MCCESC Teaching & Learning
November: Planning Instruction for the Whole Child
The teacher’s instructional plan reflects consistent connections to student experiences, culture and developmental characteristics. These may include prior learning, abilities, strengths, needs, individual talents, backgrounds, skills, language proficiency and interests. The instructional plan draws upon input from school professionals and outside resources.
This component of the rubric also relates back to Ohio's Strategic Plan of "Each Child, Our Future: In Ohio, each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient, lifelong learner who contributes to society."
Where to Begin? Get to Know Your Students
We are not suggesting you spend hours researching, but do spend time asking or interviewing your students so that you can better understand with which assets they are coming into your classroom.
Consider conducting individual student interviews or eliciting information through a questionnaire. Incorporating these questions into content activities will allow you to learn about students while teaching - use these ideas from Edutopia for inspiration. Student interest surveys could be conducted through Google or Microsoft Forms, which would allow you to sort the results into a usable inventory when planning instruction.
Continue gathering information from families:
The information about your students does not just stop with the student and families, previous years' teachers and school professionals (speech/language pathologists, school counselors, occupational/physical therapists, and specialist teachers) can be valuable resources when it comes to planning instruction. Consider the following questions (which are hyperlinked back to the original sources):
- How much did they grow from Fall to Winter and Winter to Spring last year in Reading on benchmark assessments?
- What special instruction, interventions, programs did they get and what materials were used?
- What was the most effective instructional technique, intervention, material, resource for the student last year and how do you know it was effective?
- Is there an IEP (or behavior/transition plan)?
- Who has worked successfully with the student in the past?
- What are the student's fears and frustrations?
- Who are the student's friends?
Now what? Planning next steps
Edutopia suggests that in order to prepare to teach the "whole-child," teachers should "listen to students' interest and concerns, know students on a personal level and attempt to understand their home experiences, model kindness, patience and respect, and tend to students' overall well-being and their emotional and social selves (2018)."
ASCD defines this as ensuring that each child is "healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged."
Edmentum has an excellent article that provides strategies for whole-child instruction:
- Utilize projects and hands-on opportunities.
- Consider the use of cross-curricular units.
- Utilize group work for social skills practice.
- Encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.
- Promote understanding, not rote memorization.
- Allow for choice and hold students accountable.
- Rewrite class expectations around effort, not outcomes.
- Utilize a variety of learning resources, not just textbooks.
- Bring the community connection to the classroom.
This extensive lesson plan template offers thought-provoking questions that may assist in your planning of a whole-child centered lesson.
- Co-developed norms, expectations, rules
- Developmentally-appropriate discipline
- Use of PBIS
- Students are self-regulating their behavior
- Encouraging words from teacher
- Focus on effort, not intelligence/outcome
- Encourages self-monitoring of student behavior
Responsibility and Choice
- Students allowed choice in classroom work
- Students have input on class norms/procedures
- Students held accountable for decisions made
Warmth and Support
- Teachers and students ask caring questions of one another
- Teachers encourage risk-taking, and students feel comfortable doing so
- Students appreciate and include others
- Community Circles
Cooperative Learning (not just group work)
- Group work where everyone depends on one another's contributions
- Group work where everyone is accountable
- Group work where everyone promotes each other's successes
- Group work with positive social skill development/focus
- Group work where students monitor the group's progress towards the goal
- Teacher asks open-ended questions
- Peer-to-peer discussion
- Student-driven conversation
- Students actively listening
Self-Reflection and Self-Assessment
- Students thinking about their work and how to improve
- Students are goal-setting
- Students are self-monitoring progress on goals
Balanced Instruction (does not mean equal)
- Teachers balancing active instruction vs. direct instruction
- Teachers balancing student independent work vs. group work
- Teachers identify instructional strategies that are most impactful for the content/learning
Academic Press and Expectations
- Teacher selecting meaningful learning/instructional activities
- Teacher setting appropriately-challenging lesson goals
- Teacher shares with students his/her high (but not too high) expectations
Competence Building - Modeling, Practicing, Feedback & Coaching
- Teacher is modeling behaviors (communication, goal-setting, reflection)
- Students practice those behaviors (communication, goal-setting, reflection)
- Teacher provides students feedback on those behaviors
- Teacher coaches students on behaviors that require additional practice
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
Reach out - we are here to help. firstname.lastname@example.org