You may remember a time when you were in kindergarten, or grade school; or maybe you taught kindergarten before and can recall how engulfed they were in their classwork. They REALLY cared about how perfect their christmas tree picture was or they were beyond enthused about stringing raw noodles onto a string. I think it’s safe to say – They were dedicated.
Fast forward to middle school …..
If your teacher assigned you christmas tree art or a noodle stringing project to complete, your response may include the following:
a). Roll your eyes and suck your teeth
b). Totally ignore the assignment and continue snap chatting with friends
c). Rush through the assignment so you can have an extra 5-10 minutes of down time to – continue snap chatting with friends
d). All the above
I’m sure most middle school students would choose answer D.
Why were the kindergarteners so enthused about their project? Why wouldn’t a middle schooler be enthused to accept this project and possibly gain a quick A out of the process? Well, the kindergarteners took ownership of their work! They were dedicated and passionate about that christmas tree and those noodles.
I don’t think it was necessarily the idea of christmas trees and noodles that threw of the middle schoolers – possibly it was because there was no connection to them and the assignment – no power was involved – no opportunity to extend this assignment and come up with new ideas – no interactivity.
“Giving power to my students? Won’t that mean school days full of texting, non-educational movies and zero learning? Maybe not …
Empowering students is not the same as abdicating control of your classroom. The ASCD’s journal Educational Leadership defines student empowerment as “student ownership of learning.” That is a good way to look at it – helping students take control of their own education. But how do you do that?”
If you give the “Christmas Tree” assignment, give them the power to connect with it personally. Meaning – maybe it’s not just a tree on a piece of paper – maybe it’s not just about coloring and tracing. Nowadays, with today’s technology, there are multiple avenues to use to complete an assignment – let the student decide! This way, they aren’t just creating a tree – they are making Their Tree!
Interactive Learning has evolved out of the hyper-growth in the use of digital technology and virtual communication, particularly by students.
Interactive learning is a more hands-on, real-world process of relaying information in classrooms. Passive learning relies on listening to teachers lecture or rote memorization of information, figures, or equations. But with interactive learning, students are invited to participate in the conversation, through technology (online reading and math programs, for instance) or through role-playing group exercises in class.
How does it help?
In addition to engaging students who are raised in a hyper-stimulated environment, interactive learning sharpens critical thinking skills, which are fundamental to the development of analytic reasoning. A child who can explore an open-ended question with imagination and logic is learning how to make decisions, as opposed to just regurgitating memorized information. Also, interactive learning teaches children how to collaborate and work successfully in groups, an indispensable skill as workplaces become more team-based in structure.
At Astar Education Institute, teachers strive to take classrooms and lessons “Back To Kindergarten”.
It is important to have a balance between passive learning techniques like lecturing and independent reading with more active assignments that integrate technology and force students to apply lessons in new and often unexpected settings. However, keep the kindergarten class in mind – Think about how dedicated the children were, the interactive activities, their project ownership and try to apply similar principals to your next lesson. Incorporating these elements into a lesson can create an optimal learning environment for your students.
Watch the ASTAR students ENGAGE in the Sports and Exercise Lesson and INTERACT within their groups.
If you are interested in learning English, more about occupational development and the Work Force Program at Astar Education Institute, you can visit our website at http://astarinstitute.org/. You may also contact us by phone at 703-368-6838.