Attempting to help students Break Out Of The Box of traditional learning

10-07-10 Adam Taylor
My first post, journaling my effort to help students break out of the learning box they have been shoved into. 

Wow, what a day. In the quest to help students learn I have been trying many different things as of late.

Two weeks ago I had my honors biology get into groups to make skits about the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. “can’t you just lecture?” The students asked. “You mean you would rather sit there and listen to me talk for 30 min?” was my response. 
A couple of students got into the activity, had fun, and learned at the same time. Most of the students continued to complain and tell me they didn’t understand what was expected. It’s true my directions could have been more clear, however, it is also true the students have been doing things the same way for so long change is painful. 
With a dead line in place for the performances to begin, students continued to mumble about the assignment but began to pull something together. 
The first two groups performances where failures in that the students were just going through the motions to complete the assignment. Then the bell rang. 
The next time we met I told the students I expected more and they needed to step it up. After allowing more time to prepare all the groups preformed again and they did much better.
Today – 
I told the students they needed to prepare a lesson about passive transport to teach to a 2nd grader. “But I understand it already” was the cry from one student. Remembering that one doesn’t speak for everyone we pressed on. 
After a little coaching students were able to simplify the lesson so a 2nd grader would understand. It was beautiful! About 20% of the class was able to embrace and excel on the assignment without any problems or complaints. That same group developed amazing metaphors, analogies, and examples to teach the topic. Slowly but surely the rest of the class began to catch on and also did well. 
As this class adapts to these different ways of learning I hope these assignments become easier and quicker for students to execute. 

About 2footgiraffe

High School Science Teacher Dickson, TN
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4 Responses to Attempting to help students Break Out Of The Box of traditional learning

  1. I love how you are requiring your students to not only re-purpose their knowledge, but to find a creative way for them to do it. Getting push-back from the students isn’t surprising. They have been carefully trained how they should act in school and your lessons do not fit into their perceptions. The amazing thing I have found about lessons like these is how much fun the “poorer” students have with them and how much the “better” students hate them. It does make sense when you consider we all like to do what we are good at.

    Have you considered having these lessons/performances recorded? Are you having them reflect on what they are doing? Keep up the great work!

    • 2footgiraffe says:

      Thanks for the words of support. I did have them record the second grade lessons. I’m in the process of loading them on voicethread for self-evaluation. (Just got the voicethread subscription this morning)
      Your comments are right on the mark comparing “better” students to “poorer” students. My honors class gave much more difficulty than my standard class. The standard class just went with it.

  2. Joe Miller says:

    Good first post. I keep thinking I would like to start a blog if for no other reason than it would be something reflective for me.

    I also like the lesson ideas too. I know I am always trying to get the kids to work more so I don’t have to lecture. You must have a melodious voice like me because the kids usually would rather do lectures. . . boring.

    Looking forward to reading more.

    • 2footgiraffe says:

      Thanks for the response and support.
      Students are funny, they complain about not doing anything then when I take them to the zoo the complain about walking around. So would they rather sit or do something? I guess we will never know. haha
      Reflection on my teaching evolution is they only thing I could blog about. I’m still a new born in the Web2.0 world.

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