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Five Act Lesson Cycle: Act III Climax (Individual Practice) | Ecology of EducationEcology of Education

Five Act Lesson Cycle: Act III Climax (Individual Practice)

In the Five Act Dramatic Arc, Act III is crucial in the structure of the overall narrative. It is the crux of the story. Similarly, the Individual Practice portion of the lesson cycle and instructional design can literally make or break almost the entirety of the educational experience. This holds true for the majority of both the students and the teachers involved. When this occurs, frustrations ensues and learning in no way takes place. Understanding individual practice as the climax of instructional design within the context of the lesson cycle assists in avoiding this particular form of frustration.

According to Freytag (1863), the Climax is the pivotal point in the play in which the protagonist(s)’ fortune takes a turn either for the better or for the worse. Thus the parallel with individual practice lesson cycle. At this point in the play, the greatest amount of dramatic action occurs. Similarly, it is during individual practice in which the students will be the most challenged. More so than even during the assessment phase of instructional design.

Individual practice is truly the “hands-on” portion of the lesson cycle. It is the experiential and experimental phase of instructional design. At this point in the lesson, the students are challenged to demonstrate a certain level of working mastery along with their limitations of their newly acquired knowledge and skills. Greater pressure and expectations are many times self-exerted by the students due to the somewhat greater public nature of the activity. This is due to the fact that this portion of the lesson cycle can be completed either individually, in cooperative paris, or in collaborative groups.

Even if students complete the assigned activity on their own, the ensuing discussion regarding the activity does place the students under a particular amount of scrutiny. This creates a pass/fail situation in a certain sense. But it is within a safe environment. This experience must afford the students the opportunity to fail as much as succeed. Both experiences are valuable and educational. Some researchers and practitioners, especially in the sciences, contend that failure can actually be more efficacious than success.

This is truly the first time which students must navigate the new material seemingly solo. Yet, the safety net of discussion is ever present even if it is unspoken. With this knowledge, the students can be effectively encouraged to both explore and experiment utilizing the conceptual framework afforded by the content’s curriculum and the classroom instruction. At this point the student is looming over the proverbial precipice.

In the same sense, at this point in the dramatic arc, the protagonist is faced with a seemingly similar grave decision. The protagonist of the dramatic work is faced with a particular conundrum that will, in turn, change the character’s life from that point on. they have passed the proverbial point of no return, the Rubicon. Part of the classroom experience is ensuring that the student arrives at this particular point, and crosses the bridge into the unknown. Simply put, the students needs to do more than merely learn the requisite knowledge and skills. They must also be able to apply them in a variety of situations and settings. Doing so will help to facilitate the desired change in learning for the students.

As the classroom challenge is almost equitably shared between the students and teacher during this phase of the lesson cycle, it is the perfect time for the classroom teacher to model self-awareness and non-traditional learning through reflection and self-directed learning. The primary difference in the learning is in the difference in the experience between the students and the teachers. As such, the teacher functions in more of a mentor role knowing that a cushioning net awaits the protagonists on the other side of the precipice. This role is unique and unusual combination of responsibilities. These include supporter and counselor as well as taskmaster. What is of vital importance is that the students make the proverbial leap of faith over the edge, and more importantly into the next stage of the lesson…Act IV, Assessment.

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Author:R. Casey Davis

R. Casey Davis is currently a Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Designer/Developer for Flip Switch, Inc. Prior to this he taught Science, Social Studies, English, and Journalism, and was the Secondary Advanced Academics Facilitatory for Temple ISD for three years before returning to the classroom full time. He is currently working on his M.A. in American History through American Public University. He has a B.S. in History from Texas Woman's University and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston - Victoria. Mr. Davis is as contract writer for STEMscopes out of Rice University as well as a freelance writer for SAGE Publications, ABC-Clio, and OnLine Learners, Inc. He has published a 10th World History textbook with ancillary materials through the American Preparatory Institue, a subsidiary of Central Texas College. He has a forthcoming book on secondary Social Studies classroom techniques to be published by Prufrock Press in Spring 2013. Mr. Davis's research interests include American History, Religion, Science, Instructional Design, Gifted and Talented students, and Second Language Learners. Follow him on Twitter @ProfTrivia.