How to Learn on Purpose: Fundamental Five

How to Learn on Purpose: Fundamental Five

Below are the Key Components of FSGPT (frequent small group purposeful talk):

  1. FSGPT frequent small group purposeful talk is a practice that allows up to four students to talk about an assignment after the teacher has provided instruction on the topic of assignment. Some research stipulates many students appreciate talking with their classmates more than they appreciate sitting quietly in a classroom listening to their teachers. Although students understand they must listen to instruction to learn–and many do listen–students nevertheless welcome every opportunity to connect with their classmates to complete assignments. Social psychology reveals that people need people, and education research supports the idea that students should work in groups where possible to help keep learning interesting and fun and meaningful. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

2. The teacher discusses the lesson for 15 minutes and then allows students to share with other students the lessons they have learned. Certainly, teachers must teach. They cannot pass the baton to students without first arming students with the tools they need for learning. Yet teachers should space their instruction in a timely manner and allow students to digest bits and pieces of the instruction. Once the teacher has spoken for 15 minutes, she or he should pass the baton to the students for them to further discuss with their peers the lessons. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

The students’ talks should last between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Social psychology reveals human nature will allow only a few minutes for anyone to explain almost anything because most people’s attention span is ephemeral. Thus, speaking for 3 minutes or less so the other person may speak again is a civil way to be obedient to the others in the discourse. After three minutes of conversing with their peers, the students should transition the time back to the teacher, so that the teacher may proceed with the next lesson if apropos. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

3. The structure of “purpose talk” includes frequency, group size, seed question, and power zone. In order for the FSGPT to fulfil its intent, the structure must be adhered. In a fifty minute timeframe, students need at least three opportunities to share with their peers what they have learned.

Each teacher should decide on the frequency depending on the instruction planned for the day.

The size of the group should remain small so that every member in the group feels closely connected to the other members. To have students “turn to a neighbor” to discuss a lesson is helpful as well, but the idea is not as focused as an assigned group that is instructed what and how to participate in the lesson.

The seed question helps students to direct their attention on learning. The seed question should be what allows for students to think on levels that would be meaningful to them. For example, in teaching stories about animal life, a teacher might instruct students to respond to a similar question: “Under delicate circumstances, how would you help a lost puppy find its way home”? Students should be able to discuss ways to aid the situation through a few minutes of talking with their peers. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

4. Two disadvantageous variable: five or more students may preclude every student to participate, and a side conversation may become likely. Keeping within the minimal of two and the maximum of four students in a group allows for everyone to participate vis a vis. Otherwise, engaging five or six students in a group might inadvertently preclude some students or leave minimal time for all students to respond. The importance of every student talking is reason for grouping students. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

5. Seed questions guide students toward learning outcomes. Asking a direct question for students to discuss and share ideas keeps learning meaningful and interesting. The questions should embrace all levels of learning–knowledge to evaluation (Bloom’s taxonomy). The goal is to teach for learning. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

6. Power zone represents the idea that the teacher is remaining in the conversations by facilitating students’ discussions. Although students are listening and talking, the teacher’s responsibility is to monitor students and to probe them for further deep thinking if the three-minute time allows; otherwise, the teacher should walk within the groups to manage the functionality of the lesson. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

7. A classroom malady is feedback presented only by “adult-like” students, where “student-like” students rarely speak: the group of 2 to 4 provides opportunity for every student to share his or her opinion. Adult-like students can aid student-like students by explaining the lesson if student-like students need help in understanding the lesson. Students help one another rather than listen to teacher on an often basis.

A perfect scenario would be all students being the quality students many teachers expect; however, in a genuine classroom setting a diverse student body stands before the teacher. Thus, the teacher must depend on the students that enjoy sharing aloud and desire leading the crowd.

The teacher must also determine a means for stimulating all students to motivate themselves to participate in their own learning. Until the teacher reaches all students, she or he must rely on willing students–adult-like students–to help motivate other students to participate in class groups and /or discussions. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

8. Student retention is supported by students teaching a lesson. Teachers will attest that students will daydream for many minutes of class time, and to many teachers’ dismay, some students will place their heads on desks or wander about the classroom, especially if the teacher’s student management is weak. Thus, to help keep students entertained and in the “fun” mode for learning, students need to work with their classmates. Otherwise, students’ attention span may be short and only minimal learning gained. Students working together will aid their learning. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

9. Primacy / Recency [sic] Effect, “per learning, students tend to remember best the first lessons and remember second best the last lessons and remember least lessons that come just past the middle” (quoted in Fundamental Five, p. 56). This idea is a truth to reckon with because, if reminisced, the pictures the mind conveys will show that attention is greatest at the start of almost any event and is even greater at the end of almost any event because, well, it’s the end.

Regardless how delightful an event may be, an end to its delightfulness is desired at some point in time. A truce is a good thing. The lessons or the events that happen between the beginning and the ending are usually the lessons lost. Thus, a strategy is necessary to keep knowledge fresh in learners’ minds.

The best way to maintain the recency effect is to frame the lesson when students are alert. Critical instructional concepts and final demonstration of that concept are powerful. Additionally, allowing students to connect with buddies to share the goodtime, is necessary, and, again, entertaining and fun.

Therefore, the teacher should frame the lesson and place students in groups to keep them thinking and learning. Students will then remember lessons from beginning to end. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

10. A state change is a change in physical or mental state. By introducing multiple state changes during the course of a class period, the teacher may create multiple, vibrant starts and finishes at beginning and at end of class instruction.

A state change provides opportunity for the attention span of students to be guided. When a teacher instructs students, “Let’s stop what we are doing; turn to your partner and discuss. . .” (p. 59). This state change resets the students’ attention to continue to focus on the learning outcomes.

Again, 15 minutes of teacher instruction followed by 1 to 3 minutes of sharing within groups, keeps students on task and learning. PURPOSEFUL TALK PROVIDES THIS OPPORTUNITY.

Lastly, rigor and relevance can be applied to learning through Bloom’s Taxonomy. Applying rigor is an uncommon method of teaching, according to Fundamental Five, yet rigor can be aided by incorporating seed questions, sauntered with Bloom’s analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, which are the higher levels of learning.

Lastly, the authors of Fundamental Five recommend a chart to display questions, a chart that shows levels of questions per HOTS (higher order thinking skills). The chart that is situated in a conspicuous place inside the classroom allows ease for the teacher to recognize HOTS questions. The chart will be helpful for the teacher to use high level questions when time nears to engage students in explicit thinking.

Rigor may also be added by allowing students to bring their own relevance to their learning. The teacher does not mandatorily instruct on his or her own but instill autonomy in students themselves to elicit their own rigor and relevance.

The teacher may teach students how to monitor time when students are learning. Students may introduce a timer or a bell system as a warning that instruction stops when the timer rings, and questions and answers can be enforced.

By teachers teaching students to be responsible for their own learning, they give students the opportunity to be independent learners, and they save time for themselves to facilitate instruction.

Frequent small group purposeful talk solves many low level learning times by bringing to the learning force a chance for students to connect with others; a chance for them to learn independently; a chance for them to ask higher order questions and to respond to the questions; a chance for students to relieve their teacher of continual instruction; a chance for students to be motivated for learning; and a chance for students to increase their participation in classroom learning.

Fundamental Five displays a method for teachers to adopt a sensible style of instructing, so that teachers may help their students remain engaged in learning: Students then absorb the chance to listen, to learn, and to share. Purposeful talk provides this opportunity.

Cynthia Mathews

Dr. of Curriculum and Instruction

Classroom Teacher

Work Cited:

Cain, S. and Laird, M.(2011). Fundamental Five. Cain & Laird.











Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.