Last year I was asked to be on my school’s Arts Integration Team. I loved being a part of this. However, this meant that I had to be out two days a month to attend conferences and create art infused lessons. I dreaded the days I was out because I dreaded leaving my students in the hands of a substitute. It seemed that the school’s secretary first looked at date of birth before looking at credentials, if she even did that, before picking a substitute for me. My substitutes were also “old school” meaning, they expected for me to leave an assignment and the students complete the assignment in exactly 50 minutes without talking, sneezing, or breathing. In the substitute’s mind it would be a quiet day to finish the book they had been reading while the children worked quietly. That is not how any of my class periods went…ever! If my classroom was not loud and lively, learning was not going on. My students had assigned seat because that is what was expected of me, however, they were rarely sitting in their chairs. If they were they were either sick, going through a break-up, or up to no good at all.
I found that my students learned more and retained it longer when they were in charge of their learning. They learned more from the other members of the class or group than they did just sitting there listening to me lecture on a concept. Giving them something that was hands on and made them work together as a team was when I got the best scores out of them.
As I was playing in Presenter the other day, I found a tool that I would have used when I had a substitute and certainly when I did not. The “Interactive i” is a tool that give the information icon which can be moved anywhere on the screen. The teacher can then add media such as pictures and videos to help teach the concept or go deeper into the concept that is being taught.
Picture this, you have a large lesson on plant reproduction that you know is full of need to know information, but you also have some individual assessing to do with students. Here is a solution. Use a picture of a plant and using the “Interactive i” add more information about each part of the plant listed. You can add a video that better explains what the parts of the pistil are and what their jobs are. A photo added to the stamen that better shows the anther and filament will help as well. The students will explore in their groups the parts of the plant, take their own notes as they discuss what is important to remember. As they discuss, they will decide what is important as they will be building upon each others ideas and creating meaningful conversation.
You can later take the same picture and use it as a quiz. After taking the labels off, ask the students to click on the “Interactive i” that is labeling the sepal. When the students click on an Interactive i they will quickly know if they have chosen the correct answer or not by the sounds that plays. The fun is endless.
So, remember, a quiet classroom is not necessarily a classroom full of active learners! Make learning fun and meaningful again!