For decades, schools and districts across the country have searched for ways to improve student academic performance and close the achievement gap. Articles and books have been written and educators continue to implement strategies proven to work with all children, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Successful school and district teams know that the solution to improving student performance and closing the achievement gap is simple—-, they must “T2O”… Teach to the Objective, not merely explain a concept or skill. There is a big difference. Students retain and transfer information when teachers tell them what they are going to learn and why, as well as why a skill or concept is important to learn, Teachers who use T2O achieve optimal student achievement.
To achieve optimal student results, schools and districts must do more than analyze data and identify needs. They must align, plan, and decide when and how to effectively teach the standards. Effective teachers use processes to teach all skills and concepts (including tier 2 and 3 intervention) that helped students to learn, retain, and transfer skills and concepts. They align the lesson materials, strategies, and they know how and when to monitor and adjust their lessons to meet the needs of their students. They anticipate issues that might occur for students during the lesson.
Not only do effective teachers use organized, aligned, high quality lesson plans at the correct level of difficulty, but they use a process to ensure the retention and transfer of skills and concepts, as well as monitor and adjust their instructional strategies throughout the lesson. Effective teachers know the difference between ‘teaching a skill or concept’ and ‘explaining a skill or concept’. They take pride in knowing that student learning is contingent upon good, aligned, high quality instruction.
The key to student success is to teach so that students learn, retain, and transfer skills and concepts taught rather than memorize them for a short time, and then forget them.
Research shows that teaching for learning involves engaging students in the learning process and making lessons relevant. There is evidence proving that teachers who analyze data, identify needs, align standards, preplan lessons, and implement T2O at the correct level of difficulty (Webb/Bloom), increase students’ chances of retaining what they learn and transferring it to new learning.
For example, if the standard requires students to Form and use regular and irregular plural nouns, the teacher cannot simply assign tasks that require students to repetitively identify or match regular and irregular plural nouns, Students must be taught how to form and use regular and irregular plural nouns. When do you add “s or es,” or, what to do if the noun ends in “f or fe,” or nouns that change vowels, etc.? Not only must the teacher make the lesson understandable, but he or she must make it relevant. Teachers must decide how to help students connect with the learning, as well as how it will benefit them. When lesson relevancy is established, students are motivated to learn. Teachers should tell or help students understand why they need to learn to form and use irregular verbs. Or, how they will use regular and irregular plural nouns in life. This will help students retain and transfer their knowledge of the skill or concept taught.
In 1987, the Madelyn Hunters’ process for teaching and learning, was established as an effective teaching and planning tool. More than 30 years later, Madelyn Hunter’s Direct Instruction process for teaching remains just as effective as a teaching for learning tool. Schools and districts who achieve measurable and optimal success at closing achievement gaps, report that their teachers routinely implement a research-based process like Hunter’s DI model.
There is ample research indicating that schools in which teachers make sure their lessons are completely aligned with the standards and use research-based processes to teach, get better results. Additionally, research shows that when teachers use processes like T2O, and Hunter’s DI model, students perform better on summative tests because they know more, they can do more, they understand more, and they are able to apply more of their knowledge.
About the Author: Carolyn Goode was assigned as principal to lead the lowest performing school in a large urban school district. Under her leadership, the school became a national award winning model for school improvement and student achievement across the state.