Podcast Episode 36: Different Ways to Teach a Skill

There are a million ways to… (not going to finish this the usual way because that just disturbs me!)


I sometimes roll my eyes when I see Facebook posts asking for a particular recommendation without many specifics.  


What someone else finds successful is SO often not what you will find successful!


When it comes to teaching a particular skill, it can be taught SO many different ways.  For example, I have taught multiplication to probably hundreds of kids at this point and I’ve taught it a lot of different ways.  And different ways of teaching it work better for different kids.


In this week’s podcast, we discuss why we need to be open to a variety of strategies for teaching our kids because what worked for us or our friend’s kid might not work for our kid!


And then let me know- What were your takeaways?

Audio version: www.DecodingLearningDifferences.com


Welcome Decoding Learning Differences with Kimberlynn Lavelle. This episode is different ways To teach a skill. So episode 35 was the common core controversy. And in it I talked about why people are kind of unfairly against common core, when it's really about getting your child to think critically, defend themselves, explain things, learn multiple ways of learning something. So there are different ways to teach a skill.

That's what this that's why I'm bringing that up. There's potentially An infinite number of ways to teach a given skill example. If you were doing math and you're trying to teach your child subtraction with regrouping, I use this example a lot because it's one of those things that kids struggle with a lot. You're trying to teach subtraction with regrouping. Let's see. You could have the good old fashioned white board do it this way.

Learn the strategy. The teachers I worked with used to say to do the BBB rule. bottom Number's bigger, So I better borrow. bigger bottom, better borrow. I don't know. So that was the trigger was, oh, if the, but there's a lot of reasons why that could be confusing and not quite work for kids. And the biggest is it doesn't get them to actually understand why they have to borrow. again,

it can work if you have spent the time explaining it in a way that they've figured out why it works and they've had the time to own it. If you're trying to rush them too, this is how we do it. You're going to have bigger problems down the road. Okay. So that's like old fashioned, right? Just go doing an algorithm.

The preference to me is hands-on learning. Well, think about how many different ways you can show subtraction with regrouping. I could get a bowl that has 10, like orlittle cups, maybe. bowls could get kind of big. little cups. Like I have like little Dixie cups in my classroom that I use for putting like 10 beans in it. This is a group of 10.

So I have my tens. I have five tens. So 50 and I have three single beans. So I have 53 and they can see that. And I'm going to ask them to give me 27 beans. Well, they're going to have to get some of the beans out of one of the cups, but they're not allowed to take it out of the cup.

They have to dump the whole cup. Well, now they've regrouped. They've taken it from being a group of 10 to being just one, the loose ones. So now we had, I think I said three ones. And then another group of ten group of 10 ones now became ones. So 10 plus three is 13. So now I have four tens and 13 ones.

And you can show that on the whiteboard as they're doing it, but let them do it a whole bunch of times. At least let them do it twice before you even show it. If they're like kind of advanced in it otherwise 50 times, I don't care. Let, let them do it a bunch before you even show it once and just show it.

Don't try to get them to jump to it until they're like, oh, it's going to be this. Or I understand like when they start realizing it, then you can start quickly getting them through the algorithm, but slow down at the beginning. All right, I'm getting preachy. It's not the point of this podcast that this podcast is about. There are an infinite number of ways to teach something.

So again, instead of the little cups and the little beans, sometimes I've used unifix cubes, a stack of 10 unifix cubes in the tens column and they're red. And then there are blue ones, single unifix cubes in the one column, unifix cubes are just like one about a one inch square cube that attached to each other. Like they can stack up.

Sorry. So again, I might have five tens. So five columns of red in the tens and then three blues in the ones. And I'm saying, give me 27. So again, they've got to take it apart, right and then we're working through that as explained before, or I've got those tens blocks. So those are the they're like little tiny cubes.

They're about one centimeter cube. And then a rod that's attached. You cannot pull them apart. You have to trade them one 10 rod for 10 individual cubes, again, five, 10 rods. And I give them three individual cubes and they've got to give me 27. They're going to struggle until we start trading over, talking through that examples. As I said before,

Montessori has these gorgeous beads that they use for tens and ones, very similar concept, right? They're using these golden beads on a full it's, like on a little wire, but it shows that there's individuals in there with they're all attached to be as ten. And you can't like take the wire apart. Well, you could, but you would kind of ruin it.

You're not supposed to. And then there's also individual tiny little single beads. So same concept, right? you would have to trade one of those tens for 10 ones. And you're seeing how you're regrouping with all of that. We can get out the Cheerio's, we can get out, right? Infinite number of things. And then we can also practice all of this while drawing in a sandbox at the park and talking about the animals that are running around and looking at books that have lots of things in them.

Like a where's Waldo book. I see 53 people if 27 of them and I count, oh, there's 27. Are men, how many are women? And how would I write that down then? How would I explain that? infinite number of ways to teach subtraction with regrouping. Now you'll notice that a lot of those are very similar to each other. Another way that actually you can teach it is by giving the algorithm 53 minus 27 written horizontally and ask them to figure it out in their head.

And then they're having to think through how would they do that? You could use number bonds, breaking numbers apart into pieces and showing how you would do it that way? Again, I can keep going. There are a lot of different ways that you can teach a single skill and there's benefits to teaching it more than one way. They're being exposed to the same concept in multiple places.

They're getting that deeper understanding that it doesn't just work like that here. It works like that here. And you just keep seeing the same concept over and over. It's going to solidify. So let's move on Another example, reading sight words. So if you are trying to teach sight words to a child, you could old fashioned flashcards, right? And even with flashcards,

there's different ways to do it. Some people have a huge stack of flashcards and they run through every single one every single day. And the kids kind of get used to seeing them and they learn them. Some people do this is sort of how I was taught originally, where you like show like two and you think they know one of them already. And then you tell them,

hand me, let's say the word is the and like, and you know that they know the already hand me the, well, they hand you the. they know the. hand me like, well, that must be this one, like Point to like, And then you hold it up. What does this word say? Like. the. like. okay, now we add in a third one and doing the same kind of thing with it.

Now we're adding in another one. So you're introducing one at a time getting, making sure they know that one before you introduce another one and keeping other ones that they know to practice it and to make sure that they can kind of identify and use that as a, I do know some stuff, because if you only hand them stuff that they don't know,

that can be overwhelming and stressful for them, but they, you know, some kids can learn it very quickly and they don't feel badly if you only give them things. They don't know because that does happen all the time. And it's not always a huge deal, but keep it in mind. Which kid do you have? How are they doing with it?

Maybe hand them some things they do know so that they can feel like, oh yeah, I do know stuff. So another: sight words. post-its all over the house. run and find the run and find like, or as you're walking along the like, or move it around and turn it into sentences. The cat likes the... right? or little fridge magnets with all of it,

the little fridge magnet letters. Now you're making words and playing with it that way. You're writing the words in sand. You're using the little letter beads and making jewelry. And you know, today you're wearing the word like, so by the end of the day, they looked at that word like a lot. And they know that word is like, next day,

they're going to wear that the next day they're going to wear have, whatever it is. So again, you're just like reinforcing all these different ways, all these different ways. drawing it out like rainbow writing, which is where like, they just trace the same word over and over and over again. And ideally, you're also kind of saying the letters as you're tracing it.

H A V E have H A V E have H A V E have, H A V E have. And then you're presenting it another way and another way in another way, and again, infinite number of ways to teach it. And the more of them you do, the more solid your kid is going to have that. Also reading, highlighting the word as you're reading.

If it's, you know, a book you can highlight like a paper printed book, highlighting those words, or just pointing them out as you're reading or as you, the parent are reading, stopping When you get to a word that you know your kid knows, let them read that one. Back and forth. All right, Again, I can keep going.

I just like, it keeps coming to me more and more and more ways. There's so many ways. So many ways. Another example is writing grammar S versus E S endings. So we think about, I'm trying to think about some example, good examples for this, but my favorite is discovery. It's just asking them to notice, what do you notice here?

What do you notice here? Why is it different? But there also is the old fashioned. This is the rule. This is why it works. The worksheet where you highlight underline, trace, circle, write it out, use those words, Just again, so Many different, so many different ways to teach any of this. So We're just going to move on.

The important thing to keep in mind is which strategy is best. And that is going to depend on your kid in general, that discovery and allowing them to teach works the very best, but use whatever works for your kid, your family, your situation, and the more strategies that you can try, the better, especially if it's something your child is struggling with.

Now, be careful with that because sometimes if you try too many strategies, all too close together, it can get confusing. So you want the strategies to either be relatively similar or allow them to do one for a while before you introduce another one. So let me know what skills have you been teaching Kimberlynn@DecodingLearningDifferences.com. And I can't wait to hear from you.



All of these episodes are designed to be super helpful to you! 
I release a new episode every Monday at 12:34pm (PST). Stay up to date and enjoy! Just click "subscribe" below to get the weekly emails notifying of you of the new episodes and giving you the link to them. 
If there is anything you'd like to see an episode about, email me your suggestions at Kimberlynn@DecodingLearningDifferences.com.
Decoding Learning Differences