High school students use Web-based news services to view, explore, and chart current events.
Using graphic advance organizers scaffold students' sense of community.
Planning for videoconferencing with scientists, middle school students learn to ask good questions.
Teachers set the stage for learning by finding out what students already know, then connect new ideas to students' existing knowledge base. Using a variety of instructional strategies, teachers guide students from the known to the unknown, from familiar territory to new concepts. Cues, questions, and advance organizers are among the tools and strategies that teachers use to set the stage for learning. These tools create a framework that helps students focus on what they are about to learn.
Asking questions and prompting students' replies with cues are strategies that come naturally to most teachers. In fact, some 80 percent of student-teacher interactions involve cues and questions (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). By fine-tuning questioning strategies with insights from research, teachers can become even more effective at guiding students' learning.
Like questions, advance organizers are also commonly used to help set the stage for instruction. Since David Ausubel (1960) first described advance organizers as a cognitive strategy to help students learn and retain information, teachers have developed a variety of forms for effectively organizing learning. The K-W-L chart, for example, lists what students know, what they want to find out, and what they have learned (Ogle, 1986). Graphic organizers show how new ideas or concepts relate, providing students with a visual framework for acquiring and organizing new information.
Teachers want the time spent planning and teaching to generate the most effective and sustained learning. By implementing the recommendations below focused on cues, questions, and advance organizers teachers can gain from research and maximize effort.
For more on David Ausubel's theories about meaningful learning and the use of advance organizers, see Dr. Jack Hassard Web site entitled The Art of Teaching Science. He is Emeritus Professor of Science Education at Georgia State University. http://scied.gsu.edu/Hassard/
The Northeast Texas Consortium provides a resource for developing advance organizers, especially for distance learning. http://www.netnet.org/instructors/design/goalsobjectives/advance.htm
The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory publishes Pathways to School Improvement which include Critical Issues. Building on Prior Knowledge and Meaningful Student Contexts/Cultures is a resource discussing the use of advance organizers. http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/learning/lr100.htm