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At the 5th and 6th grade levels, the ages of students range from 10 to 12 years of age. This coincides with the so-called "tweens", or pre-teen age years. During this time, children are at a prime stage of development, both mental and physical, that stems from their hormonal transformation from children into adolescents. These changes entail further variations in terms of their likes, their needs, their goals, their skills, and their levels of motivation. The fact that they are at a transitional stage that is proportional to their social and emotional growth must serve as an important keypoint to consider when differentiating and pacing instruction.
According to Erickson, children of this age group undergo the phase of "Industry versus Inferiority". In Freudian terms it would be the transition from the Concrete Operational to the Formal Operational stage. Kohlberg would affirm that they are at a "Pre-conventional stage". Although different in name, these theories all coincide in that there is a zone of developmental growth during this time that entreats the provision of motivational, challenging, and relevant tasks to ensure student success.
All this being said, lesson pacing should involve the following: a clear objective to establish relevance, b) a developmentally appropriate task based on student interests and capability, c) a worthy motivational reward, d) consistent and ongoing observation and feedback.
Good teachers often know what their students need based on the curricular suggestions. Great teachers, however, contrast themselves from good teachers in that they use assessment and research tools to tap on the true likes and needs of each student. Far from a hard task, this is actually a very doable thing.
Hence, the need for lesson pacing can be explained by understanding the complexity of the target audience, by zoning in their need for motivational and worthy tasks, and by consistently shifting their level of activity to address their different intelligences. Because of the many changes taking place in the live of students of this specific group, their processing levels will also vary. Some students will be developmentally ready to work alone while others will always need a most knowledgeable other (MKO). Therefore, by pacing, the teacher lets the student "bank in" time to absorb all the new information and process is effectively.
By pacing a lesson, the teacher is also able to split her lesson within mini lessons to be completed by small groups, or by individual students. For example, when teaching History, a teacher will explain the purpose of the lesson, the projects available for self-paced and group completion, and the resources that are available to complete the activities. After doing this "game plan", the teacher can roam around the students or smaller groups as the facilitator of the activities that they will be engaged in. As the teacher meets with students, either individually or in smaller groups, a good exchange of information takes place. From this information, the teacher can continue to mold the lesson, switch objectives, or come up with new ideas for specific students.
Again, pacing allows for the proper synthesis of the information that the teacher bestows upon the student. Good pacing will ensure that this process is done effectively, considering the complexity of this particular student population
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