Sherri

my open book
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2017-09-03 20:55:53 (UTC)

innovations in education

I'd like to sit here and vent what is wrong with our education system and how I think it could be resolved. The main issue I see, is that our schools focus on rote memorization. Schools hand out work sheets and review guides, failing to engage the students in activities that truly teach them the subject matter. We sit students in desk for long periods of time, lecture them, then hand out sheets that just check that they have memorized the information. For example, in science class, we put together a power point defining words in science such as gravity and velocity, and giving brief overviews of the particular unit, then we hand out a worksheet matching the scientific terms. Another example is how we teach math class. We take notes that the teachers hands us, then we sit down and do worksheets with problems already written down for us. This goes the same for history. We get lectured, and then we do a brief reading guide, and yet we have still not understood any of the units. I do kind of understand why we teach this way. It is simple, does not take a lot of work on the teachers part, and it prepares students for a test. Though this is how it should be done. We should get away from doing everything geared towards a written test. If we stop preparing lessons that just prepare for a written test, then we could open up new ways of teaching. I'm going to now discuss how I personally believe every subject should be taught in efforts to resolve our educational issues.
First let's begin with science. When students take notes, this should only be the first stepping stones for the unit. Also, when these notes are taken, they should be from online reputable sources. Articles written by well known scientists, books from the library on the topic, or documentaries. The notes should not just come from a power point that the teacher puts together in five minutes. Instead, hand the student a rubric of what they need to research for the unit. Allow them to find there sources and teach them how to cite them. Next, there needs to be science labs. While schools do some of these, there needs to be more. And some science lab activities need to be invented by the students. For example, coming up with ways to prove the Doppler effect or testing the velocity of two objects rolling down inclined planes. And outside of labs and research, students should be doing class demonstrations. This can be drawing a model of what velocity looks like and presenting it to the class, or it can be giving explaining what they have researched. They should also be given bonus assignments such as coming up with a scientific theory, and proving it with mathematics. We should try and force the students to develop their own critical thinking skills. Instead of a written test, grade them on what sources they found, what conclusions they have made, and how well can they demonstrate their understanding of that unit through a project or in front of class presentation. Go to the library, and allow them to bring headphones to pick which videos or documentaries to watch on the unit.
Now I am going to move into how mathematics should be taught. In the beginning of a new unit, students should first research the history of when the mathematics was first derived. Such as who invented different concepts and how they came about to proving those numbers. Such as who introduced statistics into mathematics. Then students should once again be given a rubric of what exactly it is, they need to learn. For example, the rubric could say, explain the Pythagorean theory, define and draw what the hypotenuse looks like, demonstrate an example problem, etc. They should also sight their online sources of where they found the information. Another thing you could do, is on the area/perimeter unit, get the students to measure the area/perimeter of things in the room. Also give them a project where they do this at home. And for mathematics, test and worksheets are still beneficial in proving the students know the material. Though, do not spoon feed them the answers and lay out a power point of how the math is done. Let them do extensive research/trial and error to learn the unit. If you teach geometry, bring in three dimensional shapes to make calculations off of, or better yet, give them building projects. A good example would be the students building a mini house out of wood, and instructing them to carefully calculate the length, width, height, area, perimeter, and be able to present those numbers. Instead of teaching them how to build the house, let them read architecture books, that explain how calculations are done and books that teach the mathematic concepts to building. This will teach students how to read instructions, and solve their own questions.
Now lets discuss English. This subject does not need as much innovation. We already do a pretty good job of teaching students how to analyze literature, and assigning books to read, though there are still some room for improvement. For example, instead of just doing one or two research papers a year, reading one or two assigned novels, there should be more. We should read through novels at a faster pace, and there should be more times when the students chose what they read. If you only assign one book per semester, and it's the same required novel, with no other assigned reading, the students will never read. This is because, the books may bore them, and if there are never any other reading options, then students will probably never read one single book the entire year. They will blow off the assigned reading, and never read another novel to begin with. So how do we go about this? Well figure out what the students like. For every nine weeks, require them to read one non fiction book of their choice, and one fictional book. Also require them to do discussions, and projects proving they are completing the reading. At the same time they are reading these novels, still have the one required reading book for the semester. And teach it the same way you always did. By the end of the year, they would have read four fictional books they love, four non fiction books filling them with more knowledge about the real world that schools could never have enough time to teach, and still the same two required reading books. For research papers, give them different topic choices. Allow the students to come up with what they want to research. For some of the research papers, you can still tell them what to research, though do not do this for every paper. For each nine weeks, have them research something they want, and have them turn it in by the end of the nine weeks, with citations, thesis, research question they are proving, etc. Then let's discuss analyzing literature. When you are teaching a poetry unit for example, instead of students just reading poems, get the students to create poetry. Teach them the different poetry styles and then have them creating the poems. You can require them to use different poetry elements. And again, you prepare them for this by letting them read famous poetry they find online, and getting them to learn literary elements through online sources, instead of power points the teacher creates. Then here's a real challenge you can give your students. Assign them an optional project at the beginning of the year, to write their own fictional novel. Tell them that if they write this novel, the school will have a contest on who writes the most creative book, and have it sent to be truly published in a library. All these ideas I mention, enable the students to be creative, develop their own critical thinking skills, and teaches them to be self efficient. They will also get to explore things they want to learn more about by getting them to pick out non fiction books and discuss them.
Lastly, history. This is a complicated subject for me to preach how it should be taught. The main thing I advise, is that there are more connecting the dots activities. Get students to make time lines putting historical events in order, and give them mind maps to complete. Also, assign them research papers writing about different eras, and who was president when, etc. Do not just lecture them and give them test. Maybe make the students put together a folder of the different people, their history, the time periods, etc. History should be broken down into segments. Why did an event happen? When did the event happen? What has the event caused? What leaders were in charge in this time period? Which event happened in what order? What do the events tell you about that time period? How did the events lead up to our country's position today? They should also be given the right to discuss politics in school. Students should be researching things about differences between republicans/democrats, and be given the opportunity to voice their political opinions on paper and through class presentations. There should also be a small part of the class period, where they watch things on modern history. And again, there should be projects given, in place of test/class presentations.
With every subject I have mentioned, their is a pattern. In every subject, I mentioned research in some form or fashion. That is because doing research instead of power point notes, forces the students to know/understand what they are learning. It takes away from memorization, worksheets, and written test. Reading, takes us into a deeper understanding of the world around us. Think about how the teacher made the power point in the first place? They had to learn the information they summarized on to the small screen. And they learned by reading. If we want our people to lead the world as they grow older, we must teach them how to apply themselves to the real world beyond a written test in which they had to memorize small amounts of information we spoon fed them through ten slides.


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