All too often I hear teachers blaming students for not being inspired to learn in their classes. While there may be many reasons that students aren’t motivated to engage in a lesson, teachers must make sure that their teaching is inspired, before blaming students or the student’s life outside of school for the lack of engagement in a class. Silver, Dewing, & Perini (2012) suggest six straight-forward steps for offering inspired instruction:
- Capture students’ interest—When students are engaged, research tells us that they learn better. Design an attention-grabbing hook such as mystery, controversy, personal experience, or “what-if” questions.
- Explain the strategy’s purpose and students roles in the strategy—tell students the name of the strategy, explain how it works, why it’s important, and most importantly, teach students the specific steps in the strategy and explain what you expect them to do at each step.
- Teach the thinking embedded in the strategy—make sure that you identify the thinking process used in the strategy and then make it clear to the students. Model how to apply the thinking process, make it clear how and when it might be used, and have the students practice applying the thinking process. For example is “collecting and evaluating evidence” is the thinking process embedded in a strategy being taught, you would want to make sure the students also understand and are able to collect and evaluate evidence.
- Use discussion and questioning techniques to extend student thinking—apply various discussion and questioning techniques to engage students and deepen the concepts and skills they are learning. See my related blog post on academic discussions in the classroom.
- Ask students to synthesize and transfer their learning—encourage students to pull together everything they have learned and then use it to create something new in a different context.
- Leave time for reflection—information and skills are best retained when the learner has time to reflect upon the activity and information gained. When learning a new strategy, students need to be encouraged to think back not only on the content but the process.
Silver, H.F., Dewing, R.T., & Perini, M.J. (2012). The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.