Considering purpose in instructional design
September 9th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Dan Meyerrecently wrote on his blog dy/dan:

“The best learning begins with a good worksheet.”

September 6th, 2010 by Dan Meyer

I wrote that. In all sincerity. On June 8, 2004. In an essay for my credentialing school entitled — of all things — “How Students Learn Math.”

This gobsmacked, gross-feeling moment is what I get for digitally cataloging every essay, handout, and lesson I have written since high school.

I am grateful, I suppose, that it only took me six years to go from “the best learning begins with a good worksheet” to the kind of instructional design that — for whatever good it does my students — has me excited to wake up in the morning, has me constantly double-checking my front pocket for a camera, has me excited to walk around and encounter math in my daily life. I’m grateful because I’m positive there exists another timeline, equally plausible to this one, where I’m still that enthusiastic about worksheets after six years, or ten years. Or an entire career. I hear that happens.

Although I think he doesn’t clearly articulate what is “best,” or  ‘better,” I internally find that the major concept is that what is key to good instruction is generating compelling and engaging problems, and working through them in a hands-on, minds-on way.

What stands out for me is that good instruction is NOT about the stuff – the worksheets, the PowerPoint, the lab book, the Internet resources.  It’s about the meaningful interactions we have with students that help them positively grow in knowledge, skills, and disposition. 

Although teaching and learning has best practices that are research-based, there is no question that design and execution of meaningful, well-articulated instruction has an artistic component – one that demands we build quality relationships with students.  After all, we may teach biology, chemistry, or research, but ultimately we are teachers of  students.

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