I was in my high school’s competitive marching band, and we practiced twice during the week and competed on Saturdays. Our practices during the week consisted of running through portions of the performance over and over and over again. We’d play the same measures, march the same steps until we could do them perfectly every time. Then, on Saturday, we’d perform the whole show … once.
You see, during the week it was OK to mess up. We were coached by our instructors, and provided with feedback, encouragement, and direction. We’d take this feedback to heart and do our best to apply it. Then on the weekend it was show time.
When it comes to schoolwork, we as teachers need to determine if what students are working on is the “practice” or the “big show.” If it’s the big show, then students get one shot to demonstrate what they’re made of. But if it’s practice, then there are some implications for how we use that practice and other teaching strategies for providing feedback, encouragement, and direction.
Part of the “practice” process, I’ve found, is allowing students to revise some of their work. I’d often play wrong rhythms in marching band (I was a drummer) or take a step in the wrong direction, but then I’d get a chance to fix my mistake and learn from it. Revising class work can serve a similar opportunity for learning.
Teaching Strategies:Simple Steps for Revisions
I try to make sure that students understand the opportunity and value of revising their work. I tell them that making mistakes is OK. Trying their best and not getting a perfect outcome is OK. Their current abilities are OK … all as long as they learn.
- Give Students Their Assignments Back with Timely Feedback: The first step starts with me. After they complete their work and give it to me, it’s my responsibility to review their work, provide feedback, and assign it a grade. Then I return it to students and allow them time in class to review their feedback.
- Tell Students about the Opportunity to Revise: After students review their feedback and their grade, they’re allowed to ask themselves, “Could I do this better?” and “Do I want another shot at doing this?” If they answer yes, then I tell them that they can in fact do the assignment again or make corrections to their work to make it stronger.
- They Must Reflect First: Before anything else, my students are required to answer a few questions based on the feedback they received. These questions include items like, “How would you summarize your feedback?” and “What are up to three areas you want to focus on to improve this work?” This allows them an opportunity to practice self-reflection and not immediately rely on a teacher to “Tell them what to fix.”
- Students Must Conference with a Teacher: The self-reflective questions they answer are a prerequisite for conferencing with me or another teacher. This helps narrow down the one-on-one conversation and prevents students from saying, “Just look at everything!” I or another teacher then looks at the student’s work and provides targeted instruction focusing on the areas they have identified.
- Students Have a Week to Revise: After students have met with another teacher, they have just one week to complete the revision. This new due date helps keep them on track and ensures that they’ll remember the instruction they received during their conference. Then, once students turn in their revised work, I re-grade it. I give them new feedback and a new grade.
A Few Restrictions and Caveats
Of course, this process is not used for every student for every piece of classwork. Here are a few items I take into consideration when deciding when revision is an option:
- Is the assignment substantial enough to offer more learning and merit revision? I typically reserve revisions for the bigger assignments.
- Have students put in effort into the original assignment? If a student regularly does poorly on his/her work with the assumption that they’ll revise it later, that’s not OK with me.
- Does the current curriculum schedule allow for an effective revision process? I can’t offer revision and then cramp students with no legitimate opportunity to complete it.
- Have the students who revised completed their reflection and conferenced with a teacher? If they jump straight to the revision without these steps, I don’t re-grade it.
Helpful Variations on the Revision Process
There’s more than one way to facilitate revisions. Here are a few other methods you might find helpful:
Find a variety of feedback: Feedback and conferences do not only have to come from teachers. Consider ways you can have students help one another, team up your students with older ones, or even post work online that others in your network can review.
Expand the Self-Reflection: Instead of just asking two questions, sometimes I’ll ask more than a dozen questions that stimulate self-reflection. Here I’ll give students a slate of questions that ask about the process they took to complete their work, their time management and work ethic, their level of comprehension of the task, where they got stuck, how they got unstuck, if they asked for help or used online sources, if they’re proud of their work, if this is their best, and many others. These questions are designed to help students get a 360-degree look at how they produce their work and what they need to consistently do to operate at their own highest level.
Another chance to revise: After students go through the whole process of revision, I’ll ask them if they want to do it again for the same assignment. Would they be willing to take their revision and the new grade and feedback that come with it and be willing to improve it even further? If given the chance, it’s surprising how many of them say “yes.”
When the revision process is completed, the students who volunteered for this option come out a little stronger and more confident. They completed their work, opted for additional feedback, and made adjustments to turn their original into something better. Ultimately, those students come away with a better understanding of their weaknesses and strengths. Plus, when similar tasks come their way in the future, they’re better equipped to successfully tackle them.
How do you do revisions in your class? Tell us your thoughts on the process in the comments below!
Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website www.jordancatapano.us.
This discussion focuses on impact of effective teaching strategies on the students’ academic performance and learning outcome along with the researcher’s own experiences. A teacher plays a vital role within a few hours in the classroom by delivering the daily specific planned content which is a part of curriculum for a specific grade. It depends on the teacher to plan it out and use effective strategies for its instructional deliverance. Teachers must have passion for learning and teaching as well as to understand needs and interests of the students. World is changing and advancing day by day, so teachers need to be technology savvies as well, in order to meet new global emerging demands.
Stakeholders all over the world strive for quality education of children. First of all, there is a need to define quality education so that one can differentiate it from less-preferred education. Similarly, there are many educators and researchers who have debated that there are some school variables which influence the students’ achievement in particular. According to Coleman (2003), minimal role is played by the schools as far as the students’ achievement is concerned because it is independent of their background as well as societal factors. On the other hand, a few researchers suggest that factors like class size and space (Glass 2001), the teachers’ qualification (Ferguson, 2004), the school’s size and space (Haller, 1993), and a few more variables play a vital role in what the students learn in general.
Explaining Quality Teaching
Research points out that Quality teaching is tend to necessarily be student-centred. It aims to help most and for all students learning. Therefore, focus should not only be pedagogical skills, but also learning environment that must address the students’ personal needs. Students should also be aware as to why they are working so that they are able to relate to other students and receive help if required.
As a result, great emphasis has been laid on “quality teaching” by many educators. In the same way, there is a need of elaborating the term “quality teaching”. Globalization has influenced each and everyone’s life. Quality, successful and effective learning actually depends on several factors e.g. availability and selection of instructional resources, staffing quality, nature and its level, professional development implication as a system, and also the support of parents and administration. Recently, research also highlights one of the key features of “quality teaching” i.e. student-centred classrooms, which aims to benefit all students learning.
Global demands and changes
Therefore, learning environment along with teachers’ pedagogical skills is important for quality education (Johnson, 2007). Similarly, the students have also become both, geographically and socially diversified. There is a great need of new teaching methods and pedagogies to meet global challenges. Hence, we can say that there is also a need of change in the learner and teachers’ means of interaction. All the schools are striving to integrate curriculum with technology so that the students are provided quality education and learning takes place their way and they are focusing to provide quality education to the students by all the means so that they are ahead in the education industry.
Aiding to Growth
According to Alton-Lee (2004), the teachers should align their professional experiences with their teaching practices and pedagogies in order to benefit their students. Agreeing to Alton-Lee, these days one of the major roles of the teachers is to ensure that the content delivered has achieved the learning objective, which can be considered a key challenge. Despite the years of teaching experience, there is always a room for improvement and innovation for the teachers to adapt as per their requirement. Demands and needs change time to time so the teachers should also undergo professional and personal development to benefit both, the students and themselves as well, both are the learners. There is no age limit for learning; it depends on priorities and awareness only.
Another researcher, Deppeler (2000), suggests that the teachers would be able to change their teaching practices when they would reflect upon them and engage themselves in examining their own theories of teaching practices. But, ironically, it is a fact that the teachers hardly get any time to reflect on their daily practices, leading to improvement, or they are unaware of this process and it is out of question for them. They believe that delivering the content which has been planned for a specific day and subject is the basic necessity, neglecting the fact and being least bothered about knowing if the student learned or it was impossible for a student to grasp the basic concept even.
Roshenshine and Furst have introduced five variables of a teacher’s effectiveness, these are Variability, Clarity, Task-oriented, Enthusiasm and the last one is the students’ opportunity to learn criterion material. We must say that these are indeed a few components essential for a teacher to be known as effective, but there are more key elements which help the teachers personally and professionally and also their students. These are being reflective, empathizing when required, respect students, a good communicator, her/his own love of learning and many more which makes a teacher effective and the most important part is the instruction strategy which he/she chooses to deliver content which helps students in learning more effectively.
Content (What) and Strategy (How)
Most of the teachers think that they can improve their teaching practices through developing sound knowledge of content that needs to be taught and delivered (Hill and Crevola, 2003). This is a major drawback in many schools. The teachers lose focus on their teaching strategies and they assume that the learners face difficulties because the content (what needs to be taught and delivered) is complicated or not of their interest, instead of realizing the fact that the teaching strategy (how to teach and deliver) should be more effective and as per their requirement and needs in order to generate their interest and better learning opportunity for the students. Furthermore, both, how and what are linked together but still far different and unique in nature.
Unique individual with unique learning style
All the educationists are well familiar with the fact that all the learners have a different learning style, whereas the problem lies in catering to all of them with an effective teaching strategy. Students learn in different ways as per their capabilities. Some learn by seeing, hearing, reflecting, modelling, reasoning, and drawing etc (Felder, 1998). With an agreement to Felder, similarly there are different teaching styles as well. Some give lectures, some discuss the topic, some make their students work in groups, some use technology, some use textbooks and many more. But, the main purpose behind these efforts is to help students grasp content knowledge and align them with the real world scenario.
Teaching strategies and age groups
Teaching strategies vary from one age group to another. None of the method is the best. It depends on the learning style of students. Primary students take more interest in the activities performed in the class. In-class exercises work the best for this age group. Visual and auditory aids improve learning and performance. Whereas, for secondary and tertiary levels, lectures, projects, field work, group exercises and peer teaching are the most suitable strategies to help them. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences are also being considered and integrated in the lesson plans for improved learning of each and every student.
Reflecting on experiences
I have always taught primary classes so my experience cannot be considered diverse. However, I, along with the other teachers of the same level have tried to integrate teaching strategies which would help students in the best possible way. My teaching strategies were lectures, some kinaesthetic activities like role play, assignments, short reflections, pictorial PowerPoint slides, verbal discussions etc. On the other hand, the students enjoyed the most when they were taken to the computer lab or exposed to nature, especially for science.
Great emphasis has been laid on the teachers to use effective teaching strategies and method for improved learning by many researchers and educationists but on the other hand, one must also understand that the amount of students’ learning in a class also depends on their native ability of cognition and as well as their prior preparation. Teachers should prepare mental set through rapport with students before they start teaching. With the passage of time, the importance of instructors’ teaching style is being spread and the teachers are taking initiative to improve their teaching strategies for students’ improved learning by getting enrolled in such programmes which help them reflect upon their teaching practices and improving them as per requirement. The teachers who are willing for professional development in this area are able to deliver even complex and complicated content effectively, helping the students generate their interest and eagerness for more opportunities of learning in a conducive environment, making all the individuals feel that they are being taught in their own unique way being unique themselves.