Deductive and Inductive Approach to the "Big Idea"
One decision you will have to make early on is whether you are going to take a deductive or an inductive approach to the "Big Idea." That decision will guide the questions you develop for this phase of PBL. You probably will want to use the deductive approach with young students, but regardless of which approach you use, the Big Idea is an important component of Helping Cocoa. It provides a lens for looking at the issues involved in this problem scenario, and it facilitates transfer of what is learned during this unit to other problem situations. Use of a Big Idea is discussed in the Universal Design for Learning paper that is referenced in the Professional Information Center.
Embedded Instruction ("just in time" teaching)
As students engage in their Learning Tasks, there will be many opportunities for "just in time" teaching, or embedded instruction. This can take the form of mini-lectures, demonstrations, interviews, readings, videos, etc. During the Investigation phase, you should be prepared to provide information and demonstrations for each of the content topics of the unit as well as the following skills:
- making observations
- recording and displaying data
- making predictions
- asking and answering questions
- using and drawing simple maps
- other – (complete the list with items of your own)
You will want to plan carefully for the grouping and instructional structures you will use and to establish effective ways for students to acquire and manage the information they need. Consider the strategies below.
Scaffolding, an essential teaching technique, refers to the guidance teachers give to students as they gain new knowledge and learn new skills. On difficult tasks, scaffolding is substantial at first, but then is gradually withdrawn as students become increasingly able to perform independently. The amount and duration of scaffolding will change with the needs of the learner as well as the difficulty of the task. To read more about scaffolding, please see the Universal Design for Learning paper referenced in the Professional Information Center.
Content Enhancements are memory and/or organization aids, such as graphic organizers, maps and tables, videos, photographs and multimedia, etc., that do what their name implies – enhance content. Their use is especially important for students with special learning needs, but they should be used by any student who finds them helpful. We have prompted the use of content enhancements in some of the Learning Tasks as part of the unit’s UDL feature. You will find a description of content enhancements in the paper on Universal Design for Learning .
Reciprocal teaching is a well-researched and highly regarded strategy for comprehension and concept development. We have found it also works well with small groups in a problem-solving situation. A brief description of reciprocal teaching can be found in a paper referenced in the Professional Information Center.
A very effective grouping strategy is the jigsaw, a cooperative learning structure that provides a strong design for grouping students. If you clicked on the Learning Tasks above you will have found several tasks that are appropriate for small group work. You could use the jigsaw to segment and assign those tasks. With students in the primary grades, you will have to have an instructional leader (teacher, teacher assistant, parent volunteer, older student, etc.) at each of the “expert” learning centers.
Inquiry ("stop and think") / Re-visiting the Learning Issues Board
As students work, periodically ask them to stop and think about what they are learning and if they are answering the questions they asked and you recorded on the Learning Issues Board. It would be a good idea to spend a few minutes each day re-visiting the Learning Issues Board and recording what students have learned and writing down additional questions that have been raised.