Information about Strategic Teaching, Strategic Learning and Thinking Skills Dr. Bob Kizlik
Updated June 23, 2013
Teachers, whether brand new to the classroom, or veterans of many years of service, are always looking for ways to make what they do more effective and more efficient. That even goes for students in teacher preparation programs, as well it should. Efficiency is a measure of what is obtained (results) in relation to what was expended (resources). Effectiveness is a bit more elusive. To be sure, effectiveness in anything, including teaching, can be difficult to describe and to measure. The following is a discussion about some fundamental principles that may lead to actual improvement of instruction. Please read on. In order to use any instructional technique effectively, anyone who teaches must, of necessity, understand the fundamental principles and assumptions upon which the specific technique is based. There is certainly no shortage of descriptions or labels for activities that may be classified as pertaining to instruction. From the ever-popular lecture method to complex student-teacher, student-student interactions, instruction encompasses a broad range of teacher behaviors. At one end (the lecture method) the teacher is an imparter of information, and the students are the intended recipients of the information the teacher imparts. At the other end of the range of teacher behaviors are methods in which teachers interact with students in vastly more complex ways. Most researchers and experts in the field are in agreement that the most permanent and meaningful learning takes place at this end of the range. Strategic teaching, and, concomitantly, strategic learning are techniques in which significant student-teacher interaction and resultant learning and thinking are at the high end of the scale. To learn strategic teaching techniques, and to foster the ability of students to engage in strategic learning, it is important to define some terms. In fact, one of the principles of strategic teaching is to define terms. Below are terms that are relevant to this process. Strategic teaching describes instructional processes that focus directly on fostering student thinking, but goes well beyond that. Strategic teaching and strategic learning are inexorably linked. A strategic teacher has an understanding of the variables of instruction and is aware of the cognitive requirements of learning. In such an awareness, comes a sense of timing and a style of management. The strategic teacher is one who: 1. is a thinker and decision maker;
2. possesses a rich knowledge base;
3. is a modeler and a mediator of instruction.
Variables of instruction refer to those factors that strategic teachers consider in order to develop instruction. These variables, as the name implies, change, and therefore the teacher must be aware of the nature of change as well as the actual variables themselves. These variables are: 1. characteristics of the learner;
2. material to be learned (curriculum content);
3. the criterial task (the goals and outcomes the teacher and learner designate); 4. learning strategies (goal directed activities in which learners engage). In teaching content at the elementary, middle, or secondary level, the strategic teacher helps guide instruction by focusing on learning strategies that foster thinking skills in relation to the content. In connecting new information to what a student already knows, learning becomes more meaningful, and not simply retained for test-taking purposes. There are numerous strategies that teachers can develop that accomplish this purpose. To give one information is not difficult, but to help one be able to develop the tools to both know what information is relevant and the means to acquire it, is perhaps the most important function of any social studies teacher. There are numerous techniques for engaging students in thinking about content. Besides thinking skills, there are such practical...
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