1. Whenever possible, use lecture primarily for mini-lessons. Short is sweet.
2. Include material that is not in the textbook. Textbook recitations don’t excite! Effective lectures present material that can’t simply be read from the book. Use the book as a jumping off point, not a lesson plan.
3. Mix it up. Keep your style dynamic, not static. Make good eye contact, establish a relationship with the audience and vary the ways you engage with students.
4. Use group work as a part of the lecture. Pause for a few minutes at two or three points in the lecture and ask students to discuss what they’ve learned amongst themselves. This will help with reinforcement and give students time to catch up and consolidate their notes. It also gives you time to assess the class, ask questions of individuals and listen to your students.
5. Show enthusiasm for the subject. If you don’t seem to care about the material your students won’t care either.
6. Quality, not quantity. Don’t overwhelm your students with new information. Studies show that the more new material there is in a lecture, the less information students actually retain from the lecture. Assign readings, use online discussion boards, and direct students to pertinent articles on the Web in addition to shorter lectures.
7. Generate curiosity about the lecture material early in the lecture. Introduce new ideas and push students to develop their own perspectives.
8. Keep it organized and don’t veer off course. Start with a brief outline of what you want to talk about, then use “signposts” to keep your students on track (For example: “Now I want to talk about…,” “That’s the end of our discussion of…”).
9. Check in with your students – not just at the end of the lecture but throughout the class. Summarize each part of your lecture, then check for questions and direct some questions to the class to gauge understanding. Always encourage active discussion, but avoid tangents to keep your lecture moving forward.
10. Use the “rule of threes.” People simply like information presented in threes – beginning, middle, and end. A typical student’s concentration starts to wane after 10-12 minutes, so chunking information during longer lessons allows students to process more effectively.
11. Don’t over-rely on technology. Use PowerPoint slides and the internet to support discussion with visuals and main points.
12. Always integrate collaborative learning with lecture. A lecture should never be just a teacher standing in front of the class talking “at” students.
For more information on differentiation and Response to Intervention, see Susan Fitzell’s book, RTI Strategies for Secondary Teachers.
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