Study Guides in High School...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by TrademarkTer, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 25, 2018

    Times are changing and we live in a 21st-century world. The days of just chalkboards and the Socratic Method are on their way out. Lectures need to be engaging and encorporate a variety of learning tools and strategies, such as but not limited to: computer simulations, computer modeling, the utilization of manipulatives to make learning concrete (e.g. I made a bunch of Riemann sums of varying types — left, right, trapezoidal — from cardboard cutouts that look exactly like the textbook versions, except they’re in 3-D so students can actually hold real-life models and they understand them much better; furthermore, I made paper cutouts with design patterns that rotate about a central axis so students can actually see how revolving a cross section about a line generates a solid, etc.), scale models, interactive videos and software, peer-to-peer learning, collaborative learning, project-based learning, etc.

    Study after study show that students attention spans have lessened with time because of cellphones and social media use. Not to mention, the classroom setting has changed in terms of student behavior, size, and demographics, so the old methods seldom work anymore. Yes, effective teachers should check for understanding along the way by assessing them formatively, but that isn’t always enough. I believe that the best teachers do that AND more. They don’t just rely on direct instruction and leave it at that. They use current data and real-world problems to make learning relatable and active demonstrations to clarify concepts, plus else. They invite guess speakers, they are up and about and require students to critically think and get involved, they are energetic and not condescending and sarcastic, they go beyond the standard curriculum, etc. Finally, they don’t just talk at them and are constantly looking to improve their pedagogy (i.e. not set in their ways and use archaic methods to deliver instruction).

    There definitely is a minimum that teachers can do, and I don’t think not teaching at all and focusing on coaching counts. Sorry.
     
  2. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 25, 2018

    I agree with you on some counts, but you also sound like a Pearson salesman ;) This whole post is just overflowing with buzzwords. I think the technology and manipulatives can be used effectively, and I do use technology when it makes sense, but they aren't the end all. During one of my observations during the last school year, the VP who observed said he was happy to see such a simple straightforward lesson from me because so many teachers try too hard to put on a show for him. Sometimes just being unplugged for 40 minutes can be the best thing for the kids.
     
  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 25, 2018

    I agree to a fault. I just don’t think direct instruction should be the only method of instruction. It has its uses, though.

    I remember one day when I took my geometry students around campus and we used our makeshift clinometers to measure the heights of various trees, buildings, the school mascot, light poles, you name it. On another day, I took my AP Stats class outside onto the quad and we threw darts at specially designed targets to estimate the value of pi and that exercise led into a discussion about precision vs accuracy and randomness and repeated trials. On other days, it’s just the good old-fashioned white board and beautiful proofs and derivations, etc. Basically, my classes are dynamic and I do a ton of different things constantly and the students love it. I wish more teachers did what I do because it’s boring otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Aug 28, 2018

    Eh. I often walk into a coworker's class as she teaches. Sometimes she projects a power point and the others she simply stands up and talks. For 90 minutes straight. Students (all juniors) listen intently, scribbling down what notes they decide to take on their own. Defies all pedagogy suggestions and gets excellent results. She's captivating and for some reason kids hold on and retain what she shares. No fancy animations, video clips, foldables student movement, nothing. There is the occasional, spontaneous class discussion and research paper.

    I'm glad you found something that works for you. That does not mean your way is the only good way though.
     
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 29, 2018

    She is an anomaly and you should know that. Most students can’t listen for 90 minutes straight and just take notes the entire time. They get squirrelly and their attention spans are limited, causing their minds to wander. This idea that direct instruction is ALL that’s needed is just not tenable for the vast majority of students. Sorry, but that’s the truth.
     
  6. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Aug 29, 2018

    It depends on the class. My film elective taught at the enriched level (mostly college-bound seniors) gets a list of terms and topics to study. My speech elective, taught at the general level (mostly career path freshmen) get a more extensive guide with sample test questions. Many of them have accommodations like: teacher notes, peer notes, study guides, etc. If I have to make them for some students, I may as well make them for all of my students.
     
  7. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Aug 29, 2018

    Okay this goes along with the note taking. I wanted to explain how our labs are structured weekly. So on Mondays it's just demonstrations. I do the lab to show them what to expect this week during the lab. Not really explaining much, just demonstrations. During this they're taking some notes about why they think it's happening and any questions they might have about the lab.

    Then Tues/Wed – depending on how long it takes to get through but usually both days – we're talking detailed notes the entire class period. I usually do PowerPoint presentations. Plus I'm explaining everything. But detailed notes.

    Then Thur/Fri the students have the opportunity to perform the lab and to actually do what they've taken notes on. They get a very general overview sheet of the lab (usually a page or less) which forces them to relay on their own lab notes. They have to relay on their lab notes that they took otherwise they won't be able to complete the lab.

    So in this way I get two periods of sustained note taking, and at least some note taking the other periods as they're jotting down observations and theories and things. The reason I don't provide a study guide is because the quizzes and tests are the chapter review questions out of the book, word for word. They take quizzes and tests home and have the weekend to do it. The final is the exact thing except bigger and done in class with their binder open.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 29, 2018

    2ndTimeAround's post about the teacher begins with "Eh," which is the written equivalent of a shrug, and includes the sentence "Defies all pedagogy suggestions and gets excellent results." Those are clear signals that 2ndTimeAround is fully aware of, and intends us to see, this teacher as an exception. The riposte "She is an anomaly and you should know that" was uncalled-for.

    futuremathsprof, you owe 2ndTimeAround an apology.
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Aug 29, 2018

    She is not the norm, that's true. She's amazing. Then again, she's pretty old school and never bought into all of the new fancy-schmanzy methods. Maybe other equally spectacular teachers would have just as much success simply lecturing, but they started teaching when classes had to be chunked and "learning styles" were in vogue. We'll never know.

    Regardless, my point is that teachers can be successful with direct instruction. Whether the "vast majority" of students can handle her style or not, the fact remains that in the 15 years that I've known her, she's been very successful. I find it hard to believe that she somehow always ended up with the small minority of kids that can handle only direct instruction.
     
  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Aug 29, 2018

    So, is English some type of lesser subject that doesn’t need any sort of preparation? :rolleyes:
     
  11. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 30, 2018

    No, I’m not saying it’s easier to teach English, but once a student is proficient in reading it’s largely self-driven: They do the reading, they discuss it in class, they write a paper on what they read or think, etc. It almost becomes automatic. Whereas they cannot just do the reading and perfectly understand the theory in some of the classes I mentioned. They need more concrete examples and much more practice like in the more difficult maths and sciences.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  12. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 30, 2018

    Again, I never said direct instruction is not useful. I have used it and continue to use it on many occasions, but it is not my *only* method of instruction. When a teacher is *only* able to direct instruct, that tells me they are limited in terms of their teaching ability.

    One person is way too small of a sample size to make any determination from that. Come on. Her success might be due in part to her being very stern or strict with them and because students don’t want to incur her wrath. I’ve had teachers and observed teachers in the classroom where the students thought they were “scary” and largely kept to themselves — they just did what they were told and rushed out the door as soon as the bell rung. From an outside observer looking in, the students were behaving — which was great — and they were taking notes dutifully and participating.
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 30, 2018

    You are taking an innocuous comment and blowing it way out of proportion.
     
  14. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 30, 2018

    But I almost feel like for my English classes, there was even more subjectively in terms of what could be asked. It would vary greatly from teacher to teacher. Will your book test ask me multiple choice questions on specific details from the reading like "what color hat was John wearing?", or will it ask me to write a detailed essay about character development or symbolism. If the argument is that the sample tests help provide information about the structure of the test, I think they would be more beneficial in these types of courses if any. With math, I could at least go through my notes and figure out the types of questions I would asked: I'll be asked to integrate by parts, I'll be asked to calculate arc length, etc.
     
  15. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 30, 2018

    This is a very logically-sound argument and I agree on a number of points you made. However, I’ve taken math classes in college where I had well over 100 pages of notes at the end of the semester, and most of them were complex proofs or lengthy algorithms. There were so many different scenarios that I could encounter and I could answer the vast majority of them, but I would forgot the occasional obscure problem. Luckily, my professors focused on the rubric and dropped hints in lecture, so I knew what I had to focus on as there were upwards of 50-60 formulas we had to remember. It’s different when there is so much theory that you have to memorize, understand, and apply besides a handful of central topics.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    On the contrary. The meaning of "innocuous" is 'harmless'. Misreading another's writing as you did and being rude on the strength as you were of it is never innocuous. For an educated adult to claim innocence here, as you are attempting to do, is a poor defense at best.

    Being called out makes one squirm: that's normal. But the gentlemanly and teacherly response is to apologize and to clean up one's act going forward.
     
  17. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Aug 30, 2018

    That sounds very much like my English classes.

    My degrees are in English. My DH’s degrees are in math.

    We joke with one another about our opposite disciplines, but honestly there really aren’t that many differences in the overall academic life surrounding them.
     
  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 31, 2018

    Right, “she’s an anomaly and you should know that” is *so* insulting and rude! How could I say such a thing?! :rolleyes:
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oh, so you genuinely don't understand how "She's an anomaly and you should know it" can constitute an insult? For a native speaker of English that's an unusual lapse in pragmatic competence, though certainly not unprecedented. I'll be happy to explain in the next day or so.
     
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