Disciplinary Literacy: Big Ideas
The effects of instruction on student learning are highly dependent on student engagement and motivation. Engaging and motivating students is not only about making learning enjoyable, but also about maximizing and promoting meaningful learning that students can connect to their lives and to texts they read across disciplines. This has been referred to as having both “skill and will” for effective learning (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Creating a classroom culture that encourages students to read, write, think, and discuss ideas with peers results in deeper understandings about the processes and products of learning and the value of considering different points of view on a topic. A critical role for teachers is to plan opportunities for students that support their participation, personal connections, and choice of topics to explore and to encourage self-reflection in their learning.
Whole-class instruction is often the format for introducing new concepts or strategies for learning content. Grouping students to solve problems, share ideas, and understand important information reinforces this instruction and allows students to connect with and share ideas from their own experiences. Groups may consist of partners, small heterogeneous groups, or small homogenous groups. These grouping patterns may be informal (“Turn to your partner and discuss…”) or more formal, planned small-group work. It is important to plan the structure and composition of groups that reflect the purpose and desired outcomes of the lesson.