What Did You Have Your Students Do Today?

Students have to do something with curriculum content! Reading about it and listening to it and then regurgitating it is not enough. Every unit needs to contain active learning (see the table to the left) opportunities. Technology affords us many opportunities to challenge our students with more active ways of processing information and concepts!
Most traditional teaching methods consist of little more than having students read an assignment and/or listen to a lecture with a very limited amount of engaging conversation with classmates or other resources. Consider using more dynamic forms of  engagement with your students.  For example:
1. Create small groups of students and have them make a decision or answer a focused question from time to time.
2. Find ways for students to engage in authentic dialogue with people other than fellow classmates who know something about the subject (on the web, by email, or live)  Let’s try using Skype, Blogs, and other such technologies!  Living history is passing away everyday!  We could catalogue first person accounts of so many things if we would just make the attempt!  Not only would our students learn, but many folks would learn about how wonderful our young people really are!
3. Have students keep a journal or build a “learning portfolio”, or write on your blog about their own thoughts, learning, feelings, etc.  Better yet, have them start their own blog!
4. Find ways of helping students observe (directly or virtually) the subject or action they are trying to learn,
5. Find ways to allow students to actually do (directly, or virtually with case studies, simulation or role play) that which they need to learn to do.

Bottom line:  We need to teach more about how to do things as opposed about things!  So much of the content that you think is so important is not to them….If they learn to do something that is skill based while encountering your content, at least they will have that skill as a takeaway.

3 thoughts on “What Did You Have Your Students Do Today?

  1. Students also want to learn skills that they (think they) will need in the future. Algebra is not a skill that students see as valid or important, because they're not going to be algebratricians (I just made that up) when they get older. I guess what I should do then, is show my students how algebra is used in different careers. According to this blog, perhaps I should have students find a career that interests them in some way, research it, and then tell me how algebra is applicable.

    Roger Thomas

  2. Roger,

    Solving problems is a skill that is invaluable. Learning to attack an equation with unknowns whether it be mathematical or not is something our students should do everyday! Memorizing steps to solve a specific problem is different than practicing problem solving skills by trial and error. Easy to talk about, hard to do, I know!

  3. Today, my fourth hour class was learning how to use trig ratios to find missing info in a rt. triangle. First, I showed them one example, then had them try one on their own. They showed me they were really thinking about the lesson, because they asked questions like, "So if I know two parts of the triangle, I can find the rest?" or "Can I do a problem if I only know the three angles?" Questions that were not prompted at all. Very proud of my 4th hour today!

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