An interactive infographic by Open Colleges
When the school year begins, teachers spend a lot of time getting the classroom ready, planning lessons, and getting to know his/her students. The following list includes 20 ideas that you may not have thought of in terms of a successful classroom arrangement or organization.
Each item takes no longer than an hour and can make a big difference throughout the year.
Traditional classrooms are normally arranged in a linear format with all the desks facing one direction. Studies suggest that creating a room with no “obvious” front helps students to take a more active role in learning, rather than looking to the teacher.
If your room allows it, arrange the desks in small groups with no obvious front. You can do your instructing from the center of the room instead.
To get the day off on the right foot, start with an inspirational quote or quiet meditation. Roll call is a tedious necessity, but you shouldn’t have to take up time in your day to do this. The beginning of the day is the most crucial moment for getting off on the right foot. Why not have a sign in sheet when kids walk in? If that doesn’t work, assign a responsible student the task of taking roll while you are doing the morning routine.
With a class size of 16 or more, chances are one or two students will be absent at least a couple times a week. Setting up a system for makeup work ensures you aren’t wasting class time (or your precious after school hours) trying to compile worksheets and assignments. In Harry Wong’s article about classroom management, he gives examples of teachers who designed a bulletin board with envelopes that contained the day’s work.
When a student comes back, they go to the board and take the assignments they missed.
When the school year begins, take a few minutes out of your day to sit with your students and design the class rules. Students are more likely to follow class protocol when they have been involved with the creation of it. Use positive rules like “speak kindly to one another” rather than “Don’t make fun of other kids.”
Once the rule list is made up (i.e. on poster board), have each student sign the bottom of it like a classroom charter.
How many minutes are wasted trying to get a loud and noisy class to pay attention? The best way to quiet a class is to develop a specific routine from day one. Once you’ve come up with a plan, practice it several times – WITHOUT further lecture and instruction. For example, if your procedure is to clap twice and raise your hand, do this and wait for as long as it takes until all students are paying attention.
Keep practicing until they’ve gotten it down to a reasonable response time. If you lecture them in the middle of the practice, they will come to expect that.
Create flexible lesson plans that allow your students some level of control. For example, if your math lesson is about fractions that day, after your fifteen minutes of instruction, provide a list of three different activities they can choose from. Another way to share control is to list the topics for the day and allow them to vote on which topic they would like to tackle first.
The more involved your students are in the learning process, the more likely they are to pay attention and stay motivated.
Teachers only have so many resources and control over the actual classroom structure. Using throw rugs and curtains help to diminish excess noise from hallways or in the room. If you have a reading area, why not set up a table lamp from home for more cozy lighting? It may not seem like much, but the environment plays a big role in a student’s ability to concentrate.
Do you or your parents have any old furniture at home? Adding a chair or couch to a silent reading area will greatly enhance your student’s willingness!
Whether you like it or not, smartphones are working into younger and younger hands. Some schools may have a ban on smartphones altogether, but if your school does not, consider creating a plan that uses smartphones in the classroom. Banning them will only give you a headache as you spend hours trying to referee, confiscate, and deal with unruly students. Who wants to waste time doing that?
Why not create a smartphone area in your classroom? Everyone must put his or her smartphone there at the beginning of the day. For five minutes before lunch or after work is finished, they can go over to that area and use it for research or educational gaming. When you work with your students, you might find they are more apt to compromise as well.
Create a board or poster with excellent words to use in questioning your students. These words can be used not only for instructing, but when students are asked to question each other. The NDT Resource center has an effective list of words to remember.
There is a lot of pressure on that first day of school to have everything looking colorful and sparkly. Rather than using your classroom preparation time to decorate bulletin boards, create a board for each group of desks in the class. Post a note that says, “To be designed by group….” and on the first day of school explain that each handful of students will be required to decorate and design a board throughout the year.
Perhaps you’ll have a contest every quarter or some theme they must work within as they display their work. Not only does it create a fun group assignment, it is a great way for kids to take pride in their work. Get your students into the activity by assigning team names for each group.
Creating a safe learning environment takes some work. Students will be more apt to risk mistakes or error if they know that you are not just looking for the right answer, but for students who are actively involved. Create a risk reward protocol that recognizes those students who go out on a limb to answer a tough question, even when they are wrong. It can be as simple as pinning a student’s name to the blackboard to recognize his or her willingness to try on any given day.
When you reward a student’s willingness to be wrong in front of the class, you level the playing field between gifted students and the ones that struggle to keep up. Click here to learn more about the value of mistakes.
It takes a bit of work to create an effective evaluation sheet, but once it’s done, you have a valuable tool to use throughout the year. Each day, your students can quickly evaluate how they felt the day went- in terms of assignments, lessons, effort, and behavior. This sort of self-evaluation engages them to look closely at their own progress.
It also gives you a sense of how accurately they perceive their learning and the ability to intervene if necessary.
Kids don’t stop being kids once they enter the classroom. I remember how distracted I was in the winter when I would have chapped lips or a stuffy nose. Perhaps you can have a small bin for each student to fill with Band-Aids, chapstick, tissues, etc. This way, they can easily get on with their day even when they might be feeling less than 100%.
Having an individual container ensures no one is cross-contaminating each other. You may think, “But that is for the school nurse!” Check out my article on the importance of teaching holistically.
Why would you need footage of your classroom? Because it is a fantastic way to give your students feedback without having to say a word! Use a smartphone and assign a student the task of recording a lesson, group work, or presentation. At the end of the week, your students can watch themselves in the “act” of learning.
If you have kids who struggle to pay attention, it’ll be perfectly obvious on the footage without you having to say a word. Then, at the end of the year, you can make a montage of your class. It’ll be a cherished memory for them- and you.
Most classrooms have an area dedicated for books right? How about adding to that an area for kids to post their notes or study sheets? This works best for older students, but if you have the option for a small printer/copier in your room, put it near a bulletin board and allow students to make copies of their study guides and notes and post them for other kids to use. It’s just another way for your class to take pride in their work and foster a community of help and support.
Students do well when they have input from both an instructor and their peers. At the beginning of the year, assign peer-to-peer support teams of two. Throughout the school season, these two people can help with correcting homework, providing feedback and support, and that occasional accountability.
When you feel like you can’t get through to your student, a peer just might.
Some schools have great content management systems that give teachers a place to connect with students and parents. Utilize these resources as much as possible. However if you don’t have that option, you can set up a free blog on WordPress to journal classroom progress and events. Parents can then subscribe to the blog and get updates about important happenings.
Since a blog is public, this is a place to showcase the class work, not to discuss private matters like discipline or grades.
This goes along with shared control. Each student should have a job in the class. Typical student jobs include erasing blackboards, sharpening pencils, passing out papers, etc., but think a bit outside the box. Why not assign a student to take attendance, collect makeup work for the absent students, grade homework, or even teach a lesson?
Assigning some instructive roles to your top students will not only increase their aptitude, it gives the other students a chance to hear from a different perspective. Finally, one of the best places to test someone’s knowledge of an area is to have him or her teach it.
Do you have parents who work in interesting professions? Perhaps a doctor, musician, or journalist? During your back to school evening with your students’ parents, pass around a signup sheet asking them to commit to coming into the classroom to talk about their career. If that isn’t possible, maybe you can set up a Skype session so the students can interact with him/her online?
The ultimate goal of school is to prepare children to be effective members of society. Get them excited about work early!
At the beginning of the year, you have a classroom of students that are virtually strangers. The time you take at the beginning to understand HOW they learn is not wasted. Try out Diane Heacox’s book called Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom for ideas about how to test your students’ preferences.
Source: Open Colleges
The student’s eyes drift to the classroom window and the teacher’s voice fades from consciousness.
The daydream begins. It’s a familiar scene, one we have likely both experienced as students and struggled against in our students as teachers. But daydreaming is not what it might seem. Recent research in both psychology and neuroscience makes clear that daydreaming is an essential part of mental processing, reasoning and, yes, even learning.
The most common view of the human mind assumes that our normal way of thinking consists of concentrated focus upon immediate tasks at hand. But researchers have found that this is not the case.
Daydreaming is now considered to be the normal state of our minds, with focus appearing as a break from the more common mind wandering. A recent study has found that our mind wanders forty seven percent of the time we are awake with very few activities not equally peppered with natural periods of daydreaming.
Another study has shown that the parts of the brain stimulated during daydreaming consist of the “default network” regions of the brain that are associated with most higher level mental activity. This suggests that we have evolved specifically to be a daydreaming species. It is even more telling that those who suffer injuries to the region of the brain in which daydreaming occurs suffer from a lack of spontaneous speech and thought.
The fact that daydreaming is the natural state of the human brain suggests that those who take most naturally to daydreaming will best exhibit the skills necessary for successfully navigating the human world. Far from representing a lack of discipline, daydreaming is a hallmark of a healthy and active human mind.
Aside from the “default network”, one of the main regions of brain used during daydreaming consists of the “executive network”, the region of the brain associated with complex problem solving. Before this was revealed, for example through the 2009 study at the University of British Columbia, it was commonly thought that the “executive network” was only active during focused problem solving.
As this study suggests, a healthy amount of daydreaming is connected to improved critical thinking capabilities, an invaluable characteristic in successful learners.
It has also been shown that daydreaming is dramatically more present in those considered to be of superior intelligence when compared with learners of average intelligence. One study suggests that the improved integration of the default and executive networks developed through their continual exercise through daydreaming significantly contributes to the formation of increased intelligence.
It’s a truism that our “dreams”, by which we usually mean our goals and desires, provide motivation in life. What is less recognized, however, is the central role played by the process of daydreaming in envisioning and imaginatively experiencing the lives we wish to lead and people we want to become.
Our goals and desires are what they are because we have spent time freely living through our daydreams what it would be like to achieve them. For these reasons, daydreaming in learners is related to higher levels of ambition and a deeper sense of motivation.
Freely imagining “what you would do if…” is far from idle. Having envisioned scenarios and played out possible events gives us an increasing sense that we can handle them.
In this way the imaginative anticipation that often occurs in daydreaming contributes as much to a robust sense of confidence as it does to a healthy motivation. Think about it this way, daydreaming is a training ground for your mind where it plays through and sometimes struggles with scenarios it has not experienced or wants to react differently to in the future.
Though successful training certainly doesn’t guarantee success during the real event, it does provide a mental preparedness and a firm sense that no matter what may occur we can deal with it. For this reason some of the most confident learners are also those with the healthiest daydreaming lives.
Did you ever wonder what causes that moment of insight when something suddenly clicks or a solution becomes clear? The answer is a lot of hard work on the part of your brain that goes unnoticed.
Moments of insight, those sudden revelations that seem to come from nowhere, are long prepared for through the brain’s ongoing hidden organizing and processing. Daydreaming, as a mental state activating both the default and executive networks of the brain, plays an important role in that organizing and processing. What you may think is just your mind drifting is actually your mind actively forming connections between information, synthesizing what was previously only chaos, and preparing the ground for the moment when things suddenly fit into place.
Once we appreciate this we see that daydreaming is just as productive as spending an hour working on a difficult math problem. Recent work has shown that spending less time on the problem and more time letting our mind wander could contribute to getting the answer faster.
Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler at the University of California at Santa Barbara have shown, as discussed in an article in The New Yorker, that spending time daydreaming after first being given a task leads to more insightful responses to the task than focus and concentration do.
In his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Malcolm Gladwell discusses the phenomenon of “thin-slicing”, the mind’s jumping to conclusions based on surprisingly little information.
Despite what we tend to assume, Gladwell demonstrates that jumping to conclusions based on limited information is often statistically the most reliable way to arrive at the right decision. For example, Cook County Hospital changed the way it diagnoses heart attacks to focus on less information.
Here is how Gladwell describes this part of the book on his website: “They instructed their doctors to gather less information on their patients: they encouraged them to zero in on just a few critical pieces of information about patients suffering from chest pain–like blood pressure and the ECG–while ignoring everything else, like the patient’s age and weight and medical history. And what happened? Cook County is now one of the best places in the United States at diagnosing chest pain.”
The key point about thin-slicing is that its effectiveness depends upon two factors. Knowledge, especially when derived from experience, and mental integration that allows for swift access to the knowledge and experience we have gained. If we return to our image of daydreaming as the training ground of the mind, the increased integration it imposes on knowledge and experience we have collected improves our ability to successfully jump to conclusions based on little information.
It makes us more successful thin-slicers and improves our split-second decision making.
What is problem solving? From what we have already said we might suggest it is an effective use of the default and executive networks of the brain resulting in increased intelligence, critical thinking, insight and thin-slicing.
The argument that the integration of default and executive networks results in improved problem solving is offered by the author of Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers, Amy Fries, in an article at Psychology Today: “…your mind-wandering capacity is like that computer program–it can get to solutions that your conscious mind just can’t see.”
In general daydreaming makes us better thinkers. Being better thinkers makes us better learners.
The traditional view of daydreaming understands it as a form of escapism.
We are unhappy or uninterested in where we are and so imagine we are somewhere else. It is important, this view assumes, to resist this escapist urge and instead cope with the world as it is. It turns out, however, that daydreaming is itself a central element of our mental coping mechanisms.
As already mentioned, daydreaming provides the brain with the exercise course where it can secretly play out different solutions to problems. More than this, however, those precious daydreaming moments allow us the conscious rest necessary to face difficult tasks or situations with a fresh mind. Yet, during these seeming moments of rest, the brain is still hard at work beneath the surface organizing potential responses without the generally awkward interference of conscious thought.
Researchers such as Eric Klinger have shown that children who weave an imaginative story around their play are likely to be happier at play and to play longer. It is easy to generalize this point to adults as well, the ability to tell ourselves imaginative stories about the world and our own lives through daydreaming makes even the tedious or downright painful parts of our life more enjoyable.
In learning the ability to cope with challenging, frustrating or boring tasks is a key ingredient for success.
Coping is a key element of mental elasticity, the ability to shift our thought and behavior smoothly in response to changing situations and information.
Daydreaming, as the practice ground for mental processing, greatly increases the mind’s ability to smoothly shift in the face of unanticipated events and situations. So while daydreaming clearly contributes to organizing information and experience we have already learned, making the learned material more useful by improving our ability to apply it, it also enhances our response time in the face of the unexpected.
Recent research has shown that children with a healthy amount of empty play time, i.e. play time not directed through specific games or spent watching television, display a greater amount of creativity.
Those, on the other hand, who tended to turn to entertainments such as television when bored were unable to invent interesting stories. The time spent daydreaming during imaginative play is a practice period for creative invention. The neuroscience of this should be clear when one considers the similarity between problem-solving and creativity in general.
Those parts of the brain used during creative problem solving are also used during daydreaming.
Concentration, while certainly important in both education and life, is not something we can increase simply through hard work, practice or will.
The brain, much like a muscle, can indeed be improved but there is a limit to how far it can be developed. The fact that we are a daydreaming species and that daydreaming is the natural state of the human mind points to the artificiality of the mental states associated with extended concentration.
What is becoming clearer is that concentration is not as simple as one might think. Rather, what appears to be the ability to continually concentrate on one problem or subject is looking more like a complex play involving using daydreaming rest periods, even surprisingly brief breaks, in a way that refreshes our ability to concentrate. Consider daydreaming like taking a power nap.
Even a half-minute spent briefly relaxing control upon the mind can improve a learner’s concentration immediately after this break.
Even as concentration works best interspersed with brief, and some times longer, moments of daydreaming “rest” during which the mind synthesizes what has been gained, so too does productivity in general go up when it is demanded in smaller bursts and peppered with healthy moments of daydreaming.
This is nowhere demonstrated as clearly as through the highly successful Pomodoro Technique for time management. This technique employs a timer and breaks productive work into twenty-five minutes segments with a short five-minute break between each segment of work. After four such segments of work and breaks you take a longer break of fifteen minutes. This technique’s surprising ability to increase productivity depends upon the mind’s limited power of concentration with moments of daydreaming rest needed between periods of increased mental control.
What it suggests is that teachers would do well, not only to appreciate the importance of daydreaming for successful learners, but even to organize lessons so as to actively encourage short breaks for daydreaming.
Learning is nearly impossible if students do not feel connected to the material they are learning.
Students have to care about what they learn to be the most successful learners. This connection to the material involves imaginatively playing with the material through which students rearrange and experiment while finding ways to connect it to their wider concerns, life, and fantasies.
For this reason students who actively daydream, especially when they are encouraged to incorporate class material into their daydreams in whatever way they like, are much more successful learners.
One of the most important skills for people in general, let alone learners, is what we might call the “moral imagination”.
The moral imagination is the ability to think oneself into another person’s shoes, to imagine what it would be like to be them. This skill is necessary if one is to expand one’s sense of sympathy and empathy, but it is also a key element in problem-solving and reading comprehension. If a student is to understand a text or solve a problem what is required is creatively putting themselves in the place of the characters in the text, or in the sphere of life that most naturally relates to the problem to be solved.
For this reason emotional intelligence, the ability to have a varied and complex emotional life through engagement with and response to the emotions of others, is a central if unexpected element of all mental processing and learning. It is just this ability to imagine our way out of our own situation and into that of another that daydreaming develops and encourages.
For this reason not only are daydreamers more empathetic and emotionally open people, they are also better at comprehending literary and historical texts.
Since the time of Socrates it has been thought that coming to know ourselves is both a major goal and the foundation of all truly successful learning. We can think about daydreaming as carrying out a dialogue with ourselves.
In contrast, watching television or playing video games primarily involves an external exploration or dialogue, one that can involve learning but doesn’t often involve reflective self-discovery. If we are to be successful learners we need to have a robust sense of our interests, our goals and the talents or skills we wish to have.
This intimately involves the imaginative self-exploration only a healthy daydreaming life can provide.
Networking is a prime form of 21st century learning. The world is much smaller thanks to technology. Learning is transforming into a globally collaborative enterprise. Take for example scientists; professional networks allow the scientific community to share discoveries much faster.
Just this month, a tech news article showcased how Harvard scientists are considering that “sharing discoveries is more efficient and honorable than patenting them.” This idea embodies the true spirit of a successful professional learning network: collaboration for its own sake.
As educators, we aim to be connected to advance our craft. On another level, we hope to teach students to use networks to prepare for them for a changing job market. But what is the best way to approach PLNs?
Learning networks are based on the theory of connectivism, or learning from diverse social webs. Connectivism implies that learning relies on communicating ideas with others. PLNs facilitate learning through meaningful interactions. The advantages of PLNs today are two-fold. In one way, they can improve classroom teaching and help develop new projects. On the other hand, they act as a form of communal intelligence that changes societal perceptions.
What are some ways to grow your PLN and improve the quality of your interactions? As you will see, there are diverse ways to build your network and many new management tools. Here are some simple tips:
PLNs are a powerful change agent. And in today’s world an online professional learning network is indispensable. Technology allows easy access to an unparalleled network of professional resources. Growing your network can lead to opportunities for professional growth and help change the future of education.
Feel free to add the InformED team on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
When I was a kid, I dreamt about our school desks as computer screens.
How cool would it have been to be able to draw, write, and learn directly onto my own computer? As the years went on, people theorized that laptops would take over the classroom, but the price of these devices was too high for a 1 to 1 ratio. It never quite caught on in lower grade schools.
Now, it is the age of the tablet. We have affordable high-powered computers that can provide all sorts of enrichment through an intuitive touch screen interface and the education world is taking notice. More and more classrooms are imagining the curriculum in the context of EACH child having his or her own tablet.
Yet, some educators are still skeptical. How can a piece of technology truly enhance the learning process, without causing distraction?
In a subject like art, people might think, “How could a tablet be useful? Isn’t it about organic materials?”
It is, but what about an app that helps with color matching and combination, or tools for interior design where the child can map out their project in concept before getting to work? Of course, there are fantastic drawing apps as well, and students can use a stylus for more precision.
When they are done, they can share in galleries with other students for critique and encouragement.
App developers have continually surprised the public with the complexity of tools they are able to create for tablets. Students can write their own music, record a song with an app like Garage Band or Studio Track, or download music history encyclopedias that provide interactive songs and information about all the greatest classics.
Music theory is fun when you employ the use of Piano Pro or others that allow students to try out an instrument without having to purchase a piano.
Classrooms are their own little society and for years, teachers have aimed to broaden horizons through pen pal programs and field trips. With video chat as a standard feature on most tablets, students can watch a veterinarian perform surgery or have a Google+ hangout with a class halfway across the world.
It is an affordable way to see the world without having to actually leave the room.
Some of the coolest apps on the market are geared towards science buffs. Your class will come alive when you assign them the job of using Star Walk for iPad, an app that will label stars and constellations in the night sky. Don’t like to dissect a frog?
There’s an app for that.
Everything from the periodic table of elements to brain science, anatomy, plants, glossaries- apps can be the springboard for scientific curiosity.
Public speaking is an important skill for students to learn.
Gone are the days of PowerPoint presentations with little lasers. Now, tablets have fantastic apps that can be used to do real-time drawing, writing, and animation during a presentation. Students can circle, highlight, or write in points as they present their latest research or findings.
When they are done, the presentation is saved and can be emailed to the teacher for grading.
History can be a difficult subject for young children who are notoriously stationed in the present day. However tablets can bring to life ancient civilizations through interactive ebooks, videos, and even games that outline the trials and hardships of the people who’ve gone before us. I remember playing the Oregon Trail as a child and loving the concept. Now the Oregon Trail can be played on a tablet and students can collaborate together to accomplish missions.
Blogs are a great way to get students interested in writing.
The act of putting words on paper can be lonely and tedious, but with real-time responses and comments, it triggers motivation for some children. Rather than writing a book report that will get thrown into the recycling bin at home, have them journal and blog about the book they are reading, inviting feedback from their classmates.
Photography is not only a skill in and of itself; it is also a great way to document projects and research. Almost every tablet on the market comes with a quality camera that can be used to take still pictures or videos. Imagine your students getting excited by the prospect of photo documenting their town, a nature walk, or writing biographies of each student in the class.
For higher-level grades, there are apps that can help teach important photography taking and editing skills.
Read more about 20 out-of-the-box ways to use Instagram in the classroom.
Every project starts with a bit of research. Not only do tablets give students the largest knowledge database at their fingertips, but why not have them write for Wikipedia after finishing a report on Ancient Egypt?
Research that is to be used for the furthering of human knowledge somehow seems more purposeful this way.
Tablets provide an instantaneous connection between parents, students, and teachers. It may be easy to lose a handwritten note or assignment, but as the tablet goes back and forth between home and school, parents can monitor their student’s assignments, teachers can notify parents, and all around connections can be sustained.
Textbooks are expensive. They are also ******* the environment and inefficient. When the information is outdated, an entire new version must be released. E-books solve this problem. Not only can students highlight and bookmark easily, they can even be inspired to create their own e-book!
Tablets may be an investment, but when you add up the cost and time of textbooks, you realize how quickly it pays itself back.
Following on the previous item, tablets are a huge savings for the environment. Paper waste is eliminated, along with the unnecessary time of collating, copying, and printing out documents that are destined for the trash anyway. Imagine the amount of paper saved if a child went through 12 years of schooling using a tablet for all his e-books, papers, projects, and studies?
That is a lot of paper!
Tablets are more efficient. Teachers can pre-list assignments for the day and student’s can see the schedule before even arriving. Communication is fast and instant between the teacher and child as well. There is less time grading, sorting, and filing.
The world’s current financial crisis highlights a crack in education; we aren’t raising our children to manage money properly. With tablets in the classroom, older students can use stock market apps or budgeting apps to simulate what it would be like to own a business or a run a household.
Younger children can use games that teach them not only how to identify coins and dollars, but how to spend and save too.
Despite the continued negative association with social media as an addictive time waster, there are lots of benefits to having a mini “facebook” platform for the classroom.
Kids can post homework or writing assignments and get feedback. Students can practice encouraging one another with positive support. The teacher can also monitor the digital “atmosphere” of the room and make sure no bullying or cliques are forming. These classroom platforms help bond students together and provide a safe way to share.
It might be too expensive to test fly a jet or scale Mount Everest, but simulation games have been around a long time- used to train surgeons, pilots, and military. For a career unit, why not have each student choose a skill and run a simulation game? At the end of the unit, they can write a report about the advantages and disadvantages.
Games, when used in moderation, can boost creativity and imagination.
The world is run by computers and the more adept students are at navigating them, the better equipped they will be for the real world. Having a tablet in the classroom for each student guarantees that children will have the necessary typing and other skills necessary for future jobs.
In addition to generic computer skills, there are fantastic apps that teach computer coding, computer development, and other IT skills that can benefit them in the long run.
Tablets force students to learn about personal responsibility. Losing a tablet is much more pricey than losing a homework assignment or a book. While some may argue that children aren’t capable of handling such an expensive device, as long as schools use the industrial strength covers, students can easily be expected to take care of and keep track of their tablet computer.
Tablets run anywhere from $200-$600 a piece. For a class size of 20, this can be upwards of $12,000.00.
That may seem like a lot, but when you think about the amount of free tools, resources, and books that are available on the iPad (for example), you will quickly see that to purchase the same amount of equipment and books would cost thousands more. The camera alone would be about $200.00 per child. Then there is the cost of copying, ink, drawing tools, etc.
Tablets are a fiscally responsible option.
Read more about why BYOD is a good idea.
Do you remember filling in those little bubble tests for the machine to check and see if you were smart?
Those testing methods may be efficient, but with a tablet, teachers can use all sorts of innovative ways to gauge how well their students are learning the material. YouTube has a beta style testing tool where students answer questions during a video lecture. Proctored online exams can be taken on tablets as well. These exams free the teacher to spend more time teaching and less time grading.
Charts, graphs, and classroom analysis is easy when test scores are already digitized.
Do you have one student that learns better when they listen to a lecture rather than read? With a tablet, you can teach the same information in different ways to different students.
A history lesson might work better for some to read, some to listen to the audio, and still some to interact with a game that tests them on important points along the way. It is impossible for a teacher to cater to each individual student’s learning style, but the tablet can help with this immensely.
Psychologically, children do better when they are offered choices. Students that are labeled with ADHD or other behavioral problems may benefit when a teacher is able to say, “Okay, today we are learning our multiplication facts. There are several games you can choose from.”
This way, the student feels a sense of empowerment in his own learning and the teacher is able to give autonomy to the child.
For those who are deaf, tablets can be a lifesaver. Others with different handicaps (autism, down syndrome, etc.) can have their curriculum tailored through specific apps that help them learn through the faculties they have.
An autistic student may not be able to sit in a group of children and voice his opinion, but maybe he could write it out in an online format? As tablets become more commonplace, I’ll bet we start to see more special education tools for educators.
Need to learn another language, but don’t have a teacher who is fluent in a language like Dutch or Mandarin?
There’s an app for that! Students can have an individualized foreign language program, with one learning Spanish, and another learning German. Once they’ve mastered some skills, why not use Google Hangouts or Skype to connect with a pen pal across the world?
Keep up with the latest news around the world. Maybe your students are used to reading CNN, but with a tablet, they can check out news outlets from around the world and even have lively discussions about how biased the media is depending on the nation.
The media is a huge influence in our lives and learning how to think critically without swallowing information is crucial.
The advent of technology has brought with it familiar problems in new forms. Yet cyberbullying is unique in many ways.
What makes cyberbullying so different than in-person bullying?
As educators, we need to be specifically aware of cyberbullying. Why is it so important to address cyberbullying in schools first? The Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, argues that two thirds of school violence begins through social media. Cyberbullying can lead to school failure, psychological implications, depression, violence and illegal activity. An Educator’s guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats defines the behavior as verbal aggression such as:
Although the research about cyberbullying is still emerging, there is some consensus on best practices. There are a few things we can do as educators to curtail cyberbullying
In 81% of violent incidents someone other than the attacker knew what was going to happen but did not report it.
Cyberbullying policies should focus on changing school climate.
Finally, as teachers, it is important to remember our duty to protect students’ human rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt described it so eloquently when she described how human rights begin very close to home. . . .
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college she attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Image by Anna Rettberg
What makes a teacher successful?
Having an expertise in reading, writing, math or science is necessary, but the ability to transfer that knowledge into another person is what makes an excellent instructor stand out. What good is it if a teacher has all the facts, but cannot communicate them in a way that others can comprehend?
Aside from comprehending the curriculum content, teachers should have a basic understanding of how people acquire and absorb knowledge.
The following list highlights 20 principles of learning every teacher should know.
It may seem obnoxiously obvious, but how many classrooms are currently designed with one learning style in mind?
Worksheets and flashcards work well for students who absorb knowledge visually, but for a child who needs to hear the information in order to grasp it, traditional methods of teaching force him or her to use a physical sense that is not as well-developed.
The visual learner doesn’t have the same opportunity to stretch his or her other senses. If a teacher comes to the classroom with the basic knowledge that students learn differently, they will be better equipped to arrange the lessons in such a way that all senses are activated.
Take geography as an example. If a teacher is instructing a class of kids about the fifty states and capitals in the United States, it should be reinforced three different ways.
For the visual learner, use maps and worksheets. For the auditory learner, create a song that helps them remember what state and capital go together. For kinesthetic learners, activate the body. Perhaps a teacher could do hand motions with the song, or do a map game on the floor, where students have to hop from state to state as the capitals are called out.
Of all three types of learning, the kinesthetic learners are the hardest bunch to teach in a traditional setting. Oftentimes, they need to touch, taste, and move through knowledge in order to absorb it. This requires space and opportunity that many traditional classrooms do not allow for.
Kinesthetic learners need to be allowed to try something, watch it fail, and learn from the experience. While this can be difficult logistically with a large class, implementing kinesthetic strategies will not just help a few kids, but will stretch the other students who aren’t naturally bent towards that type of learning.
Taken from Learning Styles Online.
Information is only stored permanently when it relates to day-to-day living. For example, math concepts must be reinforced in real life examples or the student will have no reason to absorb the information beyond the exam.History is one of the more difficult subjects to bring into the present, since it mainly deals with past events, dates, and people. Finding strategies to bring it to life will help with learning.As much as possible, history should be experienced through first-hand accounts, museums, field trips and other enrichment activities.
People learn from failure. In fact, ask any major successful person what helped them and usually it will involve a story that harkens back to a big “mess-up”. Failure teaches even better than a perfect score on a test.Classic grading systems don’t help with this theory, as grades have become inflated, feared, and used as judge and jury about who learned what. Contrary to popular belief, learning from failure is anything but easy. It’s not just about “reflecting” upon what you did.If you’d like to read about failure and learning, check out this Harvard Business Review article – the article is mainly about organizations but its lesson apply as much to classrooms.
Rather than keeping each subject separate, curriculums that use thematic units work well to blend knowledge together in a way that is useful and memorable.For example, a unit on Egyptian history could incorporate history lessons, a unit on linguistics and language (with the hieroglyphics), a science unit (physics and the building of the pyramids), a writing unit (a report on a child’s favorite Egyptian monument), and reading a book about the ancient culture.
The word “learn” has various definitions. In the classroom, it can be the ability to spout back facts and information on a test. While this is one form of learning, there are other forms of learning that are just as important. Taken from Route Ledge Education:
When Susan Cain released her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, earlier this year, it drew a lot of attention onto an important topic: introversion vs extraversion. The debate, of course, reached the classroom and according to an Edweek article, teachers might be against their introverted students.
It’s easy to assume that “group work” is always the best approach. That students who raise their hands are attentive. And that students who prefer to work alone are loners. All of which, are not necessarily true.
This is a psychological and logistical suggestion. Creativity is the birthplace of true learning, where a student can initiate thoughts, ideas, problems, and make connections between concepts.
Creativity requires the activation of the right side of the brain. Space allows the opportunity for creativity to ignite. Logistically, give students a place to stretch out, move away from a desk, or gaze at the sky outside. In the context of a lesson, allow for brainstorming sessions. Leave gaps in the order so students can create their own projects using the facts and theories in the lesson.
A teacher enables a student to learn when he or she becomes a quiet mentor on the sidelines, rather than the dictator of every move or step.
When a person wants to memorize a phone number, they divide the digits into easy to remember patterns.
This is because the brain struggles to hold onto a long list of numbers, but can do so when they are organized meaningfully. The same principle applies to lectures. A 30-minute lecture that is not structured with categories, or organized into easy-to-recall bullets, will not be as effective.
Using another example, the media produces the news in sound bytes because they know they only have a small window of time in which to grab a person’s attention; teachers would do well to study the marketing techniques of media in order to assemble information that is retainable.
For example, if a science teacher is lecturing on photosynthesis, the students will benefit from hitting the same concept at different angles.
First, the teacher explains the overarching concept. This provides framework and context. Second, he explores each part of the process in greater detail. Third, he explains the whole process again, this time encouraging students to ask questions. Fourth, he asks the students to explain it back to him.
Finally, he takes the process and inserts it into a relevant everyday situation that stretches the students to apply the information in a real life example. As he reinforces the concept with different angles, the brain is better able to organize the information. Trying to hit all of the points in one explanation will overwhelm most students.
In the quest for “deeper” learning, some professors might dismiss the concept of shallow learning; the simple recall of theories, facts, and rules. However there is some validity to rote memorization and the ability to regurgitate rules and facts, depending on the information.
For example, to learn the multiplication tables from 0-12, shallow learning is helpful (flash cards, timed quizzes, etc.). However, implementing this technique for a history lesson will not serve the subject matter.
A student may know all the dates of important world wars, but without understanding the social themes and lessons learned from these atrocities, have they really absorbed the importance of studying history?
Never before in human history has there been such unparalleled access to knowledge and information. With the tap of a tablet or smartphone, a student can get instant answers to questions that used to mean a trip to the library’s dusty encyclopedia section.
This means that memorization is no longer as necessary as it once was 100 years ago. Oral traditions and the passing along of information verbally are nearly extinct. Rather than resist the advance of technology, teachers can take the opportunity to go deeper with students, since they do not have to waste time trying to drill facts that are a fingertip away.
Rather, explore themes, study deeper sociological issues, teach the art of invention and creativity, discover the philosophy of critical thinking, and encourage innovation.
One of the most effective methods for absorbing knowledge is to teach the knowledge back to another. Provide students with ample opportunity to give lectures, presentations, and develop lesson plans of their own.
Teachers can instruct students to create a lesson plan for a much younger child, even if the concept is difficult. This forces students to simplify the theory, find relatable stories and real life examples, and deconstruct the concepts into bite size pieces.
When students are interested in a subject, their ability to learn greatly increases. They have more focus, tenacity, initiative, engagement, and investment in the material. Teachers can give students the freedom to choose their own topics, which enhances a class that may be stuck in a rut or lacking motivation.
Learning how to whet a student’s appetite for information sets them up to go after the answer with a sense of hunger.
The age old saying, “Two heads are better than one,” is very true. Brainstorming is thought to be the birthplace of profound ideas.
But new studies suggest that that may not be true. Brainstorming introduces groupthink – a psychological phenomenon where the group forms its own beliefs – and when it doesn’t, the most charismatic individual tend to take over.
In fact, Jeremy Dean of Psyblog wrote about the subject,
“… Why not just send people off individually to generate ideas if this is more efficient? The answer is because of its ability to build consensus by giving participants the feeling of involvement in the process. People who have participated in the creative stage are likely to be more motivated to carry out the group’s decision.”
In other words, groups are not where ideas are born. Groups are where ideas are evaluated.
Psychologists agree that it takes approximately 30 days for a new habit to form. Parents who are teaching children a new routine (like brushing their own teeth) have to help their child for at least 30 consecutive days before the brain turns to “auto-pilot”.
This is the point at which it becomes a regular habit.
In learning, the same concept applies. Teachers can explain to students the importance of daily study rather than cramming information the night before. The small, incremental, and daily rehearsing of information paves a path in the brain that remains permanently.
Study habits can become regular with guided encouragement to keep going while the brain catches up to the new norm.
In the same way that failure stretches a person, feedback is crucial to how students learn. When they can understand their strengths and weaknesses, accept and receive constructive criticism, and be redirected to the areas that need assistance, the overall process of learning is enhanced.
That much you probably already know.
But studies have shown that when you give feedback matters just as much as what feedback you give. Imagine taking a pill now and being able to see its effect in 5 years vs in 24 hours.
“Learning” is an abstract concept to many.
By helping students understand the art of learning, the techniques of learning, as well as the different learning styles, they will be empowered by the process. It can be discouraging when a new topic or theory is evasive or difficult.
Students who understand how to learn will have more patience with themselves and others as they grasp new material.
Source: Open Colleges
Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/#ixzz28IHdj2se