Updated: Nov 21
How much time do you spend thinking about and working to improve your teaching practices? Do you take online courses to develop your skills and keep up with the current research? Some weeks are better than others for me, but improvement is a constant in my life.
In this week's blog entry, I share how you can apply and critique your use of instructional design in multiple teaching contexts.
Instructional design involves the thoughtful process of facilitating teaching and supporting learning success. It is about the effective explanation of concepts that help students increase critical thinking skills and refine their application.
The field of instructional design can help you understand the science behind the digital and concrete walls of today's classrooms.
I hope I haven't lost you with education jargon.
The work of Benjamin Bloom is critical to the field of instructional design. Bloom is an educational psychologist renowned for theorizing that it is possible to observe learning levels among students. Through Bloom’s research, vocabulary emerged to help teachers create more precise learning objectives.
Do you use Bloom’s Taxonomy of Action Verbs to help you think about learning objectives? I use them in almost every opportunity that I receive to teach. With a simple Google search of the terms "Bloom's Taxonomy Verbs," you can find multiple pdf sources with examples of words that can improve the clarity of the learning objectives you select to meet your curriculum's goals.
In addition to Benjamin Bloom, another educational researcher, Robert Gagne serves as a key player in the instructional design game. Gagne is known for identifying nine learning levels to improve teaching and learning in schools. These nine levels provide strategies to enhance pedagogy from reception to the transfer of knowledge and skills.
Whether I am leading a capoeira class on Saturday mornings or one learning strategies related topic on Monday afternoon, theories consistent with instructional design guide how I deliver the content.
Capoeira involves dance, music, self-defense, acrobatics, and communal philosophies. It has multiple interactive and interconnected layers. When I arrive at the beach where I teach capoeira on the weekends, my learning objectives include explaining three attack and defense movements. For assessment and application, we end each class with time in the circle of capoeira, roda, where we attempt to avoid contact while exchanging powerful kicks and impressive acrobatics to music.
Here is an example of how I might breakdown a complicated set of movements for an advanced student.
My students are often unaware of how I plan each class meeting, but Benjamin Bloom's observable and measurable learning theory often guides my presentation of topics and skills. During prep time, I usually select three learning objectives to structure each class. At the end of every class, I review the learning objectives to clarify any concerns and reiterate the session's purpose.
During the week, I teach learning strategies to adult students enrolled in a Caribbean medical school. I use learning objectives and Gagne’s model to help students select effective tactics to process massive amounts of content about the human body. Some classes are better than others, but I am consistent with strategizing to structure each lesson to support all students' learning.
Below is a picture of this week's class's objectives that conclude a sixteen-week learning strategies course.
As identified in the learning objectives pictured, our final meeting intends to review the tactics discussed throughout the semester. I want to answer any lingering questions about the content covered. The overarching goal is to ensure that students have enough information to adjust their study approaches for the pending final exam.
After the course, I hope it encourages life-long learning habits among a majority of the students. In the medical field, doctors require continual education. Maybe, I am too optimistic, but a teacher can dream about creating a lasting impact on their students' lives, right?
How effective are you with motivating students? In Napoleon Hill’s book, How to Own Your Own Mind, I read that deep motive is found in every successful individual. As educators, we must identify ways to inspire and encourage every student in our classes.
Possibly, reaching every student is a stretch, but at least we can try and touch our toes!
I am not a guru, but motivation and drive are critical partners in encouraging lifelong learning with diverse students.
In societies plagued by racism, sexism, and additional isms, the need to support students classified as “other” is vital. The “other” in our society consists of all individuals that do not fit white, male, and heterosexual identities. Their limited roles in positions of power are part of why I teach and invest in resources to help me improve as an educator.
Yes, Harris is a step in the right direction, but sometimes good intentions get us lost in the political paths leading to success for all people, as witnessed with Obama.
If you read the work of one of my previous professors, Dr. Kevin Kumashiro, you can learn more about “others” in our society and how to best support diverse students in schools.
One more thing, before I let you get back to business. I need to tie in Gagne’s work to this discussion.
Last week, I had the opportunity to provide a guest lecture for a class of undergraduate students at California State University, Sacramento. The course covers the topics of Power, Privilege, and Self-Identity in the United States. During our Zoom meeting, I brought in an ex-pat perspective and discussed how race, racism, and power evolve and continue racial inequalities on a global scale.
To address this complicated topic, I used Bloom’s Taxonomy to create learning objectives and Gagne's emphasis on gaining attention to increase reception for my presentation.
I began the talk with a creative exercise that asked students to close their eyes and picture themselves in the fourth grade. This activity facilitated the discussion of my first experiences with race outside my segregated Chicago community. From this opening activity designed to gain attention, I covered my learning objectives through multiple examples relative to the current US political system and my family’s experience abroad.
The class took place at 9:30 PM in Antigua last Thursday evening. Due to my early wake-up time, I am in bed by 8:30 PM on most nights. I felt off in my delivery of the topic. Following the presentation, I asked for a copy of the recording to analyze and review the lecture’s strengths and weaknesses.
Do you review your class recordings? Like following the latest research trends, I need to be more consistent with watching my classes' recordings. I did make it a priority for my talk with the students of California State University, Sacramento.
From the video, I observed that I covered my learning objectives, and overall it appeared that the presentation was well-received despite some flaws. With careful analysis, I saw ways to improve the explanation of key concepts. My power description was too vague, and I didn't use concrete examples from the US to clarify the definition I wanted students to take with them from the class.
Improving as an educator involves consistent time for self-reflection. Watching your lessons and journaling are two of the multiple options to help you with self-reflection. Maintaining this practice is not easy, but you and your future classes will appreciate the results.
If you read my first two books, then you know how much my work and research have benefited from documenting classroom experiences.
The weekend is here! Can you spare ten minutes to write in your journal about this week’s teaching experiences? Share this post with one teacher in your network and subscribe here for similar posts. #educatorsunite