1. Be clear about what you want your students to learn: It is crucial that you are clear about what you want your students to learn during each lesson. The effect that such clarity has on student results is 32% greater than the effect of holding high expectations for every student. If you cannot quickly and easily state what you want your students to know and be able to do at the end of a given lesson, the goal of your lesson will be unclear. Clear lesson goals help you (and your students) to focus every other aspect of your lesson on what matters most.
2. Tell your students what they need to know & show them what they need to be able to do: You should normally start your lessons with show and tell. Put simply, telling involves sharing information or knowledge with your students while showing involves modelling how to do something. Once you are clear about what you want your students to know and be able to do by the end of the lesson, you need to tell them what they need to know and show them how to do the tasks you want them to be able to do. You don’t want to spend your entire lesson having the kids listening to you, so focus your show and tell on what matters most. To do this, have another look at your lesson goal.
3. Use questions to check that your students understand things: Research suggests that teachers typically spend a large amount of teaching time asking questions. However, few teachers use questions to check for understanding within a lesson. However, you should always check for understanding before moving onto the next part of their lesson. Techniques such as randomised sampling, student answer-boards and tell-a-friend help you to check for understanding before moving on from the show and tell part of your lesson while you can use other questioning techniques at different stages of your lesson.
4. Have students summarise new information in a graphic way: Graphic outlines include things such as mind maps, flow-charts and Venn diagrams. You can use them to help students to summarise what they have learned and to understand the interrelationships between the aspects of what you have taught them. Studies show that it doesn’t seem to matter who makes the summary graphic, be it you or your students, provided the graphic is accurate. Discussing a graphical summary is a fantastic way to finish off your show and tell. You can then refer to it one more time at the end of your lesson.
5. Give your students plenty of practice spaced out over time: As saying says, practice makes perfect. Practice helps students to retain the knowledge and skills that they have learned while also allowing you another opportunity to check for understanding. If you want to harness the potent power of practice, you must ensure that your students are practicing the right things. Your students should be practicing what they learnt during your show and tell, which in turn should reflect your lesson goal. Practice is not about mindless busy work. Nor does it involve assigning independent tasks that you haven’t previously modelled and taught. Finally, research shows that students do better when their teacher has them practice the same things over a spaced-out period of time.
6. Provide your students with feedback so they can refine their efforts: Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and it is the breakfast served by extraordinary teachers around the world. Put simply, giving feedback involves letting your students know how they have performed on a particular task along with ways that they can improve. Unlike praise, which focuses on the student rather than the task, feedback provides your students with a tangible understanding of what they did well, of where they are at, and of how they can improve.
7. Allow time for every child to succeed: The idea that given enough time, every student can learn is not as revolutionary as it sounds. It underpins the way we teach martial arts, swimming and dancing. It is also the central premise behind mastery learning, a technique that has the same effect on student results as socio-economic status and other aspects of home life. When you adopt mastery learning, you differentiate in a different way. You keep your learning goals the same, but vary the time you give each child to succeed. Within the constraints of a crowded curriculum, this may be easier said than done; however, we can all do it to some degree.
8. Get students working together in a productive way: Group work is not new, and you can see it in every classroom. However, productive group work is rare. When working in groups, students tend to rely on the person who seems most willing and able to the task at hand. Psychologists call this phenomenon social loafing. To increase the productivity of your groups, you need to be selective about the tasks you assign to them and the individual role that each group member plays. You should only ask groups to do tasks that all group members can do successfully. You should also ensure each group member personally responsible for one step in the task.
9. Teach students “strategies” as well as content: Earlier, I highlighted the importance of show and tell. You can increase how well your students do in any subject by explicitly teaching them how to use relevant strategies. When teaching children to read you need to teach them how to attack unknown words, as well as strategies that will deepen their comprehension. When teaching them mathematics, you need to teach them problem-solving strategies. From assignments and studying, to characterisation, there are strategies underpinning the effective execution of many tasks that you ask students to perform in school. And, just as with content, you need to tell students about these strategies, to show them how to use them and to give them guided practice before asking them to use them independently.
10. Nurture metacognition: Many teachers believe they are encouraging students to use meta-cognition when they are just asking students to use strategies – strategies such as making connections when reading or self-verbalising when solving problems. Don’t get me wrong, as I stated in the above point, encouraging students to adopt strategies is important, but it is not meta-cognition. Meta-cognition involves thinking about your options, your choices and your results – and it has an even larger effect on student results than teaching strategies. When using meta-cognition your students may think about what strategies they could use before choosing one, and they may think about how effective their choice was (after reflecting on their success or lack thereof) before continuing with or changing their chosen strategy.