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?
I guess that is what I've always hoped my best warmups would do - get the students to think about one piece of what has come before in preparation for what will come on that day.ReplyDelete
Sue, I have no doubt that your warm-ups prepare learners for the lesson. Unfortunately, I see a lot of warm-ups that do not - especially related to test-prep. I'm just wondering about using an even more direct, condensed approach akin to "Previously on...".Delete
To me, a warmup is a way to get the students actively involved as soon as they enter the classroom. What do you have in mind to do instead? Is it something the teacher does, or something the students do?ReplyDelete
I'm really just thinking about it from the perspective of relating education to storytelling. In particular, with so many math people using "3 Acts" I wondered where a re-cap might fit.Delete
I also want to be more deliberate and obvious about connecting the lessons. Sometimes I see the connections but it is not as clear to the students.
You might already be doing all this with your warm-ups. Do you have a link that shows how you link your lessons for your students?
Nope. I don't do it as deliberately and consciously as I'd like (which makes this a great conversation to have). I just know it's one of the things that runs through my head as I'm prepping - what can I ask them to do that will tie what has come before with what I hope to do that day. I'll try to keep this in my head when classes begin, so I can continue this conversation with you.Delete
I have been thinking about our first day, and I'm looking for activities that tie what I hope they know from their previous coursework to some of the main ideas of the course. I tried to have my pre-calc students connect some short dialogues with families of functions. It has not been successful, perhaps because it's too far from what they've done before.
I also have used the visual patterns page at the beginning of that course, which worked very well. I'm hoping with that to "activate" what they already know about algebra, and tie it to new (to most of them) ways of approaching math.
I look forward to continuing this conversation. My sense is that many of us are thinking about effective approaches to activating schema but It's certainly good to make it more intentional. Please keep me posted on what you come up with for your classes. Thanks in advance.Delete
In writing, the lead that "hooks" the reader is, I think, your "Act O" - so it sounds like that's a good way to look at it. In CRISS classrooms, we refer to activating background knowledge as part of the "Prepare" step in our Framework for Learning.ReplyDelete
Implementing the recap for the students so they see the connection comes with repetition and framing. At first it's explicit - "Today we're going to start with a quick recap that's related to the new lesson..." Later - how much later depends on the learning maturity of the students - "Ok, let's get started with today's recap... see if you can predict what we're going to be doing today." Make it the culture of the class. Something as simple as a question posted somewhere obvious in the room can help (When we RECAP, we connect what came before to what's coming).
Videos from earlier lessons are great - but may be very time consuming. I'd focus on students producing videos on only the most major concepts of the year. For more specific concepts - maybe informal videos of students reviewing the process/concept.
Recaps can be simple activities such as Mind Streaming on 1-3 core concepts they will need to access. (Mindstreaming is done in partners, 30 sec-1 min "stream of consciousness" brainstorming 1 at a time.) Or give students an image/diagram and have them free-write or respond to a question about the visual for 30 sec - 3 min.
I really appreciate what you have shared. This definitely has me wanting to learn more about CRISS classrooms. I am assuming the website, www.projectcriss.com, is the best place to start - right?Delete
When I did the numbers on student progress at the school where I taught in VIrginia, I was surprised and annoyed that even for our smartest and most easily bored kiddos, the most. methodical. teachers. who. just. reviewed. everything... got better results, year after year. I'd have thunk a teacher who moved a little faster would have covered more ground... but it seems if we build more deeply, the students can reach higher.ReplyDelete
Hattie talkes about how learning needs to be +1, or just beyond the current level of understanding. We often call it the Goldilocks Approach: not too hard; not too soft; just right. But finding "just right" learning activities can be tough.Delete
Recapping something like the triangle angle sum theorem is necessary and helpful before launching into a series of difficult problems such as...ReplyDelete
...where even if you know what tools you're going to use, the problem is still a challenge. So the recap is useful if only because it puts the right bug in your head.
This is a great example. Thank you for adding it. It makes me wonder about ways we can help students to develop their own re-capping skills for when teachers aren't around.Delete
I like the idea of a re-cap. The 3 Act lesson format can be used for multiple reasons. A teacher could use a 3 Act randomly, anytime, anywhere, or at any point in the year as a problem-solving task. I've done this for Pi Day and I'm still wondering if this is a sound move. After reading your post, this definitely wouldn't align with your re-cap idea. However, I try to remind myself that perplexing things in life, moments of curiosity, or problem-solving challenges can randomly happen to any of us without a re-cap or warm-up.ReplyDelete
Another use for 3 Act lessons is to reinforce concepts or skills a teacher has already taught to the class. This might present a better opportunity for a teacher to re-cap with their students. I've done this a few times and have seen the benefits.
A third use for 3 Act lessons is at the beginning of a concept or skill, mainly to introduce students to an interesting experience in which math can be used to resolve a conflict, explain a perplexing event, or predict an outcome. Maybe some prerequisite skills have been taught, or maybe not. I've used 3 Act lessons to introduce students to some key concepts so that we can reference it throughout a unit, give math some relevance, and allow students to have a connection with the skills currently being taught. Furthermore, doing a 3 Act lesson at the beginning of a unit or concept benefits the learning environment by creating a need for math. I really favor this third use.
As a minimum, I'd love to have 3 Act lessons at the front and end of major concepts and skills. I see this becoming a definite possibility as Dan Meyer's 101qs.com continues to populate with full lessons.
Thanks for sharing this information. I saw Dan present on 3 Acts in Edmonton a couple of years ago. I like the way it connects with the idea of teaching as storytelling but I still have a lot to learn. This certainly helps.Delete
I agree that perplexity happens in life, sometimes out of the blue. But connections are necessary in order for the person exploring the perplexity to create understanding. To stick with the analogy, we create our own re-cap by asking, "What do I know about this or something related?"
This is a common strategy used when trying to comprehend something new while reading. The research on this is quite robust. I keep looking for ways to apply it to learning in other areas.
I used both recaps and warmups for my math classes. I think they are very helpful to get students interested and to keep them updated. Knowing how students are doing is very important in recaps. I can now give meaningful recaps after using a tool called ClassroomIQ (https://classroom-iq.com). ClassroomIQ is a very efficient grading tool. It helps me grade homework and exams more quickly and easily. It’s a very handy and convenient product to have. Ever after I can get back the grades the day or even the hour after, I can know how my students are doing and what they understand, so I can give correct recaps and reviews to help them. Anyway, nice post. I really like your thoughts and your blog. Keep sharing your gems!ReplyDelete