Methods for Presenting Subject Matter

Options for Presenting Lessons in Class

Teaching can be reduced to six specific tasks. The one that is most obvious on a day-to-day basis is how they deliver their teaching material. Presenting subject matter often depends on the topic at hand, the resources available, the time allotted for the lesson, and the interest level expected of the student. When a teacher takes all of this information into account, they can make a good choice as to the best way to present the material. Following is a list of the most common ways that teachers present their subject matter to their students. 

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Teacher talking to students in classroom
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Lectures are instructor-centered forms of instruction that often get a bad rap. However, it is important to realize that lectures come in many different forms, some more effective than others. The least effective form of lecture involves a teacher reading from notes or the text. Students quickly lose interest and typically little is learned from the experience. However, dynamic teachers often lecture in a more free form manner, including students and providing humorous or insightful information throughout. The third form of lecture includes multimedia. For example, an art history teacher might show images and lecture on individual elements of paintings. 

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Whole Group Discussion

In a whole group discussion, the instructor and the students share the focus of the lesson. Typically a teacher presents information through questions and answers, ensuring that the students are involved in learning. Teachers can retain control while checking on student learning throughout the lesson. ​

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Small Group Discussions

This is a more complicated form of discussion. A teacher breaks the class up into small groups and provides them with talking points that they must discuss. The teacher then walks around the room, checking on the information being shared and ensuring participation by all within the group. An example of when this method of discussion would work well would be when students have read a novel and are sharing information based on questions posed by the instructor. However, the teacher must have a good handle on ​classroom management to ensure that the discussion groups stay on topic. 

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Role Play

Role play involves getting the students to take on different roles as they explore and learn about the topic at hand. For example, in a foreign language class, students might take on the role of different speakers and use dialogues to help learn the language. It is important that the teacher has a firm plan for including and assessing the students based on their role playing. 

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Simulations are slightly different than role-playing in that students become involved in a situation and have to use what they have learned and their own intellect to work through the simulation. For example, a government simulation might have the students create a model legislature where they have to create and pass legislation. These have a great ability to be interest building but also require the teacher to make clear how each student will be assessed for their participation. 

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Software or Internet Exploration

Teachers can use this method to help guide student learning as they use the internet or a particular software program to learn information for the lesson. For example, a student might complete an online scavenger hunt. This requires a teacher to have come up with sites and questions for the student to answer. 

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Presentation Through Multimedia

Multimedia methods of presentation include slide shows, movies, and PowerPoint presentations. When creating presentations, it's important to keep notes concise and to the point while including interesting and relevant images. If done well, a presentation can be very interesting and effective for student learning. Movies present their own set of problems and concerns but can be extremely effective when teaching certain subjects. Check out this article on the pros and cons of using movies for further information.

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Individual Reading and Work

Some topics lend themselves well for individual classroom reading time. For example, if students are studying a short story, a teacher might have them read in class and then stop them after a certain time to ask questions and check understanding. However, it is important that the teacher is aware of student reading levels to make sure that they don't fall behind. Another method some teachers use is to have students read a portion of a chapter in their text and answer questions quietly in class. This gives students the opportunity to ask their teacher questions if necessary while completing their work. However, this should not be used as an everyday method of teaching as students can quickly lose interest.

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Group Work

Teamwork is very important in the business world and many business leaders complain that students come out of school without the necessary skills to effectively work as a team. Therefore, it can be extremely useful to include group work in the classroom setting. It is important that as a teacher, you stay on top of how much each individual is contributing to the team and build a system to give students grades based on their participation.

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Student Presentation

Having students prepare for and then present information to the class as a whole can be a fun and engaging method of instruction. For example, you can divide up a chapter into topics and have the students "teach" the class. Or you can divide out topics to students or groups and have them present information on each topic as a short presentation. This not only helps students learn the material in a deeper manner but also provides them with practice in public speaking.