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Non-Lecture Instructional Strategies Comments by R. Craig Collins © 2010
Includes definitions from "The complete Idiot'sGuide to Success as a Teacher" © 2005 by Anthony D. Fredericks, pages 117-123
(the following definitions comes from a portion of chapter 10: The Methods are the Magic)
Included below are several non-lecture instructional Strategies (for all grade levels...)
I have included a rating system. All instructional methods have their place, but my favorites have more symbols.
Visual Focus, Knowledge
In this format, you rely exclusively on the use of slides, movies, filmstrips, PowerPoint slides, photographs, illustrations, videos, or overhead transparencies. In contrast to a lecture, most of the information is presented visually, rather than orally.
In this format, students witness a real or simulated activity in which you use materials from the real world. These materials may include artifacts and objects used by individuals in a specific line of work; for example, microscopes (biologists), barometer (meteorologists), transit (surveyors), or word processing program (writers).
This format allows students to watch an event or occurrence take place firsthand. The only drawback is that sometimes unexpected and unplanned events happen over which you may have little control.
With field trips, you are able to take your students out of the classroom and into a new learning environment. (See Special Projects, Special Events).
This learning environment usually lasts for several hours or an entire school day.
Student Focus, Knowledge
In this setting, each student has an opportunity to share some information or ideas in a small group format. Everyone participates equally and taps into the collective wisdom of the group. See Cooperate in REACT
This format may include the personal interview, in which one person talks with another person. It may also involve the group interview, in which several people talk with a single individual.
Brainstorming can be a valuable instructional tool which you can incorporate into almost any lesson. Simply defined, it is the generation of lots of ideas (without regard for quality) about a single topic. This method is particularly appropriate at the start of a lesson to tap into the background knowledge students may or may not have about a topic. See Cooperate in REACT
Effective brainstorming is governed by four basic rules:
•Generate as many ideas as possible—the more the better.
•There is no evaluation of any single idea or group of ideas. There is no criticism about whether an idea is good or bad.
•Zany, wild, and crazy ideas are encouraged and solicited.
•Individuals are free to build upon the ideas of others.
Mental imagery is the creation of pictures in one's mind prior to reading printed material. Mental imagery helps students construct “mind pictures” that aid in comprehension and tie together their background knowledge and textual knowledge. After images are created (and colored by a reader's experiences), they become a permanent part of long-term memory.
Mental imagery works particularly well when the following guidelines are made part of the entire process:
•Students need to understand that their images are personal and are affected by their own backgrounds and experiences.
•There is no right or wrong image for any single student.
•Provide students with sufficient opportunity to create their images prior to any discussion.
•Provide adequate time for students to discuss the images they develop.
•Assist students in image development through a series of open-ended questions (“Tell us more about your image.” “Can you add some additional details?”).
One of the objectives of any lesson is to provide opportunities for students to pull together various bits of information to form a new whole or basic understanding of a topic. This process underscores the need for students to actually do something with the information they receive.
Small Group Discussions
Here, the class is divided into small groups of two to four students. Each group is assigned a specific task to accomplish. The group works together, and members are responsible for each other. (See What Is Cooperative Learning, and What Does It Do? for additional information.) See Cooperate in REACT
Discussions are a useful strategy for stimulating thought as well as providing students with opportunities to defend their position (s). Your role in these discussions is that of a moderator. You can pose an initial question, supplemental questions when the discussion falters, or review questions for a group to consider at the end of a discussion. It's important that you not take an active role in the discussions, but rather serve as a facilitator.
Through experimenting, ideas are proved or disproved, and predictions confirmed or denied. Experimentation involves manipulating data and assessing the results to discover some scientific principle or truth. Students need to understand that they conduct experiments every day, from watching ice cream melt to deciding on what clothes to wear outside based on the temperature. In the classroom, they need additional opportunities to try out their newly learned knowledge in a wide variety of learning tasks.
A graphic organizer is a pictorial representation of the relationships that exist between ideas. It shows how ideas are connected and how ideas are related to each other. It is the basis for all forms of comprehension. By definition, comprehension is an understanding of how ideas or concepts are assembled into groups.
For example, if I asked you to assemble a list of vegetables (vegetables is the group) you might list some of the following:
broccoli, squash, beans, peas, corn, pumpkins, etc. Each of these items is a member of the vegetable group. Thus, you comprehend vegetables because you understand how all those individual vegetables are related to each other.
Graphic organizers assist students in categorizing information. Most important, they help students understand the connections between their background knowledge and the knowledge they're learning in class.
One widely used graphic organizer is semantic webbing. Semantic webbing is a visual display of students' words, ideas, and images in concert with textual words, ideas, and images. A semantic web helps students comprehend text by activating their background knowledge, organizing new concepts, and discovering the relationships between the two. A semantic web includes the following steps:
1. A word or phrase central to some material to be read is selected and written on the chalkboard.
2. Students are encouraged to think of as many words as they can that relate to the central word. These can be recorded on separate sheets of paper or on the chalkboard.
3. Students are asked to identify categories that encompass one or more of the recorded words.
4. Category titles are written on the board. Students then share words from their individual lists or the master list appropriate for each category. Words are written under each category title.
5. Students should be encouraged to discuss and defend their word placements. Predictions about story content can also be made.
6. After the material has been read, new words or categories can be added to the web. Other words or categories can be modified or changed, depending on the information gleaned from the story.
In this situation, the class, small groups, or individuals are given a problem or series of problems and are directed to find an appropriate solution. It is important to include problems for which the teacher does not have a preordained answer. (See Problem- Solving for additional ideas.) See Transfer in REACT
In this instance, temporary groups are formed for the purpose of discussing a specific topic. The emphasis is on either the background knowledge students bring to a learning task or a summary discussion of important points in a lesson.
Having a lot of knowledge is one thing. Being able to pull together bits and pieces of knowledge is another thing. But the crux of
a good lesson is the opportunities for students to use their knowledge in productive, hands-on learning tasks.
This method is one in which each student has an opportunity to use previously learned material on a specific academic task. For
example, after learning about the short a sound, first-grade students might each locate short a words in a book they can read on
their own. Or after learning about how to determine the square root of a number, students might figure out the square roots of a
column of numbers from their math textbook.
Usually conducted at the conclusion of a lesson, debriefing allows students to condense and coalesce their knowledge and
information as a group or whole class. It is an active thinking process. See also MUD
In this event, a student (or students) takes on the role of a specific individual (a historical person, for example) and acts out
the actions of that person as though he were actually that person. The intent is to develop a feeling for and an appreciation of
the thoughts and actions of an individual.
In this method, you model the behavior students are to duplicate within an activity and encourage students to parallel your
behavior in their own activity. Students may model appropriate behavior for each other, too.
Simulations are activities in which students are given real-life problem situations and asked to work through those situations as
though they were actually a part of them.
Every simulation has five basic characteristics:
•They are abstractions of real-life situations. They provide opportunities for you to bring the outside world into the classroom.
•The emphasis is on decision-making. Students have opportunities to make decisions and follow through on those decisions.
•Students have roles that parallel those in real life (mother, father, child).
•The rules are simple, uncomplicated, and few in number.
•A simulation has two or more rounds—opportunities to make decisions more than once.
If you've ever played the games Monopoly, Clue, or Life, you have been part of a simulation. Potential classroom simulations may
include some of the following:
•A sixth-grade “family” is sitting around a table deciding how they'll spend their monthly income. How much will be spent on food,
the mortgage, medical bills, transportation, etc.? Unexpectedly, the car needs a new transmission. Will the family be able to go
to a movie this weekend?
•A third-grade class has been divided into various “neighborhoods.” What factors will ensure that everyone's needs are satisfied?
What kinds of stores or markets do they need? Where will the schools be located? What are some of the essential services? What are
some of the critical transportation issues?
Students are allowed to create their own original designs, models, or structures to illustrate an important point or content fact. See Transfer in REACT
These can take many forms and formats:
•letters to the editor
In this event, students are allowed to experience all the events of a learning situation. Usually the work is done individually,
although it can be done collectively, too. The teacher is a facilitator and a cheerleader. See Experience in REACT
Here, you provide students with an opportunity to apply their newly learned skills in a true-to-life experience. The emphasis is
on the use of those skills. See Apply in REACT
This method is student-initiated and student-controlled. Individual students are encouraged to select a topic they want to
investigate further. In so doing, they pose a series of questions that they want to answer on their own. The questions are
typically higher-order questions (see Levels of Questions)and emphasize a variety of divergent thinking skills.
Vary Your Lessons
If you'd like to make every lesson successful, you must do one thing: include a variety of teaching and learning methodologies in
every lesson. If variety is the spice of life, then fill your lessons with lots of spice as you incorporate multiple teaching
Here's a good rule of thumb: For every lesson, try to include at least one knowledge method, one synthesis method, and one
performance method. That way, your students are getting the necessary information; they're pulling together that information into
a comprehensible whole; and they're afforded opportunities to use that information in a creative and engaging way.