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Monday, February 23, 2009

Teaching Misdirection

Ed U Cater wrote a post on his blog -- The Head of the Class -- this weekend, and I thought I'd piggyback on it. His post was about how kids just don't seem to listen nowadays. The examples he cited actually came from MY kids last year (shudder!), and he is dead on.

Go over and read what he wrote. I'll wait.

OK, back? Good, let's continue.

Because of the veracity of Ed's observations, namely, when you talk to the whole group, many kids doze off, but when you try to have a private conversation with ONE child, everyone wants to listen in, I had an idea last year. This would never apply to classroom settings in schools online. It is meant for traditional classrooms. Unfortunately, it never got implemented, but I still want to give it a try at some point and see how well it works.

I actually wanted Ed to be my partner in crime for this one. I wanted to choose some topic or concept that kids generally have trouble with or have a lot of trouble remembering. For instance, let's take this fact: 1 yard = 3 feet.

My idea was to have Ed stop by in the middle of class and quietly ask if he could speak to me in the doorway. The look of concern on his face would be sure to have every kid in the room straining their ears to hear what important piece of news was about to be imparted on me. Then, once we were within conversational distance, Ed would quietly say something like, "I just heard from downtown that we need for the kids to know that 1 yard = 3 feet. Most of them don't know that now, but that's going to change."

We would then exchange conspiratorial nods, he would depart, and I would continue the lesson.

I have NO DOUBT that if something like that happened, 98% of my class would know from that point forward the conversion rate for yards and feet.


Jason Oller said...

Auditory is becoming rare!!

Edna Lee said...

I am SOO gonna try this!

J Swoboda said...

I've found that tools and resources such as speak to kids better than some other conventional methods. The attention span of youth is decreasing at an alarming rate, so it becomes a challenge to constantly find new ways of inspiring them.

J Swoboda
Education Dynamics

Mike in Texas said...

Dude, I've totally gotta try this idea.

melomania said...

I know what you mean! I am still in college, but the private high school I attended is letting me substitute for them this semester to get some teaching experience. I had 6 periods of middle-schoolers one day, all of them doing the same assignments. I think I repeated the directions 100 times that day. No matter how many times I told the kids, "You write sample questions for the test you're having in two days. Try to come up with 5 or 6 good ones. Write them in your journals," I had 10 more kids asking how many and should we turn them in and wait, what are we doing and how many do we need and I've got 10 but the rest of my group hasn't been paying attention so I've been doing them by myself and how many do we need to do...

By the end of the day I was very close to refusing to answer any more questions I'd already answered.