Thursday, October 9, 2014

Teaching Lessons Students Will Remember

One of the best pieces of advice I've read lately is to make lessons memorable.  It's so obvious and yet easy to forget when planning a lesson.  There are so many things teachers are supposed to do these days: backwards map, use TAPS, include all learning styles, differentiate, align with the common core, use SMART goals, check for understanding, make lessons culturally relevant, hit all levels of Bloom's taxonomy and the list goes on and on.  So, making it memorable is not always easy to do, nor is it always at the forefront of our mind when planning.  But, when I read those three simple words I thought, right.  This is definitely worth putting in the forefront of my mind when planning.

How does one do that?  Well, here are a top ten list of lessons my students have discussed later because they were memorable:

1) Take them on a field trip.  I take my students to a restaurant to practice ordering food in Spanish.  They are still talking about it the next year.

2) Have them teach the lesson themselves.  Students who can teach it really know it and will be much slower to forget.

3) Incorporate humor.  Some of our strongest memories are tied to strong emotions.  I'm not suggesting that we make our students scared or sad, but making them happy and relaxed enough to laugh will put them in a good mental state.

4) Catch them by surprise.  Want them to practice writing using imagery?  Drop a fish on their desk and have them write with imagery about that.

5) Make it hands on.  Most lesson plans focus on teaching through seeing and hearing, but forget about our kinesthetic learners.  Incorporate all three and they'll remember it better.

6) Put it to music.  I use a song to teach students to conjugate.  They never forget it.

7) Use memory tricks.  Students who are taught using acronyms and sayings usually remember them years later.  Colors of the rainbow?  ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).  Order of operations?  Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally (parenthesis, exponent, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction).

8) Go deep instead of wide.  Give it time to sink in.

9) Include all of the senses.  See number 4!  Later this month I'm planning on turning my class room into an tavern/inn when students tell stories Canterbury Tales style, complete with bottles of (root)beer.  My attempt at creating memories.

10) Change up the routine.  The routine is forgettable.  Throwing them a curveball will make a lesson stand out.

Have ideas of your own?  Please share!

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