How to make it clear, satisfying, concrete, and real - including Jane Elliot's Famous Experiment and the impact it still has today in the third point, #3. It's worth a re-read every so often to remember.
1) Make it clear
When I was a journalist, [I used] the inverted pyramid structure....the upper part …. represents the most important facts, ….and the lower part ...represents additional information …in order of diminishing importance. The pyramid [has] three sections: the “lead”, “body”, and “tail." ...frame your...“lead” around a problem to be solved or an enquiry to be investigated... [C]oncentrate on writing questions... [W]rite a “big question” which forms the basis for the lesson.
2) Make it satisfying
…Once I’ve opened a gap in my knowledge I must fill it; once a problem has been brought to my attention, I must solve it. This explains why I watched Disaster Movie through to the bitter end. Piquing curiosity … is also key to effective teaching. ….start by highlighting the knowledge they are missing. Another technique is to start a lesson by asking students to make a prediction.
3) Make it concrete [The Experiment]
…ensure your ideas “stick” by making them tangible. ...Take, for example, Jane Elliott’s famous “blue-eyed/brown-eyed” experiment with third grade students the day after Martin Luther King had been assassinated in 1968.
....Most of Elliott’s students were, like her, born and raised in a small town in Iowa, and were not normally exposed to Black people. ....she divided the class into the brown-eyed and the blue-eyed children. She said the blue-eyed children were the superior group, provided brown fabric collars and asked the blue-eyed students to wrap them around the necks of their brown-eyed peers as a method of easily identifying the minority group. She gave the blue-eyed children extra privileges, such as second helpings at lunch, access to the new jungle gym, and five extra minutes at recess.
….eventually those who were deemed “superior” became arrogant, bossy and otherwise unpleasant to their “inferior” classmates. Their grades also improved, doing mathematical and reading tasks that had seemed outside their ability before. The “inferior” classmates also transformed into timid and subservient children who even during recess isolated themselves, including those who had previously been dominant in the class. These children’s academic performance suffered, even with tasks that had been simple before.
Once she had concluded the experiment, she asked the children to reflect by writing down what they had learned and it became clear that her students had come to deeply understand racism because Elliot had made it feel real, she had grounded an abstract concept in sensory reality and thus engaged her students’ emotions.
(DN: See my comment below for a link to the impact of this experiment decades later on the children who were in the original class.)
4) Make it real
...Metaphor is good at making ideas stick because it brings ideas to life, it draws connections between new knowledge and existing knowledge. For example, if you are trying to describe how electricity flows through a material, you’ll need to explain the structure of atoms. You might first use a metaphor which describes atoms as “nature’s building blocks” to help your students understand an atom’s function.
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