EducationWorld is pleased to present this article contributed by Mary Fineday, who writes for OnlineSchools.com on a variety of education topics.
Inspire students and improve every lesson plan in your book by implementing simple evidence- based strategies. Involving everything from new technology to simple psychological tricks that support students at all levels, the following lesson “booster shots” help engage young people while increasing their information retention.
1. Simulate to Stimulate
Students learn in different ways. Some can absorb every piece of information presented in a lecture, others can easily understand concepts they read, and others benefit from a more interactive approach. With computer simulations, teachers can loop in visual and interactive thinkers. Science simulations might show a plant’s development or chemical reaction, while social studies students might engage in a mock trial or discover the effects of population growth. These simulations go beyond simple games, offering high-level concepts in a digital environment. For more on this topic, see EducationWorld’s Simulations Engage Students in Active Learning.
2. Give Students a Map
Frame each day’s lesson with a list of things students can expect to consider and learn over the course of the day or week. Present the list in a way that gets them excited for learning. For example, students might question the relevance of learning the details of the genetic code and how it is translated into proteins within cells, but they might be more intrigued at the idea that they will spend the day learning how their DNA could determine their cancer risk or the traits of their future children.
3. Have Patience
Patience is a virtue, and it’s also a sign of a successful lesson plan. In his book Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice, Robert E. Slavin notes that teachers tend to move on too quickly from students whom they perceive to be low achievers, a practice which communicates to students that the teacher has a low standard for them. Once the student perceives that he or she is not held to a high standard, the cycle of low achievement continues. Teachers can make a conscious effort to change the trend by simply waiting students out after asking a question. This communicates that the teacher has confidence in their ability to formulate a response. Read about this strategy in a post from Steve Haberlin, educator in a gifted classroom and EducationWorld Community blogger.
4. Flip the Classroom
The latest trend in education could work for your students. Record a week’s worth of video lectures for your students to watch at home. Each class, they come prepared for group work and independent exercises with the day’s lesson already complete. Students appreciate the chance to schedule their lecture time and re-watch confusing parts, while you get more of a chance to interact with students. The flipped classroom is designed to prioritize interaction with teachers and to create a more personal day of learning. Dig deeper with the EducationWorld articles The Flipped Classroom Trend and Favorite Tools for Online Learning.
5. Randomize the Response
Asking for volunteers is considered standard practice during a lesson, but education research suggests it might hold students back. When the same students volunteer information, their peers might listen to the interaction, but they have a chance to tune out and disengage. Calling on students randomly makes it more likely that students will pay close attention to the material. Pairing random interaction with the patience to wait for a response challenges students and helps cultivate the best environment for student interaction.
6. Optimize Independent Work
Giving students the chance to work independently can be incredibly effective. Once students have a grasp of the material, give short assignments with clear instructions and a firm deadline. Avoid interruptions and monitor their work. At the end of the independent work time, be sure to collect assignments and count them in students’ overall grades, ensuring accountability.
Challenge Yourself to Improve Every Lesson
Implementing the above strategies will take a little practice and preparation, but will pay dividends in the classroom. You hold the potential to improve student achievement, increase their participation and bring slower learners back into the daily lesson. These tips don’t require an entirely new lesson plan, and the technology you need to create simulations or flipped classrooms might already be available in your school. With a few small changes, you could revolutionize how your students learn.
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