Guided Practice


Posing questions that gradually lead students from easy or familiar examples to new understandings is a teaching strategy known as Guided Practice (Rosenshine, 1979, 1983). The strategy is effective for teaching thinking skills as well as content. Consider a language arts example (Harmon, 1994):

“Using the [so-called] Question, All Write strategy, the teacher asks all students to write the plural of “fox,” a plural they already know. As soon as students begin writing, the teacher writes “foxes” on the board, so students can see the correct answer soon after they finish writing. Students correct their own work and, if necessary, make changes so their work is correct. The teacher avoids discussion at this point.
The teacher then calls out the next word, another easy word or perhaps one that may be less familiar or that may lead to a new plural-making rule. Students begin to write the plural of the word and, as they do so, the teacher writes the correct plural on the board. “If you didn't get this one, don't worry,” she says, “The next one may follow the same rule.” Her aim is to reassure students and keep them alert to discovering new understandings.

The teacher continues this process at a brisk pace, avoiding extended discussion. The emphasis is on learning by practicing and observing and thinking. While students are working, the teacher glances about, getting a sense of how well students understand. If understanding is low, the teacher inserts extra explanatory comments as appropriate and strives to make subsequent words easy enough so students do come to understand.” (pp.44-45)
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