Monday, February 22, 2010

More teaching insights from a mere student

As a teacher-in-training I feel weird saying this, but most learning does not happen in school. A lot of learning comes from pursuing interests on your own for your own benefit. Some people have a lot of will power to do things that benefit themselves bodily or otherwise, but usually people are more likely to spend their time doing what they enjoy.

My goal as a teacher is to make my subject interesting. To do so I plan to use two of my personality traits, creativity and curiosity, and do my best to instill them in my students. Maybe 10% of my kids will be fascinated by literature; I need to find a way to draw in the rest.

This means doing a lot of exploring the internet, reading challenging books (on various topics and in many genres), and trying new technologies and tools. Reading the internet, as my friend David calls it, is a time suck but I love when avoiding my homework leads me to greater lesson plan ideas or more interesting books than I would have found in my textbooks. Good blogs and web sites make me want to learn more - which is the exact sensation I want my students to feel as I teach.

Case in point:

I read this blog post about the book Radiant Days and am now excited to read it as well as the novel mentioned in the excerpt, Bridge on the Drina. The blog post recommends using the Google map guide someone created to locate all the places the characters in the book go. This makes it interactive, visual, and ties the book to reality and history. This is such a cool tool that is free and easy (to use)!

*** Side note: Isn't Radiant Days just the best name ever? It, like my favorite band Bright Eyes, is simple imagery at its best.

One contemporary teaching concept I love is that of blurring the boundaries between subjects. History, art, and even science should be seamlessly included in lessons about literature. I was always thrilled when my classes overlapped in school and I hope that collaborating with teachers from other subjects is in fact a feasible reality instead of an idealistic fantasy.

I'm such a nerd. My next post will be fluffy, I promise.


Smoxie said...

i really enjoyed this. the google maps idea is fantastic. it's inspired me to do productive web surfing.

Catherine said...

Definitely good when you can "blur the lines between subjects", as life isn't divided... Collaborative projects (with other teachers, when possible, & maybe letting students choose their own big projects that involve both history & lit (or science, or Spanish, etc.):Dickens & the Industrial Rev.; Grapes & Wrath, the Dust Bowl & Depression & Calif. migration...

Those interactive websites sound neat, too-- & maps are great! (Wish you'd had teachers who'd made you excited about them! Actually, most fantasies have maps on the end pages for very good reasons-- the stories aren't nearly as good if you can't picture the way places relate to each other, & this way the author shows how he sees it. Maps are one example of pics being worth 1000 words). Speaking of maps & interactivity, if you ever find a way to use Harry Potter's Hogwart's map showing current locations of occupants, think of the student creativity you could unleash... Love, Mom