Performance Group: Instructional Strategies
All Members of the Instructional Strategies Group:
Clarity
Principles of Learning
Models of Teaching
(click a member name to view its data)

Excerpt from Chapter 9:

The Skillful Teacher (2008), Chapter 9: Clarity

"A treasury of strategies exists for making ideas and skills clear and accessible to students. This section lays them out in sequential categories: Framing the Big Picture for Students; Getting Ready for Instruction; Presenting Information from a Repertoire of Explanatory Devices; Using Effective Speech; Being Explicit; Making Cognitive Connections; Checking for Understanding; Unscrambling Confusions; Making Students' Thinking Visible; and Summarizing."

Saphier, J., Haley-Speca, M.A., & Gower, R. 2008.The Skillful Teacher: Building Your Teaching Skills, 6th ed. Acton, MA: Research for Better Teaching, Inc.

Question: How do I make concepts and skills clear and accessible to students? (click here to see quiz)
Skills of Clarity
Framing the Learning These are skills which prepare students for the learning to come and both give them the big picture and get their minds active and in gear.
The Big Picture Big Picture skills result in students:
  • Understanding the learning objectives.
  • Seeing what the sequence of events will be.
  • Knowing the big idea surrounding the experience of the day.
  • Understanding why the learning is worthwhile and relevant to them.
  • Understanding the reason the activity they're about to do will lead to the learning they are aiming for.
  • Understanding the criteria for success in the activity.
  • Getting Ready for Instruction These skills:
  • Activate students and current knowledge.
  • Give the teacher pre-assessment data.
  • Anticipate student confusions and misconceptions.
  • Presenting Information These are skills of interactive teaching that are called for when teachers are presenting information, skills and ideas to students.
    Explanatory Devices These are skills and techniques that make ideas clear and accessible to students.
  • Simple Cues
  • Progressive Minimal Cues
  • Highlighting Important Information
  • Translation into simpler Language
  • Analogies
  • Pictures
  • Charts, Whiteboards, Smartboard
  • Document, Camera or Overhead Transparencies
  • Audio and Viideo Recordings
  • Computer Presentation Software
  • Models
  • Mental Imagery
  • Modeling Thinking Aloudvideo
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Speech These skills enable us to match verbal forms to students and to avoid mazes and vagueness.
  • Avoiding "Mazes" or "Vagueness"
  • Matching to Setting and Student Culture
  • Creating Mental Engagement These skills enable us to get students cognitively engaged with instruction.
    Explicitness These skills make crystal clear to students the:
  • Intention of Cues
  • Focus of Questions
  • Necessary Steps in Directions
  • Meaning of References
  • Making Cognitive Connections These skills guide students through the cognitive landscape during instruction by:
  • Showing Resemblance to Student Experience of Something Already Learned
  • Asking Students to Compare and Contrast
  • Extending to Implications and Future Actions
  • Making Transitions Between Ideas
  • Signaling Shift in Activity, Pace or Level
  • Foreshadowing
  • Getting Inside the Head of a Student: (Cognitive Empathy) These skills enable us to find out what effect our intruction is having and make adjustments during teaching.
    Checking for Understandingvideo These skills comprise an extensive repertoire for getting broad and accurate readings during instruction of how well students are understanding and to identify which students do and do not understand.
    Unscrambling Confusionvideo This is a repertoire of skills for dealing with student confusions that goes beyond just explaining the material over again.
    Making Students' Thinking Visiblevideo These invaluable teacher skills result in high levels of student talk, student interaction and deeper understanding while at the same time supporting a climate where it is safe to take risks.
    Consolidating and Anchoring the Learning
    Summarizing These skills form a repertoire of strategies for getting students cognitively active in summarizing their own learning. They can be applied in the middle of lessons as well as at the end. Whenever they are done or whichever strategies are chosen, what we want is students pulling together their learning in their own words. Since many of the summarizing strategies are audible to us or produce visible products (e.g., learning logs) they can also serve the dual purpose of giving us data on student understanding.
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