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Ten Highly Effective Teaching Practices from Down Under

By Kim Marshall, TIE columnist

In this paper from the Australian Society for Evidence-Based Teaching, Shaun Killian presents these well-researched keys to teaching and learning:
• Clear lesson goals – “If you cannot quickly and easily state what you want your students to know and be able to do at the end of a given lesson, the goal of your lesson will be unclear,” says Killian.
• Show and tell – Start a lesson by succinctly sharing target information and knowledge and modeling any skills or procedures that students will learn.
• Checking for understanding – Use all-class methods (for example, dry-erase boards or clickers) to see how students are doing and use the information to decide what to do next.
• Students graphically summarizing new learning – Students might create a mind map, flow-chart, or Venn diagram.
• Plenty of practice – “Practice is not about mindless busywork,” says Killian. “Nor does it involve assigning independent tasks that you haven’t previously modeled and taught.” Students need to practice the right things with the teacher circulating to do another check for understanding. For maximum impact, practice sessions should be spaced over time.
• Feedback – “Unlike praise, which focuses on the student rather than the task, feedback provides your students with a tangible understanding of what they did well, of where they are at, and of how they can improve,” says Killian.
• Giving all students time to succeed – The basic idea of mastery learning is to keep the learning goal constant while giving students different amounts of time (with feedback) to master it. This is the approach used by successful coaches of swimming, dancing, martial arts, and other sports.
• Productive group work – The danger of having students work in groups is “social loafing” – most of the work being done by the most skilled or well-informed student in the group. “You should only ask groups to do tasks that all group members can do successfully,” says Killian. Each group member should also be personally responsible for one step of the task.
• Teaching strategies as well as content – Students need direct, explicit instruction in reading, writing, and math skills, followed by guided practice and feedback so they can use the skills independently.
• Nurturing metacognition – This goes beyond knowing which strategies to use – it’s getting students to think about their options, look at how well strategies are working, and be aware of their own skills and knowledge with respect to worthy learning goals.
Killian concludes by mentioning some strategies that don’t have a large effect on student results – among them, whole language, teaching test preparation, and inquiry learning – and a few that are effective but didn’t quite make the top ten, including high expectations and reciprocal teaching.
“Top 10 Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies” by Shaun Killian in The Australian Society for Evidence-Based Teaching, January 2015,

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