Speed Dating: Instructional Strategy Style

Now now, don’t fret and spill your coffee---we won’t be doing any actual speed-dating today! 

 

Now that you’re alleviated of any troublesome mental pictures of awkward social situations and failed small talk conversations, let’s get to the bottom of what this Coffee Break Chat is about (hopefully by the end you’ll reach the bottom of your mug as well).

 

By this point you probably have heard of more teaching strategies than you can count, whether they are complicated or simple, digital or in-person, autonomous or instructor-guided, etc. You may feel frustrated after reading yet another confusing article describing a technique that you eventually find out costs money, or isn’t user-friendly, or simply is not effective. 

 

Time is a-wastin’, and your time is so valuable that you deserve to have every moment count! That’s why we’re bringing to you some Instructional Strategy Speed Dating on this fine Friday. 

 

This way you can be thoroughly and efficiently introduced (or re-introduced) to some strategies that are vouched for and easy to implement in a blended learning environment. 

 

All of today’s strategies come from the AVID Cross-Curricular strategies method of WICOR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, Reading). Without further ado, let’s meet our contestants!

 

Contestant One: Cornell Notes

This note-taking method is great for increasing retention and long-term understanding of whatever subject is introduced. Simply have students take notes on any subject in the following format: Essential Question at the top of their notebook paper (or Word document), left column reserved for questions or wondering questions, and right column specified for actual notes. Bottom several lines will include a brief summary of the lesson.

 

Brief Summary

 

Contestant Two: Meeting of the Minds/Roleplay

In this method (typically implemented in English or social studies/history classrooms), students each choose a character from the time period/novel being studied and take on the persona of that character in a classroom roleplay/fishbowl. Or, perhaps at the end of a history class, students could select historical figures to portray who never would have even overlapped in the same time period. Students then research thoroughly their character’s background, beliefs, and personality, and act like that character in class (they can even use what they have at home to dress up for Zoom to add a fun element). They then ask other students prepared questions on a designated topic that their character would have asked in real life, and the other students respond as their character would. This method brings history and stories to life, and creates a deeper/more visual understanding for students.

 

Contestant Three: Parking Lot

Parking Lot is a method designed to help teachers become aware of the level of understanding that students have so that they can adjust accordingly. Many students may be too embarrassed to raise their hand in math class and ask for a problem to be demonstrated again, so this idea is a great way to help students feel like they can learn at a feasible pace. The way this works is simple: in a Zoom digital classroom, teachers select key points in the lesson to pause and ask students to send them a private message on Zoom with one of the three phrases: I Completely Understand, I am Starting to Understand, and I Don’t Understand. Teachers then read the chats and pivot accordingly.

 

Contestant Four: Jigsaw

The goal of this method is to help students become “experts” in a specific topic and then communicate their learnings to other students, therefore increasing the scope of overall learning. To start, students are split into breakout rooms on Zoom by assigned group, and each group is usually given a reading/article/short story to read individually, discuss with their group, and become “experts” on the subject. Next, students are then re-grouped so that each group is composed of one student from each “expert” group, so that students can then take turns presenting their findings to each other about their topic. This method gives students some control over their own learning, and oftentimes they learn better from peers who can explain it in their own words.

 

Those are all of our contestants for now, folks! Hope you enjoyed our Coffee Break Chat today, and have a wonderful weekend.