Designing Instruction to Support Strategic Learning

Posted by Nikki Rankin on 4/28/2017 7:00:00 AM

This is a continuation from the last publication regarding the four teaching methods with more specifics about how this works using UDL to support every student’s learning.  Again, the methods are: 1) providing multiple examples; 2) highlighting critical features; 3) providing multiple media and formats; and 4) Supporting background knowledge.

Teaching method 1 is supported by providing flexible models of skills performance. Learning how to do something requires developing a mental model of the pattern in question. This requires exposure to external models of expert performance, and to counter examples that demonstrate incorrect execution. Teachers can present multiple models for strategic teaching. Using the world wide web allows for the collection of models, links those models to a home page, offering students an increasing array of choices, including examples of completed work, steps in a process, demonstrations of skilled execution, or connections to others who are willing to share the way they work.

For teaching method 2, providing opportunities to practice with supports is key.  We know that practicing skills in context is more effective than practicing skills in isolation. Teachers can scaffold some parts of the process so that learners focus on strengthening their abilities in other parts.

Electronic media provides scaffolds in the context of learning. Text-to-speech supports decoding so that learners can focus on strategic reading or content learning.  Spell checkers support mechanics so that learners can focus on expressing their ideas and improving writing fluency.  Built-in calculators scaffold math facts so that learners can focus on mathematical reasoning.

Providing ongoing, relevant feedback supports the third teaching method. Delivering ongoing, relevant feedback is critical when teaching skills. Learners need to know if they are practicing effectively. Feedback can come in many forms, but It is important for feedback to be ongoing.  Helping students develop self-monitoring skills helps ensure ongoing feedback when the teacher is not around. The use of online connections to mentors and peers offer students the chance to seek comments from others outside the classroom, or from direct contact with a teacher.

For the last teaching method, provides learners with chances to demonstrate that skill. Demonstration challenges learners to consolidate and apply the process. The use of digital media offer widely varied supports and opportunities to help students demonstrate knowledge and skills such as using the world wide web or a class home page.

Approaches for teaching skills must be flexible and must reflect the way strategic way students learn. Assembling digital content, multimedia software, and internet resources helps teachers build a collection of options for individual learners. These resources allow teachers to vary the media, models, supports, and feedback that can be offered to students.

Michele Neumann  Michelle Neumann, Assistant Director