We all know that children belong outdoors, but when they become our students, the tendency is to keep them behind four walls tied to electronic devices, PowerPoint lectures, and computers. Well, I am here to tell you that you can go outside with students and see productive results. Moving your class outside engages a world of fresh stimuli for the senses that have the amazing ability to open up students to new insights and real-life application of the concepts they are learning.
What is the role of keyboarding instruction in the classroom—especially the elementary classroom? Over the past few years, as one-to-one devices become more widespread and accessible to students at younger grade levels, this question has become more and more pertinent. I know our own school has struggled with student keyboarding skills over the past few years.
Three main issues we grapple with as educators.
Asking students to write is one of the most difficult tasks we require. It tasks the writer with managing multiple cognitive functions all at one time: idea creation, organization, word choice, grammar rules, voice, correct sentences, and focusing on a topic. Whew. Writing this myself is taking a lot of hard work!
Because of the load that is placed on the writer, students are more successful when some of the individual tasks are broken down and isolated for them. Teachers do this in a variety of ways. We have them spell check at the end so they can focus on the ideas at the beginning. We have them review their sentences for run-ons or incompletion. We help them to organize in paragraphs. And most importantly, we try to help them with original and complete ideas.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” - Aristotle
As teachers, we know our students learn in many different ways: visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, and social. But most of us teach the way we're most comfortable—and that's not necessarily the way our students learn. It's a missed opportunity if we don't use the way that a student learns best to hook them and get them excited about learning.
As a classroom teacher, you may have heard about the recent push to incorporate more computer science and coding into students’ lives. The problem could be—as it is with most teachers I know—that you feel vastly underqualified to teach anything in that realm. Coding seems like an intimidating subject and something that requires a lot of professional learning before jumping in.
When looking at the big picture of a school system, it can be daunting to think about effective ways to incorporate change. Systems are complex by nature, and education can be a hard one to change for a variety of reasons.
In most classrooms, individualized learning is the norm, and it can be problematic for many teachers. How can a teacher possibly keep all the students learning at a level that is challenging for each of them? How can a teacher tap into students’ curiosity to keep them motivated to learn? And how can a teacher make sure that all students have access to learning all the content standards? Short videos may be the answer.
Finding the Right Videos
Online videos are one powerful solution to these challenges. Students’ learning changes when they have a connected device to help them learn. But the number of methods for learning new information is almost endless on the Internet. Who has the time to sift through them all?
We’ve put together a “go-to” list of excellent sites with short videos that teachers can use to provide content knowledge and standards-based tutorials, or to tap into the curiosity of students.
Strategies for Everyday Instruction
In the 1989 movie Back to the Future II, Marty McFly time travels (in style!) to October 21, 2015. The movie treats us to a vision of the future that includes self-tying shoes, futuristic outfits, flying cars, and hovering skateboards. Of course, now that we’ve caught up to “the future,” we know that the movie got a lot of things wrong. But there are a few things that are actually pretty close to reality: e.g., Lexus apparently has made a prototype hoverboard . . . and how about those Cubs?! While no scene in the movie features a classroom, I wonder what the screenwriters would have done with such a scene.