Tag Archives: EDU6170

EDU6170—Final—Mini Lesson: Vectors

Lesson Handout (DOC)

Lesson Plan (DOC)

Lesson PowerPoint (PPTX + Mouse Mischief)

WEISENFELD-EDU6170-FINAL: Mini Course on Vectors from John Weisenfeld on Vimeo.

Posted my EDU6170 MidTerm Video

Here’s my FLIP camera doing its stuff.  Sound is not too bad.

My lesson plan that was handed out during the discussion is here.

WEISENFELD-EDU6170-MIDTERM from John Weisenfeld on Vimeo.

Borich Chapter 10 (Reading Reflection #8, due 8/9)

NOTE:  basically an outline of chapter 10, all content from Borich is verbatim (in black not bold) unless in this font/color.

Framing questions

  1. How can I get my learners to unleash their imaginative and intuitive capacities through self-directed learning.  Find out what their interests are and build project-based learning around those.
  2. How do I get learners to accept responsibility for their own learning?  Find out what they are interested in and they will dig deep and go far.  Interests are key.
  3. How can I teach my learners to go beyond the content given—to think critically, reason, and problem solve?  Find out what they are interested in and then find someone who is an expert in that field, the modeling that person will do for them will pull them through these tough things.
  4. How can I engage my learners in project-based learning?  You need to change the whole structure of your classroom and school.  To do this effectively it has to be across the curriculum.  You can’t dabble in PBL.
  5. How can I promote the goals of self-directed learning using differentiated instruction?  That’s a little bit of an oxymoron.  Self-directed learning by definition is driven by a student’s passion and interests, they don’t need instruction they need mentoring and guidance.

Self-Directed Learning:  is an approach to both teaching and learning that actively engages students in the learning process to acquire higher-order skills.

  1. Provide information about when and how to use mental strategies for learning.
  2. Explicitly illustrate how to use these strategies to think through solutions to real-world problems.
  3. Encourage your learners to become actively involved in subject matter by going beyond the information given—to restructure it based on their own ways of thinking and prior understandings.
  4. Gradually shift the responsibility for learning to your students through practice exercises, question-and-answer dialogues, and/or discussions that engage them in increasingly complex thought patterns.

Man is but a mortal fool
When it’s hot, he wants it cool
When it’s cool, he wants it hot
He’s always wanting what is not. (Ode to Summer in Seattle)

Metacognitionmental processes that assist learners to reflect on their thinking by internalizing, understanding, and recalling the content to be learned. E.g. “invisible thinking skills”

  • self-interrogation,
  • self-checking
  • self-monitoring
  • analyzing
  • mnemonics (for classifying and recalling content)

Mental Modeling:  helps students internalize, recall, and then generalize problem solutions to different content at a later time.  Steps:

  1. Showing students the reasoning involved
  2. Making students conscious of the reasoning involved
  3. Focusing students on applying reasoning

Skilled demonstrators of mental procedures do the following:

  • Focus learners’ attention
  • Stress the value of the demonstration
  • Talk in conversational language while demonstrating
  • Make the steps simple and obvious
  • Help learners remember the demonstration

I keep asking myself in this chapter, isn’t this how we should be teaching all the time?  Why is it called out as specific to self-directed learning?  Shouldn’t all learning, or couldn’t all learning be self-directed?  If its true that the only learning that “sticks” is learning related to a student’s interests, then we should spend more time connecting with those.

Teacher Mediation:  on-the-spot adjustments to content flow and complexity to accommodate individual learning needs are called teacher mediation.

  1. The Zone of Maximum Response Opportunity  (this is the Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development):  it is the zone of behavior that if stimulated by you will bring a learner’s response to the next level of refinement.
  2. Hitting the Zone of Maximum Response Opportunity
    1. Can’t be done for all learners at all times.  Hmm.
    2. Is what separates individualized learning (via computer or highly programmed environment) and self-directed learning.

A baseball analogy, don’t aim for hitting the zone too narrowly


Functional Errors:  student errors that can be reacted to in a meaningful way so that learner’s understanding is enhanced.

“the specter of failure is left hanging over the learner and the teacher has no easy way out of this awkward ending”  (Borich, 2011, p. 338).

Reciprocal Teaching:  provides opportunities to explore the content to be learned via classroom dialogue.

Turn a typical discussion into a more productive and self-directed learning experience by practicing the four activities of reciprocal teaching

  1. Predicting
  2. Questioning
  3. Summarizing
  4. Clarifying


Social Dialogue Versus Class Discussion:  teacher scaffolds knowledge, building the dialogue layer by layer, thus shifting the learner from just responding to textual material but to internalizing the material by elaborating, extending, and commenting on it.

Again, I really think all discussion type activities should be social dialogues and not lectures

The Role of Inner Speech: learner-created comments, elaborations, and extensions which although originally verbalized, can become a type of scaffolding, i.e. private internal dialogue in the mind of the learner, and can help guide through future problems.

Sample Dialogues of Self-Directed Learning

think sheets  [need to look these up they look interesting]

Our goal is to move from declarative knowledge to procedural knowledge.


Other Cognitive Strategies: we will talk about each of these in turn

cognitive learning strategy is a mental construct to help you learn on your own, or a general method of thinking that improves learning across a variety of subject areas

  • mnemonics (memory aids)
    • jingles or trigger sentences
    • narrative chaining
    • number rhyme or peg word
    • chunking
  • elaboration/organization (note taking)  [how I am treating this blog post]
    • read text before class
    • watch for signals of importance
    • write down main ideas
    • use a free form outline format
    • write down examples and questions
    • leave blanks if you missed something
    • review your notes ASAP
  • comprehension-monitoring strategies
    • survey the text and make prediction about what it says
    • ask questions about the main idea of the text as it is being read
    • ask “do I understand what I just read?”, i.e. monitor understanding
  • problem-solving strategies
    • problem-based learning:  organizes the curriculum around loosely structured problems that learners solve by using knowledge and skills from several disciplines
    • IDEAL problem solving system
      • Identify the problem
      • Define the terms
      • Explore strategies
      • Act on the strategy
      • Look at the effects
  • project-based strategies
    • see below


Project-Based Learning
1. communicates to learners the importance of the learning process and not just the product
2.  helps them set goals
3.  uses instructional groupings to elicit the cooperation of others in completing the project

”unlike problem-based learning, project-based learning is targeted toward an achievable end product that is visualized before the process is begun” (Borich, 2011, p. 351).  Thus a project has a central question and has a final product.

  1. The Role of Tasks in Project-Based Learning,
    1. characteristics of a good project:
      1. is of extended duration
      2. links several disciplines
      3. focuses on the process as well as the product
      4. involves teacher as a coach, and often small-group collaboration
    2. and
      1. presents a challenge
      2. allows for learner choice and control
      3. is doable
      4. requires collaboration
      5. results in a concrete product
  2. The Role of the Learner in Project-Based Learning, learners will acquire important knowledge and skills from a project only if they
    1. attribute their success to the effort
    2. believe they can accomplish the goals of the project
    3. perceive themselves as competent
  3. The Role of the Teacher in Project-Based Learning
    1. avoid statements that imply that innate ability is all that is required to complete a project
    2. focus learners’ attention both on the process of completing the project and on the product that results
    3. make encouraging statements to learners that promote commitment

Students who fail to see the purpose or personal relevance of class activities perform more poorly than those who do see the connection between their classwork and their lives.  Helping learners take ownership of their learning and allowing them some voice in class activities, as well as their evaluation, is often suggested as an important part of increasing motivation and thus decreasing apathy.  This appears to hold true across cultural and linguistic lines, as well as across academic disciplines.  (Borich, 2011, p. 352).


That last quote speaks really powerfully to me, and I am really looking forward to my internship at a school that highly values project-based learning.  The Big Picture schools (http://www.bigpicture.org) are built on the principles of inherent interest for projects, real-world experience (through internship), and regular presentation of results (student project exhibitions).





Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Blooms Taxonomy of Thinking Skills


Verbs to help inspire:  objectives, assessment techniques, and questions.

Borich Chapter 11 (Reading Reflection #9, due 8/10)

NOTE: basically an outline of chapter 10, all content from Borich is verbatim (in black not bold) unless in this font/color.

Preparation questions

  1. How do I plan a cooperative learning activity?
  2. What roles can I assign to group members?
  3. What are some ways I can reward good group performance?
  4. What are some collaborative skills I can teach my learners?
  5. How can I promote the goals of cooperative learning in a culturally diverse classroom?

Outcomes of Cooperation:  instills in learners important behaviors that prepare them to reason and perform in an adult world.

  1. Attitudes and Values (so if a person sits alone in a room and doesn’t talk or socially interact with anyone, do they still have an attitude?  doe they still have values?)
  2. Prosocial Behavior:  as a teacher, one of your most important roles will be to promote and model positive social interactions and relationships within your classroom.
  3. Alternative Perspectives and Viewpoints:  (ahh the modern textbook, note that it does not say “we form our attitudes and values by confronting the truth, something universally correct for all people and all times”)
  4. Integrated Identity:  Cooperative learning can be the start of stripping away the irrelevant, overly dramatic, and superficial appendages that mask our deepest thoughts and feelings.  Thus we begin to gain an integrated sense of self. (Borich, 2011, p. 365)  (I’m probably just overreacting…) 
  5. Higher Thought Processes:  Books and lectures may be useful for teaching knowledge, comprehension, and application, but they seldom are sufficient to bring about the private, inner speech required for thinking critically, reasoning, and problem solving in real-life settings.


Components of a Cooperative Learning Activity

  1. Teacher Student Interaction:  the purpose of teacher-student interaction during cooperative learning is to promote independent thinking.
  2. Student-Student Interaction:  An essential ingredient of cooperative learning is each learner’s desire to facilitate the task performance of fellow group members.  I’m worried that this promotes a sense of shared mediocrity, of group-think, rather than individual excellence.  I’m skeptical here. 
  3. Task Specialization and Materials:  Cooperative learning tassks are preplanned activities; they are timed, completed in stages, and placed within the context of the work of others.  Cooperative learning typically uses task specialization, or division of labor, to break a larger task into smaller subparts on which separate groups work.
  4. Role Expectations and Responsibilities:  [see quote extended quote below]

The success of cooperative learning activity depends on your communication of role expectations and responsibilities and your modeling of them, when necessary….If a student’s duties are unclear or a group’s assignment is ambiguous, cooperative learning will quickly degenerate into undisciplined discussion, in which there may be numerous uninvolved and passive participants.  Uninvolved and passive participants are individuals who successfully escape sharing anything of themselves.  This defeats the purpose of cooperative learning.  (Borich, 2011, p. 367).

I assume then that collaborative learning if not done well is worse than individual learning?  Because one could imagine that there are those that feel that even cooperative learning done poorly is still better than individual learning.

Establishing a Cooperative Task Structure in Your Classroom

  1. Specifying the Goal:  The goal of a cooperative learning activity specifies the product and/or behaviors that are expected at the end of the activity.
    1. Identify the outcome.  Some examples
      1. written group reports
      2. higher individual achievement on an end-of-activity test 
      3. Oral performance, articulating group consensus
      4. Enumeration and/or resolution of critical issues, decisions, or problems
      5. Critique of an assigned reading
      6. Collection of data, physical or bibliographical, for or against an issue
    2. Check for understanding:  having one member of each group restate the goal and your directions for attaining it is time well spent.
    3. Set a cooperative tone.
  2. Structuring the Task
    1. Group Size: “The most efficient group size for attaining a goal in the least time is four to six members”
    2. Group Composition
  3. Teaching and Evaluating the Collaborative Process
  4. Monitoring Group Performance
  5. Debriefing



Team-Oriented Cooperative Learning Activities

  1. Student Teams—Achievement Division
  2. Teams—Games—Tournaments
  3. Jigsaw II
  4. Team—Assisted Individualization
  5. Overview of Team-Oriented Cooperative Learning Activities



Culturally Responsive Cooperative Learning




Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Borich Chapter 9 (reading Reflection #7, due 8/4)

NOTE:  what follows is basically my own rough outline of Chapter 9, my personal thoughts are in this font and color.

Motivational Questions

  1. What is an effective question?
  2. What are some different types of questions?
  3. What is a question-asking sequence?
  4. How do I ask questions at different levels of cognitive complexity?
  5. How do I ask questions that promote inquiry and problem solving?

Like questions, probes are effective catalysts for achieving the five key instructional goals of

  1. lesson clarity
  2. instructional variety
  3. task orientation
  4. student engagement in the learning process
  5. student success

What is a question?

voice inflection, word emphasis and word choice are key

Effective questions are those for which students actively compose responses and thereby become engaged in the learning process.

  • What Consumes 80% of Class Time?  (100 questions per class hour!)
    • Teacher provides structure, formulating topic or issue for discussion
    • Teacher solicits a response or asks questions of one or more students
    • The student responds or answers the question
    • The teacher reacts to the student’s answer

structuring, soliciting, reacting –> chain of events

  • Are We Asking the Right Questions?
    • 70%-80% simple fact recall
    • 20%-30% higher-level thought processes
      • clarifying
      • expanding
      • generalizing
      • making inferences (Borich, 2011, p. 299)

What are the purposes of questions?

lower order vs. higher order

Most reasons for asking questions fall into the following general categories.

  1. Getting interest and attention.
  2. Diagnosing and checking.
  3. Recalling specific facts or information.
  4. Managing
  5. Encouraging higher-level thought processes.
  6. Structuring and redirecting learning.
  7. Allowing expression of affect.

What are convergent and divergent questions?

convergent question (or direct or closed):  limits an answer to a single or a small number of responses.

divergent question (or indirect or open):  no single best answer but it can have wrong answers

sometimes convergent questions can become divergent. (is the opposite true?) 

  • What does research say about asking convergent and divergent questions

“Remember that far more convergent questions are raised in classrooms than divergent questions; the ratio is about 4:1.  The rationales for using higher-level, divergent-type questions include promotion of critical thinking, formation of concepts and abstractions, and encouragement of analysis-synthesis-evaluation” (Borich, 2011, p. 301).

    • research is mixed on effectiveness of divergent questioning
    • some studies have even reported larger gains with convergent than with divergent, but that’s bunk because
      • the tests used to measure are biased in favor of convergent (low cognitive complexity
      • divergent questioning takes time, and time is at a premium, which means studies are reflecting imbalance in instructional time
      • curriculum and texts don’t have divergent modes
      • harder to measure divergent thinking proficiency

Who are the targets of questions

for a group with varying ability questions should have varying complexity

What sequences of questions are used

question sequence:  structuring –> soliciting –> reacting but also divergent –> convergent


What levels of questions are used

besides divergent/convergent, learner-level-targeted, and sequenced questions need to have different levels of cognitive complexity


  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation

NOTE:  the examples are good, but sometimes I wish the book was a little more focused on math and science.

  • Summary of Question Types
    • Type 1 behaviors:  direct instruction, convergent, knowledge, comprehension, application
    • Type 2 behaviors :  indirect instruction, divergent, analysis, synthesis, evaluation

What is a probe?

probe is a question that immediately follows a students response to a question and can:

  • elicit clarification
    • can you say that another way?
  • solicit new information
    • what other experiments would you do given your lab has been set up?
  • redirect or restructure the student’s response
    • If what you say ( A ) is right then ( B ) must follow, but is ( B ) true?

NOTE:  getting really good at re-direct is essential for good teaching.
NOTE:  Lemov talks about not accepting an answer until it is 100% right, the example in this chapter about latitude and longitude reminded me of that.

How should wait time be used?

  • Wait-time 1:  amount of time a teacher gives a learner to respond when first asked a question
  • Wait-time 2:  interval after a learner’s first response until the teacher or other students affirm or negate the answer

Increasing wait time helps

  • learners give longer answers to questions
  • learners volunteer more responses
  • with fewer unanswered questions
  • learners be more certain of their answers
  • learners bemore willing to give speculative answers
  • increase frequency of learner questions

NOTE:  we all hate the teacher / professor who viewed lecture as just a way to demonstrate their knowledge over everyone else in the class, well with no wait time that’s what it looks like to students.  FYI.

  • Plan the types of questions you will ask
  • Deliver questions in a style that is concise, clear, and to the point
  • Allow time for students to think (wait time 1)
  • Keep students in suspense.
  • Give the student sufficient time to complete his or her response before redirecting the question or probing (wait-time 2)
  • Provide immediate feedback to the learner.


What is culturally responsive questioning.

sociolinguistics:  the study of cultural differences in conversation

there are rules of culture-specific questioning

  • Wait Time:  varies by culture, can be long or short, you just need to learn.
  • Rhythm:  school might seem intense or too lax depending or culture of origin
  • Participation Structure: 

NOTE:  good suggestion here:  if you really want to get to know your students, observe them in any other environment than at school

  • Language:  English may not be dominant receptive or expressive langugea
    • emphasize other forms of communication
    • be sensitive to cultural differences
    • evaluate the reading level and format of materials you use
    • do not confuse language proficiency with subject matter achievement or ability

What are common problems in using questions

  • Do you use complex, ambiguous, or double questions?
    • Focus each question on only one idea
    • State the main idea only once
    • Use concrete language
    • State the question in as few words as possible
  • Do you accept only answers you expect?
    • sometimes comes from bias for/against certain students
  • Why are you asking this question?
    • Have a plan for what you are asking and where it is going.
  • Do you answer the question yourself?
    • Don’t do this it is demoralizing for the student
  • Do you use questions as punishment

NOTE:  there is a popular class (internal education) at Microsoft called Precision Questioning.  That term was popularized by Dennis Matthies and Monica Worline according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_questioning, and current information on that training can be found here:  www.vervago.com

Here is one description of precision questioning.

I thought you might be interested in an innovative type of training that has been very effective in other companies like Microsoft and Cypress Semiconductor. It is called Precision Questioning (PQ).

PQ is a tool for doing two things: improving the efficiency of business conversations and raising the level of critical thinking. It is taught as a one-day workshop in which participants learn the core principles of PQ and how to apply these principles to their daily work.  The workshop is interactive throughout and makes extensive use of video.

At Microsoft and Cypress Semiconductor, PQ is a core course and is taught world-wide. More than 20,000 people in over 40 countries have taken the workshop. Because individuals trained in PQ are able to apply the concepts from the workshop the next day, benefits are immediate.

We could try one of their open-enrollment workshops and if we like it, we could look at an in-house test workshop. They offer a train-the-trainer option if we want to roll it out across the organization. If you think this is worth looking into, you may want to visit their website (www.Vervago.com) or we could set up a meeting with them.


Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Borich Chapter 8 (reading Reflection #6, due 8/3)

NOTE:  this is mostly an outline of the chapter, my thoughts in this font and color.

Guiding questions:

  1. What is concept learning?
  2. what is inquiry learning?
  3. What is problem-based learning?
  4. What are constructivist strategies for teaching?
  5. What are some ways of promoting the goals of concept learning, inquiry and problem solving in a heterogeneous classroom?

Old Adage:  “Tell me and I forget.  Show me and I remember.  Involve me and I understand.”

Tim Robbins –> direct instruction

Kay Greer –> indirect instruction

The cognitive processes of learning

reception, availability, activation

“As learners develop greater skill at inquiry and problem solving, the teacher gradually fades assistance and allows learners to assume more and more responsibility for their own learning”  (Borich, 2011, p. 259).

anticipatory set / advance organizer

“Constructivist lessons are designed and sequenced to encourage learners to use their own experiences to actively construct meaning that makes sense to them, rather than to acquire understanding through exposure to a format exclusively organized by the teacher”  (Borich, 2011, p. 259).

  • Reading (instructional strategies supporting constructivism)
  • Writing (instructional strategies supporting constructivism)
  • Mathematics and Science (instructional strategies supporting constructivism)
  • Social Studies (instructional strategies supporting constructivism)
    • Five Essential Learnings Spiral Upward through Each Grade to Form an Integrated Body of Knowledge [Figure 8.4]
    • In-depth study
    • Higher-order challenge
    • Authentic assessment


Constructivist lesson plans do the following:

  • Present instructional activities in the form of problems for students to solve
  • Develop and refine students’ answers to problems from the point of view and experience of the student.
  • Acknowledge the social nature of learning by encouraging the interaction of the teacher with students and students with one another

integrated bodies of knowledge—> another goal of constructivist teaching

Comparing Direct and Indirect Instructio“

"Indirect means the learner acquires a behavior indirectly by transforming, or constructing, the stimulus material into a meaningful response that differs from both (1) the content used to present the learning and (2) any previous response given by the student”  (Borich, 2011, p. 262).

NOTE:  this is one of the best definitions I have seen, that you know it is indirect because the learning is not identical to the lecture.

Teaching Strategies for Indirect Instruction

Remember Type 1 and Type 2 from chapter 7.

Generalization:  helps learners respond in a similar manner to stimuli that differ bug are bound by a central concept.

Discrimination:  selectively restricts this range by eliminating things that appear to match the student’s concept



An Example of Indirect Instruction

Marty and the communists.


Content Organization

  • Concept Learning
  • Inquiry Learning
  • Problem-Centered Learning
    • achieve higher order outcomes by having in advance all steps required to solve a particular problem
    • A problem-centered organization of a lesson unit recognizes the need to develop problem-solving skills as well as the knowledge and skills to respond to previously unforeseen circumstances
    • necessary steps in problem-centered learning
      • clearly define the problem
      • make clear, students will predict how to solve the problem
      • learners will be expected to access, evaluate, and utilize data from a variety of sources, critically examine their sources and reject those that are less credible or are opinion rather than fact
      • require the solutions fit the problem and be accompanied by clearly stated reasons as to their value or effectiveness


Conceptual Movement:  Induction and Deduction

  • Induction
  • Deduction:  reasoning that proceeds from principles or generalizations to their application in specific instances. 
    • State a theory or generalization to be tested.
    • Form a hypothesis in the form of a prediction
    • Observe or collect data to test the hypothesis
    • Analyze and interpret the data to determine if the prediction is true
    • Conclude whether the generalization held true in the specific context for which it was tested.  (Borich, 2011, p. 275)

NOTE:  I think giving students a good understanding of the differences here and how they apply it to their everyday is almost as useful as using it as a type of instruction.  Especially in math and science.

  • Applying Induction and Deduction


Using Examples and Nonexamples

  • Examples: represent the concept being taught by including all of the attributes essential for recognizing that concept as a member of some larger class.
  • Nonexamples:   fail to represent the concept, lack an attribute or quality.

Using Questions

are key, but see next chapter…

Learner Experience and Use of Student Ideas

  • The Changing View: incorporate ideas of students is controversial.
  • Using Student Ideas Productively
    • use examples and references from their own experience.
    • share mental strategies (teacher thinks transparently)
    • Ask students to seek clarification, draw parallels
    • Encourage understanding and retention of ideas

student-centered learning:  student to select both form and substance

unguided discovery learning:  maintain a high level of interest


Student Self-Evaluation (6th strategy for indirect instruction)


Use of Group Discussion

Comparison of Direct and Indirect Instruction

The direct instruction model is best suited to the teaching of facts, rules, and action sequences and comprises six teaching strategies:  daily review and checking, presenting and structuring new content, guided student practice, feedback and correctives, independent practice, and weekly and monthly reviews.

The indirect instruction model is best suited for concept learning, inquiry learning, and problem-centered learnin, and comprises seven teaching strategies:  advance organization and content, induction and deduction, use of examples and nonexamples, use of questions, use of student ideas, student self-evaluation, and group discussion.


Culturally Responsive Indirect Instruction

reduce stress by adding a personal dimension

  • self-disclosure
  • humor
  • dialog

NOTE:  I really like this chapter, have understood the differences between direct and indirect and know when they would be used.  However, I still feel like I need to start creating lessons and experimenting with the techniques of this chapter.   I can’t wait. 


Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Borich Chapter 7 (reading Reflection #5, due 8/2)

NOTE: what follows is basically my own rough outline of the chapter, my personal thoughts are in this font and color

Teaching Strategies for Direct Instruction

An instructional strategy by which the seven instructional events (from chapter 4)

  1. Gaining attention
  2. Informing the learner of the objective
  3. Stimulating recall of prerequisite learning
  4. Presenting the stimulus material
  5. Eliciting the desired behavior
  6. Providing feedback
  7. Assessing the behavior

Categories of teaching and learning

  • Type 1:  facts, rules and action sequences
  • Type 2:  concepts, patterns and abstractions

“Knowledge acquisition and inquiry are different types of learning outcomes, so each must be linked with the specific strategies most likely to produce the desired outcome. This chapter presents a group of strategies for teaching knowledge acquisition Involving facts, rules, and action sequences called direct Instruction. The next chapter presents strategies for teaching inquiry and problem solving involving concepts, patterns, and abstractions called Indirect Instruction. In subsequent chapters, both types of learning are combined to show how together they can provide a menu of teaching strategies that help your learners solve problems, think critically, and work cooperatively”  (Borich, 2011, p. 223).

Introduction to direct instruction strategies

  1. You clearly present goals and main points
  2. You present content sequentially
  3. You are specific and concrete
  4. You check for students’ understanding


When is direct instruction appropriate?

  • when the book is boring (facetious)
  • when students don’t read the book, because it is boring (facetious)
  • when the content is so boring it can only be learned by repetition (mastery of learning) (facetious)

NOTE:  I really don’t think Direct Instruction is getting a fair and impartial treatment in this chapter, FYI.  It almost seems like it is the last resort and bastion of the boring teacher…


Daily review and checking the previous day’s work (1/6 DI strategies) can be done by

  1. Having students correct each other’s homework at the beginning of class
  2. having students identify especially difficult homework problems in a question-and-answer format
  3. Sampling the understanding of a few students who are good indicators of the range of knowledge possessed by the entire class
  4. Explicitly reviewing the task-relevant information necessary for the day’s lesson.

steering group:  is a small number of low, average and high performers who can be queried at the start of class on the task-relevant prior knowledge needed for the day’s lesson.

Presenting and Structuring (second strategy 2/6 in the direct instruction model)
some ways to break down topic into smaller, more manageable chunks

  • Part-Whole Relationships
  • Sequential Relationships
  • Combinations of Relationships
  • Comparative Relationships
  • Using the Methods (above)  rule-example-rule, order.

Guided student practice (third strategy 3/6 in the direct instruction model) (Borich, 2011, p. 234)

rethink – focus – remember

  • Prompting
    • Verbal Prompts
    • Gestural Prompts
    • Physical Prompts
    • Least-to-Most Intrusive Prompting
    • Full-Class Prompting (ordered turns)
  • Modeling (social learning theory)
    • Attention (four psychological processes need to occur in order to benefit from modeling)
    • Retention
    • Production
    • Motivation

Feedback and Correctives (fourth strategy 4/6 in direct instruction model) (Borich, 2011, p. 238)

  • Correct, Quick and Firm (four categories of student responses)
  • Correct, but Hesitant
  • Incorrect Because of Carelessness
  • Incorrect Because of Lack of Knowledge


  • Strategies for Incorrect Responses
  1. Review the key facts or rules needed to produce a correct solution
  2. Explain the steps used to reach a correct solution
  3. Prompt with clues or hints that represent a partially correct answer
  4. Use different but similar problems to guide student to the correct answer

active responding / passive responding

Independent Practice (fifth strategy 5/6 in direct instruction model) (Borich, 2011, p. 240)

  • unitization:  force simultaneous consideration of all the individual units of a problem
  • automaticity:  connect the units into a single harmonious sequence of action

guidelines for promoting effective practice

  • students should understand the reason for practice
  • effective practice is delivered in a manner that is brief, non-evaluative, and supportive
  • practice should be designed to ensure success
  • practice should be arranged to allow students to receive feedback
  • practice should have the qualities of progress, challenge and variety

things the teacher can do during practice

  1. walk through the first two
  2. schedule seatwork/computer time
  3. circulate during practice time

Weekly and monthly reviews (sixth strategy 6/6 in direct instruction model) (Borich, 2011, p. 243)

Schedule these in response to student accuracy of cold calls.

Other forms of direct instruction

Culturally responsive direct instruction

  • fluency, i.e. quickness of student response, can be influenced by nurturing and expressive qualities of the teacher
  • body posture, language, eye contact all form a pattern of metacommunication that is recognized by the learner and acted on according to the message being conveyed, intentionally or not.
  • tricks to convey a sense of nurturance and caring
    • appropriate examples –> clarify concepts & model performance
    • accept student’s way of understanding
    • reduce feelings of competitiveness
    • increase opportunities for social reinforcement
    • facilitate group achievement
    • use and expect culturally appropriate eye contact with students
    • recognize longer pauses and slower tempo
    • respond to unique or different questions during response
    • balance compliments and reinforcement equally.

What I learned from this chapter.  It is good to know that direct instruction is not dead, which you might assume to hear how other methods are talked about and touted for their ability to get results.  It is also good to know certain tricks that help my direct instruction be more effective.  In particular I learned about tips in giving feedback and correctives.  I really want to have productive dialogue, good give-and-take during my direct instruction sessions.  I think that is a valuable part of direct instruction that simply *cannot* happen during other classroom modalities.


Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Borich Chapter 4 Reflection

Teacher as decision maker means there are four primary inputs to the planning process (no wait, 5)

  1. knowledge of content standards and objectives
  2. knowledge of learner characteristics
  3. knowledge of subject matter
  4. knowledge of teaching methods
  5. Tacit knowledge acquired from day-to-day experiences and feedback in the classroom.

Reflective practice is allowing your knowledge of content and methods to change as your formal university training interacts with your actual classroom experience.  (Borich, 2010, p. 113)

Tacit knowledge is reflection on what works in your classroom, discovered over time and through personal experience.

State Standard and Curriculum Guides (I’ve never seen one of the latter, have you?).  “Clearly specify the content that must be covered and in what period of time.”  (Borich, 2010, p. 115).


  • Make Planning Decisions
    • Standards and objectives
      • simple recall?
      • comprehension needed?
      • application needed?
      • analysis, synthesis, decision-making required?
    • Learners
    • Content (what level)
    • Outcomes
  • Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Unit Planning
    • Disciplinary (Vertical) keeps in mind
        • hierarchy
        • task-relevant prior knowledge
      • Visualizing Specific Teaching Activities
        • simple diagram, boxes to represent “chunks”
      • Visualizing the Sequence of Activities
      • The Written Unit Plan
    • Interdisciplinary (Lateral) Unit Plans
        • Focus is on a theme
        • Example
        • Thematic units


      • The Spectrum of Integrated Curricula, four ways to implement integrated thematic teaching (Parkay  & Hass, 2005)
        • Level 1:  the theme
        • Level 2: consult with other teachers to get buy-in
        • Level 3:  teacher and students work together to form a list of common themes
        • Level 4:  students work on their own to list themes across disciplines
      • Visualizing Your Interdisciplinary Unit
      • The Written Unit Plan
        • main purpose
        • behavioral objectives
        • content
        • procedures and activities
        • instructional aids and resources
        • evaluation methods
  • Making Lesson Plans
    • Determine where to start
    • Providing for Learning Diversity
      • Task-Ability grouping (sounds like mini-tracking?)
      • Learning Centers (and real world problem solving)
      • Review and Follow-Up material (keep extras on hand)
      • Tutoring (peer mentoring and cross-age tutoring)
      • Interactive Instructional DCD-ROMS (interactive individualized practice activities = only as good as the individualization is)
      • Online and Desktop Simulations and Games (I really resonate with this stuff.)
      • Fiber Optics/Telecommunications (living curriculum)
        • Search beyond local libraries
        • Become more specialized and focused on current issues
        • Cooperate with other learners at a distance to create class newspapers
        • Work with cross-age mentors
  • Events of Instruction
      • Learning refers to internal events that go on inside your learners’ heads
      • Teaching is the sum of the instructional activities you provide to influence what goes on in your learner’s heads.
    • Getting Started:  Some Lesson Planning Questions
      • what do you want the students to know and be able to do?
      • to what state standards and curriculum guide will this content relate?
      • Why would your student care or want to know about this topic?  (!!!)
      • How ill you know when your students have achieved the goal of the lesson?
      • What engaging and worthwhile learning tasks will you ask your students to complete.
      • What instructional practices will you use with this lesson to provide evaluative feedback.
    • Gaining Attention (Anticipatory Set)
    • Informing Learners of the Objective (Anticipatory Set, Objectives, Purpose)
    • Stimulating Recall of Prerequisite Learning (Review)
    • Presenting the Content (Input, Modeling)
      • Authenticity
      • Selectivity
      • Variety
    • Eliciting the Desired Behavior (Checking for Understanding, Guided Practice)
    • Providing Feedback (Guided Practice, Closure)
    • Assessing the Lesson Outcome (Independent Practice)
  • Example Lesson Plans
    • Reading Skills
    • Literature and U.S. History
    • Language Arts
    • Consumer Mathematics
      • contrived somewhat?
    • Science:  Manipulative Laboratory Skills

What I liked most in this chapter was the suggestion to use visual planners and the notion that you could just check off learning events for most lessons.  That makes the structure easy but still leaves the creativity of the lesson to us, the teachers.

Borich Chapter 3, (reading Reflection #3, due 7/28)

The main sections of this chapter are:

  • Goals, Standards and Objectives
  • Steps in Preparing Behavioral Objectives
  • The Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Domains
  • Some Misunderstandings about Objectives
  • The Cultural Roots of Objectives

As I read about setting objectives, I think I could definitely use some more practice.  So let me experiment with a topic which I think is key to students in physics, the skill of drawing a Free-Body-Diagram.  There are numerous web resources about applying this skill, and it is essentially to solving almost any problem in classical dynamics in physics.  And it can be fun!




And here are some objectives I could write from a lesson plan around kinetics/kinematics.

Students will be able to attack inclined plane problems by drawing a free body diagram which will enable them to write Newton’s second law in vector form, solving for forces or accelerations in the problem.

That’s good for a first start, but any body can be cut free and random forces applied and you can get a vector equation.  The real trick comes in resolving the forces into simplest representations due to physical constraints, or assuming such constraints if they are not given so that a problem becomes more tractable.  Maybe I should go back one step.

Students will be able to convert a word problem into a drawing which accurately represents the situation described.

Students will be then able to draw a free-body-diagram  appropriate to the situation described and label it with forces that they will use to solve the problem.

Students will be able to solve simple word problems, using F=ma and by drawing and labeling an appropriate free-body-diagram for the problem.

Now I can evaluate these objectives according to instructions in (Borich, 2011).  Will I be able to assess these objectives in formative and summative ways?  Will I be able to assess them in a graduated way, i.e. the proficiency level of met, exceeded, not met?  Will I be able to rank these objectives as far as complexity?  Are these objectives in the cognitive, affective or psychomotor domains?

I also was really intrigued by the misunderstandings about behavioral objectives that Borich (2011) describes in this chapter.  I will have to keep my eyes open for those common misunderstandings.



Borich, G. D. (2011) . Effective teaching methods: Research-based practice. (7th ed.).  Allyn & Bacon.

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