As a teacher you put a lot of time and effort into preparing lessons, but do your students actually know why they are doing what they are doing?
At the end of each lesson your students should be able to answer two questions - and we’re not talking a pop quiz on the subject your just covered.
The questions are:
What am I learning today?
This question sounds straight forward and should be the easiest to answer.
However if you haven’t made the intention of the lesson clear, you may be surprised by the answers. You may have devised a game to help students improve their punctuation, but will the students tell you they learnt to play a game, or the intention of the exercise?
Using explicit teaching allows your students to focus on what they are learning, rather than what they are doing.
Why am I learning it?
When it comes to a lesson, the Why is just as important as the What. If teachers don’t state the purpose of learning - and share that purpose with the class - then whatever you have asked students to do is perceived as purposeless and therefore pointless.
In our example the class now knows the game is about learning to use exclamation and question marks correctly. By explaining, this is to improve the clarity of their writing so they can be understood, we have elevated the exercise from a simple game to an important lesson.
How do you make your lesson intentions clear to your students?
In September, Catherine and I will be travelling to Finland as part of a Teacher Professional Development Study Tour. The purpose of the trip is to see how Finland has consistently maintained its position at the top of the PISA scale for education.