Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part One

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check back for part two, will you?

Map, Learn, School, Courage, Training, Skills, Teaching

Soon it will be the fourth of July.  You know what that means don’t ya?

We are about half way through summer vacation for our overworked, underpaid teachers.

Hopefully, these education warriors are not spending their whole vacation sitting in professional development classes or reading yet another book on whatever trendy subject is being discussed in September at a faculty meeting.

I hope they are sitting in the Colorado Rocky Mountains by a stream, listening to the water as it slips over the rocks and cools the air. (This is one of my favorite memories in my life which I draw from time to time.)

Now, I taught drama classes for thirty-eight years.  That, my friend, is a heck of a long time.

The wisdom I am about to impart to you is my personal teaching method which works every.single.time.  I’ll say that again:  every.single.time

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I believe in using the multiple intelligences…period.

From the American Institute of Learning and Human Development website,

“The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

              Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

              Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

              Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

              Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

              Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

              Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

              Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

              Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Just like Dr. Gardner, I present my lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, cooperative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and much more.

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The most important question I know some educators have is whether each intelligence must be addressed with every lesson.  

The answer is a resounding, no!  But I bet if you use several methods over the course of a unit or several lessons, the students will be more engaged than the traditional methods of textbook and worksheets.

Case in point, my Theatre Appreciation class I taught this last semester at Neosho Community College in Ottawa, Kansas.

This was my first time to teach the class and I must say, it was a doozy for me.

Some challenges:

  • only four students (three were seniors in high school and one was twenty-three years old) enrolled
  • since Neosho is a commuter campus, a theater and its many aspects were unavailable to me
  • the class fulfilled a Humanities requirement, so the students didn’t necessarily take the class because they wanted to but needed the hours in order to graduate
  • although I had a teacher’s manual, powerpoint templates and test banks (which didn’t always coincide with the teacher’s manual), the scope of learning was massive!

In short, I created every lesson in the semester with very little help (oh, and forget using another professor’s syllabus supplement to help me, all the professors I found pn line planned it differently.)

At first, I tried the usual I-lecture-you-take-notes format.  Ugh…I’m embarassed to even admit that to you. It was excruciatingly boring for the students and myself.

What did work was assigning vocabulary words from each chapter and requiring the students to create flashcards on Quizlet.com. These vocabulary words spoke to those with Linguistic Intelligence.

I learned the students needed visual examples of the various times periods in theatre history.  That’s where youtube.com came in.  It was great help and the wealth of videos about theatre history, live performances of plays and musicals was extensive. Whew!  Suddenly, the learning came alive.

We attended a live performance of a play produced at the University of Kansas.  At the time, I wasn’t certain they appreciated the production, but later they mentioned the play to me several times.

Spatial Intelligence was addressed and it worked well for all of them.

I knew I could do better by them, but this was my first time teaching the material. I thought I should use a more traditional teaching method since these students came from rural school systems in general.  This might be an exagerration, but I have discovered in the past rural schools are less advanced or innovative. I could tell they were used to books and worksheets, good or not.

So, I did what I knew I should have done from the beginning–I used multiple intelligences.

Nearing the end of the semester, I assigned the students a project on a particular play they read.  Each one had a responsibility to learn about the job of that designer and the responsibilities of them, design either costumes (4 costumes), set (1 set with furniture and curtains, etc.), props (2 props specifically for the play)  or sound for the production (a sound plot and sound bites for several sounds, preshow and post show music.) Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

Additionally, they had to work with their peers pulling their ideas together as an artistic team would do for a production. Check off Interpersonal Intelligence!

Lastly, they were to share their learning with us.

They LOVED the assignment.  Please understand these were students who swore to me, “Mrs. Baldwin, I’m not at all creative.  I can’t possibly do this!”  However, by the end of the learning and sharing, they enjoyed it so much they suggested to me that I do more of this next time.

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Aha! As I mentioned I knew that all ready, but it is always better when your students confirm your opinion.

I am by no means an expert on  teaching through the multiple intelligences, but using this method works for me every time.

It is fun, creative, allows for varied learning styles, skills and provides differentiated instruction.  You can’t beat that, can you?

What are your favorite teaching methods?  As a drama teacher, I model my expected outcome on a daily basis it seems.  Have you ever modeled for your students?  How did it go?

I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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The Importance of Teaching

How do you answer the questions whether there is an importance to teaching?

There are days I think teaching is a lost art.

There it is….the respect for it is long gone.

Sometimes I think this way.  Other days, not so much.

Teaching is like anything.  Good teachers make it look easy.  They barely break a sweat.

Recently, I taught a class in reading of nonfiction.  Sounds hugely interesting, huh?

Yeah, the students didn’t think so either.

My first hurdle was attitude.  The students were placed in this required class because their reading scores weren’t high enough for college level classes.

The class was comprised of twelve students–four international (two of which dropped out after two weeks), four tyical college aged and three older students, non traditional I guess you’d say.

Boy howdy, was it tough!

The international students couldn’t understand English very well and looked confused most of the time.

The 18 to 21 year olds took everything in stride and although they missed class occasionally, did their best to learn what they needed.

Then there were the older adults.  They were the tough ones. I could understand why.

How would you feel if someone told you your reading scores were lacking?  You’d resent it, right? Especially when you took a big leap and went back to school to try and catch up your life and have a career instead of a job.  That’s tough enough.

Two of the older adult learners would wrinkle up their noses if they didn’t like the correct answer to a test question they had missed.  They’d huff at me when I instructed them.  If they were confused, they’d grow frustrated as quickly as a toddler.

I knew what they were needing–time, patience from me and differentiated instruction.

I worked at it, but after awhile I simply used the textbook to teach with. There is more to this story than I feel comfortable sharing, but basically….

A teacher will become demoralized if the students and administration don’t respect her.

Yeah, that was me.

I hope teaching won’t be a lost art.  I hope young people will continue to become teachers. Recently, both of our daughters decided to become teachers–one a drama teacher like her momma and the other wants to teach nursing. Both young women will do an outstanding job.

Thank you teachers. You are the salt of the earth. Our future depends upon you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com

If you’d like to learn more about my journey as a teacher, check out this post:  https://wp.me/p3GDNp-uF