The assignment: Pick a lesson plan and identify an instructional model used in this plan. After identifying the model the lesson plan follows, explain how that model works and why.
For this discussion, I will be using a lesson plan found on SexEdLibrary.org about Sex Myths, Facts, Feelings, and Values for grades 9-12. This lesson plan intends for the students to:
- define and distinguish between the terms hymen and circumcision and consider the cultural messages they have received about them.
- describe human sexual response, recognizing that sexual feelings are influenced by body chemistry and also by emotions and beliefs.
- recognize four common misconceptions about sex and sexual response.
- analyze the influence of cultural messages and personal values on sexual behavior decisions.
This plan has 6 activities to be conducted: explain the lesson, 2 discussions, a lecture, a small group activity, and a concluding take-away activity. For the purpose of this blog post, I will focus on the fifth activity with small groups.
According to how Estes, Mintz, and Gunter (2011) identify instructional models, this activity would be identified as following the cooperative learning model. The activity is as follows:
5. Use a small group activity and The Sexual Myths Worksheet and Myth & Fact Reference Cards to identify and debunk myths.
Divide the class into 13 groups of 2-3 students per group. Give each group one Reference Card and give each individual student one copy of the Sex & Sexual Response Worksheet: Myths & Facts.
Each group should quietly read their Reference Card aloud to one another, discuss it, and be prepared to explain it in their own words. Then they should decide which ONE of theWorksheet statements they can answer based on their Reference Card. Each group will have the resources to help the class answer a different one of the Worksheet statements. Tell them to wait to fill out the Worksheet until you can do it together in the large group. Give the groups 5 minutes to do their reading and discussion.
Then invite one group at a time to explain their card. The class can guess and/or the small group can tell the class which Worksheet item they feel their card answers and what the answer is.
In the lesson plan we are supplied with a worksheet to give the students which should be verified with current research before use. Let’s examine the “what, how, and why” aspects of this learning activity.
What the Model Is:
This activity, as I mentioned above, follows a cooperative learning model. Estes, Mintz, and Gunter (2011) identify cooperative learning as instructional sequences; “a series of processes that structure pupil interactions in order to accomplish a specific, usually teacher-assigned goal” (p.259). A cooperative learning model is the facilitation of learners working together. In this activity, we see students working together, sharing, and then interacting with a bigger group. This model is a creative way to facilitate interactions between learners in order to optimize the comprehension and application of information presented on the reference cards.
How the Model Works:
In the above activity, we see the students divided into groups to begin working on their questions. They are all given bits of knowledge (on reference cards) to help answer one question on a work sheet of many. Only one bit of information means that a small group does not have the entirety of knowledge required to complete the worksheet. The small groups are to discuss their topic and decide which question on the worksheet their reference card answers. Interacting with peers to collectively answer helps the learner hear other perspectives and come to a consensus about a particular question on the worksheet.
To make the worksheet even more cooperative, students are then brought back to the bigger group to discuss which answer to the worksheet they had on their reference card. The sharing of information that goes on in the bigger class allows for the bits of knowledge on the reference cards to be collaboratively compiled by the students to complete the worksheet. The continuous interaction between students helps facilitate the students’ acquisition of the total information present on the worksheet.
Why the Model Works:
The cooperative learning model works because of the interactive nature of the material. The subject to be learned is no longer a static bit of information to absorb. The process of discussion and hearing other points of view helps bring the material to life. Social Learning Theory developed by Albert Bandura (1977) supports the framework for such a model. By seeing other students interact, we are being taught by modeling how to give input into the conversation and share our ideas about the topic at hand. Students also process the information in many different ways–listening to the instructor, listening to peers, thinking of what they will contribute, etc.–which brings about higher-level mental processes since it is a social interaction (Estes, Mintz, & Gunter, 2011).
All of that being said, it is important to note that not all information should be presented to cooperative learning. Furthermore, not all students are comfortable with learning from other students which may make their participation in the activity or their attention span dwindle. As an educator, awareness of the group dynamic is crucial for effective learning when it comes to cooperative learning. When used correctly, cooperative learning techniques can be very beneficial to learners with a wide variety of concepts.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New York, NY: General Learning Press.
Estes, T.H., Mintz, S.L., & Gunter, M.A. (2011). Instructions: A models approach (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.