Geoff Petty, the major champion of Evidence Based Teaching, once told me a charming story about doctors and learning. (geoffpetty.com)
A professor of medicine contacted Geoff asking him for some proven techniques he could use with his students at a forthcoming seminar. He contacted Geoff after reading his book and realising that while medicine was evidence–based, its teaching most certainly wasn’t.
What technique was suggested, that was proven to accelerate learning and deepen understanding? Manipulatives, perhaps better known as card–sorting activities.
After an introduction by the professor, the student doctors, in small groups, started manipulating the cards, with key words or phrases printed on them, into different arrangements. This process was a catalyst for rigorous conversations with proposals, probings and justifications.
All the while, the professor calmly walked around the room listening in on their conversations and observing their card arrangements. He quickly got insights into their level of understanding. And importantly, their misunderstandings.
This was just the early feedback he wanted. Now, he could interrupt and fine–tune his explanations to address the revealed misconceptions.
The end result? A much deeper level of understanding. So much so, that the professor declared that this activity would probably save lives due to the more effective learning of the student doctors.
If you’d like to know more about Manipulatives and how to use them in your classrooms, then why not use Model Learning’s iDEAS? These are free Powerpoint documents and accompanying posters you can download at modellearning.com You can share them with colleagues, students and even lead training sessions. Below is the edition of iDEAS about Manipulatives.