Principles for Effective Instruction

I wish I had better answers for this…even after close to 20 years in the classroom, I still struggle with coming up with a concise, bullet-pointed list of principles that engage student learners.  So, here goes…

First, I would try to assess prior knowledge (thinking “constructivism” here)- where are my  students at in terms of knowledge and skill level?

Second, I would consider individual differences.  What kinds of multiple intelligences are going on, how about personality, language needs, etc. do the students in my classroom possess?

Third, I’m thinking about my objectives, both NETS and my specific content standards.   The state of Oregon says that I need to meet these objectives in my classroom in order to be an effective teacher.  I’d better closely examine these.

Fourth, I’m thinking about meta-cognitive skills- how to get my students to think about their own thinking.  How can I get them to monitor, evaluate, and reflect upon their own approaches to learning?

Fifth, I’m thinking of ways to include some social interaction (think “social constructivism” here) with their peers.  I know that research says that social interaction helps to connect my content to real-world situations.  Plus, it helps to keep students engaged.

Sixth, building on social interaction, I need to incorporate some realistic contexts.  I was always the student that asked “when are we gonna have to use this?”  Students benefit from understanding relevance to the lesson content.

Seventh- engage the students in all of this- scaffold information where necessary,

Eighth, I need to give students feedback (written, oral, etc.) as much as possible.  That feedback needs to be timely, specific, and helpful in order to guide student learning as much as possible.

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While each classroom and each student is unique, the principles of effective instruction are remarkably generalizable.

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