Impact Teaching, by Richard Howell Allen, was the focus for my Flex professional development. This book is a strategy guide for maximizing the impact of instruction in the short time we have with students each day, and is solidly rooted in current educational research. The text focuses instruction strategies for large groups (direct instruction), maximizing efficacy and retention of actual instructions to students, the use of emotionally positive, unambiguous language in the classroom, and a simple approach to interactive lesson design.
This book does presuppose fairly orthodox educational settings and procedures, but nonetheless provided extremely useful, instant-impact strategies that I applied in my classes this year. While too much direct instruction has been discredited as ineffective, its use on a daily basis is necessary. All teachers probably have experienced the frustration of needing to repeat statements and instructions delivered to students. I myself have blithely issued directions for an assignment, only to find when the work is submitted that fundamental requirements were not met. Allen provides some tips that have made my instructions more effective. For example, he recommends a simple device known as ‘open loops’. An open loop consists of dropping a high-interest fact or question at the beginning of class or segment of instruction without immediately addressing or explaining it. Then, at a later point, the loop is closed with an explanation or chance for students to respond. The idea is to generate a little suspense and anticipation and orient student’s attention in a desired way. This has been a method for me to simply improve focus. Between the time the loop is opened and closed, verbal instruction seems to be better retained.
Post by: Chris Hull | HS English Language Arts
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