Monday, September 30, 2013

Another Instructional Change

I have spent the last several weeks unhappy with my lessons. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what I need to change in my presentation. Over the years, I have created the following routine during all of my lessons: I review with the students a concept from the previous lesson. Then, I provide an overview of how this skill will connect to the skills we will learn today and tomorrow. Next, I present the new skill for that day. Throughout the lesson, I provide several forms of evaluations to determine if the students are learning what I am teaching. Lastly, I summarize the key points that I want my students to take away from the lesson.

After some reflection, I realized my concern was centered on the number of students not completing assignments for homework. Several of those students claimed they "did not get it." Do not get me wrong, I know some of them just did not complete it and used that excuse. My worry was an increasing number of students being truthful about not understanding the lesson. I could not figure out why, since I provided several examples in class prior to assigning the practice at home.

My "light bulb" moment occurred during a recent conversation with @WHSRowe. During our conversation, Rik mentioned he delays homework until at least three days after introducing a new topic. During this time, he provides examples over a few days to help students become familiar enough with the topic to attempt the practice on their own. Sorry for the pun, but it was a very enlightening conversation for me.

Since our conversation, I have intentionally delayed home practice on topics until three days after introducing a new topic. In addition, I have made a commitment to starting each class with a student centered review where they can work in groups. This delaying concept has made several noticeable changes in my classes:

1. There is an increase in practice completion
2. I am able to provide more examples for the students to work through
3. There is an increase in students' grades for the practice
4. There has been a noticeable decrease in students claiming "I did not get it."

It has taken me a little bit of time to get use to the structural change of my lesson, but I am very pleased with the changes I have mentioned above over the last week. I have grown accustomed to integrating two problems from each of the last two days prior to introducing the new topic. It was a little tricky at first, but I have gotten use to it.

I think I have found the answer to my lesson dilemma. I am happy with the changes I have made. I am glad I gave Rik a call. He helped connect a lot of dots for me.

Please let me know if you made any lesson changes that increased student engagement or achievement...

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1 comment:

Garnet Hillman said...

Jim,
Great post! It is so important for us to keep student learning at the core of what we do each day. You are providing your students with great opportunities to practice their learning in a respectful way. Keep up the good work!

garnet