Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to the drawing board - again!

I love this MAT class - they really make me think and they ask the best questions. Frequently, though, the questions they ask are ones I wish I had considered before planning our lessons. Today, I probably pushed them over the edge and it wasn't my intention. Had I planned my lesson differently, it would have been much more effective. Some candidates had been in class yesterday for 9 hours - I can't even imagine, except that I remember working in professional development in Eastern Europe, and the Latvians would push for sessions from 8 AM to 11 at night – grueling, but still and all, I was presenting not having to absorb 9 hours worth of information – a very different proposition. Today's class was OK, but not great. Disappointing [for me and for the 867 candidates]. I know I missed the mark. I went through the fundamentals of vocabulary instruction, including introducing vocabulary and then teaching strategies to help students refine their understanding of the vocabulary terms. What I had not considered was the conditional knowledge I needed to supply. Why didn't I? Have I suddenly become senile? I wrote an article on this very thing - and it's so important. But I was so busy focusing on the declarative [what the strategy is called] and the procedural [how to do the strategy] that I neglected the when and why [conditional] knowledge that is crucial. Fortunately, Darryl asked the all important question: when do we do this? So, here is what I need to remember to do next time I teach this topic:

First, I need to use some of the preactive strategies [knowledge rating, morphology, graphic organizers] as I'm teaching the lessons - then I can refer back to the activity when I discuss preactive strategies. I did use a graphic organizer with them, and later labeled it as a strategy I had used, but I needed to take the opportunity to be more explicit and use knowledge rating, for example, because that would have helped the 867 candidates understand where I was going. Then I need to use the interactive strategies [Four Square, Frayer Model, and Word Map] to help students refine their knowledge of terminology we have covered [like ZPD, cognitive flexibility, efferent, and aesthetic] and I need to show them [rather than tell them] how to do it. Specifically, I could show them a Four Square, for example, using one of the terms we have already studied [say, schema theory or semantic knowledge, or syntactic knowledge], then have them collaboratively complete a Four Square on ZPD, for example. Then they could complete a Four Square on aesthetic and efferent stance/purpose -- and we could then unpack the process. That way, they would have experienced the use of these strategies - DARN!! That would have been perfect today. Rats. Well, next time class meets, that's what I'll do - we will refine our understanding of those terms - and I may even use a knowledge rating sheet, too. Hmmmmm - I'd better get busy and do the power point now before I forget all this!

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