Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Helping boys and girls learn in the 21st century, input neeeded please!
It used to be that schools catered to the way typical girls learned, sitting quietly, listening and "still" learning. Well, we know these days that this type of learning sets boys up for failure. While some girls can still handle the old school way of learning I am seeing more and more girls that are unable to learn this way, now setting them up to fail as well. So what do we do? We as teachers have all had training on the three musts of learning: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. We are supposed to put each of these into every lesson, but how easy is it to make sure every lesson has all three? And how often are our kinesthetic aspects just moving around manipulatives on the table? We need to realize that children, even up into the higher elementary and middle school ages need to move to learn. We are so used to sitting children at desks for long periods of time and then wonder why we have such behavior problems? This year my 4th grader was part of a rotation system like those in middle school where he traveled between four classrooms plus lunch, recess and specials rooms. I can tell you by watching him that this couple of minutes of movement and destressing helped him to be successful this year. My 10 year old has 6 learning disabilities and is succeeding in a private college preparatory school I believe because the teachers understand that boys and girls need these breaks and that they don't always need to sit at a desk to be working efficiently. For example, my 10 year old was having a difficult time memorizing his weekly Bible verses, so I came up with a plan: he walks around the house reading the verse out load at least 5 times, he comes to the den where he lays on the floor with a clipboard, I give him the first word of the verse and he writes for as long as he can, when he gets stuck I give him the next word and he continues talking and writing for as long as he can. We continue until he has written the whole verse. He then does a jumping jack, sit up or other movement of his choice to each word of the verse. If he misses a word he starts again (he enjoys this by the way, not punishment). Can I tell you he went from failing Bible class to getting A's and B's on his Bible tests! What does this tell me? The movement he does while studying helps solidify the words in his mind. Now he has a modification that allows him to do his Bible tests orally and with movement. This particular teacher understood what my child needed and worked with me to get it accomplished. I am so thankful for her! So, what am I getting at? Traditional old school teaching has no place in our current day classrooms. Yes, children need to learn to work at their desk and to have self control but we can teach children much more efficiently by allowing them movement and comfort. As much as it might drive us crazy as teachers it truly is helpful for all children. As long as they are paying attention and able to answer your questions on subject why can't they all lay on the floor? This can only be beneficial for every student not just those with learning issues, plus imagine how much more fun school would be for our children and help encourage that love for learning. Just take a look at the high tech businesses that are requiring breaks, building game rooms, providing alternative seating, etc. The youth of our society is so much different than it used to be and we can meet each child where they need us by looking at the whole class and asking ourselves, will this work, can my kids handle working on the floor, can they sit under their desk and write their paper upside down? There are so many ways to help boys and girls learn without having to be at a desk all day. What do you do in your classroom to help your students? I am gathering data for a seminar I am teaching this summer, please leave me a comment with the grade you teach and your experiences with different ways of helping children learn. Thank you for your help! Christine