UNPLUG with your students and watch the magic happen

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Hi friends, I wanted to be sure to extend my prayers and love to all my teacher friends that are in the path of Hurricane Irma.  I have been thinking about you guys non stop.  Hoping things aren't as bad as what you are expecting.

Thanks for stopping by ~ welcome to my weekly series...

As each year passes I struggle (along with many of you I'm sure) with thinking about planning my lessons to best meet my student's needs.  When I started 23 years ago there was not a huge internet presence and I'll be honest kids had longer attention spans.  With the onset of technology, the instant gratification and 'never bored' syndromes grew and have in some ways turned into a monster.  I wish my students had the experiences I had growing up of being outdoors until the street lights came on.  I wish they used their imagination more and created their own activities and games to do with friends.  Playing school, turning a box into a spaceship, etc.

I truly look for the best you tube videos when I teach a new concept, I subscribe to flocabulary which is awesome and turns almost any concept kids learn into a fun, engaging rap song.  I have a classroom stage, it never ends.  I'll be honest, I like being a ham in front of my students so I truly don't mind some of this however, I am saddened that almost every lesson needs to be a dog and pony show to keep their attention and interest.

unplug - be more creative with your lessons without having your students having screen time.

What if you UNPLUGGED for the day guys?  Oh, the horror - start sending the hate mail.  My daughter is in a program called Young Life and when they go away to camp for a week the first thing they do is drop their phones in a basket when they arrive at camp.  They can't have them back until the bus ride home.  She always says it's so refreshing and really enjoys not having her phone - she's in high school and well most high school kids love their phones...am I right!?!? 
 So you have a 1:1 classroom...so what???  I struggle with this, if some kids are unmonitored and on technology from 3 -7 pm after school why would I want them staring at a screen even for a couple hours under my watch?  Don't get me wrong and think I don't value the use of technology that's not what this post is about, I see its place and worth for sure and with 21st century learning happening there's no getting away from it.  But I do challenge you to think outside the box and be sure the lesson you are going to teach can't be done without a screen.  If it's still engaging and rigorous and memorable without the computer than...why not use your creativity in another way?
I'm always thinking what can I be doing that is engaging with and without a computer?
So along with pulling all my tricks out of my sleeve I'm always thinking how can I make this lesson more engaging?!?  Sure google classroom and incorporating technology is always a go to BUT ~ ~ I challenge you to NOT do that.  That's a given, that's expected, that's one of the reasons they are the way they are....think outside the box.  Yes, there is a time and place for technology but think about all the other things you can do in that lesson to make it meaningful, relevant and engaging and even memorable for them.
Here are some ideas:
* use dice ( play partner games with dice ) there's not too many things more engaging than this and they love it.
* go outside ( I love to teach concepts outdoors ) especially if it lends itself to that.  For instance, we always teach area and perimeter outside and we walk the perimeter of the playground and then we sit in the area of the lunch tables.
* act things out - I was recently teaching on the commutative property of addition and I called on kids to come up front - 5 were on my stage and 3 were on the ground.  We added them and then the kids switched places so they could visually see what that looks like to flip the numbers around.
* use a microphone and backdrops if you can - My students LOVE when I put my red carpet google slide up and let them use a microphone and stand on our stage to read their journals. They ask beg me to do this daily.
* Use props and call kids up front to act out certain skills with the props -  They love this and it gets them moving and thinking critically.  For instance, I wrote out a sentence and cut it up like a puzzle - including the punctuation marks.  They had to first work together as a group to put the sentence together correctly with the punctuation in the correct spots. ( including quotation marks )  Then they had to figure out how to stand in front of the class in the right spots to have the sentence make sense to everyone else.
* teach them a rap song on whatever skill you are working on and sing with them even if your voice isn't so great ( like me ) they won't care, I promise!

As you can see there are lots of ideas you can incorporate!  Think about unplugging and going old school or doing the things I mentioned.  Just because we unplug doesn't mean we are using worksheets all day...right?!?!  Let me know if you agree to some degree or think I'm crazy in the comments. 
As always happy teaching, 

No comments