I love baseball. One of my first memories was learning how to hit a ball off a tee from my dad. We had watched hundreds of baseball games together—Giants games to be exact [Step: Preview/Access Prior Knowledge]. Will Clark (number 22) was my guy. First at bat in the major leagues? He hit a home run off of none other than Nolan Ryan. My first T-ball at bat? I probably sent it backwards about 6 inches (er, 15 cm).
The night before my first T-ball lesson, my dad called me into his office. We watched the BEST YouTube video ever: The 20 Greatest At Bats of All Time. He asked what the most important part of baseball was. “Scoring runs,” I said. “You got it,” he replied, “but you’ve got to get a hit before you can score.” Then I watched a funny video: Worst Hitters Ever. It was hilarious—guys swinging way out of the strike zone, falling over, one even doing a 360. [Step: Opening]
The next day came, and there we were, my dad and I. I’m “holding” the bat as naturally as a lobster holds a potato, while my dad adjusts it in my hands and explains what to do:
“Ok, hold the bat like this.”
“No no, like this—”
“Yep, that’s better. Now widen your stance—”
“Yeah. Bend your- your knees and your elbows and raise your arms.”
“Yep. Now eye on the— bend your knees. Keep your knees bent. Eyes on the ball. Eyes on— looking at— now turn, but keep your eyes on— that’s right keep looking at— and we’re going to bring the bat to your belly button and keep swinging and turn your knees and follow through.” [Step: Intro to New Material]
We repeated that probably ten times—just the motion. No point in practicing with a ball if you don’t have the mechanics down. Next, he put balls on the tee and we would do the same thing, his hands over my lobster claws. [Step: Guided Practice] When my dad felt like I was getting it, he let me start doing it on my own while he watched. He’d say “bend your knees,” “eyes on the ball”, “head down,” even “stop picking your nose” when need be. He sometimes checked me without correcting what I did. “Where should your knees be?”, he’d ask, and I’d say, “Bent!” and bend them. [Step: Check for Understanding] When he noticed patterns or saw that I was really off, he put his hands over mine again and modelled exactly what was wrong and how to correct it. After an hour, we went inside. My mom asked how it went. I said, “I learned how to hit a ball!” [Step: Closure] My dad said, “He’s doing pretty well, but he’s got to practice more.” [Step: Reflection] So, after school the next day, when my dad was still at work, I hit some balls off the tee. [Step: Independent Practice/”Homework”]
A few days later, he asked to see how my swing was looking. So I ran and got the tee, my bat, and the bucket of balls and I showed him what I remembered. This time he didn’t even help me—he just watched! If I could hit 10 balls without hitting the tee, he told me, he would teach me how to catch a ball [Step: Exit Slip/Assessment].
This process, in a nutshell, is how you teach. Everyone “knows” how to do it, but I’m going to show you tricks to make sure (1) your lesson flows, (2) it’s more interesting than what other teachers usually do, and (3) most of your students actually remember what you’re teaching. Here’s the above process in a template (Google account required).
The main complaint I hear from students related to lesson design is, “Why was that on the test?” This can be a very valid comment. Tests should be made before the unit is taught (i.e. backwards design), so the teacher knows that students can succeed. Students should not be have to guess what will be on an assessment. A good teacher explains this each day in the daily objectives.
Does this sound correct to you, auxiliares? Would you add steps? Take steps away? Let’s hear your take in the comments below.