Lecturing and Direct Instruction– Good or Bad?
In chapter 5 of Larson and Keiper, the authors discuss lecture strategies and the purpose of direct instruction in teaching. While there are many pros of lecturing and it is a commonly used tool for teaching middle/high schoolers, there are also many downfalls such as information overload (pictured above), tuning out the teacher, causing rote learning, and forgetting information. The teacher is in charge of presenting the material, but they also do not require students to interact with the material in most cases. This causes potential for disinterest or disengagement.
My CT uses lectures frequently in his classroom and I notice some good and bad things about his lectures, most of which are mentioned in the reading. Larson and Keiper point out that lecturing is hard for students with learning disabilities, listening deficits, and writing disabilities. I’ve noticed that in my CT’s classroom, he struggles with getting his special needs students to take notes during lectures and often has to print off notes and give them to the students as a scaffold for their note-taking. Even then, some students struggle with following along with the printed notes and don’t understand the concept of highlighting, writing in the margins, etc. Another issue that I see is the environment of lecturing. On days when my CT lectures with a powerpoint, he usually turns the lights off and stands at the front of the classroom. I notice that the students at the back of the class will often fall asleep or slowly put their heads down. Since the teacher is not in closer proximity, it is hard to catch this and keep the students on task. A solution to this problem may be to walk around the room and even call on students in the back to interact with or provide feedback to the lecture.
Another point I struggled with when reading this section is the idea of direct instruction. My understanding is that this is the most effective way to teach the whole classroom because of the clear expectations for what the students need to know. However, most of my education classes have sort of frowned upon the idea of using direct instruction for the majority of the class time. I feel that being in the classroom, I have realized that most teachers use direct instruction way more than I thought because of time restraints. The school I am observing in has 40-50 minute periods and no block scheduling, so creating interactive lessons is a big challenge. Most of the time the students come in, are immediately engaged in the lecture, and leave immediately after, not even providing time for feedback or assessment. I have thought about how I would maximize time in my own future classroom if I were given these short periods, since I do think that interactive learning is much more resonant than constant lecturing.
Another thing I noticed about my CT’s classroom is the logistical setup. He has all of the desks facing front where the projector and board is, and the desks are lined up in straight rows and columns. He explained that this was helpful because the students can see anything he is using at the front and keeps them on task. However, if he were to want to do interactive learning exercises, the setup would be challenging. It is interesting because in high school I always enjoyed a similar setup as my CT’s because I was a very focused student and would feel a bit distracted sitting in groups or circular setups. Therefore, I almost like the idea of flexibility and moving the desks around depending on your planned lesson. We sort of use that in our methods class and I think it’s a cool idea if you have it planned out well enough.
Overall, I felt that this chapter resonates a lot with my field observation and I think it will be interesting to see how direct instruction is used throughout my own student teaching.