Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teaching Methods

At some point, every blog must contain a gap in entries, followed by a post apologizing for and explaining the gap.

After a flurry of activity, during which I described many classroom activities on this blog, the previous month or so has seen a dry spell.

I'm sorry. Let me explain.

My philosophy and methods of teaching have experienced two shifts over the course of this year. For one thing, I am employing routines more; for another thing, I am utilizing project based learning more.

Last fall, I was trying to engage and entertain my students by introducing new activities daily, mostly culled from the web. I spent much of my time scouring my Google Reader and Twitter accounts for suggestions. I was convinced that the best way to motivate my students was to keep them interest and entertained, and the best way to do this was to continually introduce new and fun activities. I yet aver this pedagogy has some merit.

However, I have shifted my teaching paradigm. Instead of introducing all new content and skills in each class; now, the students spend the majority of each period engaged in routines. For example, in English, the students can expect that they will have a daily journal entry, a daily grammar exercise, a daily spelling quiz, and a daily cloze exercise.

There are fewer surprises in my classes now. In contrast to before, the students now arrive to class with a general idea of what they are expected to do. That being said, I still supplement the core activities with dynamic "fun" activities. It could be argued that the routine-heavy style of teaching is boring; however, I believe that the students appreciate the security and reliability of routines.

This, then, is one of the reasons I have written fewer blog posts concerning new activities.

The second reason is that I have started utilizing project based learning more. For example, in my Geography class, the students are currently creating a multi-page, multi-media website about natural hazards. They have been working on this for almost a month now. The justifications for project based learning relate closely to the justifications for using routines. I believe that projects, such as websites, mirror more closely the tasks of "real life," and the students take pride (and motivation) from creating something grand, over the course of time.

Photo by Dalboz17.


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