Monday 9 June 2014

My First Year in Through A Different Lens (Elementary)

I am a new teacher that joined TADL because I have seen the type of teachers that participate in the group, and am familiar with the kind of lessons they create.  I want to create those kinds of lessons, so I am here.  I am still practicing and have used as many strategies as I can to increase students’ engagement and learning.

Some of the things I have tried so far are:

·       Games to practice math concepts

·       Mnemonic device creation to remember facts (acronyms, songs)

·       Adding motion to activities (scavenger hunts / musical chairs activities etc…)

·       Trying to keep things ‘hands-on’ (modeling clay, paper models, experiments)

·       Songs and skits to convey/ check for understanding (some recorded)

·       Lots of group work

·       Trying to incorporate different forms of media in lessons

I am trying to ensure that most of my lessons include reading, writing, hearing, speaking, touching/building, watching, and moving. In particular, I am trying to include a video/audio component to as many lessons as I can. I know there is much more for me to learn, and I am finding that when I try to make my lessons reach as many learning styles as possible, student engagement and achievement increases. From my point of view, the lessons ‘feel good’, and that’s a feeling I am chasing.

Today, my class got to write a song with professional song writer, Lawry Olafsson.  I was worried that some of my students might tune the process out or do something disrespectful during the activity. My students were worried that it would be just a singing class, or that they wouldn’t get much say in the song writing process. As a class, we had a quick talk about our topic for a song, but really didn’t know what we were about to do.

We were all surprised; the students all gave 100% and they got a complete say in the creation of a song that they really like. I was further surprised to see that some students who are generally worried about presentations (especially singing) and sharing ideas, really stepped up to the plate, and made some fantastic contributions to the song or sang loud and proud. Those who weren’t comfortable sharing, were still engaged enough to be muttering their suggestions to friends or to themselves. Over all, the class was so engaged that they were surprised by the recess and lunch bells, and some even wanted to stay inside to work on the song.

The song writing couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time, as we are currently working on poetry. Students were familiar with things like rhyme schemes, and juicy or descriptive words, and were able to contribute to the creation of lyrics with confidence. Our end product was a solid song that met its aim of telling people about Naramata School. I like that the students were engaged, and working hard. I really like the connection between songs and poems that students made, and that they got to use poetry skills that they learned in-class.

Post courtesy of Adam Surina

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