Research has shown that helping students make connections to an upcoming topic prior to studying it improves student
learning. Below are some teacher behaviours to help students frame the larger picture.
A.Framing the Big Picture:
- Objectives – Let students know what they will know or be able to do as a result of the lesson. It is not enough to just
post this on the board. Teachers need to make sure students know what the objective is and what it means. We can’t
know this unless we ask them. In one class, students get extra points if they can describe the objective to a visitor and
how the activity ties into the objective.
- Itinerary – Like an agenda, this tells students how they’ll get to the objective during an activity or a period.
- Big ideas – Remind students how the lesson connects to the big ideas in the unit. “The water cycle is one of the natural
processes the earth uses to keep itself alive. We’re exploring whether that cycle is in any danger and if we can do
anything about it.”
- The reason it’s worthwhile – This is the answer to “Who cares?” Understanding the usefulness or relevance increases a
student’s investment in a lesson. This need not happen with every lesson.
- Reason for activity – Students often have no idea why they are doing an activity. Tell students why it will help them
learn something, “The reason we’re doing this experiment is to show how hard it is to take data and record information
- Criteria for success – A bulleted list of criteria reveals in detail what the students should know or be able to do. Coming
up with this list is a planning skill, however, communicating that list is a Clarity behaviour.
B. Getting Ready For Instruction
- Activating students’ current knowledge –This gets students’ minds in gear about a topic before learning something new.
There are many ways to do this. Students can brainstorm what they KNOW about a topic and what they WANT TO
KNOW on a chart. Sometimes students need more than a blank paper. Try a “word splash” with 10 to 20 terms from reading and “splash” them all over the board with the topic written in the centre. Students think of sentences for the
terms and how they might relate to the topic.
Find different strategies for it here.
- Pre-assessing – If adequate prior knowledge is absent, even a great lesson on new material will go for nought. Even a simple quiz can be used to assess vocabulary and other concepts that will show up in the unit.
- Anticipating confusions – Students bring many misconceptions to instruction that they hold onto. We need to remember
that students do not come as blank slates. Students may also be confused because the material is challenging. Being able
to anticipate confusing points requires the ability to get inside students’ heads.