What exactly is instructional design, and how can it allow your students to explore and learn? Student exploration in education has been almost entirely left to adults and has been almost entirely stereotyped as a “white kid’s” experience. Educational design models such as Montessori allow you to be active in the process of fostering student discovery. In this instructional model, students are encouraged to be active participants in the educational process; it is a collaborative learning method.
Exploration and discovery occur when students can use their creativity and their thinking and reasoning to solve problems and achieve goals. In this instructional model, students explore different learning styles; they are encouraged to express their individual views and think critically and creatively.
The key to any successful instructional model, especially for K-12 education, is in allowing students to use their imagination, thinking skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. By engaging in the natural process of discovery, students can develop their language, necessary thinking skills, and understanding of how education fits into society. During the exploration phase, students will become excited about learning. As they actively participate in the discovery phase of their thinking will deepen, they will have more exposure to ideas and new ways of doing things. They will recognize the importance of working together as a group, and they will learn how to work collaboratively towards a common goal.
It is during the exploration phase that teachers get to expose their students to different ways of learning. They will encourage student exploration by laying out the entire class and discussing the various forms of knowledge. They will allow students to ask questions and give obvious and specific expectations about how learning should take place. At the end of the session, there should be some opportunities for students to discuss what they have learned and apply what they have learned in their daily lives.
Questions are practical teaching tools. To encourage student exploration, teachers ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question is a question that does not require a yes or no answer. The teacher asks open-ended questions to get the student’s full attention, show him/her that you are interested in his/her thoughts, and get him/her to think about the topic. Open-ended questions allow students to think for themselves, explore their understandings, and demonstrate that they have the capacity for critical thinking.
Using various tools such as games, puzzles, etc., can also help enhance the student’s thinking. Games, for example, encourage students’ active participation, and they are more likely to understand and remember what the teacher is saying. Using games in the classroom, for example, can change the way that information is perceived and used, leading to improved communication skills.
Finally, teachers need to allow students to communicate about their topics with each other. Communication skills are fundamental to good learning and are often taught in the classroom. Be sure, however, to take the student’s suggestions seriously and not “caveat” in their suggestions. It is important to remember that students must feel comfortable communicating with each other and are not trying to manipulate or be spoon-fed by the teacher. Therefore classroom discussion is an essential part of any educational curriculum to facilitate the student’s learning and foster open, honest, and respectful communication within the classroom.