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Chapter 9 Teaching Worthwhile Content

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Chapter 9 Teaching Worthwhile Content

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  1. Chapter 9Teaching Worthwhile Content

  2. Overview of Prominent Philosophies • Idealism Development of the - Mind Truth through great ideas • Realism Development of well-defined body of knowledge - Mastery of facts • Essentialism Basic Skills training in reading, writing and math (very similar to realism) • Perennialism Development of Intelligence focus on mental processes (very similar to idealism)

  3. Overview of Prominent Philosophies • Progressivism Development of problem-solving skills – Learn by doing • Reconstructionism Schools should create a new society – teach people to address societal problems (war, injustice, poverty, environmental concerns) • Existentialism Development of the individual through conscious awareness of choice and consequence – Learners free to make choices

  4. Sources of CurriculumFour Different Perspectives • Schools should teach fundamental universally applicable knowledge • Schools should teach content based on the natural development and interests of the child • Schools should teach concepts and skills that will prepare students to fulfill adult roles society • Schools should teach about social policy issues to combat social injustice and promote change.

  5. Content Selection • Curricula and Instructional Guides tend to emphasize breadth of knowledge at the expense of depth • They represent presentation of a series of mini-steps toward acquisition of a large body of knowledge (A “Parade of Facts” approach) • Researchers contend that disconnected facts without relevant context or connections are not very meaningful or useful to students

  6. Content Selection (Cont.) • Scholars tend to agree that content should be taught in greater depth as networks of connected knowledge • Powerful ideas: Essential Understandings, Guiding Questions, or Generalizations should guide the selection and presentation of content • Note: The Powerful Ideas approach is illustrated in ELED 4220 Integrating Instruction

  7. Where Can I Find Big Ideas? • Introductions to state curriculum guides Look at the NCSCOS Introductory sections for each subject and grade. These provide thorough overviews of the concepts that should be developed during instruction. See: • Introductions to most teacher manuals provide similar information

  8. Professional Decision Making • One role of a teaching professional is to make sound judgments about how to balance breath versus depth when planning instruction • A clear understanding of the nature of the students in the class should guide these decisions • Such things as developmental stages, background experiences, ethnic factors, community characteristics and curriculum sequence should be considered when deciding instructional content

  9. Common Elements in Teaching for UnderstandingWhat a Teacher Should Do • Activate students’ prior knowledge • Scaffold and respond to students’ learning • Help students construct meaning • Engage students in problem solving and critical thinking • Stimulate higher order thinking as a natural part of lessons • Create a learning community that features: discourse or dialogue to promote understanding

  10. Knowledge Networks • Traditional curriculum theory emphasized hierarchies of knowledge that must be presented in a linear instructional approach • Modern curriculum theory suggests that most curriculum content is better approached using the NETWORK OF KNOWLEDGE approach

  11. Knowledge Networks Include: • Facts, concepts and generalizations • Opportunities to begin learning within the network at almost any point (non-linear hierarchy) • Procedural knowledge (implementation skills) • Conditional knowledge (when and why to apply the knowledge network)

  12. How to Use Knowledge Networks • Focus on the most important ideas and concepts • Limit breadth to allow time to explore ideas and develop Essential Understandings • Emphasize application of Essential Understandings and Powerful Ideas to the students’ world • Emphasize application of Essential Understandings and Powerful Ideas to life-long learning and problem solving

  13. Types of Activities to Create Networks of Knowledge • Simply replacing “parade of facts” worksheets with “better” worksheets will not work • Good and Brophy argue: • Much seatwork is busy work • Frequently, assigned seatwork is either too easy or to difficult for most students • Most seatwork is poorly coordinated with what is being taught at the time and unlikely to help students achieve the desired learning objectives.

  14. Teaching Toward Big Ideas • The “Big Ideas” approach lends itself to more Authentic Learning experiences • Using what is learned for accomplishing some sort of real life application • Constructing knowledge that has value beyond the classroom • NOTE: See p. 287 (Good and Brophy) for overview of Authentic Activities

  15. Guidelines for Seatwork (Osborn 1984) • Tasks should be related to current instruction • Some tasks should provide systematic review • Tasks should focus on the most important concepts • Instructions should be brief and clear

  16. Guidelines for Seatwork (Cont.)(Osborn 1984) • Tasks should be accompanied by a brief explanation of their purpose • Response modes should require sustained reading and writing (as opposed to circling, drawing, underlining etc.) • Cute, non-functional, space and time-consuming tasks should be avoided

  17. Subject Specific RecommendationsReading • Research suggests students should learn to: • Summarize the gist of a passage • Identify main ideas • Construct images to visually represent what the text is describing • Use mnemonic devices to remember word meaning

  18. Recommendations Reading (Cont.) • Analyze story grammar • Construct story maps for narrative passages • Generate questions about the meanings and implications of text

  19. Recommendations Reading (Cont.) • Answer questions in the text to check for understanding • Activate prior knowledge and make predictions • Compare events in text to one’s own experiences

  20. Recommendations Writing • Writing instruction should focus on writing for application • Students should learn to organize and communicate their thoughts through writing • Students should learn to write to different audiences • Student should learn to write for different purposes

  21. Writing Recommendations (Cont.) • Writing composition should focus on: • Effective communication • Personal craftsmanship • Developing an outline • Developing drafts • Revising drafts • Polishing the final form of the written product Note: Word mechanics and editing are taught in addition to the items listed above

  22. Mathematics Recommendations • Current trends call for emphasis on concepts – not computational operations • Instruction emphasizes authentic applications over isolated skills practice • Research about this approach shows students exhibit better higher-order thinking and problem-solving and as-good-as or better lower order mathematical knowledge and computational skills

  23. Science Recommendations • Blumenfld (1992) found the most successful science teachers emphasized thoughtfulness. They: • Focused on key ideas in depth • Made presentations highlighting main points and critical information. • Scaffold students to develop metacognitive and problem-solving strategies

  24. Science Recommendations (Cont.) • Checked for understanding and added higher level questions • Helped students make connections between key ideas • Simplified problems by breaking them down • Gave models and examples • Promoted self-regulation and independence

  25. Social Studies Recommendations • The general emphasis is on Thoughtfulness • Key indicators of thoughtfulness: • Sustained examination of a few topics • Coherence and continuity of classroom activities • Sufficient time to think

  26. Social Studies Recommendations (Cont.) • Emphasis on clarifying and justifying one’s view • Teacher models thoughtfulness during instruction • Students generate original and unconventional ideas

  27. High Stakes Testing Dilemma How a teacher can use these research validated teaching strategies in an era of high stakes testing and focus on test scores?