FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 2, Issue 5
Just what are learning bridges or extensions? Well, some people call them "teachable moments" or an opportunity to enable students to make relevant connections or in some way enrich the learning experience. Some master teachers actually use an inquiry-based approach where one question and response leads to more and more. Ultimately students are engaged in higher order thinking skills (analysis, evaluation and synthesis levels) and are active participants in the learning process.
Letís look for example, at an elementary lesson focusing on the Solar System. The teacher begins the lesson by assessing prior knowledge with a series of questions. Students respond and ordinarily that is that. By asking additional questions the teacher can actually provide the stimulus for extended learning. This technique also encourages active participation, critical in student retention.
This approach can also be used when a student asks a question. Instead of providing the answer, turn it into another question for the entire class Ė "Thatís an interesting question, what do you think about that?" Again it encourages participation and when a studentís question or response is dignified, guess what? They are more likely to ask or respond again.
Effective questioning is also a valuable technique when checking for understanding. Most lessons are a progression of activities integrated with formal and informal assessment strategies at each stage in the progression. Responses can be verbal or written, and can lead to some pretty interesting discussions, again creating learning extensions.
The use of student slates in the elementary grades is an excellent way for teachers to assess step by step learning. Immediate knowledge of results is an effective tool that enables the teachers to move ahead with the confidence that their students are learning.
Using effective questioning skills is a technique that can be very helpful in the classroom. It is one of those many teacher decisions that can challenge students to think for themselves as well as being an assessment tool. Try it, you may find that it opens many windows to inquiry and higher order thinking skills. In todayís teaching world, it is vital to actively involve your students - it works!
You, of course will need several pieces of hardware, including a TV or (digital projector) and a computer. You will also need the proper cables to connect the two. We've discovered that sometimes the resolution on some computers needs to be adjusted or changed, so check your monitors setting. You might even need a scan-converter if all else fails. Such a TV network can also be simply set up on a computer monitor which is turned to face the students.
Your computer will also need PowerPoint (or an equivalent presentation software). We've used such programs effectively on Macs, as well as Linux and Windows machines, and they all work well for this application.
PowerPoint has the feature of progressing through information or slides by either clicking your mouse, or by setting up timings between every action. Thus, you can have each word, line, paragraph, or even graphic animated automatically. You can change up the settings for different bits of info you have. Check the top menu for 'slide show', and follow down the menu to 'custom animation' (or look for a similar command). Once there, you can select each element to animate, the type of transition to occur, any sound you want associated with it, and also the timing (automatic, not on a mouse click). You will want to practice a few times until your timing is good, and there are enough seconds to see or read each element before the next animation or transition.
The key to automation of the entire show is the 'looping' feature of the program. Once your PowerPoint has been finished, set up the show so it continuously loops from the last slide to the first slide. Generally this is found in the 'slide show' menu under the 'set up show' command. It will direct you to set up the show to loop continuously back to the first slide. Voila! Your programming will continue to cycle over and over until you stop it.
You may wish to check your computer's settings so the machine doesn't go to sleep on you, or change to a screen saver. That would definitely defeat your purpose!
Now that you know how to set up a show, you have to decide what material or information to put out on display. I put up basic information such as the lunch menu, school or class announcements, and homework assignments. I will also post a class schedule and switch times if the daily schedule is altered. For the students who were absent, we also display class notes from previous classes. Now there is no excuse for students missing assignments or class information! And this saves you from having to deal with every returning student asking what was missed and where to find it.
If you are brave and want to create a great class project, have your students run your daily announcements. You could partner them up and have your first class of the day create the announcements. Another project is to have your students create storyboards, where a short story is broken up among a number of slides, each slide including pictures, clip art, or graphics to illustrate the story. You can find many good images online or in the clip art of your program. If you have access to a digital camera, you can even have students take their own pictures and insert them.
Yet another project we've done is to create a PowerPoint to summarize one class or a week's worth of class info. This becomes an animated newsletter or magazine. Again, assign a student to take photos on a digital camera during the class and combine these with articles on the various activities you've done. You might want to include students' work as examples.
There are also advanced techniques you can experiment with as you get better with the program. Sound can be added, such as background music, songs, or voice recordings. There are also ways to include video. Become an expert with the basics, and you'll be ready for these advanced techniques.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Company) website is a user-friendly site for teachers, educators, and students to supplement normal classroom activities. It is fun and interactive, and includes many hands-on activities, simulations, games, and learning activities. It is initially broken up by age levels, and then further by subject areas.
The BBC School website also includes vast resources and information to use in classes, or in research. Although I've only used the sections on history and English, there are many more areas to explore in all age levels, grade levels, and subject areas.
Check this site out, you'll be glad you did. Simply click the link below:
Once there was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew it was coming time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or one of his own children, he decided to do something different.
He called all the young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, "It has come time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you." The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One seed. It is a very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the kingdom!"
There was one boy named Ling who was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole story. She helped him get a pot and some planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.
By now others were talking about their plants but Ling didn't have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by, still nothing in Ling's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn't say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, and to take his pot, and to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.
When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kinds laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, "Hey nice try."
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!" Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grown, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!"
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