What is Good Teaching?

Good teaching is a synthesis of several important features that contribute to a meaningful and interactive learning experience. Classroom interactions that acknowledge students encourage teachers to use various forms of interactions (small group discussions, student presentations, etc.) during lessons. Teachers who support this type of interaction can better help their students truly understand the answers to questions related to the learning material. Encouraging and available instructors help their students to express their views on the problems discussed and continue the discussion about problems with other people both inside and outside the classroom settings. The last component of good teaching is fair assessment which ensures that formative and summative assessments apply equally to all students. The fair assessment also asks the teacher to provide as much information as possible to students before exams, quizzes or tests so that the students are well prepared. 

Direct instructions vs. Productive Failure

Traditional teaching techniques rely on a method that is known as direct instruction. This method consists of informing students about the concepts and procedures associated with specific topics at the beginning of the class. It then asks students to use these concepts and procedures to solve specific problems. Direct instruction has several advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, this teaching technique helps students learn correct procedures thus reducing the likelihood of students’ encoding the content with misconceptions and errors. Direct instruction reduces the burden on students’ cognitive resources because it gives students a step-by-step guideline of what they need to do to come up with an appropriate solution to the given problem. Because students do not need to think about the best way to solve a specific problem, they can better focus on learning the new skills and concepts. Direct instruction can also reduce problems associated with students’ disengagement from class because it gives students a starting point for solving problems.  This method is believed to reduce frustration associated with solving new tasks which is a significant problem for students. 

Unlike direct instructions, productive failure (PF) reverses the learning process and allows students to individually try to find a solution before it is explained to them. Students typically fail to produce a correct solution, but the process of independent problem-solving prepares them to better accept the teacher's instructions. This teaching technique puts a higher cognitive demand on students, but it also helps students to practice persistence – something that is important for real-life problem-solving tasks. 

Teaching Techniques- the Art of Engaging Students

Graphic organizers

Graphic organizers are simple visual display tools used to organize information in such a way that it is easier to understand and learn. Graphic organizers can be used at any age. They reduce cognitive demands because their structure provides a framework that helps students visualize the most important elements from the text they need to read or listen to. It is suggested that these tools are especially beneficial for students with disabilities because they can alleviate any potential reading anxieties. Graphic organizers can be used in various stages of learning. During the pre-reading stage, these simple graphics solutions can be used as a brainstorming tool that will activate prior knowledge. During the reading stage, graphic organizers assist students in arranging information in a way that demonstrates the existence of interconnecting links between the concepts. During the last, post-reading stage, graphic organizers can help students to better remember important pieces of information or to summarize main ideas. What is more, they can be used for assessing comprehension.   

Independent practice

Independent practice activities are activities that help students to master any newly acquired skills through practice. This is a large category that includes many activities such as independent writing or reading, games, computer assessed learning, self-correcting materials, etc. Materials for independent practice activities should be selected in such a way that students can understand how to use them after several demonstrations. If an educator chooses a word game, it should give students an opportunity to practice their reading skills while participating in a fun activity they enjoy. Similarly, engaging in handwriting activities can help students practice how to properly construct a sentence or extend composition. In addition to this, practicing handwriting can also help students to master their spelling skills.    

Model-lead-test

This learning strategy requires direct educator supervision. It is intended to provide students with frequent opportunities to correctly practice the newly acquired skills. This approach enables educators to explain the rationale behind comprehension skills such as identifying the main ideas in a text. An example of this strategy is reading comprehension skills such as story mapping. Model-lead-test is a complex activity that requires interaction between vocabulary, selected text, and the application of reading comprehension skills. In order to successfully do all this, students should connect their prior knowledge to new information from the text. This helps them meaningfully understand important messages and contents from the reading instead of recognizing and understanding individual words.   

Peer tutoring

This learning strategy considers structured group work where children learn together and from each other. Peer tutoring helps students practice different skills chosen by an educator. Its primary purpose is to reinforce any previously acquired skills. Studies suggest this learning strategy increases positive social contacts that help students improve their social and behavior skills. It includes formats such as class-wide or cross-age peer tutoring. This strategy can be used across a wide range of categories of disabilities, content areas, grade levels, learning differences, and more. Peer tutoring teaches students academic as well as social skills.

Repeated reading

This strategy helps students master all components of their reading fluency such as accuracy, rate, comprehension, and prosody. It uses familiar texts that students read several times which helps them to better concentrate on understanding the meaning of the text rather than pay attention to technical skills of reading.

References

Adoin, S. P., Binder, K. S., Foster, T. E., & Zawoyski, A. M. (2016). Repeated versus wide reading: A randomized control design study examining the impact of fluency interventions on underlying reading behavior. Journal of School Psychology, 59, 13-38.

Algozzine, R., Campbell, P., & Wang, A. (2009). 63 Tactics for Teaching Diverse Learners, Grades 6-12. Corwin, Calif: Thousand Oaks.

Datchuk, S. (2015). Teaching Handwriting to Elementary Students with Learning Disabilities: A Problem-Solving Approach. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 48(1), 19-27. Retrieved October 5, 2016

Dye, G. A. (2000). Graphic Organizers to the Rescue! Helping Students Link--and Remember--Information. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 32(3), 72-76.

Kapur, M. (2014). Productive failure in learning math. Cognitive Science, 38(5), 1008-1022. doi:10.1111/cogs.12107

Narkon, D. E., & Wells, J. C. (2013). Improving Reading Comprehension for Elementary Students with Learning Disabilities: UDL Enhanced Story Mapping. Preventing School Failure, 57(4), 231-239.

Sayeski, K., Paulsen, K., & Center, T. I. (2003). Early reading: Case Study Unit. Retrieved October 05, 2016, from https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/wp-content/uploads/pdf_case_studies/ics_earrd.pdf

Singleton, S. M., & Filce, H. G. (2015). Graphic Organizers for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 48(2), 110-117

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