Teach from Known to New

Teaching can be deconstructed into two types of activities:

  • Those that introduce new ideas, and
  • Those that help ideas become known.

In many classrooms, we teaching proceeds from “new to known.”

The teacher introduces an idea and explains it to the point that students can begin to practice the idea, work with it, and (we hope) apply it. The value of proceeding in this manner can be dubious. Students do not see the point of learning what is being taught and pose the question, “why do we need to learn this?” This is a clear sign that students do not see the idea as relevant.

If teachers organize curriculum to provide experience with the ideas to be studied first, then teaching can proceed from “known to new.” Consider the teacher who organizes the unit so that the field trip is not the culminating activity, but is the launching activity, students can find connections and relevance in the ideas from the beginning.

High Tech High suggests project launch is among the most important aspects of teaching and learning and they have made this video with examples available to us: