4 Teaching Tips for Helping Students Grasp Hard Material

Sometimes students struggle even after we’ve used our best instructional practices and strategies during a lesson. It is important to have a plan in place while lesson planning to address what to do with students who do not show proficiency and for those students who master concepts quickly. These tips can help to support struggling students to grasp challenging concepts.

  1. Peer Review with a Buddy

Sometimes hearing the content explained in “kid talk” can help to close the gap of understanding. This strategy also helps the student teacher to solidify their knowledge as they explain it to their peers. One great strategy is to take notes from the lesson and have students summarize them into fewer than 25 words, highlighting key points. As they work with the information again, they are using critical thinking skills to synthesize the concepts. Students can work together to create review questions for another group and include the answer on the backside. When they’ve created their review questions, they trade with another group. With this strategy, students can quiz each other, and students who are struggling with concepts can feel more confident in providing answers for what they know and having support to answer questions they don’t know.

  1. Team Teach

Work together with your team of teachers to collect data on material that groups of students often struggle with. Create a plan on what to do for students who are struggling ahead of time, so you’ll have a proactive approach. Decide who has the best strategy for teaching the concepts, and group struggling students in an intervention group with them. The students who showed proficiency can be grouped together with another teacher on your team for an enrichment lesson to extend their learning. Come back together as a team to review student progress after reteaching the skills, to move students who have become proficient out of the reteach group, and focus on students who are still struggling.

  1. Video Recordings

Use the power of technology to assist your students. Record yourself delivering lessons with challenging material so students can rewatch the lesson as many times as needed and pause to clarify any confusing concepts. Students will be able to access these at home for additional practice or assistance with homework as well. You can provide a guided approach for students to complete graphic organizers to process information while watching the lesson by making connections to what they already know.

  1. Chunk Material into A Learning Progression

This useful strategy chunks material into smaller pieces and outlines essential skills. At the start of a unit, list out individual learning targets for a series of lessons to prioritize what students should know and be able to do. Use this checklist to guide instruction and check in with students after each lesson. Students who show proficiency are ready to move on to the next skill, and students who have not shown proficiency in a skill will need an intervention. Using a learning progression will help to highlight where students’ misconceptions or mistakes occur. Conference with students individually to help make them accountable for their learning. Students can help to clarify what their misconceptions are or which concepts they need more practice with. Student conferences are a great way for students to set goals and reflect on their learning.

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