“Miriam had taught eighth grade for years. She knew the required curriculum and the amount of time available for each unit. Over the years she had collected many instructional resources to add interest to the topic. She was confident that she had fully prepared for teaching this material. Miriam was unaware that the classroom itself doomed some of her students to failure.
Sue had planned on using at least one Cooperative Learning activity to teach this unit. She assumed that, by actively involving her students, they’d all learn enough to get As or B’s on the unit test. She was doing exactly what her supervisor had suggested. This time her students would out-perform themselves! Sue was unaware that Cooperative Learning would not be effective for a majority of her students.
Barbara had taken a course in alternative teaching strategies. She’d learned that the Activity Alternatives in a Contract Activity Package allowed students to use their “multiple intelligences” to show what and how much they had learned. Her roster included several adolescents who were struggling with identity issues. She thought she’d try a Contract to see if students did as well as her professor had predicted they would. Barbara forgot that the professor had said that Contracts were great -for motivated auditory and/or verbal students.
Most teachers assume that if they care about the youngsters they teach and “cover the curriculum,” their students should be able to master it. Most teachers know what to teach, but don’t realize that they can’t possibly know how to teach it without first identifying how their children learn. And most children do not learn traditionally through lectures, readings or discussions.
Doesn’t everybody learn the same way?
Prize-winning research has made it clear that most children can master the curriculum when they’re taught with strategies, methods or resources that complement how they learn. However, students in the same class often learn differently from each other and many actually learn backwards from each other. As a result, Strategy A can produce an A for one student and a C for another, whereas Strategy B can reverse these same two students’ grades.”
-How do we teach them, if we don’t know how they learn? Apr 1999 by Dunn, RitaRita Dunn
We can talk about Educational Technology and its role in transforming teaching and learning all we want; it is an amazing tool that can be used to differentiate instruction and accommodate the learning styles of most students; but isn’t knowing how the individual students in our classrooms learn best, at the core of all school reform?