Been awhile since my last post, but things are going great. I’ve been observed quite a few times already by both my university supervisor and my mentor. And they both thing I’m progressing at a rapid rate, which is a good thing. I’m getting more comfortable in the classroom, the students are actually enjoying my lessons and I’m starting to feel more accepted with school faculty. Needless to say, it’s going great – even if it is overwhelming at times.
But there’s something that I’m pretty sure got brought up in my practicum class this week. And if it didn’t exactly get brought up, I was thinking about it during one of the discussions. Basically, the practicum class is designed for us pre-service teachers to learn, talk and discuss about high-leverage practices (HLPs) in the classroom. We learn about 4 throughout this fall semester and are responsible for implementing it into our classroom, videotaping the lesson and sharing it with our peers. The four are “building a literacy community,” “accessing prior knowledge,” “collaborative learning,” and “modeling.” A lot of these practices should be intertwined with each other and carried out throughout the school year, not necessarily implemented once to try it out and forget about it.
Recently, I did a lesson aimed at accessing prior knowledge (APK) in students.
But let’s get back to the question that I haven’t even mentioned yet. These HLPs deal directly with student learning. We, as teachers, use these practices to maximize student motivation, learning and achievement. Most of the time, the students don’t even know the specifics of how they are learning. Yes, they may get that feeling that they’ve learned something or, as I’ve seen plastered throughout English education books, “made meaning.” But do the know the process that went into learning (or meaning making)?
I tend to think the answer is no.
So, is it OK to tell students about the learning process? Does throwing in a little psychology in the lesson hurt them? Could telling students how they are learning help them think even more about the topics and learning goals established by the teacher?
And in this case, I tend to think the answer is yes.
My most recent HLP was on APK. They students are about to start a unit on ancient Chinese literature. A quick hand survey (or auditory one judging by the groans) suggested that not many of them have read any of that before, let alone know much about the ancient Chinese culture. So, to get them started in this new unit, I had students APK to kickstart their interest in it. But part of my lesson was to not only get students thinking about ancient Chinese literature and culture, but to also tell them about the learning process. I wanted my students, who are seniors, to know how they are learning. And I wanted them to know that people learn by building upon what they already know. It’s an ongoing process. And if they can understand that very basic concept of APK, then maybe it will encourage them to think harder whenever they encounter something unfamiliar in their future studies.
And judging by their body language and discussion, I think it worked. The students seemed more interested in the unit, as compared to introductions to previous new units, and took the APK activity more serious because it made them think about two things: the content and the process.
Has anybody tried this before? Am I just fortunate because I have seniors (and maybe they could handle learning about the learning process)?
And I’ll post my lesson outline/plan if anybody is interested to see how I integrated the new unit and teaching the learning process.