A Successful Approach to Learning: Tell Me, Show Me x 2, then Step Back

As teachers move further along in their EASE training and begin to synchronize curriculum into their lessons, I discovered a way that I, a teaching artist, could be optimally supportive to them.  I found that by saying, “Be Simple” was not enough; however, by introducing and incorporating a system of simplicity, I was able to encourage teachers to take a chance on their integrations.

Since special needs children seem to rely more than general education kids on auditory, visual, and kinesthetic cues to be successful with a task, I decided to assist the teachers in creating ways to highlight the hearing, sight, and feeling senses of their students each time we planned for a lesson.

First, we always begin with the auditory senses since teacher’s voices helped ease students through transitions. To target the children’s auditory strengths, I suggested that each EASE lesson be introduced in a single, catchy and animated sentence.

Next, we targeted visual cues, since, after something is said, it is helpful to have an accompanying visual. To address this next skill set, I suggested we reinforce the use of daily guides such astime lines, alphabet charts, color spectrum, and the smart board.

Lastly, we highlighted tactile and kinesthetic exploration of movement, special relationships and touch. To target this area in our students, I suggested that the teacher first models what she/he wants and then breaks each component down in several simple steps on how to get there.

To summarize, the simple approach for teaching in this style is:

1) Tell Me (in 1 sentence)

2) Show me What (you want)

3) Show me How (to get there).

In this process, we also innately found a successful way to garner some of the more challenging Danielson points: 2a.2 Student interaction with students, 2b.3 Student pride in work, 2c.5 Supervision of volunteers and paraprofessionals, 3a.2 Directions and procedures 3b.2 Discussion techniques, 3c.3 instructional materials and resources and 3d Feedback to Students.

This is How This Model Looked in the EASE Classroom

At a school in Staten Island, Level III teachers Jessica Katz and Pamela Grant were respectively working on phonemes and verb identification.  Both teachers decided to use Floor Maps for the activity.

Jessica Katz’ Class:
Jessica wanted the students to say the sound that each letter makes as they step on the curricular card through the floor map.  She was working on p-o-m.

Tell Me – Jessica: ‘Today, for our EASE time, we’re going to use tape (show tape) and construction paper (show paper) to do our SMART curriculum phoneme sounds.’

Show Me (1): Jessica goes in front of each student and says the sound and asks them to repeat it.
​Jessica: (while showing p) ‘puh, puh, puh,’…
​Jessica: (to student) ‘Can you say puh?’

​Jessica: (while showing o) ah, ah, ah…
​Jessica: (to student) ‘Can you say ah?’

​Jessica: (while showing w) ‘wah, wah, wah,’…
​Jessica: (to student) ‘Can you say wah?’

Show Me (2) – With the sounds P-O-M placed through the floor maps, Jessica says each sound while she steps on the curricular cards with the letters on them.  She then requests a paraprofessional to do exactly the same thing.

Step Back – Jessica allows each student to go through the Floor Maps.  Most students walked through, one student jumped through and another crawled through, but, she focused solely on whether she was hearing the sound.

*Each student was successful with this task.  As a matter of fact, we repeated the exercise with an actual word that the children hear daily.  Jessica chose sit.  We did the same thing with the letters: S-S-S-S, I-I-I,T-T-T, S-I-T, SIT.  Result…SUCCESS!

Possibility for Moving Forward: Doing Floor Maps with Simple Sentences, Ex. I-C-A-N-S-I-T.

Pamela Grant’s Classroom:

Pamela wanted the students to give a friend an action that they’d perform while moving down the floor map.

Tell Me – ‘Since we’ve been working on action words; we’re going to use Floor Maps to identify different verbs.’

Show Me (1) – Pamela uses the white board to draw how she wants her students to sit.
Pamela: (to students) ​1) ‘How many chairs do we have total?’
​2) So, how many students do we need on each side to make it even?’

Pamela: (to students) ​1)’What is a verb?’

Pamela performs an action. ‘What am I doing?’ Is this a verb?’
Pamela: (to paras)    ​2)’Mr. David, can you do an action?’
​What did Mr. David do?’
​’Is that an action?’ ‘Is it a verb?’
​3)’Ms. Corrin, can you do an action?’
​’What did Ms. Corrin do?’
​’Is that an action?’ ‘Is it a verb?’

Show Me (2 – Pamela wants students to perform actions (verbs).  She uses Teaching Artist to model.
Pamela: (to TA) Ms. Starr, can you do an action and start on this ‘X’ (pointing to X) and end on this ‘X’ (pointing to X).

Step Back – Pamela: ‘I’d like you to choose someone to give an action to. They will do it from one X to the other X.’

*Students chose a friend who they wanted to perform an action.  Some students chose the adults.

​- Nysheva-Starr