In my Instructional Strategies course, we were asked to analyze a video based on the strategies we had focused on thus far in our readings and discussion. You can see many of them as blog posts on this blog (Objectives and Feedback; Cooperative Learning; Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers; and Note Taking). The video, link here, is a third grade class lesson on adjectives in which the teacher emphasizes the senses to give more detail to written work.
Very evident in the video was the teacher’s linking content to previous lessons and to prior knowledge. According to Dean et al, “Effective cues and questions help students access their prior knowledge and put that knowledge to use learning new information” (2012, p. 52). The questions, however, were fairly surface-level: recalling the definition of an adjective from previous lessons and how they would use them. As the lesson progresses, students have to become more creative in their responses, coming up with ideas of how to describe the ocean using the senses: how it smells, how it sounds, how it looks, how it feels, and how it tastes. This allows the students to continue reflecting on adjectives, but in a way that forces them to think more creatively and inferentially than the recall questions did.
The teacher did not, however, set a clear objective for the students. While it was simple to put together the pieces of what was going on, it might not have been so obvious for the students. She began to introduce what was to be learned, but then transitioned into asking what the senses were. She then noted that “Our senses help us describe,” but never explicitly states that the goal for the day was to learn how to write using our senses to think of adjectives that help describe. According to Dean et al, “It is important to communicate learning objectives to students explicitly by stating them verbally, displaying them in writing, and calling attention to them throughout a unit or lesson” (2012, p. 7). I wish the teacher would have taken a little time to directly and explicitly state the learning objective.
Something that I believe the teacher did really well was modeling note-taking for her students. Though she never explicitly taught the note-taking procedure during this lesson, she was exposing her students to the kinds of notes they would take from a brainstorming session. Initially, she wrote down the ideas that students were throwing out about the ocean in an organized way on the board. Like the biology teacher example in the Dean et al text, this teacher also “demonstrated one way to provide teacher-prepared notes: create notes for students as information is presented” (2012, p. 91). The teacher then does the same process while the students have a graphic organizer on their desks, which students then fill out using the class brainstorm of how to experience an Oreo using the senses. I am a fan of the “I do, we do, you do” format of learning, so I enjoyed that she modeled the format, then had students organize the information with her before they were then left on their own to write. I did think, however, she could have again been more explicit with the objective of and instruction of the note-taking, which she later said would be five sentences about experiencing an Oreo with all of the senses. Pitler and Stone state that “Students often struggle with this strategy because note-taking strategies are not intuitive” (2012, p. 185). By exposing them to this strategy during brainstorming, the teacher is getting the students used to the idea of note-taking that can be elaborated on later during an explicit lesson.
Overall, I loved the idea of the lesson. The students were thrilled to get to write about something they loved – to be honest, I wanted an Oreo after watching that. The students seemed engaged throughout the lesson and got their creative juices flowing in coming up with how to describe the Oreo.
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.