How to Teach: The Book of Plenary by Phil Beadle
I’ve read dozens of books on teaching and most of them are fairly straight-forward. It’s hard to describe, but this one is written with a sarcastic, witty, dark kind of tone. It sets it apart from other educational books, that’s for sure.
The author admits that this subject is pretty boring. He mentions another book on the topic with this rather unflattering opening, it’s “an interesting read, if your idea of an interesting read is something that is deeply and unambiguously uninteresting.”
That being said, consolidating learning at the end of a lesson is immensely helpful for students. And it’s something that we don’t regularly do in the classroom.
We need to reconsider how we spend the last ten minutes of a lesson. If we leave things hanging, or simply move on to the next subject, we are missing a key ingredient in student learning.
And all it takes is ten minutes.
You can easily “chunk down the ten minutes so that you give three minutes thinking time in groups, a couple of minutes collecting these ideas – during which the teacher collects, reframes, rephrases, and asks further questions about the learning – and then a further two minutes to go back to the groups and play with the ideas they have heard or the questions the teacher has raised.”
Phil Beadle shares with us three dozen activities we can do in the final ten minutes of a lesson to consolidate learning.
He also cautions us that sometimes new techniques don’t always work right away, but that doesn’t mean they can work or they don’t have value.
He says, “If a new teaching technique doesn’t work the first time, then you have to commit to do it another three times at least. If it doesn’t work after practice and review, then perhaps it isn’t a great idea.”
Practice and review – isn’t that the way we learn anything?
Sharing a learning goal at the start of a lesson is also very important.
“If you don’t tell students what they are going to learn, they are unable to articulate what they are learning (unless they are very bright indeed)”
I learned a few things from this book that I am eager to employ in the classroom. I will share some of the ideas with you once I have tried them out.
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