The Learning Cycle Lesson
Making learning meaningful.
The Learning Cycle Lesson



research-based teaching strategy
effective in planning social studies
lessons
promotes conceptual change and
increases students’ meaningful
learning
Three Phases
Exploratory Introduction
 Lesson Development
 Expansion

Exploratory Introduction

Enables the students to become
more aware of their own
reasoning and recognize
shortcomings in their prior
knowledge.
Ask: What activities will enable
my students to:



become aware of and make public
their prior knowledge?
have the opportunity to try out their
prior knowledge in a new setting?
compare their prior knowledge to the
new idea and recognize flaws in their
prior knowledge?
The Teacher’s Role

present one or two key questions
to confront the students’ thinking
 raise questions
 facilitate the students’ exploration
 stand back and observe
Important Components of the
Exploratory Phase

use cooperative learning groups
 include interaction and
exploration
 include a formative assessment
to determine prior knowledge and
misconceptions
Formative Evaluation

provides the teacher with
information to determine
students’ learning
 used for monitoring and
diagnosing
Lesson Development



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Discuss results of the exploratory
introduction, providing connections to the
new social studies idea.
Teach the new idea. Include interesting
practice activities.
Model and/or practice.
Provide closure for the new idea.
Ask: What activities will:


provide my students with a clear
explanation and sufficient practice to
allow them to connect the new idea
to what they already know?
enable my students to construct their
own “new” knowledge based on the
new idea?
The Teacher’s Role





explain
provide examples
check for understanding
guide
provide closure (a clear description
of the idea or skill with which they
have been working)
Important Components of the
Lesson Development Phase





provides more than one form of
explanation
gives clear examples
uses modeling
checks for understanding
includes a formative assessment
Expansion Phase

Apply and transfer the new social
studies idea or skill to different
situations.
Ask: What activities will:


enable my students to apply the new
knowledge in relevant contexts?
help my students develop successful
procedures for making decisions and
solving problems while transferring
the new idea to other settings?
The Teacher’s Role



provides some but less guidance
provides activities for the transfer of
the new concept or skill
encourager
Important Components of the
Expansion Phase

allow students to apply the new skill
or idea into a situation that is
meaningful to them personally
 include a summative assessment to
check for transfer of the new idea
into the new situation
Summative Assessment


Examines students’ progress at the
end of an activity, lesson, or unit
Any grades that are given are taken
from summative assessments and
not formative
Formative Assessments

Conferences
 Observations
 Checklists
 Questions and
Answers

First drafts
 Pre-tests
 Journals
 self and peer
assessments
Summative Assessments

Chapter tests
 Projects
 Portfolios
 Performances

Benchmarks
 State
assessments
 Final copies
Recap: The Learning Cycle
Lesson
References:
Karplus, R. (1974). Science curriculum improvement study teachers handbook.
Berkeley, CA: University of California.
Sunal, C. & Haas, M. (2008). Social studies for the elementary and middle grades.
Boston, MA: Pearson Education Incorporated.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological
processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Quick Quiz

What are the three phases of
a learning cycle lesson?

Why is the exploration phase
so important?

What is an important part of
each phase that determines if
the student is ready for the
next phase?

Which phase has the most
teacher-direction?
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The Learning Cycle Lesson