Teaching is more than just teaching. It’s about a third of it. If it stopped with teaching, or direct instruction, kids would essentially be information receptacles. Still, I knew as a teacher that I couldn’t just hand them a worksheet and say, “Now that I’ve taught you this, please go ahead and apply it.” Teachers need a bridge between providing direct instruction and allowing time for independent work. That bridge is the middle third of a good lesson. It’s sometimes called an activity, or the second part of what teachers call “I do, you do, we do.”
When I taught as a school teacher, I instructed students on how to solve something and then brought out fresh questions and said, “Now let’s solve these together.” My job was to anticipate and catch every way that a student could incorrectly attempt to solve the problem. This took a great deal of attentiveness. If I let one mistake in, my best opportunity to set students aright would be gone. It was also messy. I cold called on students more than any other part of the lesson, and they all knew it. When someone was zoned out, it hurt the classroom culture. They sometimes couldn’t remember or, worse, they confidently mis-remembered. Still, the alternative would be to throw them into the deep end and hope for the best.
This has admittedly been the most difficult part of the tutor to translate into technology. The direct instruction and problem set portions have their challenges but are straightforward. The “We do” part, perhaps the most important because it meets a kid where s/he is, has been subjected to the most discussion and scrutiny during the development of Learnatric lesson templates. The fruit has been to make something novel in the EdTech space. A virtual bridge between instruction and independent application. Our web app will prompt the student to respond to a problem step-by-step instead of treating them as information receptacles, and their progression through the activity or “We do” section depends on the answers they input.
Aside from curating the most appropriate lesson for each student’s individual needs, the activity portion technologizes the ideal tutor, and we believe it does so to the great benefit of kids.