The makers of Prevnar 13 are asking:
What if one push-up could prevent heart disease?
What if one stalk of broccoli could protect you from cancer?
My adopted textbook company seems to be asking:
What if one long division problem could instill mastery?
What if one practice with the correct use of an apostrophe could instill mastery?
The answer to all the above questions is the same, "AWESOME!" But we all know that each of the scenarios is ridiculous, so what do we do?
The American Heart Association recommends that we get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 times a week.
And, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should consume between 5 and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
But what about repetition in the classroom?
Our students are in desperate need of repetition. Repetition of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation rules, repetition of math facts and processes, scientific methods, and names and dates of historical events. But, forcing our students to 'memorize' conjures up horribly negative memories for us all. When I hear the phrase, 'Drill and Kill,' an image comes to mind of students struggling through pages and pages of math problems, students assigned to write spelling words until their little hands ache, and my own sixth grade memories of late night homework sessions making sure that my ruler lines were straight while diagramming enough sentences to rewrite Gone With the Wind!
As educators, we are required to differentiate our instruction to meet the needs of all different learning styles in our classrooms. We have students who will learn a new skill with minimal instruction and very few independent practices. Our state and district adopted textbooks seem to cater to these particular learners. Great! A couple of guided instruction problems, a couple of independent practice problems, and a new skill is mastered. Begin learning extensions!
But for the majority of my students, 4-5 repetitions of a new objective is a very long way from mastery. Those problems are merely an introduction. So, when my textbook leaps directly into extensions or inverted uses of the newly taught skill, and application level problem solving, my low to average ability students are definitely being 'left behind.' Therefore, while the vigor is available to my gifted students, what has been left out is the number of repetitions needed for the rest of my students to successfully master their new skill.
So as a classroom teacher our quandary is this: How do we get our students the repetition they need without the 'drill and kill' that squelches their desire to practice and learn?
|Bruce Lee said, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."|