May 20, 2010

Curling with kisses: How a teacher engages the audience

"When Santa Barbara Junior High School science teacher Marilyn Garza watched curling for the first time during the Winter Olympics, she saw an avenue for teaching her students about friction and gravitational forces.

With images of curlers sending granite stones down lanes of ice, Garza devised a way to show her students the science behind the sport by using Hershey's Kisses and rubber bands. She named the lesson 'Curling With Kisses.'" ~ Daily Sound

Remember your junior high school science teacher, toiling away to come up with activities and experiments every day to make science fun and engaging? What did your other teachers do to help you understand concepts you were learning for the first time? Use analogies so you could relate those concepts to your life? Use demonstrations? Show videos? Create activities for you to do alone or with a partner or group?

I shared my high school geometry textbook in a post here a while back. The teacher was a huge drag, but the book managed to make geometry fun and interesting.

In fifth grade, I was learning critical thinking skills through debate, thanks to Mrs. Lopez. The topic: Which is more damaging, fire or water? Which side do you think I took, as a ten-year-old contrarian?

I had a high school Spanish teacher (Mrs. Couturier) who, when our class was scheduled before lunchtime, would go with us to the dining hall and have us all sit together speaking Spanish for the duration of the period. Not reciting or reading from textbooks, just conversing.

I had a grad school professor whose group projects included having us apply the program's education principles to a mock business we created.

Another grad school professor had some students literally climbing the walls in an activity designed to teach us how to "let go." Was it a powerful and engaging activity? So powerful that some people were too scared to participate.

Not all teachers are great, but most of them spend hours and hours each week preparing activities and exercises to encourage active learning. There's always a way to make your topic more interesting!

What have you learned from teachers that you can apply to your presentations?

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