Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Passive Learning (Teaching) Opportunities

What does your classroom say to your students?
What message does the classroom environment provide to the student?
Are passive learning opportunities available for your students?
Can students learn in your classroom environment when you are not the “Sage on the Stage”?

We all love the student who completes a quiz, test or worksheet and then takes out book and starts reading or pulls out another assignment and continues working quietly. I think I have one of those students each semester.

During quizzes, tests and when students are working, I always have a PowerPoint or video going on my SMART Board.  This provides a passive learning opportunity for my students. The presentations provide information I want to convey to the students in a less formal and subtle way.  These presentations may be based on a theme, an artist, quotes etc…. They provide students something to think about when they are not engaged in the active learning process that is part of my curriculum.  

I began this process about three years ago.  I create one or two of these presentations each month. I now have over seventy of these PowerPoint presentations.  Examples of these include; community service using the comic strip Luann, quotes from Martin Luther King, the Sweep Like Michelangelo video I shared in an earlier blog, art and quotes by William Blake, lyrics from the Beatles, quotes on achievement and the word Peace in twenty-five different languages. 

When all students have completed the active learning activity, I will ask for comments on the presentation to get student feedback and create discussion points.   I teach science, but my presentations deal with all subjects.  It gives students a sense that all of our subjects are interrelated.  I try to follow the calendar and display appropriate messages throughout the year, such as Martin Luther King in January and Washington and Lincoln quotes in February.  For April 15th, I have a Jackie Robinson presentation about breaking the color barrier in baseball.  I have Lasallian presentations that correlate to feast days for our Lasallian Saints and holiday themes around Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Some of the presentations are serious, and some are fun.  I use images wherever and whenever possible.  I have shared imagery from my own travels to Alaska, Mexico the California coast and college tours back east with my students. I have created presentation of  images daughter has shared with me of the cherry blossoms blooming in Washington D.C. and the heavy snows they have experienced these past two years. I have also used the imagery of Escher, Monet and Van Gogh.

The idea is to provide opportunities for exposure to my students.  I am constantly seeking ways to peak there interest and make a connection to further draw them in to the power of knowledge and to value the process of learning.  It is my hope that constant exposure will create a thirst for further stimulation and students will then seek out more information to quench that thirst.

Remember, I am not the only teacher in my classroom.    

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