Lecture Less

Original Article:

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So we know students need to sit still to accomplish some school tasks, but we don’t want to keep them sitting for too long. How can we minimize the amount of time we require children to sit still?

One great strategy is to keep direct teaching lessons short. A friend and colleague of mine once shared this piece of wisdom about lesson-length with me: “The first minute of the lesson is the golden moment, when students are ready and able to take in everything you say. The last thirty seconds is the silver moment, when you can really drive home a point and students are refocused. Everything in between is the leaden moment.”

This might be a bit extreme, but the point is worth considering. How long can students remain focused during direct instruction? I know that I myself tend to drift after about 10 minutes of a lecture.

Try structuring lessons so that direct teaching takes 5–10 minutes and then give students a chance to practice and apply what they’ve learned. You can always regroup and conduct another 5–10 minute direct teaching lesson later on if you have more teaching to do!

  • Mike Anderson
    Mike Anderson is an education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including What We Say and How We Say It MatterThe Well-Balanced Teacher, The First Six Weeks of School, The Research-Ready Classroom, and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Learn more about Mike and his work or invite him to work with your school or district through his website: Connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.

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    Mike Anderson
    Leading Great Learning
    Durham, NH
    Phone: +1 413.658.7907

    Leading Great Learning

    Mike Anderson is an energetic, experienced, and highly sought-after educational consultant who helps facilitate great learning in schools all over the United States and beyond. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, consultant, presenter, and developer and has authored many books and articles about great teaching and learning.