There are several reasons why a task may be considered complex from an educators point of view. This video will describe the five main reason educators find a topic complex to teach. These reasons include, difficulty integrating the content standard, unfamiliarity with the topic, not having appropraite resources, topics that require multiple steps and having students with insufficient background knowledge
- As an educator, many times I've sat down to plan a unit or lesson and thought, "Oh, boy. "This is going to be impossible." Complex topics can be daunting. What is it that makes these topics so intimidating? Well, there are several reasons. Number one on my list is the process of integrating content standards. Content standards are complex, and they often contain many different sub-topics. Here's an example from common core, Grade 8 reading.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts. Just looking at this standard gives me a headache. There's just too much to dissect all at once. Reading this standard makes me feel overwhelmed, and wondering how I'll break it down into a series of concrete lessons.
A second challenge in teaching a complex standard is feeling unfamiliar with the subject matter. Maybe it's new content that you haven't previously taught, or maybe it's a topic that you don't fully understand. Either way, it's intimidating to teach a complex topic that we first need to research and learn before we can teach it to our students. There's also the possibility that you don't have the necessary resources to teach the content. This happens often in science classes, where complex topics are best taught through demonstration or experiments.
However, you may not have the necessary resources to carry out these tasks. A fourth difficulty is when your students don't have the knowledge or skills to truly take on the topic. There are also topics that may seem complex at first, but then you realize that your students don't have enough foundation to tackle the subject matter. When students don't have the proper background knowledge or skill sets, certain tasks can suddenly become more complex. And the last thing you want to do is set them up for failure.
Finally, I find that many of my most complex topics require multiple steps, or an extensive amount of information for students to comprehend. However, many students aren't prepared to process all of that information at once. These five factors contribute to make certain topics much harder to teach than others, and you, as a teacher, may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, this course is here to help. Together we're going to explore a series of instructional strategies that will help you take on complex topics and teach them successfully.
Karin Hutchinson is an experienced teacher who now helps other educators find new ways to teach. She starts off this course with a quick overview of learning theory, focusing on how students gain new knowledge. These theories set the stage for Karin's framework for making learning accessible to a variety of learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic), making lessons engaging with gamification and choice, and scaffolding instruction to help guide learners who need extra help. Watch to explore strategies for planning instruction, how to respond to learners, and get resources you can put into action in the classroom today.
- Understanding what makes a topic complex
- Using a unit planner
- Writing essential questions
- Identifying what students must do
- Anticipating potential problems
- Creating assessments
- Lesson planning via UDL
- Representing information in different ways
- Engaging students
- Having students act on and express their knowledge