Educational research contributes many factors to effective teaching and the effective teacher. Beliefs and values that guide the research change by the decade, however, most of the research agrees that the highest impact on achievement is the teacher. The writer feels that the three factors Marzano pinpoints are ones truly necessary to guide effective teachers. He states “the act of teaching is a holistic endeavor. Effective teachers employ effective instructional strategies, classroom management techniques, and classroom curricular design in a fluent, seamless fashion”. (Marzano, p.77) By combining these three key components, the teacher will do what is necessary to foster student achievement.
It is important to have an effective classroom curricular design, yet this factor is usually given the least amount of attention. Historically, teachers relied on textbooks for curriculum whereas today, many school systems and states set the guidelines for curriculum. The effective teacher must let the students’ needs and classroom environment drive the curriculum. Marzano (2003) presents three principles from cognitive psychology to help implement effective classroom design. Marzano uses these principles to identify “steps that addressed teachers’ needs to identify and articulate the specifics of content, to ensure that students have multiple exposures to content, to identify procedures to be mastered, to structure content and tasks using the principle of sameness, and to engage students in complex tasks that require them to address content in unique ways” (120). The writer agrees that the use of these principles is the base upon which effective teachers design curriculum for their students. The teacher must first set clear learning goals even if the learning is student driven. Each lesson plan should include exactly what the teacher wants the students to learn from the curriculum, regardless of the instructional strategies used to get each student to the goal. Marzano points out that “even when a teacher has clear learning goals, students might not obtain the targeted knowledge and skill” (109).To put this principle into action; the teacher must specifically determine what declarative and procedural knowledge is to be the focus of instruction. At this point, the teacher must also distinguish between those skills and processes students have to master versus those they do not. Instruction can be focused by considering various aspects of the topic, such as category, examples, cause-effect relationships, associated terms and facts. Second, it is necessary to structure tasks and the order in which they are presented. Simmons and Kameenui agree that “an important feature of curriculum design is that it is concerned with the intricacies of analyzing, selecting, prioritizing, sequencing, and scheduling the communication of information before it is packaged for delivery or implemented. It is the behind-the-scenes activity that appears as the sequence of objectives, schedule of tasks, components of instructional strategies, amount and kind of review, number of examples, extent of teacher direction, and support explicated in teachers' guides and lesson plans” that will determine the effectiveness of the design. (A Focus on Curriculum Design: When Children Fail. By: Simmons, Deborah C., Kameenui, Edward J., Focus on Exceptional Children, 0015511X, 19960101, Vol. 28, Issue 7 ERIC) For example, by presenting content in groups or categories, the teacher highlights the “sameness” of critical features of the content. Students will retain the knowledge of the linked topics better than if they were taught in isolation. Finally, in effective curriculum design, the student must be exposed to knowledge repeatedly and in different forms in order for the knowledge to be retained. Teachers can accomplish this principle by presenting new content multiple times using a variety of direct and indirect experiences. These experiences can include…...
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