Pacing is the speed at which information is delivered by a tutor or teacher in a lesson. Lesson pacing is essential in a classroom. It should be quick enough to ensure that students are interested but not so fast that they do not understand. According to Alan Hofmeister and Margaret Lubke (1999), pacing increases students’ interest and betters their behavior. While a teacher is presenting a lecture, he/she ought to lookout for indicators that the students are bored.
The pace for each lesson should be appropriate for the level of students. In grade 5-8, the students are still learning the basics, and it is at this point their interest in learning is natured. In this case, the pace should be moderate to provide opportunities for students to engage in inquiries whether wholly or partially. At this instance, students in grades 5-8 are able to identify the relationship between evidence and interpretation. It is vital that they are a part of a class that is actively involving and is moving at the right pace.
Lesson pacing should be emphasized as it is necessary in the engagement of the student in what is taught. It is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure he/she is aware of students’ interest by paying attention to the students during the lesson. If students become agitated or restless, the teacher should slow down or stop the session. However, if they appear bored he/she should speed up the lesson. To ensure the lecture is on a brisk pace the teacher adds variety as the spice of lessons, give the students a break to refresh, break down lessons into smaller sections, avoid too much paperwork and ensure the students understand.
Instructors or teachers have a lot to consider when planning the lessons’ pace, this can be summed up as the student’s needs. Factors that are specific to the students are age or grade, attention span, complexity of the lesson and specific need students. Special need students include ELL students and gifted or learning disabled (McLeod, Fisher, Hoover, 2003). Different types of students will respond to pacing in a different way. Students who are learning English will find it overwhelming if they have to try grasping the language and understanding the content at the same time. ELL students need a steady pace, unlike in a class without ELL students it is vital that they understand the material even if it takes a long time (Jones and Jones, 2004).
When teaching a class that includes ELL students, the teacher should slow the pacing but make sure the English language rhythm is maintained. ELL students need extra time to understand the content and process the linguistic aspect. The teacher has to monitor the ELL students’ progress so that he/she can determine what has to be done. The teacher might consider allocating more time to ELL students might help them bridge the gap by pairing ELL students with native English speakers. The native English speaking students can also serve as unofficial teacher assistant with direct teacher supervision. The teacher has to simplify the language of presentation as the ELL student is familiar with commonly used terms and definitions.
Pacing in classes that do not include ELL students is fast in comparison to that which includes ELL students. The students can now concentrate on capturing the content rather than in understanding the language. At grades 5-8 the students are in quest of knowledge and are quick to learn thus even ELL students will use a shorter time to learn English unless there are unforeseen external factors such as discrimination, stressful environment or peer pressure.
The complexity of the lesson will determine how much information the student will grasp within the stipulated class time. Complexity of lesson material may affect lesson pacing negatively as it slows it down. In a class, that includes ELL students the teacher has to simplify the content such that it is not challenging to the students. The content will also have to be divided into smaller packages that are delivered systematically to ensure all students comprehend. Other methods that maybe employed in making difficult content much easier to understand are including discussions held within the class amongst the students and brainstorming.
In grade 5-8 middle-school students might have problems especially when it comes to identifying variables in scientific experiments. However, in social studies and mathematics with gradual pacing, the students can learn a lot. It can be noted that as long what is taught is within the curriculum and the extent of students in grade 5-8 they will learn. At this stage, it would be unwise to divide the students into high-achieving and low-achieving students as it would hamper the progress of others whose need is just motivation.