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Explicit Teaching and Struggling Learners

This week I have been teaching rounding to the nearest 10 and 100 using friendly numbers and a number line. I began my lesson with the description of a friendly numbers using the bubble map. This cemented the student’s understanding of a  friendly number and gave them a working definition of what a friendly number looks like and why we use friendly numbers.

After introducing the vocabulary for the lesson I then had the students compare a number line with friendly numbers with a number line that had the numbers 0-10 on it. I did this because I figured that this would give them a better understanding that the number line that we were going to use to round the numbers was an abbreviated version of the number line that they had used previously. We practiced for 2 days with the number line and line segments, I then assessed my students the following Wednesday on rounding to the nearest 10 using line segments. Many of my students did well but there were still too many students that had not mastered the skill.

As I reflected on the lesson I thought I had done a pretty good job of scaffolding the information for the students. So, the next day I explained to the students that some of them had done a great job on mastering the skill of rounding to the nearest ten, but  some students still had not mastered the skill. I began to to review the skill using the number line and as I was about to write the line segment to show the rounding of that number I had an epiphany! I was not being explicit enough when modeling the line segment portion of the lesson for the students. When I introduced the line segment I assumed that the student understood that I was taking a part of the number line and then using that part of the number line to round the number. In the midst of my lesson I began to make that part of that lesson more explicit by saying as I drew the line segment that I was taking this part of the number line to use to round my number. This helped tremendously, because on the quiz the students were having trouble deciding what numbers to put on the line segment. My Tier 2 students (bubble students) benefited the most from this because they are the students who always understand parts of the lesson but can’t quite put the whole lesson together.

Explicit teaching is very important when teaching struggling learners. Sometimes as teachers we get sidetracked by the amount of information that has to be covered within a certain amount of time that we are not explicit enough in our teaching to reach all of our students. The essential components of explicit teaching are:

1. Sequence skills logically
2. Break down complex skills and strategies into smaller instructional units
3. Begin lessons with a clear statement of the lesson’s goals and your expectations
4. Review prior skills and knowledge before beginning instruction
5. Use clear and concise language
6. Provide an adequate range of examples and non-examples.Teaching explicitly is something that has to be planned and does not automatically happen during a lesson. When I plan my lessons I always focus on scaffolding my lessons appropriately because I know that many of my students are struggling readers and they can only process a certain amount of information before they become frustrated. Now that I know that I need to be more concise with the language that I use to teach my lessons, I will have to think more about  how I will explicitly explain and demonstrate concepts to my students.

If  you like my lesson you can try my introduction to rounding for Free!

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I help math teachers who teach high need students to effectively manage their classrooms and deliver high quality math instruction. Learn more about me

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