Instructional Practices for High Level Learners and Standard-Based Curriculum Essay

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Instructional Practices for High Level Learners

When it comes to the right curriculum (instructional practices) that teachers and administrators should be developing -- that are effective in helping students achieve a high level of learning -- this paper points to a standards-based system (combined with creative curricula) as the most effective. There are a number of ways in which teachers can implement those practices that lead to a high level of learning in students -- and this paper reviews those strategies.

Explain various instructional practices designed to achieve high-level learning for all students in a standards-based curriculum.

Instructional practices in schools rarely stay static, according to a peer-reviewed article in the journal Computers in the Schools. In fact, many schools over the past few years have been actively engaged with "fundamental restructuring efforts" because teachers appear willing in many instances to try "…a range of instructional practices" that will be beneficial to the learning process (Liu, 2010, p. 20). But if teachers do not have the appropriate level of knowledge of the theory behind the instructional practice, they cannot hope to bring out the best in students, Liu explains (20)

This article reviews the myriad instructional practices (peer teaching; peer mentoring; open education; right brain/left brain; computer-based instruction; student-centered learning; distance learning; technology-based instruction; among others) that are used by teachers (21). However, Liu asserts that there is "no strong evidence for the significant effectiveness of these instructional practices," and in fact many practices "…seem to appear each year and are quickly discarded" (22). But if these practices are supposedly not effective, what do the authors of this paper propose that can be effective? Firstly, the authors point out that the teacher's perception of the practices "…strongly predicts the likelihood of practice"; and the stronger the teachers' grasp of the theory and research behind a given strategy, "…the more accurately they see the value" of that practice in terms of its application to higher levels of learning (23).

The article surveyed 162 experienced teachers as to their knowledge and perceptions of 24 different instructional practices that are quite common in public education. The conclusion reached by the authors is that: a) educators in higher positions in the field of education are more aware of successful practices than those in elementary and secondary positions; b) the higher the degree achieved by the teacher and the more experience a teacher has, the greater the teacher's understanding of educational practices' and c) teacher education programs should focus on preparing teachers "…with a solid foundation of knowledge in instructional practice" (Liu, 30).

Progress Monitoring and Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM).

In the Journal of Special Education, the authors point to "progress monitoring" -- and curriculum-based measurement -- as instructional practices that have been proposed as a way to "predict performance" and also to "monitor progress" toward "…rigorous, state-defined academic standards" (Wallace, et al., 2007, 66). Also, the authors report that progress monitoring is part of an overall "response-to-intervention" (RTI) approach, which helps in terms of assessing student progress (66). When research focuses on curriculum-based measurement -- and what strategies work well in terms of bringing out the best in these students -- when teachers use CBM there are "significant gains in student achievement" (Stecker, et al., 2005, 795).

Achieving higher levels of learning is facilitated through a careful strategy of CBM, which means teachers monitor and assess student achievement up to two times per week and hence the data collected reflects how any particular student is progressing "…over a period of time" (Stecker, 796). Are students "on target" to meet the long-term goals that the standards-based curriculum has established? Stecker asserts that teachers can discover how well students are progressing by using the data from CBM; that data allows teachers to plan and even to "individualize" instruction for specific students based on CBM (797). Hence, instructional decisions -- designed to achieve high levels of learning -- can be made based on specific data-inspired evidence in a CBM-focused strategy.

TWO: Explain how a standards-based curriculum can be maintained -- but at the same time individual students' needs are met by instructional practices.

Authors Copeland and Cosbey present several instructional approaches that have been effective when placing students "…with extensive support needs" in general education settings (Copeland, et al., 2008-2009, 214).…[continue]

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