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Lesson Plans
How to Use the Teaching Kits


I. Introduction to Learning Styles

For any particular situation, people have different learning needs. These depend on whether a project involves group learning, individual learning, or formal presentations, and on the circumstances and the individuals involved. How best to fulfill those needs futher depends on the different learning styles of the participants. These include inductive and deductive strategies, and auditory, visual, or kinesthetic tendencies toward accessing and processing information. (We have defined these key terms below for your convenience.) Consequently, we have decided that providing you with maximum flexibility is paramount. We strongly encourage you to treat the basic information in the teaching kits as a starting point for your own project; once you have identified your learning goal, you are free to work the material through any kind of learning style combination (some mix of learning strategy and learning tendency) into a definite set of lesson plans. Our aim is to help you find an approach to the teaching kit material that best suits your purposes and the needs of your learners. To this end, each step of each teaching kit comes with an example of how its material can be geared towards all three learning tendencies and focused into a deductive - or inductive-based activity.

1. Inductive: This learning strategy moves from specifics to generalizations; that is, an inductive learner wants to get at rules and abstract meaning independently from the bottom up.

2. Deductive: This learning strategy moves from generalizations to specifics; that is, a deductive learner wants first to be given a sense of the whole picture and of rules before working from the top down to identify particular cases and examples.

3. Auditory: This learning tendency highlights accessing and processing information through the ear and sound. Auditory learners prefer listening to and talking about what they learn.

4. Visual: This learning tendency highlights accessing and processing information through the eye and images. Visual learners prefer reading about what they learn, or looking at and thinking about it pictorally.

5. Kinesthetic: This learning tendency highlights accessing and processing information through physical gesture and actions. Kinesthetic learners prefer acting out or seeing performed what they learn; they will need to do hands-on activities, such as writing or producing skits, to work through material.

II. Seven Teaching Hints:

1. On the whole, a deductive style is favored by people completely new to a concept; conversely, those who have some familiarity with a topic tend toward inductive learning. Be alert to exceptions to this broad rule.

2. Identify the learning styles of the students and structure your presentations accordingly.

3. Start by clarifying to yourself your own basic learning style and method. This awareness can help you understand your own prejudices when working with others. When working by yourself, it can accelerate your learning process.

4. When lecturing, be sure to pause every 8 minutes or so. This tends to be the maximum optimum attention span of adults. Integrating lecture with individual- or group-based activities can help sustain interest over a longer period of time.

5. Set definite time limits for group/individual work. People have a tendency to set their work pace according to deadlines. In general, follow the same rule as with eating: stop just before you feel full. In this case, halt groups or individuals just before you sense they are completely finished and not five or ten minutes after, since you want to capture and capitalize on (and not dissipate) built-up energy and focus.

6. Use a fair mix of group and individual work, even if your are lecturing. There is no way around the fact that people learn better if they are involved in the teaching process, regardless of what style combination. To help you with this, we have collected a brief list of group and individual activity possibilities. Feel free to use these in any combination as you form the basic information in the teaching kits into specific lesson plans.

7. It is to your advantage to integrate activities from all aspects of learning styles into your presentation and into the learning process. Any larger group of people will invariably have a fair mix of different kinds of learners, so be prepared to tell and show, to tell and let them show, to show and let them tell, or to let them show and tell. Also give them something to listen to, to look at, and to do - sometimes all at once, sometimes separately. Any one individual can gain from crossing over to learning strategies or tendencies that are not habitual. This is where individual and group work can be effective and necessary.

REMEMBER: Traditional teaching is mostly auditory, with some visual accompaniment. Shelter those people who fall outside of these biases with well-rounded activities that include all aspects of learning.

III. Kinds of Group Activities

1. Tag Sessions: Students come up with questions about the lecture, reading, or work at hand. In group, they sit in a circle. Each person who asks a question calls on three students in the group to answer. Other students are free to jump in. If after three questions the student is satisfied, he or she can stop, and then the turn moves to the next student. If not satisfied, the student can continue to ask questions. Under no circumstances should the instuctor intrude. However, the teacher is free to roam about and take notes as a follow-up. Students will need time to become comfortable with this arrangement. Time limits for group sessions can vary.

2. Lecture: Pause every 10 minutes or so during a lecture, between blocks of meaning, and ask students to summarize the main points or to record a question. This provides a break and aids in retention and comprehension.

3. Explain to.........: In groups have the students break the work down into subject areas and then select a target audience (for example a non-native speaker of English). They must then try to develop clear and coherent explanations of the subjects.

4. Planned Participation: The teacher either prepares and distributes questions one lesson period in advance or within a single lesson period, provides questions and a short period of time for the students to put together responses. This stimulates more complete and thoughtful answers.

5. Think/Pair/Share: This is similar to Planned Participation but is group directed. During a single lesson period, when a teacher asks a question, he or she allows the students to think and then turn to their neighbors to test out responses.

6. Single/Group/Single/Group: The teacher first asks students separately to answer questions or solve a problem and then has them form groups to compare solutions/answers. If further questions come up or if there is an impasse, the group returns to individuals and then reforms for group problem solving.

7. Group-to-Group Reporting: This can be used in conjunction with any kind of group activity. If a certain group is stuck or in need of additional input, they can visit other groups and team work for a brief period of time. This cross-group sharing can be formalized: there can be formal messengers sent or group work results can be displayed on a black board or poster board.

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