4.4 Component 1e – Designing Coherent Instruction
When I began this the Master of Arts in Teaching program my understanding of designing instruction would be summed up as “teach students so they know how to do math.” According to the Internship Performance Criteria, in order to be proficient at this, “The lesson or unit has a clearly defined structure around which activities are organized. Progression of activities is even, with reasonable time allocations.” This was one area I was intimidated by as I began the program. However, over the course of EDU 6150, I have become more confident in my ability to do so in a way to help students succeed.
Designing coherent instruction requires a solid grasp of the subject matter and the learning standards that are being addressed. Below is a section of a lesson plan focused on performing addition, subtraction, and multiplication of polynomials that I wrote for EDU 6150.
The learning standard has been identified and from this the Central Focus and Learning Targets have been derived. There is a list of the Academic Language to be included. Now that the end goals have been defined the designing of the lesson can begin.
Properly designed instruction will likely begin with some sort of review of prior learning. This not only reinforces prior learning but helps identify if students are ready to begin learning new material. This is the section of the lesson plan where instruction actually begins and it does so with review of prior knowledge. This review might include both recently learned material and material learned in the more distant past. The informal assessment serves as a checkpoint that helps recognize if students are ready to proceed.
The next part of the lesson plan is the new material: addition of polynomials. This lesson plan utilizes the “I do, we do, you do” model. This approach allows opportunity for a great deal of formative assessment. This structure was repeated for subtraction of polynomials and multiplication of polynomials as well.
This lesson plan follows a very methodical, structured approach. It benefits the teacher and students by making sure all necessary steps are taken. It also provides checkpoints to make sure there is understanding by students prior to moving on.
What I learned in the writing and teaching this lesson was that it was too dense. It needs to be broken up into 2 (addition/subtraction and multiplication) or 3 lessons (addition, subtraction, and multiplication). There could also be a greater variety of informal assessment methods used.
While many of the concepts of mathematics are fairly simple in concept, their execution can be rather complicated. Following a methodical, structured approach allows math practitioners to minimize simple errors and identify where those errors are made. Modelling a methodical, structured approach, both in the solving of examples and the overall instruction of the subject will reinforce this idea to students. Going forward, a greater number of learning activities will need to be incorporated into my instruction. The “I do, we do, you do” model is very effective, but if overused it will be become “I do, we ignore.”