Effective Lesson Beginnings and Effective Lesson Endings
Introductory reviews provide a connection between old and new learning. Introductory focus attracts students’ attention and provides context for the topic being taught. An effective introduction to lesson draws students into the lesson, focuses their attention on the new content to be learned, and relates that new material to content already learned.
Introductory review examines information that has been covered in earlier lesson, refreshing students’ memories and setting the stage for the new learning. Research examines the way learners process information helps us understand the value of review at the beginning of a lesson. When we learn new information, we interpret it in terms of what we already know, connecting it in our memory to other concepts and ideas. Peoples are not recorders of information, but builder of knowledge structure. To know something is not just to have received information but also to have interpreted and related it to other knowledge. Review helps peoples establish what they already know, which then provides an anchor for new information to come.
Introductory focus is the process teacher use to introduce a learning activity. Introductory focus provides two functions: to attract students’ attention and to provide a context for the topic being studied. Introductory focus can be accomplished in a variety of ways. One of the most effective types of introductory focus employs some type of sensory device. A sensory focus provides students with something to see, hear, feel, smell, or even taste as they begin the lesson. The concept is borrowed from cognitive learning theory and is a type of orienting stimulus. An orienting stimulus is any environmental factor that attracts and maintains and individual’s attention.
The most common type of sensory focus is visual, but all forms have been used effectively. Any sensory reference point that is observable and explicit can serve as a suitable focus. For instance, a series of sentences on the chalkboard or equations on an overhead projector would work in an English or algebra class. In addition, outlines, hierarchies, or objectives are also effevtive.
Just as effective lessons begin by drawing students into the activity and providing a reference frame for new material, effective lessons end by tying the different parts of the lessons together and assessing student’s understanding. Review and closure help students summarize the major ideas in the lesson, and assessment tells both the teacher and students what has been learned and what needs further work.
Closure is a form of review that occurs at the end of a lesson, when the topics is summarized and structured. This technique allows students to leave the class with the sense of the day’s content ad what they were supposed to have derived from it. It also provides a springboard for student’s further study at home.
Closure is important because as learners we instinctively structure information into patterns that make sense to us. If we leave a learning experiences with uncertainties, the idea we intuitively form may be invalid, and because new learning is build on old, these misconceptions detract from future learning. Additional examples of concepts learned, a definition, or a summary can all be used to tie together lesson content. Research indicates that each of these forms of closure is a powerful aid in student learning.
Assessment helps teachers answer questions that occur continually when they teach. Using assessment can answer teacher’s questions: Are students “really get it?” How fast students cover the content? Is there a misconception or problem that need to be remedied? Should teacher go on next topics? Assessment is the process of gathering information and making instructional decisions based on the information. Its basic purpose is to gauge the learner’s progress and provide feedback for both teacher and students. Assessment can take several different forms: quizzes, tests, homework, writing assignments, projects, and work examples.