Notes from Every Minute Counts Part 2

May 5, 2005

Teaching the New Material
Teaching the new objective is the most important part of any class period. First of all, the teacher must determine clear-cut student objectives. As I write my notes for each class, I start out with this sentence: “By the end of this class period, my students will be able to …” I announce this goal to the students at the beginning of the period, so they know where we’re going.

The teaching of a new concept should be much more than a how-to-do-it demonstration, a lecture, or a show. Student involvement is essential, and that involvement should be meaningful and include all students. They need to be involved in the actual teaching of the objective. Instead of a lecture, I present short statements or questions, almost all of which are followed by some required student action, usually a written response. All students participate, and there is continual feedback to both students and instructor. Intermediate steps are checked frequently during the initial teaching of the new objective so that the teacher can catch possible errors or misunderstandings.

When I believe that the students have a basic understanding of the objective, it is time to practice the skill, either on the board or at their desks. This takes place before the homework is assigned. After the practice session is going well, I give the homework assignment. At this point, both the students and I should be able to tell whether we have reached the objective of the lesson.

The Last Five Minutes
When the clock indicates only a few minutes are left in the period, I do one of the following:

  • Give more practice
  • Review
  • Look ahead
  • Challenge
  • Praise
  • Tests
    It is important to go over a test in class, but not necessarily in its entirety. Writing all answers on a transparency and projecting this as the tests are handed back may help the students spot-check their work. For maximum learning, ask the students to try to correct the problems they missed. Then the following day, show the answers and discuss them as necessary.

    On the next test you prepare, include some problems related to the weaknesses you discovered in the previous test.

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