As educators, our planning must be INTENTIONAL and DELIBERATE so our instruction will be IMPACTFUL, CONSISTENT, and EFFECTIVE! Educators today are faced with a variety of challenges. Classrooms are more diverse. Demands for
Intentional & Deliberate Planning:
John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, in his 4th Law – The Law of Navigation – says that “first-rate navigators always have in mind that other people are depending on them, and their ability to chart a good course and the secret to successful navigators is preparation…” Educators must plan purposefully. Knowing where the students are expected to go on their journey in your class is as important as knowing from where they have come. Looking at data from students and understanding standards are as important as having the necessary content knowledge and pedagogical strategies.
As educators plan, consideration needs to be given to the diversity of learning styles and multiple intelligences found among the students, cultural diversities, language and reading challenges, as well as gaps that may be identified through data or pre-assessment. Differentiation and RtI are buzzwords that are used frequently today. The classroom teacher is Tier 1! Choosing resources that are rich, have a low threshold and a high ceiling, are engaging, and are cognitively demanding is necessary. Resources that provide opportunities for students to engage in writing and reflection are a priority given today’s more rigorous standards and expectations. Incorporating literature, trade books, and opportunities for reading are another priority when looking for resources. Students, in all disciplines, are building practices, the Habits of Mind associated with their particular content area. Resources that provide opportunities for students to engage in the Roles that Build the Habits of Mind are valued.
Effective questioning can be used to differentiate when students are engaged in a task or activity. Four opportunities for effective questioning have been identified for moving both the learner and the learning forward. (Opportunities for Questioning: Moving Both the Learner and the Learning Forward, whitepaper, Tammy L. Jones, Leslie A. Texas, 2013). Engaging in the activity or task as a student prior to assigning it to the class, offers the teacher a view from the students’ perspective. Tasks, such as Farmer Jones offer the opportunity to use these four types of questions.
Impactful, Consistent, & Effective Instruction:
So you have planned now what? In today’s classrooms, teachers are more often than not facilitating parallel structures. There is still a time and place for direct large group instruction. There is a greater emphasis on content delivered via computer. Students write on computers, practice on computers, create on computers, etc. Small group instruction is going on possibly simultaneously while student-led groups are working, or students are engaged in independent research. Students may be working in cooperative groups on a project.
Over the years, many teachers visited my classroom. There were no desks – only tables and chairs. No real “front of the room”. It was a community – a community of learning. Many teachers loved the concept, but what they did not realize was the time and effort that it took to create that environment. The environment in a classroom plays a large role in how impactful and effective the instruction is. As a teacher, like a parent, we must be consistent. Consistent with the delivery of our instruction, the management of our classroom and the expectations and treatment of our students. Remember that a rising tide raises all ships. Engaging students in effective discourse allows the opportunity for students to learn from other students. This can often be more powerful and impactful than if students hear the same thing from the teacher!
One of the challenges facing educators today is engaging students. Students just need some diversity during the development of a topic. Providing visuals, manipulatives, using color – even just colored paper when printing, making connections to previously learned material or to students’ interests, supporting vocabulary development, maintaining high expectations, and making cross-curricular connections, when possible, are but a few of the ways teachers can support student engagement. Offering choices to students in their assignments and in the products they produce to show evidence of learning are relatively easy to implement. Using Cubing, Think Dots and variations of these strategies offer students an engaging way to make choices while still leveling the learning for students who need it.
One of the new resources that is available to teachers is the TES website. Check out the teacher created materials that can be found here: https://www.tes.com/us Writing and Vocabulary, incorporating trade books and literature into the classroom, content delivery for all subjects and grade levels, as well as resources for librarians and parents are but a small sampling of the many resources available to teachers. Remember, taking the time to find a quality set of core activities, tasks, and resources that complement and supplement your curriculum materials as you are planning deliberately and intentionally will support your instruction be consistent, effective, and impactful.
Have a great school year and be sure to email if I can be of any support.
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This is a repost of an earlier blog from September 2015.