Instructional techniques

What strategies for teaching later years students appeal to you ? Why these ones – is it because of your preferred style of learning?

There are many useful strategies for teaching media studies to later years students; the ones that stood out are those that establish a positive learning environment, suit my preferred style of teaching and suit the subject content, concepts and skills involved in learning about media.

All of Robert Marzano’s (Nine) High-Yield Instructional Strategies (2001) are powerful ways of increasing student participation, learning and achievement. And I am particularly impressed that each has a specific percentage yield, for example Identifying similarities and differences (Yields a 45 percentile gain) !

Marzano’s strategies that struck a chord with me are those that establish, support and maintain a positive class climate and student-centred model of learning. These strategies include Reinforcing effort and providing recognition, Cooperative learning and Setting objectives and providing feedback.

He suggests teachers should reward based on standards of performance and use symbolic recognition rather than just tangible rewards along with having high expectations.

This ideology engages students through encouragement and social acceptance and also promotes a practical approach to behaviour by acknowledging motivation.

Rodolf Dreikurs’ belief that all individuals need to belong, to be with peers, provides the basis of a group-oriented class management model with rules of conduct like “mutual respect, co-operation, shared responsibility and social equality”  that would encourage co-operative learning.

As a democratic teacher I would also set clear-cut expectations and perimeters and encourage ­­­­­effort. I love Alfred Adler’s quote (1930):

An educator’s most important task … is to see no child is discouraged at school, and that a child that enters school already discouraged regains his self-confidence” (p.84).

Setting objectives and providing feedback are just as important. Marzano suggests teachers should create specific but flexible goals, allowing some student choice. Teacher feedback should be corrective, timely, and specific to a criterion.

Students need tangible experience of success to know they have talent. Erik Erikson’s fourth stage of psychosocial development, Industry versus Inferiority, recognises that demonstrating industry builds confidence and improved academic application.

Teachers must design learning experiences that are at an appropriate level of difficulty, challenging, providing feedback to ensure successful outcomes are within the grasp of the student. (Churchill et al., 2013, p.134). Children need opportunities to develop problem-solving abilities and demonstrate their level of creativity and talent and have positive experiences with learning.

In my preferred learning model of inquiry, active learning begins at the get-go. The structured framework helps to stimulate open questioning and encourages students to be intellectually curious about the world; it also demands that they have the proper tools for meaningful research and discussion.

So specific instructional strategies that suit this line of inquiry are those that hypothesise, draw on previous knowledge, question and then answer, tabulate and stimulate the individual and the group.

Walk This Way – Talk This Way – Look This Way is one of my favourites. Its focus on the skills of questioning, analysing and evaluating suit the content and meets the curriculum criteria for Media Arts.

Students are exposed to an onslaught of media messages every day, from television, radio/iPod, magazine and Internet. By interpreting media and applying messages to themselves, adolescents and teens develop self-concepts that are positive or negative, self-acceptable or unacceptable in comparison to these images.

Therefore, a teacher can apply this technique to many mediums other than typical advertising including a provocative short film, a television documentary, or an excerpt from a feature-film video that reveals a powerful moral dilemma. Through an intense shared experience that raises a whole range of issues, students are enabled to see the value of a structured framework for facilitating focused research and critical thinking.

In fact, I interpreted this strategy and applied it to this Year 10 Media Arts lesson called Who’s buying this? where students reflect on and discuss the effect an advertisement may have on the audience’s emotions, identify that audience and question the text, considering explicit and implicit messages, alternative points of view and how to measure success.

More specific teaching strategies and tools that are applicable are graphic thinking organisers that visually represent the organisation of ideas, the question-answer relationship (QAR), which would work well to interpret implicit and explicit messages, a KWL chart for keeping tabs on our learning progression, and for the later years in particular, the response notebook, which is taken for granted for its simplicity.

Response notebooks can be as complex as the teacher desires; and while they are usually intended for English, reading and responding to a text, they can be modelled to apply just as well to Media Arts, with response intended to any form of media.





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