It is probably safe to say that most teachers desire to bring each of their students up to standard and effectively prepare them to advance to their next grade level or graduate ready to succeed in college or the work place. We are given a nice and neat list of learning standards, aligned assessments and a curriculum that ideally supports all of the above. We are armed with school and district systems that will address the needs of exceptional students at both ends of the learning spectrum. While these educational components are valuable, we can probably agree that they do not fully equip teachers to reach all learners. Further, they can even provide a false sense of security leading teachers to believe that all bases are covered. While most students might reach standard, it is not likely that all students are reaching their full learning potential. For this to happen, teachers must account for the different learning styles of their students. They must also understand the nature of specific content and how it lends itself (or does not lend itself) to certain instructional strategies. Through this class, I have come to understand that there are a variety of instructional strategies from which educators can pull in order to ensure that students are learning to their full potential.
One such strategy that I consider to be extremely useful is the Inductive Model. This strategy encourages students to generate ideas, analyze and make connections between the ideas, and describe the observed relationships. It is the process of reasoning from the particular to the general (Williams, 2013). Macauley (2004) states that “The mind of the child is made to search out connections in life and learning.” Since inductive reasoning is “the process of reasoning from the particular to the general” (Williams, 2013), Macauley’s remarks pertaining to a child’s mind align well to inductive teaching. A child will naturally seek to make connections between different bits of information (“particular”) and assimilate these connections to reach a broader understanding (“general”). The teacher’s job is to guide this assimilation and make the necessary tools available.
Concept Attainment is an instructional strategy that fosters inductive thinking wherein students observe and analyze exemplars (or examples) of objects or ideas that go together in some way. The goal is to have students create, test, and affirm hypotheses that state the possible category that is relevant to the exemplars. (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p.112) I was eager to use this strategy to teach a Social Studies lesson on needs and wants to a sample group of first graders. I have included links below to a description regarding how I will implement this strategy, notes regarding its actual implementation, as well as a lesson plan and video snapshot of Concept Attainment in action:
As I consider using this strategy in the future I will be cognizant of scaffolding student discussion so that it does not wander to areas that do not support the learning target. Additionally, I will focus use of this strategy on content that is more specialized and allows for a clearer distinction between “yes” and “no” exemplars.
The Jigsaw strategy is another instructional model that is a favorite of mine. It falls within the realm of the cooperative learning approach and fosters social interaction amongst the students. Gerlach 1994 and Vygotsky, 1978 have shown that learning can be maximized through well designed, intentional social interaction with others. (as cited in Dean et al., 2012, p. 37). This artifact, Strategy Entry 2, illustrates how Jigsaw could be incorporated into a third grade lesson on Scarcity. This strategy is also well supported through research as indicated in the Research Elements section of the above artifact. Further, Jigsaw lends itself well to the learning styles of many different students as it enables the teacher to strategically compose small groups that best fit the needs of the group members.
Going from learning about the various instructional strategies to actually trying some of them out in this class has moved me to a far greater understanding of how it is possible to reach all learners. I have also gained much insight into how valuable it is to reflect on the use of different instructional strategies, make note of my reflections, and interact with colleagues in order to get the full benefit of this professional development. Dell’Olio and Donk reflect this teacher’s frame of mind aptly when they write “Continuing reflection about your students’ learning and your own commitments as a teacher will help you analyze life in your classroom in greater depth and to your greater satisfaction.” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p.43)
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Denver, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Macauley, S. (2004). When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today. Retrieved July 6, 2013
Williams, T. (2013, July). Induction models of instruction. Survey of instructional strategies. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA