Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Cool Classroom

Sometimes students seem to think that teachers live in the school and that all we do in our free time is grade papers and plan ways to torture our them (a.k.a. making our lesson plans). Now, while that sometimes might be true, it is nice to surprise them now and again by bringing things that they consider cool into the classroom and remind them that you know about these things as well. And, I have found that 'cool' lesson plans are one of the best ways to engage hard to reach students. Here are some of my favorite 'cool' lesson plans:

1. Anything comic related - Students love comics and comics are usually a big hit when I use that as a topic for a lesson. You can use comics for a variety of subjects. Use them in art by having students design a comic or create a Roy Lichtenstein style comic. Use them in English by having students write dialogue between characters. Teach inferences by cutting the comics into sections and having students try and figure out what order the comics go in. Create political comics in social studies or view political comics in class.

2. Tattoos, tattoos - The Maori people of New Zealand are known for their striking facial tattoos. I have had students draw a self portrait and then design facial tattoos onto their face in a Maori style. The picture above is an example I made. The project was a hit and one of my student's portraits even won an award in an art contest. Check out my lesson plan for this project. For social studies, you could check out the history of tattooing or check out how the Maori used tattoos.

3. Rapping & Music - Bringing music and raps into your lesson plans are a great way to engage auditory learners. You can find many lessons turned into song or rap or students could write a song or rap with a particular theme. One of my favorite ways of bringing music into the classroom is having students read poems by Tupac, as mentioned in this post. Tupac dedicated a poem to Vincent van Gogh which could be analyzed, compared to his artwork, or compare and contrast the lives of the two artists.

Please feel free to share a way you make it cool in your classroom.

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