During the day that I shadowed an administrator, I was given the opportunity to oversee a class in action. I annotated the book The Fundamental Five, and used the five key concepts (Frame the Lesson, Work in the Power Zone, Frequent, Small-Group, Purposeful Talk about the learning, Recognize and Reinforce, and Write Critically) to analyze the teacher's class. Using the book helped me understand how teachers plan effective lessons by executing all five concepts. The interesting part was that the next day, it was apparent that some teachers I have, use these strategies, but incorporate them into their class the way they want to. Personalizing these concepts help make the class more comfortable for the students while in the class.
The first concept is Framing the Lesson. I walked into the physics class I was observing about five minutes into the class, but I still managed to pick up on this concept. The teacher had the outline of the whole class, and the I will/we will on the board in the front. The I will/we will is a strategy used by many teachers. This is when the teacher writes the main focus of that day's class on the board. The "I will" part is for what each individual student will take from the lesson, and the "we will" is what the class as a whole should be working toward by the end of the class. This is a way of letting students know what information they should be taking in that class, and it also helps prepare them for what that class will be. "The effective lesson frame provides the class with a clear picture of critical concepts that will be addressed by the lesson and the individual student with a clear picture of how he or she will demonstrate the understanding of the critical concepts," (Fundamental Five, 2011). Another interesting way this teacher incorporated the first concept into his class was by connecting the lesson from the last class to help students recall. He did this by displaying problems on the board that involved last class's material, but included a touch of this classes material as well. The last way he framed the lesson way by putting the material in perspective. He did this by asking a rhetorical question that was key to keep the students engaged, "Now why is this important to us?" Of off that, he elaborated and talked about why the formulas for work and power were important.
While framing the lesson and throughout the rest of the class, the teacher executed the second concept which is Working in the Power Zone. He did this by constantly walking by students which helped prevent distractions. The teachers classroom was setup in two large rows facing the board. While this may seem like a bad strategy for him to have his students in rows, it actually worked very well due to his teaching style. There was about five feet of space in between the rows which allowed him to constantly be walking through and managing to evaluate how well his students were understanding within about thirty seconds and if he needed to review any of the material. "Working in the power zone represents an improved understanding of the effect of teacher location on instructional outcomes," (Fundamental Five, 2011). Also another key strategy he included that goes with what I just said is that he evaluated the students reactions. This is very important because if a teacher is not paying attention to the students just keeps going through the notes without ever giving them time to understand and ask questions, it is difficult for students to recall that information when being assessed. The teacher did a good job of looking around and making sure each student understand the material clearly, and could apply said material to equations.
The next concept is Frequent, small-group, purposeful talk about the learning. The teacher incorporated this into his class by after going through that day's material, he gave the students a few problems where they could apply the knowledge they just received. During this time the students were allowed to collaborate, allowing stronger answers. Not only did this help each student get the correct answer, if one did not understand the application of material to the equation, another student could help them. Creating an environment where students feel comfortable working together but can also do the work on their own in hard. One way the teacher made sure that students were not just using other classmates answers and did not actually understand the content was that he would go over the equations on the board, but he would call on students randomly and they would tell him how they reached their final answer. This assures that each student will try their best to understand the material. However, if the student struggled, he would then help them and review that material so that student could come to a better understanding. There are plenty of ways to include this concept in the classroom such as discussions and Socratic Seminars which have been effective for a long time. "The use of frequent, small-group, purposeful discussion on the academic topic is at least as old as Socrates and the Socratic method," (Fundamental Five, 2011).
Recognizing and reinforcing is a major role in the Fundamental Five. "Providing recognition and reinforcement addresses two sides of the learning coin, academics and behavior," (Fundamental Five, 2011). The teacher incorporated this concept into his class by acknowledging students that answered questions in front of the class, and coming back to that student later in the class. What this means is that once a student was called on to answer a question in his class, he would thank them after for their participation, rewarding the student. Also, if a question related to the one the student answered earlier in the class comes up again, the teacher would recall back to how the student solved the equation, leaving the student feeling satisfied. The other part of recognizing and reinforcing was used by recalling previous material and "brushing up" on it. This means the teacher would bring up the material from earlier in the class or from previous classes to reinforce the students recollection of that material. A way he did this is by using a warm-up that used the last class's material in the beginning of the class.
The last concept writing critically can be used differently in each class. For example, in English writing critically would be completely different than writing critically in physics due to essays and poems, "Write to discover what you have to say," (The Essential Don Murray, 2009), whereas physics could involve writing critical equations. Writing critically is extremely important for building strong connections for students. Critical writing leads to critical thinking and discussing within the classroom. "Critical writing is a meaningful part of learning. For students, critical writing creates meaning, solidifies connections, transforms subconscious ideas into conscious thoughts, and is essential for authentic literacy," (Fundamental Five, 2011). The teacher helped his students understand and dissect each equation, creating thoughtful analysis of each and every equation.
Each concept is valuable in its own way, however each is stronger when combined with the other concepts. The teacher I observed did a fantastic job of involving all five concepts in his lesson. It was apparent how engaged the students were in his class. The teacher took each concept and used it how he felt it was needed in his classroom, allowing the class to be more individualized and comfortable. The students enjoyed collaborating and were eager to learn. The Fundamental Five can help make a classroom more efficient for the teacher and the students.
Cain, Sean, and Mike Laird. The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction. Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, 2011. Print.
Murray, Donald Morison, Thomas Newkirk, and Lisa C. Miller. The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America's Greatest Writing Teacher. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook/Heinemann, 2009. Print.