#10 When introducing a new routine, lower the content demands
It will help students master the routine quicker
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💡 A quick tip to try in class this week 💡
Habits and routines are one of the foundations of an effective learning environment. Their obvious benefit is the time they save - if students and teachers know what they are doing because they have done it before, they can just crack on and do it.
But habits and routines have another benefit - they save attention. If students (and teachers) know what is expected, they can dedicate less of their finite attention to the structure of tasks and activities, and more to the content of those tasks and activities, hence learning more in the process.
But when establishing habits and routines, those structures are not familiar. Hence, it is a good idea to lower their content demands initially.
Let me give you two examples from my own teaching.
1. I love a diagnostic question, I use them every lesson, and I want my students to get to the stage where they know the routine for answering a diagnostic question (think in silence, rehearse the explanation, vote only when asked, etc) so well that they can dedicate all their attention to thinking hard about the question itself. But to get students to that stage, I first need to practice with relatively simple diagnostic questions - therefore allowing my students to dedicate more of their limited attention to the routines I want in place for answering the question. If the question is tough and the routine is new, nothing is getting learned.
2. Same with my favourite task structure - the Venn Diagram. For students to get the most out of these activities, I want them dedicating as much of their limited attention to the subject content of the Venn Diagram (straight line graphs, ratio, whatever it may be). But if the Venn Diagram structure itself is unfamiliar, then that is where students' attention will focus on. Hence, the first time I do a Venn Diagram task with my class, I keep the subject content simple - usually basic object shorting. That allows my students to get to the point where the structure of the task is familiar enough that I can raise the content demands.
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
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📺 A video to discuss with a colleague 📺
Languages teacher, Jon Mumford, explains how he records audio feedback for his students to listen to.
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👂 A podcast episode to listen to on your way home 👂
English teacher, Jamie Thom, shares his five tips:
Remember the tortoise and the hare
Tackle the negativity radio
Beware the distraction addiction
Hone your public speaking
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