Yesterday I attended a full day session of our Science/ELA grant program. This is a three-year program which involves a week on inservice every summer, two full days during the school year and a couple of lesson studies where we English teachers cooperate with the Science teacher to put on a lesson. I say “put on a lesson” because we did a pretty elaborate event to teach about the steps of mitosis. The kids used crepe paper to represent cell walls, and division – it was a sort of a dance on the playground. It was very fun.
Each time we’ve had a session part of it has been dedicated to ‘cultural competency,’ which for our population involves looking at rural poverty. Yesterday this lesson was about Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. Now I’ve heard this a million times it seems, but it was great to hear it again. It was explained very well and we all took the test for ourselves, which was great. It made me feel like the way I do things is fine because it is who I am. I am a Visual-Spatial learner, predominantly, with a couple other things running a close second and third. The thing is, I’m pretty sure that lots of my seventh graders are Kinesthetic learners. I know, I keep saying that, and I think it is true. I have been working on ways to make learning easier for these students and have come up with a couple of ideas so far, and yesterday got yet another one. Here’s what I have so far:
1. Create SMART Board activities which require the students to physically move words and letters to match definitions or spelling. At the same time as one student is at the board, the others are doing a related task either on paper or on small whiteboards, and holding them up for display. Everyone gets to do a physical activity with this one.
2. Using Scrabble tiles to spell words, and magnetic poetry to form poetry or sentences. Parts of speech, word order, all of that can be taught using magnetic poetry.
3. Yesterday I got this idea: Give the kids flashcards, say, with an affix on one side and its meaning on the other. Just little half-an-index-card will be fine. Have them walk around the track practicing the affix and its meaning out loud or in their heads. This could be done alone or with a partner. Later, when they take a quiz on it, encourage them to tap a foot (mimicking walking) and the answers will (will they?) come to them. This was not my idea, but I an intrigued by it. Would they actually try it, and not just run around crazy, playing? What if I let them take one crazy loop around the track after they’ve done one seriously studious loop? I think it sounds really interesting and fun and worth a try. Should I do a control set as well – like one set of affixes that I just teach them the regular way, and then one set done walking? Have you ever tried anything like this? I’m thinking I’ll try it this week…I’ll let you know how it works after I try it.