Introductory Challenge

In this unit you will see how to introduce (or preview) a lesson. When teachers or parapros preview a lesson, their students learn better. That’s because the preview helps students link what they already know with what they are about to learn. With a preview, students find it easier to learn new skills and concepts.

The unit talks about two types of previews: learning targets and advance organizers. You may have observed teachers using these types of previews, or you may have used them yourself.

Learning targets and advance organizers are not just used in schools. For example, weight-loss and other self-help programs stress the importance of writing down goals. These goals are the learning targets. They help people focus their efforts toward self-improvement. Advance organizers are used in television series. Episodes often begin with a summary of the important events that took place in the previous episode (“Previously on…”). TV writers know that audiences find this type of preview very helpful.

To see the importance of a lesson preview, try the following quick exercise. Walk into a class in the middle of an instructional period. Observe for about five minutes. Then write down what you might have wanted to know in order to help you understand the main point of the lesson. How would you have preferred to receive this information—as a written narrative, a picture or illustration, a set of bullet points? [Note: If you don’t have access to a classroom, you can have a similar experience by watching a 30-minute documentary video after fast-forwarding past the first 10 minutes or so.]