This post is going to purely talking about teaching strategies I use and find to be successful in my classroom. How did I come up with the idea for this post? (Interviews)!! When it is job search time a teacher tends to reflect on 'how' they teach. I don't normally think about the 'how' and 'why.' I guess you could call that the 'good thing about interviews.' They really make you think about how you teach and why--it really is hard to expand on WHY you do what you do in the classroom! I am going to talk it out here. :)
The most common teaching strategies I use are:
1. The Hands on Approach
3. Collaboration in the classroom
When I talk about these they all kind of go together so I am not going to number them one at a time. Also, this is not from any book but just from my 'noggin.' :) (Had to throw some silly me in here somewhere)!!
I truly believe students learn best by DOING. Students at this age need to be exploring and they need to be the leaders of their own learning. I try to foster this as much as possible. By doing this it strongly encourages students to communicate with one another. When I plan lessons I think of the 'how' can I show them what to do and then how can I let them explore?
Sometimes we teachers can get so caught up in how much we need to teach our students that we feel we don't have time to let our students take ownership of their own learning--especially in the early grades. We can think of a concept... we know how to model it and we know how to give them a worksheet to end the lesson quickly. Really?! Do you think they're going to remember that worksheet ... like tomorrow even? No, students need concrete experiences-- I like to make my students learning experiences come to life! I like to create a sense of excitement--that emotion makes them remember!!
It's really not hard to do and it doesn't take big expensive shiny stuff! It can be as easy as putting a motion to the word -sequence-! Make the students do a motion to show beginning to end. Guess what?! Each time you bring up that word--they're going to remember it! Another toughie is 'schema!' This is such an important concept in all grades and being able to use it is very important. How do students use it though if they can't even remember the meaning of the word when you mention it? Motion--do a lesson on ONLY schema --it'll save you time later in the year when you bring it up because all you have to do is mention WHAT you did during that lesson and you get the infamous, 'OH YAH!'
I love to give my students ownership of their own learning because it teaches them to gain a sense of responsibility. Just be sure to teach them how to do this by involving them.
A big way I 'involve' students in their own learning is by getting them out of their seats. I remember being in first grade and I did not enjoy sitting all day! My favorite was getting to sit in someone elses' seat, sitting on the floor, standing and jumping!! WHAT?!
We do this during reading by coming to the rug-- I model a comprehension strategy by reading a book to my students. It's so important for them to listen to us read so they know what expression and fluent reading sounds like. Anyway, we model--then, students *do* This means we break off into our 'reading workshop' approach and the students read a book of their choice or a shared reading book that we are focusing on during the week. Students collaborate with one another and complete some sort of activity--whether it be a project, writing or something to do with the concept taught. Then, we like to come together as a class and share. Students really learn best from each other. Communication allows for students to share how they solved a problem or how they found a certain way to do something (like figure out a comprehension concept).
Our lessons don't stop there because we always follow up our whole group instruction with our reading stations. This is where I pull my small groups and my students are responsible for completing their assigned activities for the week. I have noticed that during stations many teachers do not allow their students to talk. For some reason it bothers me when my kids are not talking (quietly) during this time. Yes, there are times where students need total silence but I don't think station time should be that. This is the time when students really are the LEADERS because the teacher is busy teaching. I don't get mad when my students are talking and sometimes I listen to them... like last week I was listening to one of my little guys explaining their writing assignment. He wasn't only explaining it but he was re-teaching the entire lesson that I taught to him! CAN YOU SAY AMAZING?!! I love it because if I were to say--NO TALKING--then, that little guy would have never gotten the chance to take ownership and feel the freedom to teach one of his peers.
All in all... this is how I teach. My classroom is not one where you can hear a pin drop--we talk and move--- a lot!! :) We have fun, we remember what we learn and we have a classroom community that is as close as ever. There are times when we don't talk--I don't want you to think it's a crazy talking classroom but, most of the time (75%) we are collaborating with each other! :)
Alright... I'm glad I got all of this out--reflection is key to interviews! :)