If you are like most teachers, you have a lot to teach every year and a limited time to get through it all. When it comes to teaching children, a year is not as long as sounds. Throw in absences, special events and other interruptions to class time, and you may find yourself struggling to get through it all – especially as report cards are normally due well before the end of each semester.
The answer is to start your lessons with some show and tell.
Put simply, telling involves sharing information or knowledge with your students, while showing involves modelling how to do something. Once you are clear about what you want your students to know and be able to do by the end of the lesson, you need to tell them what they need to know and show them how to do the things you want them to be able to do.
Show and Tell Is Effective & Efficient
Some teachers baulk at the idea of show and tell because they are worried the direct teaching of knowledge and skills impedes students’ understanding of what they have learnt. This is not the case. In fact, critical thinking and deep understanding rely upon students’ pre-existing knowledge. Show and tell is both an effective and an efficient way of helping students build their knowledge base.
Show and tell is an integral part of the direct instruction and explicit teaching models. John Hattie’s synthesis of educational research revealed that these models had more impact on student outcomes than constructivist strategies such as inductive teaching and inquiry learning.
Tips for Telling
You don’t’ want to spend your entire lesson telling kids stuff, so it is important to focus on things they really need to know. To do this, have another look at your lesson goal. Your lesson goal helps you to know what you need to tell children. This may include sharing key facts and explaining associated vocabulary. It may also include discussing rules that students could follow to help them in their subsequent task.
For example, consider this Year 6 lesson goal:
|By the end of today’s lesson, I want you to be able to identify prime numbers.|
You would need to explain what identify means and what a prime number is. Your explanations should be concise and student friendly.
|By the end of today’s lesson, I want you to be able to identify a special type of number known as a prime number.
A prime number is a number with just two factors, one and itself. It has no other factors. That means you divide it by one, you can divide it by itself, and you cannot divide it (evenly) by any other number.
Identify means that you tell me which people or things are the ones we want. For example, you might be looking through a class photo, and your aunt may ask you to identify which classmates are your friends. However, in today’s lesson, you will be looking at a group of numbers and identifying which ones are prime numbers.
At this stage, it is important to check for understanding before you go any further. For additional information, see our article on How to Use Questions to Check for Understanding.
The Secrets to Showing
Showing students how to do things involves modelling both the visible actions and the underlying thinking. You model your underlying thinking using the think-aloud strategy, which can be visually displayed in a thought bubble. A review of research shows that teaching children to self-verbalise the steps involved in a task has a large (0.64) impact on their subsequent achievement. This is why it is important for you to think-aloud while modelling how to do the task.
For example, you may put the following task on the board:
Identify the prime numbers in this list 8, 15, 19 and 9.
You would then think-aloud and verbalise the steps you need to follow to solve the problem.
You would follow this by actually solving the problem, while explicitly thinking aloud about the steps.
So speed up your student’s learning by trying some show and tell at the start of your lessons.