32 Chapters
Medium 9781936763771

Chapter 10 Planning for Cross-Disciplinary Instruction

James H. Stronge Solution Tree Press ePub

Cross-disciplinary instruction is a valuable addition to any teacher’s instructional repertoire. The practice of making connections across subject areas is an effective way to engage students in challenging, integrative, and exploratory learning around personal and social concerns that appeal to them. The integration of disciplines can prompt students to learn to think critically and develop a common core of knowledge necessary for success in the 21st century. Given the value and validity of this instructional strategy, a basic question remains: How do teachers plan for quality cross-disciplinary learning experiences?

Knowing how much additional work is required to design and implement cross-disciplinary instruction, is it worth the effort? In answer, numerous compelling reasons should prompt teachers to consider adding cross-disciplinary instruction to their teaching strategies (Alrøe & Noe, 2014; Case, 1991; Jacobs, 1989).

•The problems and situations that students encounter in real-world settings do not completely organize themselves according to fragmented disciplines or traditional school subjects. Many phenomena in real life cannot be adequately understood solely from one disciplinary perspective. Cross-disciplinary instruction provides real-world applications, hence encouraging transfer of learning.

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Medium 9781942496533

Chapter 8 Complex Thinking

James H. Stronge Solution Tree Press ePub

What do students really need to learn in order to succeed, not only in the classroom but also later on in college, the workplace, and as engaged citizens? Beginning in 2010, a movement for deeper learning or complex thinking has emerged on the United States’ education scene. Complex thinking refers to a set of competencies students must master in order to develop keen understanding of academic content and apply their knowledge to novel tasks and situations in the classroom and on the job—competencies such as problem finding, problem solving, and creative thinking (Huberman, Bitter, Anthony, & O’Day, 2014). Students need to develop attitudes and mindsets that empower them to confront new challenges, take the initiative, and persevere through setbacks.

Unfortunately, the academic rigor of teaching and learning in many classrooms is low. Teachers do not always have enough time or the expertise to balance the memorization of facts with the more complex tasks of applying, synthesizing, evaluating, and communicating. A review of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 1999 video study finds that mathematics teachers in the United States focus learning on content, routine exercises, and procedures at the lower end of the cognitive continuum (Hiebert et al., 2005). Additionally, U.S. students spend 34 percent of each mathematics lesson applying knowledge as compared to 74 percent for Japanese students.

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Medium 9781936763771

Chapter 5 Using Student Learning Data for Planning

James H. Stronge Solution Tree Press ePub

Planning is preparation for action. Without prior thinking and planning, ongoing review, adjusting as plans unfold in practice, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t, and making changes based on those reflections, teachers seldom improve practice. Thus, effective teachers must consider a variety of factors when planning instruction. One of the key issues to consider is how to use student assessment data to help determine what to teach and to whom. Student learning data contribute to teachers’ decisions in planning lessons, grouping students for instruction, and diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of individual students (Young & Kim, 2010). In addition, student data allow teachers to know what and how well their students have learned.

The feasibility of a particular lesson largely depends on content goals and mandated objectives, time, material resources, and especially, students’ prior performance. Many of these factors constrain teachers in ways that are beyond their immediate control. For example, there is a prescribed, fixed amount of time each day in which formal instruction may occur. Typically, hours of the day are chunked into units dedicated to the study of certain subjects or disciplines as determined by a legislative body, school board, or school administrator. This means that if teachers are to maximize student learning, they must operate within these constraints and be as efficient as possible; this is where using student learning data comes to bear.

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Medium 9781942496533

Chapter 10 Problem-Based Learning

James H. Stronge Solution Tree Press ePub

The Gallup Corporation, in collaboration with Microsoft Partners in Learning and the Pearson Foundation, developed a 21st century skill index measuring seven specific areas (Levy & Sidhu, 2013): (1) collaboration, (2) knowledge construction, (3) skilled communication, (4) global awareness, (5) self-regulation, (6) real-world problem solving, and (7) technology use in learning. The findings indicate that of all these seven areas, real-world problem solving is most strongly linked to self-reported work success. However, only 29 percent of the surveyed young adults (aged eighteen to thirty-five) say they learned to develop solutions to real-world problems in school (Levy & Sidhu, 2013).

Schools and classrooms have a significant effect on students’ long-term work quality when teachers integrate real-world problem solving into the curriculum. The workplace increasingly calls for skills in effectively analyzing and resolving issues. Consequently, teachers may need to renew—or in some cases, reinvent—classroom instruction to help students learn to build and integrate deeper understanding, become autonomous learners and thinkers, and explore and solve important, real problems.

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Medium 9781936763757

Chapter 5 Direct Instruction

James H. Stronge Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 5

Direct Instruction

Direct instruction isn’t glamorous. As the name implies, educators often construe it as a no-frills, teacher-directed approach to instruction. Since the 1970s, teachers have continued to view it—and use it—as a viable teaching tool, largely because it gets student achievement results. Maybe the approach is not glamorous—but the results are.

Direct instruction does not mean all lecture or “drill and kill.” Prominent features of direct instruction include (Joyce et al., 2004):

•  A focus on academic tasks and learning

•  A high degree of teacher direction and control of the learning process

•  High expectations for student progress

•  A learning environment in which every minute counts

•  A relatively neutral atmosphere marked by avoidance of negative practices such as criticism

In general terms, direct instruction is an instructional method in which the teacher explains a new concept or skill to students in a large-group setting, has the students test their understanding through practice under the teacher’s direction, and then continues with guided practice (Joyce et al., 2004).

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