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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
We are interested in your experiences with the lesson plans. If you'd like to
let us know what you observed, click here to send us feedback.