Posts tagged ‘Instructional Strategies’

Social Studies Stations

I had the opportunity to team teach a lesson in a 6th grade Social Studies class today.  The teacher and I decided to use stations for the structure.  The material was not new (ancient Egypt) so we didn’t have to worry about presenting new information.  We wanted to give the students the opportunity to “play” with the content and review what they knew.

We developed three different station activities with four actual stations.  One of the activities was longer and needed a little more time to complete.

The activities were a 9 square game, decoding hieroglyphs, and creating a foldable using Egyptian cartoons.  Each group would have about 11 minutes to complete a station based on the amount of time in the class.

9 square answer key and student copy

9 square answer key and student copy

Student attempt at answering 9 square puzzle.

Student attempt at answering 9 square puzzle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decoding Hieroglyphs

Decoding Hieroglyphs

Creating foldable for Egyptian cartoons.

Creating foldable for Egyptian cartoons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the students came into the classroom, I had four steps written on the board.  The teacher wanted them to copy down the lesson objective and I wanted them to get out a blank sheet of paper.  I learned a couple of new brain based strategies at the NMSA conference this past week.  One of them that struck me was that we can hold about 10 things in our short term memory at a time.  The speaker (Dr. Kagan) suggested that instead of a warm-up we have students write down everything that is going on in their brain when they first come into class (all the things that are bothering them, what they just learned, what they need to do after school, what they need to remember, ect).  Sort of clear out the short term memory.  I explained to the students why we were doing this and how I would not want the paper.  I gave them one minute to write, but had to extend it as they kept making their list for over two minutes.  I was amazed about how serious they took this activity.  When they finished, I began explaining the stations and they seemed more focused.  I will definitely use this activity again.  I am thinking about having my students do this every day before class.

I then began explaining the various stations.  When I am explaining various activities, I explicitly state what they will and will not do.  I show them the actual materials that they will use to complete the activities.  I make sure that I have an example for them to follow at each station.  I then took them out to their table in the pod area.

Pod area set up for stations

Pod area set up for stations

They immediately began working.  We made sure that we checked in with each station at the beginning of each rotation to make sure that they understood exactly what they needed to do.  The level of engaged conversation was really incredible.  The 9 square game was by far the most difficult activity, but students also had to work hard to find the information from the cartoons and decode the hieroglyphs.  Out of two classes and almost 50 students, I had one student in one class that was not engaged.  It turned out he just didn’t understand exactly what he needed to do and hadn’t asked another group member or a teacher.

Students working in stations.

Students working in stations.

Another view

Another view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the class period, I had students return to the classroom and write one thing they learned and one question that they still had on the back of their foldable and turn it in.  This was an exit card and a way for us to assess what they knew and what they were still struggling with.  The foldable can also be used as a review for an assessment.

As an additional exit ticket, I asked each student as they left to tell me one thing they learned.

Overall, we were really pleased with the activity.  The students were engaged in meaningful dialog about the topic and were focused for the entire 45 minutes.  This activity just reminded me how much I like stations.  There is a lot of prep work, but when that is finished, you just facilitate during class periods.  It is a great way to teach.

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Language Acquisition Theories

    Second-language acquisition (SLA) is a learner’s process of learning a non-native language. This exact process is still unknown after much research. (Columbia University Press, 2003) However, there are many theories of learning that address SLA. Below the author takes an in-depth look at the behaviorist, information processing, and constructivist theories as they apply to SLA. A brief description of the role of the facilitator and learner, classroom instructional strategies, and assessments will help the reader distinguished the similarities and differences between the theories.

 

Facilitator Role

Behaviorist: The behaviorist theory defines the role of a facilitator as one who structures the learning environment through various antecedents and consequences. (Newby, et. al., 2006) The facilitator provides clear and concise objectives and goals for the lesson.

 

Information Processing: From the viewpoint of the cognitive, information processing theory, a facilitator’s role is to present information in an organized format. Facilitators of English learners also use visual and kinesthetic props and vary their speech by speaking slower, word choice, or shortening the length of their sentences.

 

Constructivist: The constructivist provides opportunities for learners to construct knowledge through discovery, project-based instruction, and real-world problems. The facilitator acts as a coach or support to the learner instead of an expert of the language.

 

Learner Role

Behaviorist: Learners within a behaviorist classroom are responsible for responding appropriately to commands or antecedents provided by the facilitator. In the audiolingual method, learners repeat oral and pattern drills. Total physical response (TPR), a method that is also used, requires learners to move as commands are announced. (Diaz-Rico, 2004)

 

Information Processing: The roles of the learner are addressed in three stages as described by the Natural Approach. In the preproduction stage, learners learn to identify words and rely on clues and nonverbal signals. Secondly, learners enter the pre-production stage where they begin to respond using single words and two- and three-word phrases. Speech emergence is the third stage resulting in more complex communication. Lastly, learners enter the intermediate fluency stage. This stage represents the learner’s ability to participate in conversations with English speakers. (Diaz-Rico, 2004)

 

Constructivist: Within the constructivist learning environment, learners are responsible for working with other students to investigate, discover, and produce reasonable results to real-world problems. Learner responses often drive lesson content and instructional strategies. The learner works alongside classmates and the facilitator in order to construct understanding. (Diaz-Rico, 2004)

 

Instructional Strategies

Behaviorist: One strategy traditional behavioralists use is the grammar-translation method. This method requires the facilitator to explain vocabulary words, phrases, and sentence structure. A second strategy is the audiolingual method. Students repeat pattern drills that are scaffolded. As the learner masters the drill, he then begins the next pattern. A third strategy, TPR combines language and movement. Direct learning “emphasizes…learning of facts, sequences steps, or rules” (Diaz-Rico, 2004, p.35). Master learning is another type of behaviorialist instruction, which divides a course “into small units with specific objectives. Students progress at their own rate” (Diaz-Rico, 2004, pp. 35-36) as they master each proceeding step.

 

Information Processing: Graphic organizers are a visual method of organizing information, which is essential for cognitive theorist. Color codes help the learner distinguish between words with various sounds. Questioning is another strategy used to develop the learner’s thinking process. “Active processing, through such activities as questioning and genuine reflection, allows learners to internalize learning in such a way that is personally meaningful” (Diaz-Rico, 2004, p. 42). Storytelling is a strategy that reaches a student emotionally. Facilitators of English learners often use visuals to help learners make connections to the language.

 

Constructivist: Cooperative grouping is used so that learners are working together towards a common goal. Within cooperative groups, learners are often presented with project-based instructional assignments requiring research and discovery resulting in a presented project. Instructional strategies used in the constructivist classroom vary in response to the learner’s interest and learning style.

 

References:

Diaz-Rico, L. (2004). Teaching English Learners: Strategies and Methods. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

 

Language acquisition. (n.d.). The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from Answers.com Web site: http://www.answers.com/topic/language-acquisition

 

Newby, T., Stepich, D., Lehman, J., & Russell, J. (2006). Educational Technology for Teaching and Learning (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.