Today, I did a simple inductive lesson in my English Language Learner World History class that I thought readers might find useful – not necessarily for the particular lesson itself, but because it provides a pretty good example of how inductive learning can work.
We’re studying prehistoric times, and the chapter in our textbook briefly mentioned the woolly mammoths and showed an artist’s drawing of one.
We took a break from the book and I showed this video:
Then, I said that scientists are trying to bring a mammoth back to life. I asked if anyone had seen a Jurassic Park movie (many had). We talked about “genes” (as well as “jeans”), and how scientists could take some from a frozen mammoth like the one in the video and use them to create a new one.
I first read it aloud, saying “ummmm” where the blanks were located, and then students completed it. We went over it, and then I asked students to work on their own to use the cloze to figure out the rule about when to use “they” and when to use “them.”
All of them came up with something like “they comes before the verb and them comes after the verb” or “they comes at the beginning of a sentence and them later.”
It went well, and is a textbook example of how to merge content knowledge with language instruction, and to have students “create” their own knowledge.
In the inductive process, students seek patterns and use them to identify their broader meanings and significance. In the deductive process, meanings or rules are given, and students have to then apply them.
I’m a huge fan of using inductive learning, and plenty of research (which you’ll find in the resources on this list) document its effectiveness.
I’ve written many posts about it, and thought it would be useful to bring together a few of my best ones, along with resources developed by others, that explain the inductive process and how to apply it in mainstream and English Language Learner classrooms (feel free to make suggestions of ones I’ve missed):
The British Council has shared a short post that Paul Kaye wrote six years ago that does a great job explaining the difference between inductive and deductive, and he provides a number of practical examples from the language-learning classroom. Check out his article, Presenting New Language.
Here are two British Council posts where I wrote about it:
So what do you think the purpose of consciousness is?
I think the purpose of it is to draw all the relevant information together in a larger space. It’s almost as if we can’t spot it because we are doing it all the time. Why do we love crossword puzzles and why are people addicted to sudoku? That’s what a huge bit of the cortex is primed to do — to spot [patterns] — and once we spot them we can assimilate them into our pyramid of knowledge and build more layers of strategy, and knowing how to do that makes us incredibly successful at controlling the world.
And that’s why solving puzzles or finding a useful bit of information feels so good?
We get streams of pleasure when we find something that can really help us understand some deep pattern. Sudoku isn’t the most [fun activity], but it sure feels good when you put in that last number. It’s why scientists love doing research. The way I approach my job, it’s like trying to solve a really big fuzzy crossword puzzle and when you do put in that new clue and see the deeper pattern, that’s incredibly pleasurable.
If our brains are hungry for information, then why do we tend to see learning as a chore and fail to recognize it as a huge source of pleasure?
I don’t know. Obviously, more intelligent people get more pleasure from spotting these patterns, but I think almost every normal person does this. I think it’s a pretty pervasive thing but it’s almost as if we can’t notice it because it’s so pervasive.
The blog also has a useful chart. It’s worth checking-out but, in summary, it discusses findings that students will remember things far better if they bring their own meaning to in a way they choose:
What this research suggests is that, merely in terms of remembering, it would be more effective for students to come up with their own organisation for course material…..You’ll remember better (and understand much better) if you try and re-organise the material you’ve been given in your own way.
If you are a teacher, like me, then this research raises some distrurbing questions. At a University the main form of teaching we do is the lecture, which puts the student in a passive role and, essentially, asks them to “remember this” – an instruction we know to be ineffective. Instead, we should be thinking hard, always, about how to create teaching experiences in which students are more active, and about creating courses in which students are permitted and encouraged to come up with their own organisation of material, rather than just forced to regurgitate ours.
It’s nothing particularly new, but any research that backs up that kind of perspective certainly can’t hurt….
One big take-away from #ELLTeachersToolbox : I'm reminded that no elaborate planning or materials are needed to put together powerful, engaging lessons. It's the intentionality behind the strategy; choosing what will work best to draw out the assets of our ELs #EllChat_BkClubpic.twitter.com/58LdFLipFH
Sooooooo, been presenting on CRTeach for 6 years BUT never had a wonderful reference WITH #ELL strategies2boot to show the awesome participants. Now…look what I can do!!?? Yeppers!! Grateful 2 @Larryferlazzo & Katie 4 their book & 4 the awesome #Ellchat_BkClub fam 4showing me! pic.twitter.com/qoUSGtY18l
LEA and photos of the experience are a great combo for supporting #ELLs in writing. Kinders sewed teddy bears and next week they will write a narrative recounting the process. Photos will help beginner see the key terms like buttons & stuffing. #coteachingpic.twitter.com/evq4PsEC6b
#EllChat_BkClub 11.0 Using in HS next week in Writer’s Workshop, celebrating growth by evaluating Aug v May writing samples; once partners share, will have a “brag fest” where Ss report writing achievement of partner; skipping revising for this one & focusing on the celebration. pic.twitter.com/pRoO7nUXmw
Strategy 42: Ending the School Year. I went w one of the lessons from technology connections. Video & handout was included. It was fantastic! Look at these beautiful posters. They are very proud so we will do a lot of reflecting!#Ellchat_BkClub#ELLCHATpic.twitter.com/kDMVDPdMwW
Four years ago, in another somewhat futile attempt to reduce the backlog of resources I want to share, I began this occasional “Ed Tech Digest” post where I share three or four links I think are particularly useful and related to…ed tech.
Pixorize is a new site that is designed to use images to help students learn content knowledge. I’m all for using images and, though their idea is intriguing, I’m not sure how effective it’s going to be. Here’s a video example:
Knowhere is a new site that uses Artificial Intelligence to create three different versions of the same article – “right, left and impartial.” I’m not sure how useful it will be, but it’s probably worth a look. You can read more about it at TechCrunch.
There are many lists of different instructional/teaching strategies online. However, I thought readers might find it useful if I compiled a sort of “list of list” – a post sharing the exceptional ones.
And there aren’t many of them (though feel free to let me know which ones I’ve missed).
I’m just putting links on this list to compilations that share multiple instructional strategies, including quite a few that are not the “typical” ones many teachers already know. In addition, the site must be well-designed and share enough information that the teacher can apply each strategy immediately.
I’m starting off with only three, though am happy to add to it. In addition, I’m including a few links to related “Best” lists.