Sunday, August 24, 2014

Teaching Strategies

There are a whole oceans worth of teaching strategies, some good, some bad, but many of them can prove to be very beneficially to our students and their ability to learn. Today's current pedagogy focus has a lot to do with project based learning and the inclusion of technology while steering away from whole group teaching, or lecturing. I will be reviewing a handful of teaching strategies and reviewing why or why not I will be incorporating them into my future classroom!

The Strategies:
1. Whole-Group teaching/Lecturing:
While I feel that whole-group teaching does have its place in the classroom, you can definitely overdo. The risk you run with basing many of your lessons on whole-group instructions is losing student engagement. I think that this is one strategy that I will pay close attention to when I am in my own classroom to really monitor the effect it has on my students. I am sure this will vary year to year and from grade level to grade level but an appropriate balance needs to be determined in order to use this strategy effectively.

2. Technology and Project Based Learning (and Creating for an Audience)
Project based learning has definitely proven to be a successful way to engage our students and help them learn. A trend that I am beginning to see that I know I would like to incorporate into my classroom is giving the students options of the type of projects they can work on. Whether that is to cover the same topic but use different mediums or using the same medium and covering different topics. A great example is the video I watched on Edutopia: Free Online Resources Engage Elementary Kids (Tech2Learn Series). In this particular video the teacher instructs the students to use iMovie, an Apple application, to create a 90 second video of their choosing. The students can choose from a personal narrative, a poem, a tutorial or a fictional story. Although these projects were individual the students were encourage to work collaboratively to assist each other in the creation. The students were motivated to assist each other because they were creating something for an audience, in this case the audience would be their peers. Creating for an audience or performance based instruction can be a very helpful teaching strategy that is woven within other strategies to make it that much more powerful.

3. Game Based Learning
The goal of game based learning is to make what students are doing within the classroom so fun that they forget that they are learning! This creates a powerful sense in students to use their inquiry skills to find the answers they have been challenged to find. As the teacher explains in the Edutopia Video: Adventures with Dr. Smalls: Creating a Powerful Need to Know, “‘What do they need to learn, how are we going to engage them? And what role are the kids going to be stepping into and what story are the kids going to be stepping into?’ So it's all a part of creating this narrative.” In this video the teacher uses and interactive program that engages student in learning about the body and the science behind it. Their mission is to help a doctor that has shrunk himself within his patients body get out and also cure the patient. This will lead them on a 12 week journey through the human body in a fun engaging way. I feel that learning should always be fun! I love this idea of engaging students to use their critical thinking skill and explore the topics themselves instead of just reading about it in a text book. I will definitely incorporate learning like this within my classroom!

4. Responsive Classroom - Social-Emotional Learning
Just as important as learning strategies the environment you create in your classroom can make or break successful learning students. I really liked the Responsive Classroom approach as seen in the video: Getting Students Ready for Learning. In the video they treat the students within the classroom as a family. They have morning meetings to share different experiences of each child. They also provide students with a key leadership role within the classroom by allowing them to help set expectations and rules. In the video you can see one of the students is asked how the class should transition to the next activity including laying out the expectations for this transition. I think this is a brilliant idea that can be modified up or down depending on the grade level! I want to create a loving warm environment within my classroom that provides students a safe place to learn.

5. Portfolio Based Learning (and Creating for an Audience)

The final strategy I am going to discuss today is not only a great teaching strategy but it serves as a great assessment tool for teachers and students alike. Portfolio Based learning can be done and produces in a multitude of ways but I particularly liked how the teacher did it in this video: Travel Journals: Student-Created Textbooks. Students are provided a blank book at the beginning of a module and provided a table a contents for what they are going to fill their book with. All of their learning resources will be compiled into this book including their reflections. It really works with what we learned within Brain Based Learning by providing students a framework for the knowledge they are going to create. They are encouraged to pose questions at the beginning of the module and work to discover the answers as they go through the collection of information. This creates a very personalized learning tool that students can look back on for information as well as to see how much they have improved. It also utilizes the “Creating for an Audience” strategy because students are encouraged to create something they can share with their peers and parents. Again, this is something I would love to implement into the classroom!

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