Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Instructional decisions and mistakes

You'd think that after teaching for over 40 years that I'd have perfected instructional decision making, but never underestimate the impact of willfully ignoring everything in the face of wanting to "cover the lesson." Drat. Did it again.

Yesterday in class, I had structured a "Group Reading for Different Purposes" in order to engage students in processing the information from the chapter on studying and study strategies. OK, so far so good. BUT in an effort to keep the group size to a maximum effective number of 3, I came up with 9 different tasks for 9 different groups. Oh how I wish I could have a "do over" - and simply structure 4-5 good activities, then have at least 2 groups do each one. That way, the groups could have compared what they came up with. Instead, each group did something different and in some cases, what they came up with showed me that they didn't quite get the most important ideas in the text. Strange, but these college students don't seem to have great comprehension themselves when reading the textbook. So - here we are, the groups have finished their tasks; I had them fold paper so that they created six boxes in which to record notes as two groups reported out orally, the rest posted their work on large sticky chart paper around the room. I planned a "walk about" so that students would record the ideas from the posted graphic organizers, lists, diagrams, etc. completed by their peers. I had 15 minutes left in class at this point. I also had two major activities left to go: the walk about and an introduction to chapter 7, which I was assigning them at the end of class. The logical thing to do, looking back, was to have them do the walk about, then assign the reading without doing the full-blown introduction. But nooooo - I had to switch gears, do part of the introduction, then have them totally confused as they gratefully escaped class. Won't I ever learn??

Oh well, maybe they will learn from my mistakes.

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