Thursday, February 5, 2009

What Really Works

Last night, I participated in my third Elluminate PLP session with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson. Sheryl and Will were working with us to explore the truism that it is not the tools or the content that matters for good teaching -- it is how we teach. The pedagogy. Hearing that was music to my ears because so often we teachers, in our day-to-day busy-ness, lose sight of this most important thing. So we do not talk about pedagogy enough -- and maybe we can never talk about it enough because there is always something new to learn.

And that is what Sheryl then helped us do. She asked us to think of the teaching strategies we use that are most effective at helping our students learn, and we shared them in the chat. While we only had time to explore a few, it got me thinking that this would be a very powerful activity for every teacher to do every now and then. So here is my list:
  • Higher-order questioning: Using follow-up questions (even those as simple as, "Why?") to push my students to explain and dig deeper into their answers
  • Student-to-student discussions: These can be done in a variety of ways (jigsaw, fishbowling, etc), but the one that has worked the best for me recently has been the online discussion board.
  • Reflection: Asking at the end of a lesson, when a student gets an assignment back, at the end of a novel, whenever there is an end moment -- What did you learn? What might you still need to learn? Wha goals do you have?
  • Portfolios: This is usually labeled as an assessment method, but I think it is equally a teaching strategy (and linked to "reflection" above). The process of looking over the year, pulling out moments to remember, and reflecting on those is a lifelong lesson.
  • Writing with my students: They know you value something when you are willing to do it too, and you see so clearly what they are experiencing.

What are your best teaching strategies?

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Sanford AranoffFebruary 6, 2009 at 3:38 PM

    My strategy is to understand how students think, and build from there. I am a math prof. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.