Why teachers ought to use re-caps instead of warm-ups
With the exception of news and sports, I rarely watch live television. It is just so much more efficient to use our DVR to record a show and then fast-forward through the title footage and the commercials. There was a time when I also skipped the re-caps that started each show - until Lost.
What I came to see was that these re-caps offered more than a simple review of what had happened previously in the story. The information provided at the beginning of each episode was meant to prepare me with what I needed to know to understand what was going on. It highlighted certain points that I might have missed or dismissed as unimportant. At times, it also foreshadowed a plot point that would be uncovered in the episode; this helped me to see the story as connected (and gave me the feeling that I had solved some puzzle). In other words, it got me to engage at a deep level.
This is what I want to happen at the beginning of my lessons. Instead of spending time on a typical warm-up, I want to use a re-cap that highlights what is important and foreshadows what is coming up in the lesson. We know that learning is supported when it builds on prior knowledge and is seen as fitting into some larger structure (How Students Learn). In The Teaching Gap, there is a description of how a Japanese math teacher uses something similar at the beginning of a geometry lesson:
One lesson ... began with pure memorization. The teacher asked students to recite three properties they had learned already about parallelograms ... As it turned out, the three properties they had just memorized were the key pieces they needed in order to work out a proof. Most students were reasonably successful. (pp. 75-6)
As Hattie points out that, "Too often, students are asked to relate and extend with minimal ideas on which to base this task - leading to impoverished deeper learning. It is for this reason, the workshop model puts such attention on the Schema Activation phase of the lesson and why a traditional warm-up does not cut it.
If professional storytellers understand the importance of activating the schema of a viewer (just look at the number of shows that use re-caps in the video below), then why don't educators make better use of this approach?
Here is where I need your help. What would a re-cap look like in a lesson? Is it the First Act in the 3 Act framework (or perhaps Act 0)? Maybe it is student-work or video of students doing work collected previously that the current lesson will build on. Could it entail students developing a video at the end of a lesson synthesizing what had been done that could be shown during later lessons to provide a reminder of important information that relates to new content?
What do you think?