My STS1 oral presentation involved the presentation of a mini-lesson using cooperative learning to help students compare and contrast two pieces of music. I felt a bit uncomfortable at the time, as it is a slightly strange situation to be teaching one’s peers. However, reflecting back over the experience, my unease went a bit deeper, and I think it was down to the explaining part of the lesson.
I had run over the lesson several times in my head, and it made sense, and I knew what I was going to say. But when it actually came to saying it, I don’t think I made myself clear enough about how the activity would work.
The text Promoting Student Learning (Cornish, L. & Garner, J., 2009) devotes pages 128-150 to the skill of explaining. After reading this, I realised I was attempting a procedural explanation (how to form groups and complete worksheet), and was too vague in my explanation. I could see the groups forming in my head, but had not put enough thought into the specific, step by step instructions I would need to give a class of students who were new to this activity.
So, what will my students need from me? Clear, concise, well structured explanations, and a variety of ways of explaining the same thing to suit different learners. In future, I will be practicing my lessons not just in my head, but out loud to my teddy, the lamp, my husband, whoever is walking down the street. Because how things sound in our heads isn’t always how it sounds out loud.
Cornish, L. & Garner, J. (2009). Promoting Student Learning. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.