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9.1MRW: Ability to support and reinforce the instruction of students in math, reading, and writing following written and oral lesson plans developed by licensed teachers.
9.2MRW: Ability to utilize effective developmental, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive instructional strategies in math, reading, and writing that support the instruction of licensed teachers.

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facilitator supplement

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Basic ConceptTeacher-centered Instruction

Lesson Components

Direct Teaching

Assisted Learning

Reciprocal Teaching

Teacher at the board.Teacher-centered instructionglossary icon is the traditional approach of teaching a lesson in front of a classroom. It involves planning for instruction, implementing the instructional plan, and evaluating students’ learning toward the instructional objectives. Teacher-centered instruction is useful for conveying new information and materials to small or large groups at one time. Even when you are working with one student, using teacher-centered instruction may be the most effective way to convey new material for the day’s lesson. Teacher-centered instruction literally means that the teacher is the person who is imparting knowledge or information to the student. The student is the receiver of this knowledge. In order to do this effectively, it is important to identify the student’s current level of skill or knowledge in the subject being taught. If the level of instructional content is too high or low, the student will not effectively receive the information. Lessons are often designed to address the gap between what students currently know and what schools think they ought to know. The classroom teacher will help select the material best suited to meet the academic needs of the child and will provide instruction that reflects a preferred instructional format. In this unit, we will discuss three specific methods of teacher-centered instruction: direct teachingglossary icon, assisted learningglossary icon, and reciprocal teachingglossary icon.

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Direct Teaching

Direct teaching is a traditional way to provide instruction for the mastery of skills. Direct teaching requires that the instructor clearly understand the overall content, as well as the appropriate order of knowledge and tasks required for students to learn and master the subjects they are studying. For example, when studying math, students must have a solid knowledge of addition before learning subtraction. A thorough understanding of the subject will support both the lessonís instructional objectives and the teacherís order of presentation. It will also assist you in helping the teacher plan the best avenue of instruction for each student assigned to you, and allows the teacher to evaluate the results for each student more closely so that together you can address further learning needs.

As a paraprofessional, you will naturally develop both a general awareness of the studentsí current performance level and recognition of the best working approach based on your daily interactions. This information is an invaluable resource in helping the teacher plan for the most effective instructional strategies. By working together and utilizing individual student information, instruction can be improved.

When the teacher plans a lesson, he or she will first consider the specific target objectiveglossary icon to be taught. This encourages the development of instruction that leads to a studentsí clear understanding of the lesson. As instruction proceeds, the teacher will determine the extent to which the students understand the material and can adjust the amount of material presented accordingly. After the students have a sufficient grasp of the topic, they are given opportunities to practice, either through examples or exercises, (or both) in order to reinforce the presented information.

In direct teaching, the teacher and paraprofessional maintain a large amount of control over both the information being taught and the method of teaching. The instructor can direct and channel the flow of information and material so that students can absorb the knowledge at an optimal rate. As a result, direct teaching is considered to be one of the most efficient instructional methods, allowing students to make progress at a steady pace.

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Assisted Learning

Assisted learning is based on the theory that students should be guided and directed by teachers toward attaining knowledge and learning principles in a subject matter without having to discover them on their own. Assisted learning can be used when giving instruction to individuals or small groups. It is especially useful when you are working with a student individually because it allows you to provide him/her with instruction according to his/her level and ability.

In assisted learning, a teacher initially gives the students strategies that enable them to identify issues or problems. The students are taught to break down the issues into smaller units, and problem solving is focused on each of the smaller units rather than the main issue. This process continues until enough of the smaller units have been overturned to resolve the larger issue. Until the students master how to solve the problems in generalized situations, the teacher must continue to give prompts, encouragement, and clues to aid the studentís progress. As the students begin to master the information and apply it successfully, they will gradually take on more responsibility, ultimately becoming more independent by requiring less assistance. The keys to the success of this method are to:

  1. Choose appropriate materials for the students according to their readiness and needs;
  2. To demonstrate and model the procedure to solve a given problem;
  3. To provide assistance as needed; and
  4. To reduce your assistance as they are able to proceed on their own.

Like direct instruction, assisted learning is considered to be one of the most effective instructional methods. Students can receive your complete support and assistance in helping them master skills and attain knowledge quickly and efficiently.

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Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching is an instructional method focused on the comprehension of reading material. Students are taught to comprehend reading material based on a model of analysis demonstrated by the teacher. This method is dependent upon developing an active dialogue between the teacher and students to discuss points of clarification. Reciprocal teaching is best used in small groups when the emphasis is on reading comprehension. Therefore, it has applications in a number of subject areas.

In reciprocal teaching, the teacher first models four techniques for developing comprehension after reading a supplied example: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting.

  1. The teacher summarizes the contents of a given reading.
  2. Students are questioned about key issues in the material.
  3. Difficult sections of content are clarified.
  4. Students predict the outcome.

As the teacher presents the material, he or she effectively models these four stages, establishing a discussion that can gradually shift the responsibility to the students, enabling them to think critically about the material read.

Reciprocal teaching is considered to be one of the most effective instructional methods to teach reading comprehension. When used, research shows student improvement in levels of reading comprehension. The keys to this method are to model the stages clearly and to understand each studentís ability to apply them, which is dependent upon his or her grasp of the written material.

Information for this unit was gathered, in part, from the following resources:

Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T.E. (1994). Effective instruction for special education (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Mercer, C. D., & Mercer, A. R. (1989). Teaching students with learning problems (3rd ed.). New York: Merrill.

Woolfolk, A. (2001). Educational psychology (8th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


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