Teaching with your mouth shut Professional Development Seminar Anna Ohanyan, Ph.D. Prepared for the Ohanyan Educational Complex Yerevan, Armenia September 28, 2012
Group-work/brainstorming• Please describe a good teacher using keywords or phrases. – What does s(he) do in the classroom? – What does s(he) do outside of the classroom?
Teaching through Telling model• Telling as a natural model of teaching (“instructions-to-my-house model”) – Transfer of information, requiring student to remember the information • Ex. Telling someone directions to your house. The person has to remember or write down – Students taking notes, and then memorizing for the exam
The Great Teacher stereotype• “She was enthusiastic about her subject. She seemed to know everything there was to know about it, and then some. She had an awe- inspiring command over her material, and in response to any questions, could hold forth brilliantly for as long as she wished. She was captivating when she spoke. She made her field come alive. She got excited in explaining it, and her excitement was contagious. She was clear in her expositions. She asked probing questions and followed them with illuminating answers” (Finkel, 5).
Teaching through Telling model• Groupwork/brainstorming: – Advantages and disadvantages of this model – Models of great teaching alternative to Teaching through Telling model
Limits of Teaching through Telling Model• “Education research over the past twenty-five years has established beyond a doubt a simple fact: What is transmitted to students through lecturing is simply not retained for any significant length of time”. (Finkel, p.3)• “Research clearly favors discussion over the lecture as an instructional method when the variables studied are retention of information after a course is over, transfer of knowledge to novel situations, development of skill in thinking or problem solving, or achievement in affective outcomes, such as motivation for additional learning or changes in attitudes – in other words, the kinds of learning we most care about” (Gardiner, cited in Finkel, p. 3).• one can never forget what s(he) understands.
Teaching with our mouth shut: Let the books do the talking• Teaching through• Parables – The Bible story about the manager of the rich man – Little stories about people in concrete situations (mini-case studies); they appear to hold crucial wisdom or knowledge; somewhat opaque; challenging – Concreteness, specificity, narrative organization, profoundity.• Puzzles and paradoxes (esp. natural sciences) – Canary in a bottle on a scale – Concrete; engaging ; sufficiently intriguing to make us curious about the answer; challenging• Reading great books: – Elise on Helen volcano being active, and writing daddy about it!
Teaching with our mouth shut: Let the Students Do the Talking• Skills of careful reading of primary texts• Struggling with the text ON THEIR OWN. – Ex. Discussing Iliad. • The reasons for war • Are they really fighting for Helen? • Students leading the discussion; teacher as a passive observer• Seminar – “Socratic” seminar – teacher leads her students to a preordained conclusion through carefully formulated questions and the deft art of conversation management – Open-ended seminar – students bring their own questions about a reading, and through conversation and inquiry they address some of the questions – Some other process – Students Do the Talking)• Learning through Inquiry: the “Debater’s Paradox” – How do we learn? Are we told by someone else? Where does that person learn it from? Every culture designates an authority of knowledge: priest, imam, teacher, parent, king, expert. Where does the expert learn it from? Someone who knows everything? God? The process of learning matters, as opposed to the source of knowledge; – Inquiry as a process; inquiry, the process of learning as an engine of Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution in the 17th century; • Our own mind as the only authority of knowledge
Teaching with your mouth shut: Let the Students Do the Talking• Starting the class by asking students to brainstorm questions about the text; why is this an effective technique? Why not? • It prevents the first student willing to talk from directing the conversation for an indeterminate amount of time. • It allows students to hear, read, digest and even ponder a series of questions about the text before beginning to discuss any one of them. • Emphasizes the importance of bringing questions to class, having read the material. • Writing questions on the board before discussing them creates an atmosphere of quiet deliberation – “the calm before the storm”. • Unanswered questions stay with the students to ponder. • Students chose the opening question to discuss.
Teaching with your mouth shut: Let the Students Do the Talking• The role of the teacher in open-ended seminars - “managed conversations” – Spotlight: slow down the discussion when the group rushes past an important comment • “What did you say, Nane? Can you repeat it please? Why do you think that?” – Contribute with usefully posed questions. – Help the class to say focused and productive. • Signal when sufficient time on a question has been spent – “Why don’t we look at question #4 now? “I have lost the connection between what we’re talking about now and Artak’s question” – Help the class to have a civil and orderly conversation • Students tend to interrupt, ignore, dominate the discussion, to impede intelligent inquiry
Teaching with your mouth shut: Let the Students Do the Talking• Formal class presentations – Discuss pros and cons• Out-of-class study groups – Discuss pros and cons – Brainstorm more: consider group-work if there is time.
Teaching with your mouth shut: Teaching through Writing• Direct and indirect speech: – Direct speech/talking • Teacher’s authority is more visible; student listens to the pace, the speed, follows the gestures – Indirect speech/writing to students • Cooler format of interaction; student reads at his/her own pace, pause and think, re-read passages; student is more likely to digest his teacher’s words and to formulate a response to it.
Teaching with your mouth shut: Teaching through Writing• The mystery of graded essays in Soviet Armenia • Teacher Response Letters – Can be substantive or technical – Two or three points in each letter – Strengths and weaknesses of the paper; start with strengths – Example on page 74 in Finkel. • Pros and cons• Converting Lectures into Texts – Pros and cons• Writing an essay – Shows that the teacher is genuinely involved in the inquiry – Provides an example of a good essay – Contributes to the inquiry• Learning through Writing Together – Create community of writers (writing as a process of intellectual inquiry) – Writing as “thinking on paper” (start with a question rather than a thesis – the goal in this type of writing is to locate your thesis) – Writing as a process of public and collective inquiry; students write for each other (p. 80 – Writing for a genuine audience
Teaching with your mouth shut: the rationale• Is democratic; prepares future citizens to participate effectively in a democratic society• To develop the character of students• Promotes independence of mind, self- reliance, autonomy, judgment, sense of responsibility, and capacity to work productively as members of a group.
Groupwork/brainstorming• Please divide into groups according to the age of students with whom you work – Elementary school – Middle school – High school (social and natural sciences may work together)• Please develop potential assignments which will allow you to teach without talking to the students