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Intentional Teaching


FOCUS: To increase knowledge about intentional teaching and how intentionality manifests itself in lesson design and delivery.

While there is no exact formula for good teaching, the one attribute that seems to be characteristic of outstanding teachers is intentionality.

Intentionality means doing things for a reason, or on purpose. Intentional teachers constantly think about:
• the outcomes that they want for their students, and
• how the instructional decisions they make move their students towards those outcomes.
Intentional teachers maintain a working knowledge of relevant research and combine this knowledge with professional common sense. Intentional teachers are consciously competent. They realize that teaching students what they need to know does not happen by chance.

Intentional teachers ask themselves these types of questions:
• What are the learning targets (standards) that I want students to master?
• How do I plan and deliver lessons so that each component is appropriate to the knowledge, skills and needs of my students?
• Are the activities and assignments within the lesson clearly related to the learning targets?
• What evidence will I (and my students) need to indicate/demonstrate that students are achieving success?
• Am I using each minute of instructional time wisely and well?
Explicit instruction is a powerful tool available to educators that supports intentionality teaching methods. Explicit instruction is a structured, systematic, and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures (Archer & Hughes, 2010, 2).

The explicit instruction approach guides the learning process via a four phase approach:
• Phase I: Providing a purpose and reason for learning a new skill; reviewing pre-requisite skills; building background knowledge, including vocabulary.
• Phase II: Delivering instruction about content or skills in small steps; providing clear explanations; using multiple and varied examples to model the instructional target,
• Phase III: Guiding practice with multiple and varied activities; checking for understanding throughout the process; providing feedback to mastery; achieving active and successful participation by all students.
• Phase IV: Achieving active, successful participation by all students.