DIY Teacher: Innovative, Free and Easy

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May 20th, 2011

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TGIF with Bianca!

Another fast and furious teaching week down here in Australia. Things seem to snowball – parent teacher evenings, reports, marking, lesson planning. I am constantly surprised when people say ‘You’re a teacher? That must be easy with all those holidays and the short hours.’ Are you kidding me?!

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with my complaints about my aching feet, tired eyes and swimming brain. No, this week I want to blog about some fun things I have done in my class that (I think) are innovative BUT are free and easy for any teacher to try. Oh, and when I say ‘free’ I mean you don’t have to give over any cash, but it will cost you a bit of your precious teacher-time. It’d be really cool if just one teacher-reader took a risk and had a go at one of these tasks. Believe me, your students will love them!

  1. Create a twitter account for your class. Follow people relevant to your subject and each lesson have two or three different students ‘tweet’ a message or respond to replies. Post up links to blog posts or edmodo public pages. Celebrate student work with the world! Have them ask challenging questions and see what answers the twitterverse provides! (If you’re game you can follow me @biancah80) Hmmm … I wonder if you can RSS a twitter account to edmodo? Wouldn’t that be cool! (Note from Edmodo: You can!)
  2. Get your students to work in teams to complete a series of tasks (admit it, your programs are probably full of ‘activities’ for your students) to earn ‘team points’. Put a really visible leader-board up in your classroom and have the teams compete for a special lunch of their choice. This can last two weeks or a month.  I started it this week and all classes are excited – working hard to collaborate and complete tasks then turn-in as an edmodo assignment to earn points!
  3. Hold a Socratic Seminar with your seniors. Break your routine of teacher-centred lectures (admit it, we all do it when there’s those awful examinations looming) and challenge your students using the Socratic method. It’s great fun to really put your students on the spot with challenging questions and see them being forced to really think critically and independently. No one wants to look unintelligent in front of his or her peers and this fear alone motivates students to prepare well for the Socratic Seminar! Oh, and if you want to add a handy (and free) tech-twist to this age-old method of learning, get your students on the outer-circle to add their notes, comments and questions to your edmodo group as a ‘back channel’ and project this on a wall nearby. This can act a prompt for further questions!

I’m having so much fun really messing around with my teaching style this year. My students were slow to come on board (having learned to be ‘passive learners’ after many years in the education system) but they are now excited to see the classroom arranged in groups of tables or all the chairs in a circle in the centre of the room. Learning should be fun, and if the person facilitating that learning isn’t enjoying him/herself it sure does make learning dull!


2 responses to “DIY Teacher: Innovative, Free and Easy”

  1. Brady says:

    that is cool 

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