Just-in-time Telling is a strategy of experiencing a problem before learning of a solution or explanation. When students experience the nuances of the problem first, they are better able to address specific parts of the solution when learning it afterwards.
Just-in-time Telling Primes Learning
As an intern teacher of 9-12 year olds, my mentor teacher observed my follow-up lesson to the Pythagorean theorem with constructive triangles. Our debrief afterwards revealed just how teacher-directed the lesson was and our brainstorm as to how to shift this approach to more student-led learning utilized the strategy of what I now know as “Just-in-time Telling”. The next day, I invited a new group of students to the lesson and rather than demonstrate the possibilities of the material, I gave them the triangle boxes and the task of showing the theorem with the triangles. Then I walked away. Yup. I walked away.
My stunned students got to work collaborating ideas and the busy hum of learning permeated the classroom climate. In about twenty minutes, one of the students tapped me on the shoulder and proudly informed me they wanted to show me what they came up with. Just-in-time Telling allowed them to better understand the solution before I introduced the labels that lead to the actual theorem. I have a feeling those same students will remember this lesson far better than my first group.
Just-in-time Telling Leverages Experience Before Explanation
As the authors of The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use indicated, “Experience and explanation produce different types of knowledge and they work very well together when the experience happens first.”
One reason the Just-in-time Telling strategy works is because of our tendency to remember what we just heard which is called recency, and what we learned first, primacy. When guides utilize this ability to tap into what students learn first as the basis for adding nuances and explanations of the topic, students are better able to remember and understand the concept.
Applying this strategy is truly as simple as remembering “If (experience/problem) . . . Then (explanation/solution).” For instance, if you aim to introduce the idea of seed dispersal to your students, invite them to wear large oversized socks over their shoes for recess outdoors. When they arrive back to class, examine the seeds collected on the socks before delving into what you know about how animals disperse seeds. Just-in-time Telling.
QUICK TIP for Just-in-time Telling
One of the best tips I can think of to promote Just-in-time Telling to your repertoire of lesson-giving techniques is to allow some exploration with with materials before delving into the explanations. This technique requires some precision as described in my examples of either sharing the aim of the lesson or to refine the experience with parameters. I think of this as adding a “problem-solving framework” and “precise experiences” to every lesson to optimize learning!
– By Tammy Oesting
Our ABCs of Learning: Montessori Edition is inspired by the work of authors Daniel L. Schwartz, Jessica Tsang and Kristen Blair, Professors of Education at Stanford University’s book The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use which was reviewed on our Great Titles for Educators web page.