Teaching Methods for Prospective Teachers By: Eileen Dougherty Vanessa Skrba Introduction
Their eyes are on you. Waiting, watchful, they follow your every move. You begin to sweat as you realize that everything you say and do will affect the outcome of the rest of the year. You are about to begin on the most important adventure yet: you are about to begin a year’s worth of lessons. Are you ready? Do you have the “map” you’ll need to get this adventure started? Will you make it to the “X” on the map? Possibly one of the most important “tools” for a teacher is their teaching method.
Possibly the most popular and widespread teaching method is lecturing, in which the teacher gives information and the students listen or take notes. Lecturing is a useful way of imparting a great deal of information quickly, but it is passive for students. Keeping the students’ attention is a major dilemma educators have to face. The best use of lecturing is in combination with other methods; this helps your students retain their interest and attention, allows for more student participation, and emphasizes different learning styles.
An equally popular teaching method is small group discussions (or cooperative learning), in which students are working together in groups to solve problems, giving knowledge a much-needed social context. It makes the students responsible for themselves and each other, and creates a community of learners and writers.There are drawbacks to small group discussion, such as a louder classroom and the occasional giggling of friends in the same groups. These drawbacks can be easily corrected by careful splitting into groups, and constant reminders to keep the noise level low.
This method requires the educator begins the lesson by introducing some provocative idea or question and the students respond. One of the best ways to generate discussion is to ask an open-ended question (one which can't be answered by a simple "yes" or "no"). Questioning tends to be a universal teaching strategy. There are drawbacks to this teaching method, such as lack of class participation due to discomfort from speaking out loud or misunderstanding the questions given to them. Having a student reword the question or giving the class time to react to the questions are good solutions to these drawbacks.
Inductive teaching is an investigative learning process that asks students to pose questions, analyze data, and develop conclusions or generalizations. This teaching method requires educators to “teach kids how to think.” Critical thinking skills are becoming more important; thus, constructivism was created. Constructivism is an approach to teaching and learning based on the premise that cognition (learning) is the result of “mental construction.” In other words, students learn by fitting new information together with what they already know.
X Marks the Spot!
An Interactive Quiz
You are teaching your science class students about the solar system. Which of the following lesson plans would you use?
A. Give facts about the solar system, which the students can copy down and study from.
B. Have the class break into groups, assign each a planet, and have the groups report their findings to the class.
C. Begin the class by asking the students, “If you could go anywhere in outer space, where would you go and why?”
D. All of the Above
You are teaching your math class proportions. Which of the following lesson plans would you use?
A. You give the students a definition of proportions, write some examples on the board, and assign in class as well as homework problems.
B. Have the class break into groups and write word problems. Then have the groups switch problems until all the problems have been worked on.
C. Ask the class for examples of proportions in everyday life.
D. Have the class develop a project where proportions are used (for example, have a class project of making cookies (the ingredients are proportions of the “whole” cookies).
You are teaching your history class about Vikings. Which of the following lesson plans would you use?
A. Give notes on the Viking way of life. Assign passages from the textbook on Vikings.
B. Have the class break into groups and build their own Viking longships.
C. Ask the class, “If you could take over anywhere, anything, what (or where) would it be and why?”
D. Have the class invade another classroom.
You are teaching your writing/language class about speaking in front of a class. Which of the following lesson plans would you use?
A. Give tips on how to be a better speaker.
B. Have the class split into groups and have the groups develop an infomercial to present to the rest of the class.
C. Ask the class, “What is the most difficult part of speaking in front of a class?”
D. All of the above.
You are teaching your Spanish class about the cultural influences in Latin American countries. Which of the following lesson plans would you use?
A. Give notes on the culture of Latin America.
B. Have the class split into groups and have each group pick a Latin American country, researching the culture, and reporting back to the class.
C. Ask the class, “What are some traditions we see celebrated in the U.S. that came from Latin America?”
D. Organize a classroom fiesta. Have each student research an aspect of the fiesta, and have them present their findings.
If you have mostly A’s:
You prefer the lecture method. Try integrating other teaching methods to make your classes more interesting and interactive.
If you have mostly B’s:
You prefer the small-group/discussion method. Try integrating other teaching methods to make your classes more interesting and interactive.
If you have mostly C’s:
You prefer the questioning method. Try integrating other teaching methods to make your classes more interesting and interactive.
If you have mostly D’s:
You prefer the inquiry/inductive method. This is a combination of all the methods together, and probably the most effective teaching method.