When using a direct teaching strategy, it is important to keep students engaged and check for understanding of the ideas and concepts presented. Eric Jensen, a leader in brain-based learning, claims that it is imperative to review new information every 10 minutes, again within 48 hours, and once again in seven days to help students internalize new information.
Keep 10-minute reviews lighthearted and tension-free. The point is not to catch someone not knowing, but rather to check for understanding so that you can make adjustments in the next section of the lesson and allow students to summarize and hear others’ thinking. Summarizing and metacognition are two major elements of increasing learning. Following are several strategies for 10-minute reviews.
- Partner share—Divide the class into partners designated either A or B. Then, at appropriate times during the lesson, ask students to share with their partners: For instance,
- Partner A explains the Federalists’ take on trade, and then partner B shares the Jeffersonian Democrats’ views on trade.
- Partner A explains what the subject of this sentence is, and then partner B identifies the verb.
- Everyone up—Ask all the students to stand up; they get to sit down when they can share one fact, idea, or new vocabulary word related to the lesson. Always call on your reluctant learners immediately if you see their hands go up—build a positive connection with them and acknowledge them for correct answers. Never stare down students who aren’t raising their hands. Just look at the clock and say, “We’re out of time! Everyone else sit down.” Even if students haven’t shared, they’ve heard ideas restated and summarized.
- Take five—After 10 to 20 minutes of direct teaching and note taking, take a break from teacher talk and allow the students two to five minutes to share their notes with a partner and fill in any missing information or correct any mistakes. Encourage students to write questions they have on note cards. Walk around, collect the cards, and use these student questions to help you frame the next 10 to 20 minutes of direct teaching. Anonymous questions on note cards are a way for students to ask questions without feeling stupid in front of their classmates. Encourage students to e-mail you questions for the same reason.
- Small-group brain drain—If the class is sitting in table groups, have chart paper and markers at each table. After 10 to 20 minutes, ask groups to list everything they can recall and underline the three most important things. Again, this allows you to quickly assess level of understanding as students talk about ideas, identify the most important ones, and see these ideas restated in different ways. A variation is to ask the groups to use images to represent the three big ideas. Using “non-linguistic” representations of information is a proven way to increase learning (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollack, 2001).
Excerpted and adapted from Everyone’s Invited! Interactive Strategies That Engage Young Adolescents by Jill Spencer. For more 10-minute review strategies as well as 48-hour and 7-day strategies, check out Everyone’s Invited!