Say, See, Do Teaching:
Input, Output, Input, Output, Input, Output


Too often instruction consists of all teacher talk (input) and little student engagement with the material (output).  This is ineffective teaching, for all the information (input) is being placed in the short term memory.  Visual Instruction Plans help, as they combine the auditory with the visual.  However, Say, See, Do Teaching is best, as it combines auditory and visual instruction with the physical component.  In the words of a Chinese Proverb:


I hear, I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand (Jones, 2007).

Say, See, Do Teaching is learning by doing, and this doing occurs one step at a time.  In other words, the teacher gives one section of input and then the students engage in output:
  • Teacher: "Let me explain what to do next." (The teacher breaks the section into manageable steps)
  • Teacher: "Watch as I show you." (The teacher demonstrates the skill/concept that is being taught)
  • Teacher: "Now, you do it." (The teacher observes the students, checking for understanding) [Jones, 2007]

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Concept

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When planning your lesson, you have to constantly ask yourself "What are the obstacles to understanding?"  Think of the peanut butter and jelly concept.

You have the material you need to cover in the lesson (learning the skills required to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich), and you have the supplies on hand (peanut butter, jelly, bread, a knife, and a plate).  Now you have to unpack the lesson.  You can't assume that everyone in your class is familiar with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Some might not yet have the developmental skills to predict the steps required.  As a teacher, the performance level you want and should expect from your students is 100%.  So...
  • You have to explain and demonstrating opening the package the loaf of bread comes in and removing two slices.
  • You have to explain and demonstrate opening each jar of peanut butter and jelly.
  • You have to explain and demonstrate using your knife to spread the peanut butter on the long side of the bread...

Get the picture?  

Wisdom from Vince Lombardi

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Say, See, Do Teaching is very much like coaching.  Any coach knows that you do not teach a lay up without first teaching your student how to dribble.  You have to break up each skill into sub-skills, teach and model them one step at a time, and have your student practice.  When the student is practicing the skill, this is not your time to kick back.  No, you are carefully watching and evaluating the student's performance, for the first time the student performs incorrectly is your signal to give corrective feedback.  Coaches expect perfection from their athletes, for they know that unless the athletes learn it right the first time, the chances of learning to do it correctly decrease (once a habit is formed, it's hard to break). 

Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Bay Packers said it best:

"Practice does not make perfect.  Only Perfect practice makes perfect" (Jones, 2007). 

The Three Phases of Say, See, Do Lessons

Phase One: Setting the Stage (Teacher Preparation)
  • Raising the Level of Concern: Why is this lesson important?
  • Review and Background: What skills from yesterday need to be rehearsed?  What information is needed to create a context for today's lesson?
  • Goals and Objectives: Where will this lesson take us? What will we learn? You might wish to present a "preview of the coming attraction" called an advance organizer.


Phase Two: Acquisition (Presenting to the Students)
  • Explanation (Say): What do we do next?  It is a prompt--the less said the better.
  • Modeling (See): What does this step look or sound like? 
  • Structured Practice (Do): What does correct performance feel like?


Phase Three: Consolidation (Automaticity)
  • Guided Practice: Requires feedback from the teacher
  • Independent Practice: The students are their own coaches (they need to be able to distinguish between correct and incorrect performance, and then correct the error).
  • Generalization and Discrimination (Fine Tuning): Teaching variations on a theme and delineating correct from incorrect performance.


(Jones, 2007)

Spiritual Support

"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance."  Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)

Say, See, Do teaching is meant to increase the teacher's ability to positively impact learning.  It is also meant to give guidance to those who are seeking understanding.  Thus, this verse speaks to the call to the teacher to increase in his/her knowledge of effective instruction and to gain guidance in implementing this teaching technique.