Design Question 3, Helping Students Practice and Deepen New Knowledge is the second design question under Lesson Segment, Addressing Content. Teachers incorporate this strategy after they have worked with Design Question 2, Helping Students Interact with New Knowledge. As the names imply, the teacher takes the first chunk of information from the learning goal, designs an initial lesson to help students understand the knowledge, and then designs an additional lesson to take their understanding further and deeper.
After the initial interaction with new knowledge, research indicates that we need to determine whether it is declarative knowledge or procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge includes skills, strategies or processes and must be practiced to develop fluency. Declarative knowledge is informational in nature and is deepened through review and revision. Nuthall (1999) found that students require about four exposures to new knowledge to integrate it into their present knowledge base.
Design Question 3, Helping Students Practice and Deepen New Knowledge, additionally involves teaching students to use more advanced thinking skills. Students move from using retrieval and comprehension skills to analysis of the new knowledge. Students break the concept down and are able to match, classify, analyze errors, generalize and specify, and in doing so deepen their understanding of new knowledge.
Design Question 3 consists of seven elements or strategies:
1) Reviewing Content. The teacher links back to what students learned in Design Question 2 so students can move forward to deepen their knowledge.
2) Organizing Students to Practice and Deepen Knowledge. The teacher organizes students into groups and understand the group processes needed to extend their learning.
3) Using Homework. Teachers use additional time to allow students to practice procedural knowledge or continue to review and revise declarative knowledge. It is important that students understand the purpose of homework and are able to complete it.
4) Examining Similarities and Differences. Used more often with declarative knowledge, this strategy involves helping students to use comparison classification, analogy, and metaphor to deepen their knowledge.
5) Examining Errors in Reasoning. One of the least understood elements, this strategy is used with declarative knowledge and sometimes with procedural knowledge. Students learn to determine if statements of claim are true, or can follow the logic or reasoning used to reach a conclusion. With procedural knowledge, instead of focusing on whether the answer is correct or not, teacher and student focus on the steps or procedures used to arrive at the answer.
6) Practicing Skills, Strategies, and Processes. This element is used more often for procedural knowledge and involves having students practice to develop fluency or automaticity. The gradual release model is often used: “I do, we do, you do.”
7) Revising Knowledge. Teachers encourage students to look at how they now view the new knowledge. After deepening or practicing, they should have a better understanding of what they have learned.
Now that students have interacted with and deepened their new knowledge, they can go back and begin processing another chunk of information. When they have completed the learning goal they can go to the final design question under the Lesson Segment, Addressing Content, Design Question 4, Helping Students Generate and Test Hypotheses. We’ll discuss DQ4 in more detail in a future post.
Share your successes and challenges with DQ3 in the comments section below. Got questions? We’re happy to answer.