Planning and Instruction
In every effort to engage students in learning, I believe that purposeful planning provides the foundation for effective instruction. When planning a unit, I begin by addressing five essential questions:
1. What curriculum expectations do I need to cover?
2. How will I assess and evaluate their understanding and application of the expectations?
3. What strategies and skills must I explicitly teach in an effort to set my students up for success?
4. How can I effectively integrate these expectations with other subjects?
5. How will I captivate student interest and make connections to their own lives?
I have learned that a lesson is only as good as the planning that goes into it. Effective instruction therefore must involve careful consideration of the curriculum, the students’ prior knowledge and their individual learning styles and needs. The influence of time and environment on lesson implementation is critical as I discovered firsthand, and upon reflection of lessons taught, I have developed strategies for appropriate pacing and purposeful use of space and technology for future practice. I believe that a truly effective lesson is one in which students are engaged and focused, connecting their understanding of content with their own lives, and that provides authentic opportunities for self-regulated learning and exploration in and beyond the classroom.
Over the course of the year, I had the opportunity to implement several high yield instructional techniques and endeavoured to make purposeful use of these strategies. Acting as a guide, I collaborated with students to create anchor charts and explicitly taught students how to use them to develop, assess, and refine their work independently. Through the use of open ended, critical questions, prompts, and rich problem-solving tasks, I encouraged students to apply higher order skills to reflect and communicate on a daily basis. In collaboration with associate teachers, I deconstructed student exemplars using visuals to highlight success criteria for level 3 and 4 work across subject areas. Together with the students, I constructed graphic organizers and explicitly taught students when to use an organizer, how to use it, and how to evaluate its effectiveness. In addition, I developed checklists and self-assessment tools, such as “Two Stars and a Goal”, with the students in an effort to scaffold their understanding and foster their independence.