Instruction & Curriculum

How to Apply The New American Lecture to Mathematics

While it is important to gain the attention of students through activities that create opportunities for learning, sometimes lectures are necessary to help students connect prior knowledge to what they need to learn, and the New American Lecture is designed to teach students in a way that provides them with opportunities to interact with the lesson while also demonstrating the concepts for them (Laureate Education, n.d.). There are several components to The New American Lecture Strategy, but they can be easily broken down and applied to a mathematical concept. Here are the bullet points for this strategy:
The Hook: The first phase includes a move called the “hook,” which is where the students’ attention is gained through either a mastery, understanding, self-expression, or interpersonal means so that not only does the teacher gain the attention of students, but also builds on the prior knowledge and experience that students have (Laureate Education). This falls in line with Beers’ (2006) assertion that checking for prior knowledge both helps the teacher understand where students are, but allows students to get ready for the lesson they are about to learn. Through the hook, prior knowledge and experience start students off on the journey to learning.
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The Kindling Phase: Another important part of teaching for learning is metacognition, where students are required to reflect upon their work and other students’ learning to increase achievement (Beers). In the New American Lecture, the kindling phase provides students with this opportunity for metacognition by thinking about what goes on inside their heads and then discussing these thoughts with a partner and perhaps even coming up with new ideas based on their discussion (Laureate Education). Through this reflection process, or the kindling phase, the teacher uses the ideas of students as a jumping-off point for the rest of the lesson.
The Bridge: All of the students’ responses are put together with the lecture content through the use of a visual organizer, which is done with the students and also helps put the information into chunks to aid students in remembering the concept.
Posing Questions: Throughout the lecture, students should be asked questions in a variety of formats in order to keep them engaged with the lecture. Students have different learning styles, so the questions should reach a variety of learning styles while still requiring higher order thinking skills.
Comprehension Task: Students must have an authentic learning task that is attached to the lecture so they have an opportunity to synthesize information.
In the seventh-grade math curriculum, proportional reasoning is an important concept to develop. The learning objective for this lesson is for students to develop and use a proportional relationship to solve multi-step percent problems. Using the New American lecture provides students with a more meaningful framework in which to receive a lecture so that content gets stored into long-term memory more easily (Silver, Strong, & Perini, 2007). For this lesson, students would be hooked using the mastery hook, where students are asked what they already know about percents, so students would complete a K-W-L Chart (Know, Want to Know, Learned) that they will refer to at the end of the lecture. Using this chart, students can begin the discussion about how they can now use proportions to find percents (Laureate Education, n.d.).
Then, the kindling phase would begin, which is where a question is posed to the students and then they have a chance to interact with one another and then come back together to collect the information gained from their interactions (Laureate Education). Here, students jot down how they think proportions might relate to percents, come up with an idea with their partner to share, and then the bridge move would be utilized to put together students’ responses and the lecture’s content (Silver, Strong, & Perini). Because the content of the lecture is organized around a visual organizer that “chunks” information, students can process each bit of information through their working memories between chunks of information (Silver, Strong, & Perini). The visual organizer for this lesson might be a flowchart, where students will determine what to do to solve a percent problem based on what information they have been provided. While the structure of the visual organizer will be pre-determined along with the information, it is important that students look at an organizer with a title, a critical question, and a structure, but not one that is completed, because if they do not participate in building the organizer, they will not pay attention to the information included within it (Laureate Education).
Next, students will receive a variety of questions within the lecture to review information learned and keep students engaged. These questions should be posed every five minutes or so and in the four different styles to assist students in putting this information in working memory into long-term memory (Laureate Education). Thus, students will be asked questions in the mastery, interpersonal, understanding, and self-expressive styles to ensure that students of all learning styles are engaged in the process of learning (Silver, Strong, & Perini). To gain a deeper understanading of the question types, the following descriptions should help:
Mastery Questions: These questions emphasize recall of information. You might ask students to summarize information, write down all that they can remember about a subject, or rank information in order of importance.
Interpersonal Questions: Here, an emphasis is more on feelings, emotions, values, and personal experiences. So, you might ask students how they would feel if their friend got 2 out of 6 slices of pizza and they got 1 out of 4 slices. This requires them to determine proportionality, but also attaches some feelings to the question.
Understanding Questions: These questions require students to analyze and understand the information presented to them. Compare and contrast questions, hypothesizing, and supporting an answer to a question with evidence would all be included here.
Self-Expressive Questions: This is where students get to use their imaginations, which is perhaps something we do not do enough of in math class. Have students create a metaphor where they compare a proportion to something else, create a symbol to represent proportionality, or ask them what they think would happen if nothing was every proportional. You’d be surprised what they can come up with!
Finally, students will be provided with an opportunity to engage with the information gained from the lecture by completing a comprehension task that allows them to express their knowledge, understanding, and analysis of this new information. Silver, Strong, and Perini suggest students create presentations to demonstrate an understanding of the topic, so for the conclusion of this lecture, students will be given the opportunity to create a presentation either explaining, informing, or inquiring about the topic of using proportions to solve percent problems. Through this process, I can ensure that students meet the objective of developing and using proportional relationships to solve multi-step percent problems, as they will quickly get information from working memory to long-term memory using the structure of the New American Lecture.
Beers, B. (2006). Learning-driven schools: A practical guide for teachers and principals. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). New American lecture strategy [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Silver, H. F., Strong, R. W., & Perini, M. J. (2007). Chapter 1: New American Lecture. In The strategic teacher. Retrieved from

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