Monday, January 21, 2008

EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION AND SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT

The importance of organization, delivery and time for students to learn specific material is crucial to increasing student engagement in school.

Williams-Bost and Riccomini (2006) have presented 10 principles for implementation of effective instruction to increase engagement for students with disabilities.

1. Active Engagement
The definition of active engagement is the amount of time students are actively engaged in relevant instructional tasks. The amount of time students actively engage can be increased using effective design and delivery of lessons, selection of interesting materials that are culturally relevant and appropriate to the students’ instructional levels, offering a variety of opportunities for student responses and reinforcing class participation.

2. Provide the Experience of Success
Teachers must provide students the opportunity to experience academic success early and regularly. Matching students’ level and task assignments is crucial to providing successful outcomes. Low academic achievement is a major factor in students dropping out of school.

3. Content Coverage and Opportunity to Learn
Deliver the content in the curriculum or classroom so students have the time to learn the content. Addressing absenteeism as a factor for youth at risk by assuring the content is engaging for students. The delivery of instruction is important to consider if students are disengaged.

4. Grouping for Instruction
Teachers who supervise learning activities directly help student engage and achieve their best. Grouping can help teachers engage students in continued learning. Groups consist of whole class, one to one, peer partners with each having its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing to consider is the student’s academic success through increased support or grouping leading to a more likely result the student may stay in school.

5. Scaffolded Instruction
Encouraging students to become self-regulated and independent learners with scaffolded instruction allows students to become successful in school. Scaffolding is a systematic, sequenced series of prompted cues and material and teachers support to help the student utilize their strengths to overcome their weaknesses.

6. Addressing Forms of Knowledge
Teachers who balance the following critical forms of knowledge associated with strategic learning and address the students need to see relevance in the learning are more likely to encourage engagement with at risk youth. The critical forms of knowledge according to Ellis et al (1994) as cited by Bost-Williams & Riccomini (2006) are:

a. Declarative knowledge: basic facts and vocabulary
b. Procedural knowledge: steps used to solve problems
c. Conditional knowledge: when and where to use certain strategies

7. Organizing and Activating Knowledge
Carefully combining previous knowledge with new information is vital to student success. Build simple tasks into more complex tasks to develop foundational skills and knowledge to progress to tasks that are more difficult.

8. Teaching Strategically
Teach students “how to learn” versus “what content to learn”. Strategies include how a person thinks and acts when completing a task or assignment.

9. Making Instruction Explicit
Explicit instruction is teacher-directed instruction that is highly organized, task orientated and presented in a clear, direct manner to promote student understanding.

10. Teaching Sameness
Design instruction so students can recognize patterns and organize information in similar ways. Teaching sameness helps students make relevant connections, link and utilize information in a more effective and efficient way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Using O-LADS to Structure a Classroom Discipline Plan

Hello everyone: Hope you all had a wonderful break and are rested up for another year. I thought I would write about a framework for structuring your classroom discipline that may be beneficial at the beginning of the year.

The program developed by Jerry Olsen (1989) is called O-LADS which refers to the following areas:

O - Ownership: Ownership should give your students a sense of security through control or possession of an object or idea. For example, classroom rules can be developed by all in the group, students are responsible to explain the rules to new students or visitors to the classroom, children may be given the opportunity to work on long term projects of their own choosing, contracts or mediational essays can be used to give children ownership of the problem, children are given a role to play in meetings with parents.

L- Limits: Appropriate boundaries must be set using rules, standards, and defining of areas in which the children work. Children are more secure when they know the boundaries within their control. Examples, Rules and consequences are clearly shown to the students prior to incidences occurring, predictability, consequences may be developed on a heiracrchy (teacher does not need to say "if you misbehave you are kicked out", children will be aware of where they stand on the heirarchy of consequences, refer back to the rule rather than lecturing students on the limits they have broken, visual or non-verbal cues should also be used to help those students who may struggle with auditory processing.

A - Acceptance: Children need to feel accepted for who they are without being blamed, dis-respected or rejected because of their differences. Children know when people do not accept them including the teachers and staff at the school. Techniques that may help with acceptance - using problem solving techniques to help children "own" their problems without blame, teachers can try to use humour, fun, maintain standards so children feel accepted by someone they respect, treat students as capable individuals, teach negotiation skills so children feel they can handle difficult situations with other people.

D - Direction: Giving children a sense of growth and helping them acquire new skills, knowledge and generation of their own ideas. Setting clear goals and standards that enhance feelings of competence, success, curiousity and completion of tasks. Students can experience success and recognition by: using clear goals as targets, using a curriculum that progresses, encouragement from teachers, using good instructional materials, developing morale or group spirit. Other examples, have children write a journey of their lives so far and where they would like to go, imagery through stories and film, compile lists of acquired skills (reading rate, math accuracy), students can define dreams, hopes and aspirations for when they grow up, have students predict how much quality work they can produce over the week, month, year, use timelines to show how the child is progressing with academics and behaviour (visual indicator).

S - Systems: "a set of connected parts forming a complex whole" Relationships are interactive and work two ways. Teacher affect students and students affect teachers. Blame can infect the "whole system" and can split the system so it does not perform efficiently. Teachers should work with parents and parents should work with teachers to make sure they are teaching the child to work cooperatively with all those people around them. Working as a team is paramount. Try to "externalize" the problem, people fight the problem, not each other. See things from others point of view.

The program encompasses all five areas when establishing your discipline plan at school, home and in the community for managing potential difficult situations.

Hope everyone has a great year. I look forward to discussing strategies and ideas as the year unfolds.

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