Reverse instruction is not an entirely new idea to me. I’ve heard about it before, and I, unknowingly to me at the time, have implemented some aspects of reverse instruction into my daily teaching practice. I would argue that reverse instruction is a perfect fit, especially for math and science, and even more so, in the upper high school classes.
What I’ve Done
This is going to sound very traditional, but in my 11+ years of teaching, I think it works, and the kids (well, most of them) agree with me, according to feedback surveys I have given them at the end of the year. Every class, I typically assign reading from the science textbook (a reasonable length for the age of my students) for homework, and the students have a short quiz on it first thing the following class. It keeps them accountable, and it gives them more time in class to ask questions and work on solving problems and doing experiments and/or projects. And I really think that the students get a lot out of it.
But I still lecture…less than I would if they didn’t have a reading for homework, but I still lecture, and I make the kids copy my notes during class. And of course, they ask why?
“We already took notes for homework, so why do we have to do it again?”
A little repetition never hurt anyone, right? I guess it depends on what our goals are. Although I do my best to create a mostly student-centered classroom, I feel that most students still need some direct instruction. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to work. My “lectures” are more interactive than they would be if I didn’t assign a reading. Students have had a chance to see the content before class and begin to process it. The processing can take time, and sometimes for some students, A LOT of time. Usually, my students come to class with questions, and not just basic questions but thought provoking ones. And I think this is because they have had some time to think about the information that has already been presented to them in the reading.
What I’m Doing
In addition to what I have described above, I have started something new this year. When we take notes during class, I allow my students to chose whether they would like to copy my class notes during the lecture OR annotate their own notes that they took for homework. Previously, students have complained that they take notes for homework AND in class.
“Miss, why are we taking the same notes twice?”
Now that I am giving them the choice between writing down my notes or annotating their own, they are wanting to copy my notes, and they’re not complaining about it! Interesting 😉
What I’m Going To Do
Something else I have started thinking about doing this year, specifically for my DP Chemistry students, is allowing them the choice between reading the textbook pages OR watching a series of short videos about the same content. AND taking notes on one of the two. Richard Thornley has made some amazing videos for DP Chemistry, so I wouldn’t have to create my own (huge plus!). And I’ve already watched the majority of the videos he has created.
In the end, I am still “lecturing” to some extent. I can’t let it go, not just yet, but I am lecturing less, and we now have more time in class for problem solving, which is such an integral skill, especially in DP Chemistry. I am also trying to move toward a more project based learning approach in my grade 9 science classes, so reverse instruction frees up more time for that as well.
What aspects of reverse instruction are you using in your classroom? What’s working? And what’s not working? How can I let go of my lectures for good? I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂