Read this for a 3 minute overview on how to enhance your teaching practice to engage your students and help them connect the knowledge: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/6-targets-teach-way-brain-learns/
If you believe the learning styles theory, you’re showing up to class with 3 different versions of your lesson plan - one for the kinesthetic learner, another for the visual, a third for the auditory, right?
No, you’re not doing that?
But…but what the different learning styles of your students??
Clearly, no one is showing up to class with three lesson plans. (Unless you are, in which case, please comment below…I’d love to talk about what you’ve found).
In 2008 four psychologists collaborated and cohesively studied the existing literature on learning styles; they concluded that there was no strong evidence to support the learning styles theory but they didn’t completely rule it out. You can read the paper by Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, here: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/pspi/PSPI_9_3.pdf
Yet we continue to talk about learning styles in education.
Veteran Baltimore City Public Schools educator, Dr. Mariale Hardiman, now Professor of Education at Johns Hopkins University, recommends teachers think big picture learning goals and let those learning goals drive the activities and assessments, “When teachers focus solely on the individual points students often miss the larger concepts or the “big picture” essential for deep understanding and memory.”
I look at it as giving the main idea rather than just the bulleted points, as in, “Here’s what you’re going to learning in this section/unit building on previous knowledge of x,y, and z.” I also like to outline the takeaways, as in, here’s what you’re really learning to do. If you’re more of a sports analogy person, think big play, instead of move by move.
But, what about my kinesthetic and auditory and visual learners, teachers will say at this point.
Vicky Krug, a college professor at Westmoreland County Community College, featured in Grey Matters, says, “I take a multi sensorial approach to what I teach and I design the learning experience using multiple senses. I know that getting students up and about in class helps their engagement and focus so I incorporate that. Some material naturally lends itself to movement and with other stuff, I find a way to work it in. I add visuals, I have students repeat things out loud”
Want to try a multi sensorial approach in your classroom? Try backwards planning. What are the key things your students need to master at the end of the unit? Then, think about the best ways to make that happen from both an activities and assessment perspective.
Invest in planning
When Jeremy Mettler planned a unit on the importance of the Suez Canal he started with an in class unit to give him an idea of the collective knowledge base of his students, incorporated flash cards with vocabulary cartoons to help students quickly grasp the basics, and then designed an experience that brought home the differences of travel pre-canal and post-canal. “The biggest thing fear for teachers is the lack of content time but when I invest in planning and using some kind of visual organizer to highlight the key concepts of the unit, it strengthens my teaching practice in class. I teach, instead of just covering content”.
Mix it up
Krug teaches college level developmental reading and writing; she often chooses different instruction materials to help her students grasp concepts simply because they’re more interesting. It’s not uncommon to hear Dr. Seuss or debates on the 14th Amendment in her classes. “I’m a big believer in fun and I give students multiple ways to experience the material so that they have multiple ways to retrieve the material”.
Incorporate Real Life
Justin Holbrook, a 4th grade STEM teacher at Roland Park Elementary, tries to show the real life applications of things, “When students see what I’m teaching them is applicable in the real world, they pay more attention. Place value translated nicely into pay cheques; calculating area was a great way to weigh in on some of the proposed changes to various spaces to our school”.
You can see Mettler, Krug, and Holbrook in the education documentary Grey Matters: Teaching The Way The Brain Learns.
Interested in purchasing for Professional Development? Click here and join teachers and school districts across the US who are using Grey Matters to engage their students and strengthen their teaching practice.