Leadership · Teaching & Learning

What’s the deal with Total Physical Response? – An instructional strategy and an educator’s reflections

As a teacher, I’ve always look for opportunities to implement research based instructional strategies. As a school leader, I’ve always encourage my staff to do the same. However, what constitutes an strategy to be researched based? The Teacher’s toolkit for collecting and analyzing data on instructional strategies “provides teachers with three tools to implement an instructional improvement cycle, which allows teachers to test a new instructional strategy using a scientific approach” (Cherasaro, Reale, Haystead, & Marzano, 2015, p. i). Following the recommended steps, I decided to test the Total Physical Response instructional strategy. Below are my reflections and results…

Step 1: Select an instructional strategy

Bowen describes Total physical Response as a strategy that “Originally developed by James Asher, an American professor of psychology, in the 1960s, Total Physical Response (TPR) is based on the theory that the memory is enhanced through association with physical movement” (Bowen, 2018). She expands on this idea and notes that “TPR as an approach to teaching based on listening and this is linked to physical actions which are designed to reinforce comprehension of basic items”(Bowen, 2018). Bowen notes that “Short TPR activities, used judiciously and integrated with other activities can be both highly motivating and linguistically purposeful” (Bowen, 2018). She elaborates on this concept and mentions that “many learners respond well to kinesthetic activities and they can genuinely serve as a memory aid” (Bowen, 2018).

Lesson Plan with Control Group:

Lesson Intro Review academic vocabulary “Classify”

Tap on geometric shapes background knowledge

Whole Group: Students classified real life objects based on color, item type, and size
Concept Review Review of Classification skill
Independent Work/Assessment Geometric Shapes Classification assessment: Students received a worksheet with different real-life objects that are a like a geometric shape. They were to cut and glue each object in the correct category.

The worksheet included a title “Classify geometric shapes”

Lesson Wrap-up Students shared their own classification with the teacher.

Lesson Plan Experimental Group:

Lesson Intro Tap on geometric shapes background knowledge
Whole Group: Teacher reviewed geometry academic vocabulary by employing the TPR strategy.

Teacher asked students to discuss with one another “what real life objects are like each of the geometric shapes that were reviewed?”

Teacher reviewed each of the geometry academic vocabulary by employing the TPR strategy.

Concept Review Review of Classification skill using the TPR strategy
Independent Work/Assessment Geometric Shapes Classification assessment: Students received a worksheet with different real-life objects that are a like a geometric shape. They were to cut and glue each object in the correct category.

The worksheet included a title “Classify geometric shapes”

Lesson Wrap-up Students shared their own classification with the teacher.

Step 2: Implement the strategy

To test the effectiveness of this strategy, I selected two group of students, a control group and an experimental group. One of the classes received instruction using the TPR instructional strategy paired with linguistic clues. The second class received regular instruction. The content of both lessons was 1st grade math and concepts. No pretest was administered due to lack of time as this experiment was conducted on the last day of school. However, given this variable, this activity was determined to be a reviewed activity as both group of students had been previously exposed to the concepts of geometric shapes and classification as a cognitive skill. The experiment question addressed is noted below:

“How well does a group of students that received TPR show mastery classification skills compared with a group of students that did not received the TPR strategy?”

The tables below described a more detailed comparison between the two groups:

Group 1: Experimental Group

Number of Students 3
Course Name or Subject: Mathematics
Topic Geometric Shapes
Grade: 1st Grade
Demographics: Two-way Dual Language Students- Instruction given in Spanish
Lessons Goals: 1. Students will be able to classify real life objects based on their attributes

Targeted Strategy Tested: Total Physical Response & Linguistic Clues

Group 1: Control Group

Number of Students 3
Course Name or Subject: Mathematics
Topic: Geometric Shapes
Grade: 1st Grade
Demographics: General Education Monolingual Students- Instruction given in English
Lessons Goals: 1. Students will be able to classify real life objects based on their attributes

Step 3: Collect data on strategy implementation

The chosen assessment for this activity was the “Geometric Shapes Classification assessment.” This assessment is based on three column graphic organizer. Students were given a picture bank of different real-life objects that represent a geometric shape. For example, a ball represents a sphere, a box represents a cube and a candle represent a cylinder. The task given to students was to cut each picture and classify it with other objects under the correct category. Both group of students, the experimental and the control group received the same assessment.

The assessment tool contained 12 different items that needed to be classified correctly.
Step 4: Analyze the data and reflect on the results

The experimental Group Results

Student 1: 11/12

Student 2:12/12

Student 3:12/12

Control Group Results

Student 1: 12/12

Student 2: 12/12

Student 3: 7/12

Conclusions:

Major conclusions cannot be made due to the sample size of the experiment. Students in both groups performed very similarly. One of the students in the control group performed significantly worst than any of the students in the experimental group. However, this performance can also be attributed to other factors not noted in this experiment. In answering the experiment question “How well does a group of students that received TPR show mastery of classification skills compared with a group of students that did not received the TPR strategy?” it cannot be determined with high reliable accuracy that the implementation of TPR as a instructional strategy yields better student performance than for students who were not exposed to it.

Reflecting on this quick experiment, I can see how the instructional cycle toolkit is an effective tool for teachers and administrators. At times, as practitioners we implement thing not knowing if they will work or not. This tool kid provides teachers and administrators with a quick and effective framework that can help practitioners make instructional decisions that promote student achievement, professional growth and collaboration.

References

Bowen, T. (2018, May 12). Teaching approaches: total physical response. Retrieved from One stop English: http://www.onestopenglish.com/methodology/methodology/teaching-approaches/teaching-approaches-total-physical-response/146503.article

Cherasaro, T. L., Reale, M. L., Haystead, M., & Marzano, R. J. (2015, May). Instructional Improvement Cycle: A teacher’s toolkit for collecting and analyzing data on instructional strategies. Washington, DC, U.S: Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences,National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Central.

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