Sometimes it is good to go back to basics.
Let me say this first, I am a huge fan of technology. The resources we have now are limitless. I started teaching in an inner city school – my students really did not have a lot in the way of interaction with nature. Now, a few minutes on the Internet and they have access to more nature, more ecosystems and more life than anyone could have imagined possible. This is a good thing.
That being said, at my end of year review with my students I asked them what they enjoyed most and what they found most helpful for learning. Their answers were almost unanimous and surprised me.
I thought the thing they would have appreciated most was the fact that they always had free access to their smart phones and could look up something whenever they wanted.
[side note: the BYOT policy we instituted this year has been liberating for ME!!! I have saved so much time and energy not getting uptight about cellphones, IPODs etc. I have taught so much more and policed hardly at all. I say run with it, embrace it and pick a battle you can win, cause technology in the classroom is here now, so make the most of it].
Anyway, the most favorite and most learning the students had was when I gave them rats and asked them to investigate the body systems and how they worked together. This is straight out of the Biology play book circa 1950! The pictures above show them doing their dissections and renacting one using a class mate!
You always know when it’s a good activity when every other teacher in the school knows what is happening in your room, because the kids are all talking about it. That is a good indicator for engagement. Funny thing is I thought they’d all be squeamish and gripe. I even had a simulation all ready to go.
So I asked them why they enjoyed it so much. It was a simple response…..”because its real.”