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Old 01-17-2010, 11:38 PM
 
Location: Middle America
35,273 posts, read 37,972,471 times
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I firmly feel that if you're not going to teach creatively, you're not doing all you could be. We can all argue about what "fun" means, but there's no point in teaching if you're not going to make a piont to be as engaging as possible. I just feel like a creative approach is crucial.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:34 AM
 
Location: In The Outland
6,023 posts, read 11,286,286 times
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I had a teacher in junior high who showed the class how to make a small bomb ! He was a science teacher and he used water and electricity in a beaker that he could draw off the lighter hydrogen and filled a balloon with it. He then lit a match to the balloon and "detonated" the bomb right there in the classroom ! A few other teachers and the principal came to see what was going on it was so loud.
Yes that teacher made school fun for a lot of kids, but some of the other teachers apparently thought he was a bit nutty, after that big bang episode the class started to become boring. I think I payed a lot more attention to him than any other of my teachers.
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:51 AM
 
Location: In the AC
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There are different kinds of fun, some more appropriate than others. I think the value of the fun depends on the subject, teacher, students, school environment, and time allowances. Most importantly, I think it needs to tie directly into either the objectives or classroom management.

One of the best math teachers I ever worked with used the most hilarious examples. He had the kids rolling in laughter and waiting to hear what he would say next. Great classroom management. More important, he helped the students create a mental picture in their minds about what they were learning which helps with understanding, retention and retrevial.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:45 PM
 
1,428 posts, read 2,740,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike052082 View Post
I actually like to do PowerPoints with the kids. They do them with groups and have a rubric to follow. They first write the rough draft paper then transfer everything to PowerPoint. They get graded on things like mistakes, how they dress, how well they know what they are talking about, did the class believe them and go on their side (my PowerPoints are usually the persuasive type where they are arguing a point).
With all due respect, Mike, if you teach English, this method is not particularly helpful to teach your kids to conceive, construct, and sustain a complex argument in words -- the essence of English composition. Will it kill them once in a while? No. However, is it an effective use of class time to teach English composition? Not particularly.

The other issue I see -- and this applies, again, if you are teaching English -- is that assigning a project to a group does very little to assist an individual student to develop his or her abilities. Groupwork for practicing a concept can definitely help students understand a concept; groupwork for a product (such as your PowerPoint) can too often mask individual inabilities. Too often, the "smart kid" does all the work, a method that has repeatedly been demonstrated to be ineffective for teaching either the low-end students or the high-end ones. Some divergence of ability is effective, e.g., placing a middle-ability kid with a lower-ability kid, but sharp divergences (high/low) are harmful.

Your method certainly makes it easier for you to grade, assuredly, but I'm sure that would not be a primary motivation for any teacher to assign an assignment. Hey, that's not what the districts pay us for, right? ;-)

If you are teaching speech, this method is more effective in that it is geared toward the public presentation of information.
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:05 PM
 
1,428 posts, read 2,740,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msm_teacher View Post
There are different kinds of fun, some more appropriate than others. I think the value of the fun depends on the subject, teacher, students, school environment, and time allowances. Most importantly, I think it needs to tie directly into either the objectives or classroom management.

One of the best math teachers I ever worked with used the most hilarious examples. He had the kids rolling in laughter and waiting to hear what he would say next. Great classroom management. More important, he helped the students create a mental picture in their minds about what they were learning which helps with understanding, retention and retrevial.
Yes, I completely agree -- and use of classroom time is, I think, absolutely crucial.

To go back to my PowerPoint teacher example above, we had approximately 25-30 teachers in this course. Every PowerPoint took around 3 minutes, with around 3 minutes for setup and comments and fiddling around. The PowerPoint presentations, therefore, took up at least two weeks' worth of class, given that the class met once a week. The teacher had little to do other than to sit back and (theoretically) evaluate our PowerPoints. We all got As, including the people who misspelled things.

It was a tremendous waste of our time. We paid to be educated in a course by a professional. We did not pay to have the course material regurgitated by our peers -- sometimes done ineptly and inaccurately. We paid to be exposed to information presented by experts, not to sit our our butts watching PowerPoints for a very significant chunk of the course, given that we met only (I believe) 9 or 10 times in all.

I believe the same needs to apply to the way in which we our spending our students' time. How much time are they spending listening to a educator explain or elaborate upon information they could not get on their own? Should every single day be unrelenting lecture? Of course not -- but neither should whole days be taken up with projects, presentations, frivolous films, student plays, posters, or other uses of classroom time which do not work especially well to instruct others in the room.

The example you have cited of your teacher whose fun demonstrations were directly connected to content and whose demonstrations allowed you to remember content strikes me as an ideal example of a wise, intelligent use of "fun" done, very clearly, by a professional in his field.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
4,033 posts, read 8,073,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msm_teacher View Post
There are different kinds of fun, some more appropriate than others. I think the value of the fun depends on the subject, teacher, students, school environment, and time allowances. Most importantly, I think it needs to tie directly into either the objectives or classroom management.

One of the best math teachers I ever worked with used the most hilarious examples. He had the kids rolling in laughter and waiting to hear what he would say next. Great classroom management. More important, he helped the students create a mental picture in their minds about what they were learning which helps with understanding, retention and retrevial.
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,391 posts, read 29,153,181 times
Reputation: 14461
Quote:
Originally Posted by msm_teacher View Post
There are different kinds of fun, some more appropriate than others. I think the value of the fun depends on the subject, teacher, students, school environment, and time allowances. Most importantly, I think it needs to tie directly into either the objectives or classroom management.

One of the best math teachers I ever worked with used the most hilarious examples. He had the kids rolling in laughter and waiting to hear what he would say next. Great classroom management. More important, he helped the students create a mental picture in their minds about what they were learning which helps with understanding, retention and retrevial.
I do this in physics....not deliberately...but I do it.... The kids also make fun of my lack of artistic talent.
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:59 PM
 
1,106 posts, read 2,882,905 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Wallace View Post
Yes, I completely agree -- and use of classroom time is, I think, absolutely crucial.

To go back to my PowerPoint teacher example above, we had approximately 25-30 teachers in this course. Every PowerPoint took around 3 minutes, with around 3 minutes for setup and comments and fiddling around. The PowerPoint presentations, therefore, took up at least two weeks' worth of class, given that the class met once a week. The teacher had little to do other than to sit back and (theoretically) evaluate our PowerPoints. We all got As, including the people who misspelled things.

It was a tremendous waste of our time. We paid to be educated in a course by a professional. We did not pay to have the course material regurgitated by our peers -- sometimes done ineptly and inaccurately. We paid to be exposed to information presented by experts, not to sit our our butts watching PowerPoints for a very significant chunk of the course, given that we met only (I believe) 9 or 10 times in all.

I believe the same needs to apply to the way in which we our spending our students' time. How much time are they spending listening to a educator explain or elaborate upon information they could not get on their own? Should every single day be unrelenting lecture? Of course not -- but neither should whole days be taken up with projects, presentations, frivolous films, student plays, posters, or other uses of classroom time which do not work especially well to instruct others in the room.

The example you have cited of your teacher whose fun demonstrations were directly connected to content and whose demonstrations allowed you to remember content strikes me as an ideal example of a wise, intelligent use of "fun" done, very clearly, by a professional in his field.
Good Post

I actually don't teach English though. I teach Science. Much more of group working environment. It is made to model the real world and how scientist collaborate. Each student is held responsible for their part so there isn't a group grade.

I also like to see what they do to argue their point. Dressing up for their presentation affects their grade so they dress up and take it more serious than other assignments. We would argue big things like, how money would be spent to save an ecosystem, nature vs nuture, evolution vs God, vegan vs vegitarian vs meat eater, etc. You get my point. It depends on what we are studying. I can only give this assignment max about twice a year though but it is one of the best ones I love. It does take some time to get some clear instructions so the kids can take it their own direction.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Maine
650 posts, read 1,904,346 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I wish. My room is less than 800 square feet and packed with 30 students, sinks, a hood, chemical storage cabinets, etc, etc, etc... it's rare that I can actually set up a demo that's large enough for everyone to see. Everything I do has to be small scale and I have to elimante anything that can't be done, literally, on the student's desks with them seated at their desks because I don't have a demo station. I have about 4 feet from the front row of desks to the white board.

More often than not, I show videos of demos. Chemistry SHOULD start with an "OH WOW" but it's rare I can actually do one. I'd need a real chemistry room with a real demo station and a blast shield. I can't even think of demos like the electric pickle or gummy bear fireworks let alone do them. A couple of weeks ago, I explained burning of magnesium because I can't, safely, do it in my room without asking the kids in the first two rows (I only have 4 rows) to get up and go stand in the back of the room.

I hate teaching this way. This is NOT how I planned it. One of the things that attracted me to teaching chemistry and physics is the neat demos you can do. I don't even mind buying my own equipment for demos but I can't do most of them for lack of space. I might as well teach math (referring to how my lectures are laid out, not putting down math. I'd actually like to teach math but I'd like to teach chemistry and physics WITH the cool labs and demos more.). Can't do the demo's and half the labs anyway. I have to say my chemistry class is BORING to me. I'm sure it bores my students. I don't know what to do about it though. Videos are a poor substitution for demos and labs but I don't have the facilities to do many of them safely or on large enough scale for the class to appreciate them and when I can do them, I have no budget for replenishing chemicals.

It's half past time to get out of teaching.
Okay, seriously?

I have so many posts from you about how homeschoolers can't possibly be teaching their children as much as public school teachers and THIS is what you describe your classroom to be like?

Sad, truly sad.
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Old 01-22-2010, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,391 posts, read 29,153,181 times
Reputation: 14461
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2girlsand2boys View Post
Okay, seriously?

I have so many posts from you about how homeschoolers can't possibly be teaching their children as much as public school teachers and THIS is what you describe your classroom to be like?

Sad, truly sad.
At least my classroom has a real teacher in it. Yes, my classroom creates logisitcs issues, however, that doesn't diminish my ability to teach. My classroom, with all it's faults, is still better than your kitchen and I'll pit my chemistry teaching ability against yours any day of the week. You can't do a thermite demo either so this is the pot calling the kettle black. I'm willing to bet most home school "labs" are worse than what I have.

What I have is far from ideal. It has issues. I'd love to teach in a full lab and have a full demo station. I'd love to start the year with something like the thermite demo. I'd love to be able to do a demo a day to hook the kids in. However, I don't think most homeschoolers are in position to these things either. At least I can explain why the thermite demo works. I may have to show a video (most likely, so would a homeschooler) but I can explain what's happening. Six different ways if I have to.

Honestly, I'm stuck using the same kinds of demos a homeschooler would. If you want to fault me for that and say that makes the education I offer inferior, then you'll need to remember that while you point one finger at me, three are pointing back at you. Homeschoolers, likely are doing microscale experiments from kits. I just mix my own chemicals. Homeschoolers are likely doing few demos and the ones they do are the safer ones for lack of a demo station and blast shield. I have the same issue. Of course, I do have advantages. As a licensed chemistry/physics teacher, I can buy chemicals and equipment you can't. We'll not legally anyway.

Yes, I'd love to be able to do the electric pickle but I can't. Yes it frustrates me but that doesn't make homeschooling better. I don't think you're set up to do the electric pickle either. Someday, I'd love to work at a school where I can do it, and gummy bear fireworks and the thermite demo. What I remember from chemsitry in high school was the cool demos. Seeing that mass of sand melted into glass in a split second of fireworks was really cool. Totally unnecessary but cool. Well, not totally unncessary. The value in such demos is that they scare the students enough that they have a healthy respect for both the subject and the teacher capable of controlling such an experiment. That's why they're great first day demos.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 01-22-2010 at 02:31 PM..
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