Notetaking Strategies

A little while ago I tweeted this article from the Atlantic on the benefits of lecture. After many years of treating lecture like a pariah, it seems that the author concluded that teachers should play to their strengths. As an elementary teacher, I understand that it is important to include a variety of teaching strategies in order to play to the different learning styles of your students. Students in my class can be found working in groups to solve problems, create projects or debate a topic. Yet I often found myself wanting to tell a story, to talk a little, to play up the listening comprehension and let the kids practice taking notes or listening actively.

If I am being honest, the lecture is a favorite for me especially when it is a topic, like history, that I am passionate about.  I love how students come alive, develop questions and expand on new vocabulary. I think the bottom line is that students need to be able to adapt to a variety of styles just as teachers need to adapt to a variety of students. The skill of listening, deciding what piece needs more contextualization, and asking about it are necessary in a variety of authentic settings that students will face in college and/ or in careers.

Lecture does not cause poor student engagement. Boring lectures do, and therefore I have decided that in order for me to use this method, I try to make sure the lecture can meet the following criteria:

1. There is a metaphor or relevant link to the students lives that I can communicate quickly to “hook” them at the beginning of the class.

2. I know the topic or concept in depth and would be able to answer a variety of questions on it rather than just present the basic facts. Teachers need to know the entire iceberg even if they are only required to teach the students the tip.

3. Students have something to physically engage them while I am talking. This looks different at various levels, but for example they might be taking notes or using gestures at intervals to reiterate conceptual knowledge. (Post to follow on Whole Brain Teaching)

4. I can find appropriate visuals or props related to the concept to improve understanding.

How do you use lecture based instruction?

My Nerdlution

Awake at 4:30 AM, as I often am, I found myself checking my twitter feed. I was surprised to see several folks discussing fitness goals like running, walking, etc. since my twitter use is kept mainly for professional reasons. I saw, however, that in several of these posts the hash tag was #nerdlution.

Anything with the word “nerd” involved is definitely something I can get behind. I found out that a nerdlution is a resolution designed to make you happy, increase your fullfillment and improve your life. In my estimation, it should not be something you are doing so you can “look hot” or “get skinny”  as typical resolutions tend to be. A nerdlution should also not be a ticket to a guilt trip come January 29 when you have not used that gym membership you were pressured into getting for a year. I also vote that a nerdlution should be something that helps you follow your passion and increases time doing what you love, the actions that bring you joy but are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of work and family life.

image courtesy @iChrisLehman

I enjoy writing. I enjoy technology and learning more about new formats. Therefore, my nerdlution is to keep up this itty bitty blog I have here, and hopefully get some readers. I am going to try to write a little every day to bring some of the blog post ideas that pop into my head in the car or the shower. If I am being honest, I will probably also try to read more literary novels  (I have been a little heavy on work reading) and have some family fun that involves physical activity.    What is your nerdlution?

Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm

iphone 395Welcome to EntusiasTeach. This blog is my attempt to combine a passion for technology & the humanities to spark ideas and improve the profession. I have been so inspired by my interactions on Twitter and love presenting PD, meeting with other educators, attending conference but most of all making my classroom an engaging place to be.  My goal Donis always to flush out new ideas and explore unique ways to meet every child where they are. With so much focus on data and mandates from administration, it is important not to forget what really hooks children on learning: an enthusiastic teacher.

Let us avoid the Ben Stein teacher scenario in every classroom in American (“Bueller? Bueller?”) My classroom can often be a pretty crazy place, but the best part of my job is the fact that more often than not, my students are smiling. I might look like a complete fool dressed up like a Puritan or playing air guitar on a yardstick, but more often than not, my students are smiling. Smiling leads to happiness. Research shows that your memory receptors work more effectively when you are doing something pleasant. If cracking a few jokes can help these kiddos remember their math facts or the events leading up to the American Revolution, it is a win/win. My dream is that more teachers will dress up like Puritans, or throw things off school rooftops, or rewrite popular songs to express difficult-to-remember concepts. Maybe that’s not your thing, but maybe the way you talk about Chaucer with a twinkle in your eye or geek out on robotics will influence your student to feel the same. Enthusiasm takes many forms, it is essential to the craft of teaching. How do you show your enthusiasm?