teachers and found it helpful, so this method is not below our higher achieving students.
John used the term “press and release” to explain how we need to give students an opportunity to process information every 15-20 minutes before continuing instruction. If this involves students getting out of their seats, all the better. Spiral- explain, discuss, recap, add new information. I have had the tendency to instruct for the first half of class then give students the second half to apply the new information with practice problems. I now want to try breaking up the 90-minute periods more and provide a greater variety of ways to demonstrate understanding, including visuals and manipulatives. Even though adding transitions may seem time consuming, the outcomes will likely show greater retention.
2. Each lesson should incorporate at least three of the following considerations.
- personal response
- clear and modeled expectations
- emotional safety
- social interaction
- sense of audience
- authenticity (not just a real-world example, but a common experience)
When we ask a class for ideas, expecting students to verbally respond in front of their peers, this can feel unsafe to some. As a safer alternative, have each student write down a few ideas then share with a partner. After this, ask a pair to share one of their ideas out-loud.
3. The key features for student success are the teachers’ collective view/expectations of the student, then the individual teacher’s expectations, and finally the student’s expectations of him/herself. Other factors that influence student success are. . .
It is critical that we provide our students opportunities to share their ideas with one another. This helps them process information in a low risk setting. It can also exposes the Illusion of Explanatory Depth. Until one has to explain something, it is easy to think you understand it better than you do.
I highly recommend John Almarod for PD at high-needs schools!