How many times have you heard from students "School is boring?" That doesn't have to be the case. I read Joy in School in the latest Educational Leadership and it all made sense especially now with the emphasis on testing. We need to bring back Joy and an excitement about what people learn. Not just memorization. My take on the points in this article:
Make Learning Pleasurable
When you were young, why did you learn? Not what you learned in school, but outside of school. Most of the time it was because you were excited about something. You wanted to learn how to ride a horse—not because it was on a test. You wanted to beat your friend on a video game—not because your score would get you into a better college. You were motivated to learn.
How do we get this feeling of being motivated into the classroom?
"If we want students to experience more flow in school—if we want them to see school and learning as joyful—we need to rethink how and what we teach."
Give Students a Choice
I used to teach a strategy that gave students a choice on what they could do to demonsrate learning. If you understand Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles, you realize that no two students learn the same. If you believe that, then you know that teaching the same thing to all students doesn't work. Give your students a choice how they understand the concepts you are teaching. One student may draw a poster where another may write a poem. It makes teaching more exciting for you!
Another technique that you might want to try is something like an iSearch where students choose the topic they want to learn something about. If you are a math teacher, ask students to become an expert in one area and teach the other students. Tell them that there is no right way to learn math so see if they can come up with multiple ways to come up with the same answer.
Let Students Create
When students get an opportunity to produce things, they own them and how they created it. Here's a list from the article:
newspapers and magazines, brochures, stories, picture books, posters, murals, Web sites, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, interviews, oral histories, models, diagrams, blueprints and floor plans, plays and role-plays, mock trials, photographs, paintings, songs, surveys, graphs, documentary videos—the list goes on and on. At its best, school should help and inspire students to bring their own ideas and creations to life.
Show off Student Work
This is one thing that has to be done. Answering a test that is shoved in a teacher's folder doesn't do anything for a student. Show off what they know with the work they created. Put on a show. I used to coordinate Showcases at the Oakland Unified School District. It was so fun to see the pride in students' faces. When they explained to strangers why they created this or that, it warmed my heart. If you can't do an on-site showcase, this is where the Internet can work—blog their work—put up Portfolios. Try it! Share!
Barbara Bray, Educational Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org; President, My eCoach
The Art of Zenovating