December 13, 2012

Marzano Design Question 2: Helping Students Interact with New Knowledge


John Edwards
Staff Developer , Learning Sciences International

Through critical input experiences, teachers let students know what information is important.

DQ 2 moves away from old teaching models and helps students take responsibility for their own learning.

One of the more important design questions is Design Question 2, Helping Students Interact with New Knowledge. Research tells us that students must actively process new information in order to retain it, and in doing so interact with other students, the teacher, and the content. Design Question 2 guides teachers in designing instruction that allows students to construct knowledge through their interactions, an important step in moving up the ladder to self-directed learning. This moves education away from the old model where teachers processed the information, shared it through lecture, and had students repeat it back on a test.

Design Question 2 is the first of three design questions within the Lesson Segment, Addressing Content. It consists of the following elements:

        • Identifying Critical Information. Through critical-input experiences (i.e. lecture, simulation, lab, demonstration etc.) teachers let students know what information is important.

        • Organizing Students to Interact with New Knowledge. We know students learn better in small groups. It is important that students understand the group processes needed to ensure the groups run successfully.
        • Previewing New Content. Teachers link new knowledge to previously learned knowledge through a preview activity. Commonly used preview strategies include KWLs and anticipation guides. Their purpose is to activate prior knowledge and give teachers an idea of what students know so they can chunk the information appropriately.

        • Chunking Content into “Digestible Bites.” It is important to give students the right amount and complexity of information. Students need enough information so they can process it, but not so little that they lose interest. Like eating a good steak, you don’t put the whole thing in your mouth; you cut it up and eat it one bite at a time!

        • Processing of New Information. Students use macro-strategies to analyze and synthesize each chunk of information so it will connect with previous knowledge and be stored in long term memory. Macro-strategies are combinations of thinking skills like questioning, clarifying, predicting, sequencing, and summarizing.

        • Elaborating on New Information. Teachers ask questions that lead students to draw inferences to the newly processed information. Inferences are usually drawn from the students’ past experiences or text clues. This allows students to make more connections with the new information and strengthens their ability to recall and comprehend it.

        • Recording and Representing Knowledge. Students use linguistic or nonlinguistic representations to depict their understanding of the new knowledge. By taking such notes later in the process, as opposed to the first time they hear it, they are able to summarize and obtain a more accurate understanding of what they are learning.

        • Reflecting on Learning. At the end of the process students take the time to think about and reflect on what they have learned and/or the thinking process they used to learn it (metacognition).

The power of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model lies in the careful progression of introducing and deepening knowledge. Classroom strategies are mostly teacher directed as students act as consumers of knowledge, but Design Question 2 begins to prepare them for the higher-order thinking skills they will utilize as lessons progress in complexity. As students progress to Marzano Design Question 3, Practicing and Deepening New Knowledge, and Marzano Design Question 4, Helping Students Generate and Test Hypotheses, students depend less and less on their teacher and become users of knowledge on their way to becoming independent lifelong learners. In this way the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model prepares students for the complex thinking skills called for in the new Common Core State Standards.





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