Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are Instructional Dialogs a Good Teaching Methodology?

In one of the many discussions during the breakout session in the forum, the question was posed as to whether Instructional Dialogs should be considered a good teaching methodology or whether Instructional Dialogs were just an easy way for a teacher to get through the day. First, the question, “What makes a great teacher?” needs to be considered. This question has endless answers and has been greatly researched. Responses vary and are numerous. Here are just a few examples.

Great teachers:
· Clearly state a daily learning objective, refer back to it, and check for mastery.
· Are organized and prepared for class.
· Understand the subject matter they are teaching.
· Involve students and encourage them to think at a higher level.
· Consider student’s current academic level and instruct students based on their specific needs.
· Communicate with parents on a regular basis.
· Expect big things for all students.
· Build relationships with their students and care about them as people first.

Instructional dialogs share many of the characteristics of a great teacher. Each Instructional Dialog clearly states a learning objective and consistently refers back to the objective. Throughout the instruction, the child is checked for understanding using instructional questions and feedback. Finally, the formative quiz at the end of the instructional dialog shows whether the student has mastered the skill.

Preparation and organization is key for a great teacher. The instructional dialog is completed, perfected, and scheduled before the beginning of class. This allows the teachers to be well prepared for instruction.

Having the ability to link to experts all over the Internet and allowing the teacher to give students access to the best resources available in order to develop a thorough understanding of the topic is a huge plus when using Instructional Dialogs. Instructional Dialogs also provide teachers the ability to get help in explaining and understanding more complex topics.

The feedback portion of the instructional dialogs pinpoints the student mistakes and provides specific direction as to what the learner needs to do differently to master the standard. This feedback not only teaches students at their current level, but it encourages learners to think at a higher level. In other words, it forces students to analyze their own mistakes.

When a teacher posts the results from an Instructional Dialog, Galileo allows parents to see student academic progress. This tool helps teachers easily communicate with parents. Coupling instructional dialogs, formative assessments, and benchmark assessments using Galileo creates a record for parents to see constant academic development of their child.

A couple of intangible characteristics must be added to instructional dialogs to perfect this exciting teaching methodology. These include but are not limited to love of learning, love of people, expectations for success, and fun. We all know that computers will never be able to replace a great teacher, but instructional dialogs can definitely make great teachers even greater!

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