I am rather late this week in posting. After a day and a half of traveling back to Alaska, I am ready to finally get settled down into a routine. And, get back to work. The first four weeks of this class have given me new inspiration for my classroom. I am ready to get back into the swing of things with some of the great ideas that I have gathered through collaboration with my peers and, surprisingly, a renewed sense of creativity from myself.
So, how do I get my students to buy into my new strategies for learning. In his book Teach Like a PIRATE, Dave Burgess says you must be passionate and excited in what you do. Through my own experiences just this year, I understand the importance of not only being excited, but emanating that excitement onto my students. I recently tried to use a dual language word wall in my junior high classroom as part of my research class. I was excited by the idea that my principal and I came up with and I really thought it would create great conversations with my students. I was a little disappointed by its acceptance by my students. Actually, they seemed to understand my thoughts for using the word wall, but they did not get excited about using it. I see now that, although I was excited, I did not show excitement. I was not passionate enough about my word wall, so I did not use it often. Therefore, my students did not incorporate it into their learning.
In the article Five Ways to Bring Innovation Into the Classroom, Tina Barseghian says you should try to tap into the ideas of your students. Allow the classroom to make a switch to student-centered learning by dipping into their thoughts of how certain concepts can be taught. Another article (30 Ways to Promote Creativity in Your Classroom) agrees, stating that teachers should embrace creativity as a part of learning. In my math class, I try to encourage students to come up with new, creative ways to solve a problem. It is important that we allow our students to be innovative themselves and think outside of the box when it comes to problem solving.
In our Twitter session on Tuesday, we talked about using community based problems to create real-world situations that the students can relate to. Teaching in a small native village, there have been many situations where i introduce a problem to my students and they do not understand what is going on in the story. Not because they do not understand the math, but they do not understand the situation. They are simply not familiar with the same things that many students from outside of the village life seem rather normal. I have found myself having to spend some time explaining a story problem before getting into the math used to solve the problem. I have come to realize that it is much easier for me to simply re-write these word problems using situations that my students are familiar with so that they can, not only get past an understanding barrier, but also deepen their understanding by linking it with the familiar.
I especially liked Dave Burgess’ ideas about using activities that are not necessarily content heavy, but link the students engagement to a content learned, which makes the activity and the learning meaningful and memorable. I have to admit that the things I remember most from my secondary education were fun, engaging, and memorable – and if you can remember the activity, then you will most likely recall why you did the activity, which ties the activity to the content and makes it a learning experience you will never forget.