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I Stopped Lecturing, Because I Want My Students To Learn

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies
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“Small shifts in your thinking, and small changes in your energy, can lead to massive alterations of your end result.”
― Kevin Michel


No More Lectures. Down With Lectures! Never Again Will I Lecture.

And I encourage you to do the same.

It took me 14 years to understand it, but now I know what student centered really means. And, I have a good grasp of the difference between passive and active learning.


"Tell me and I'll forget..." And sure enough they do.


As such, can we even call lecturing learning? Or, is it just giving information, as students frantically write it all down mindlessly, and the words transferred to paper have little meaning?

I teach chemistry. Topics get long. Concepts get heavy. Things are abstract.

If you ever want to tire out a bunch of teenage prefrontal cortices in a span of 30 minutes, just do a chemistry lecture. Many will look at you with zombie eyes, while their minds travel to far away places in hopes of quick recovery.

Repeat this day after day, close your eyes, and hope for the best.

Or, you can engage students. And I'm not talking about asking questions as you lecture. They'll definitely keep the 2 kids that always answer them engaged, while the 30+ others nervously look down or away hoping you won't call on them.


And, at it's very basic, it requires only a small tweak to the traditional way to get things rolling.

So you have a presentation you want students to see. Great! Put it in whatever LMS (learning management system) you use or your school uses and let students interact (not just view) with the said presentation.

#BYOD OR 1:1

Allow students to use their own devices (phones, tablets etc.) or school provided ones (iPads, Chromebooks etc.) to watch the presentation. They can take notes on their own, with a partner, or in a small group.


But whatever you decide to do, incorporate collaboration. Have each group compare notes, discuss the topics, ask each other questions, and come up with a list of key points along with descriptions. The likelihood of missing key info becomes low with the inclusion of multiple brains in the process.

Do tell groups to call you over when they've complied their lists, curate them by giving them the thumbs up or asking whether they think a key topic they missed is important so they can add it.

But do not stop there! After approving the list of key points ask students to summarize. This requires meaningful synthesis and thus further processing of the information.

You may find that students are programmed to do notes on their own, so you'll have to lay the groundwork for effective collaboration. Here's an infographic resource that will help.

And the benefits?


Flipped learning inside the school walls. Except this time, everybody does it. All students can choose how fast they go, stop whenever they need, and process at their own pace. Lecturing ignores the fact that there are as many learning styles as there are sentient beings in the universe. The approach I talk about here offers differentiation at its best if you allow


Decrease the amount of material. I love the number 3 for a reason. 3 is simple. 3 is more than 1. 3 is what the human brain likes. We can hold about 3 things in our working memory at any point in time. Stick to 3 main points and allow more processing time to ensure


Less is more. Do you prefer your students really learn a few topics or regurgitate more topics?

Regurgitation plagues education. Thing is, we're not birds. We are much smarter. Our brains are much bigger. Let's teach in ways that maximize the human brain potential. Better understanding results from simplification not over-complication.

Focus on giving students time to process a few (3 is a GOOD number I tell ya) concepts in more than one way before they leave class on any one day and you will see positive results. And you will notice


Practice makes permanent right? Meaningful practice that is. Practice that involves thinking.

Think about it. Students watch the presentation in a low stress setting. They compare and discuss notes with teammates. They come up with key points through collaboration. They synthesize, select, and summarize key information as a group.

And, throughout the process they acquire 21st century skills - the

4 C'S

Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity - what's not to like? And let's be honest. Not a whole lot of that happening during lectures.


Nothing I say here is new. Yet, lecturing is the status quo in American middle schools and high schools.

Sure. There are projects and activities too. But...

We don't have to lecture. We don't need to lecture.

Lectures stink, because teachers do too much and students too little.

Lectures are ineffective.

The educational system is ripe for disruption. Disrupt it.

Shift the old paradigms.

Believe That You Have The Power To Change The World And Use It Often.


Hey - sign up for my Newsletter and I promise to keep you entertained :)

Oh, and I'll show you how you can "unlecture" video lessons in my next Newsletter.

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Oskar is a Science, Engineering, and Learning How to Learn teacher and an author of the Crush School Book Series.

His professional interests are brain-based teaching and learning, flexible seating (#StarbucksMyRoom founder), social-emotional learning, social justice, and using technology to enhance learning.

He is also a fan of the Jedi order (and uses DA FORCE frequently), ninjas, and the superhero in all of us. He is on a Quest to Change the World because he can. We all can.

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Guest Tuesday, 19 March 2019