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Marzano Best Practices: Tip #1

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 -- Mandy Groen

The Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL) conducted a study to evaluate the relationship between student learning and effective teacher pedagogical practices in online learning. The study specifically looked at Edmentum’s online solutions in three instructional settings—pure virtual, blended, and classroom/lab—across four purposes: original credit, credit recovery, intervention, and Advanced Placement®.

In this series, we will be taking a deeper look into how you can implement each of the 13 best practices generated by this study into your classroom or school.

Tip #1: Communicating course/assignment rules and procedures

Clarifying your expectations is key to classroom harmony. Think about it. If you didn’t know to file your income tax return on April 15, wouldn’t you be late every time? The concept is even more applicable to children. If they don’t know what the rules are, they will probably do the opposite.

Just like any other school skill, mastery of classroom procedures is required for success—in this case, success that lasts the whole school year. Any ambiguity can lead to confusion and students likely being outside the expectations throughout the school year. Plus, if students willfully break the guidelines, you want to make sure you can prove they knew what they were doing.

The same clarification goes for specific exercises and assignments. How can you expect work that fits your expectations if the students didn’t know what those expectations were? You don’t want students not making the grades they (and you) expect because you dropped the ball.

When is it important to communicate assignment rules and procedures?

Many teachers use the entire first week of school instructing students in just how they want the classroom to operate—everything from procedures for sharpening your pencil to turning in assignments. That kind of thoroughness is central to lasting classroom peace.

That same kind of investment needs to be made before any exercise or assignment is started. Depending on the size of the assignment, you want to spend a proportionate amount of time on the expectations. If it’s a large or multipart exercise, break up the expectations into manageable chunks based on the students’ ages and comprehension.

What are the best ways to communicate rules and procedures?

Just like any other lesson, when giving expectations, you want to use best practices, hitting all the modalities. On a pencil-sharpening procedure, actually have the children perform the action. Make written explanations that can both go home to parents and be referenced by the kids in their notebooks or folders. Finally, plaster your walls with every rule and procedure that you deem necessary for the success of the class. In an online or virtual environment, make sure you are taking advantage of all the teacher-student communication tools you have at your disposal. Most of these systems have messaging functionality, individual assignment directions and description features, and places for students to take notes for reference. Covering all those bases should eliminate “I didn’t know that” from your classroom vocabulary.

 

Want to see more of the instructional strategies that the Marzano Research Laboratory identified in the study? See all 13 Marzano best practices in online learning here.

 

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