In the know - Teaching with precision

12th September 2008 at 01:00

How often do we plan a lesson using an objective and find at the end that we have not realised the outcome or introduced other teaching and learning and strayed from our goal?

Sometimes we are sidetracked because we feel we need to teach something supplementary that we think the children will need. But if it is not the learning objective, don't teach it. I once observed a good Year 2 lesson on leaflets that was rather spoilt by the teacher giving dictionary lessons on looking up the word chronological.

There was nothing wrong with the teaching, but that was not what the learning objective was about.

You need to analyse your learning objective and break it down into small steps in your planning. These are the Teaching Points (TPs), needed for the children to realise the learning objective, and they need to be in a logical and coherent order.

We all differ in our starting point and logical progression, but this does not matter: if you believe in it you will teach it well. TPs provide the learning pathway. They are the point of teaching.

Say you want children to learn about the structure and function of leaflets. Your first TP might be to show an example of a leaflet and contrast it with a well-known story, looking at the difference between chronological information and non-chronological.

Your second TP might be to identify different features of the leaflet, such as a slogan, headlines, shape and size. The third could be to establish its function, to sell or to persuade.

A tip is to use one-word memory joggers for each TP and put them up on the board as you go along.

Precision teaching enables teachers to provide a solid platform from which children can jump off and explore for themselves. In one sense it is directed teaching, but that does not prevent it from being creative, and it paves the way for independent learning.

Alan Haigh is the author of The Art of Teaching: Big Ideas, Simple Rules.

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