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Have you ever allowed students to choose their own seat in class? Lets generalize about the student(s) that choose or seek out the seats in the very rear of the classroom; like seat #34 out of thirty-four possible seats to choose. These are the disengaged, uninspired and/or under-achieving learners. These individuals are often enough designated as the "trouble-makers." Teachers, for the most part, are taught in college to develop lessons for students as if every occupant in class is willing and ready to learn. What a sham.
What educators need to do is create lessons aimed at those that occupy the rear of the class. Perhaps the best thing I have come to realize in 20 years of education is that learning is accidental. Allow me to explain: the likelihood that students retain information goes up exponentially if it is presented in a fun, interactive and hands-on manner. Years ago this was an immense challenge to prepare such lessons. Today technology allows educators to stimulate students in many ways. These methods are so much more attainable in the twenty-first century...
Those that are disengaged; those that actually try to not be involved in the learning process; those that are typically the trouble makers in class CAN be "fooled" into being participating members of class if you can hook them early. The three most important words in lesson planning are "Make Education Fun." Don't save the best for last; use the best early. How many classrooms in the United States start lessons each and every day or each class period with telling students, in a boring, monotone manner, take out your pencil or sit there in your desk silently? Ughh, the kids' attention will be lost from the start. Here's the challenge: start the school year, each day, each class period with an inspirational, interactive and high energy task, event and/or activity.
Bell-work, anticipatory set, daily question, start-up, etc. are many of the titles for beginning lessons. Educators are fully aware of these terms however I challenge our profession to alter the dichotomy of their "Anticipatory Set." Establish a routine for the start-up of each lesson or class period. In my grade 8 U.S. History classroom I have 34 desks; each desk is numbered; each number is written on a plastic chip that is placed in a box titled the "Fair Box." If a students' seat number is chosen that student or small group is chosen for the start-up activity. The example I'll use is introducing George Washington's Revolutionary War Strategy.
This sample start-up and/or, known in ancient times of lesson planning as, the Anticipatory Set is a visual presentation set to Justin Bieber's song Never Say Never. First, the student/s are randomly chosen using the "Fair Box;" the song presentation is then played. The selected student/s will then be given a question such as, "What is the G.W. Factor and EXPLAIN how it relates to General George Washington's STRATEGY to win the Revolutionary War." If the student/s correctly respond to the question they earn a Jolly Rancher from the classroom Jolly-Jar. If not, I pick another number from the "Fair Box" and the process continues.
Having students work together or group-up can assist in getting every student involved. It eliminates the fear of being singled out, there's more courage in numbers. A team approach can be a powerful tool for student engagement. In taking this approach the "Fair Box" numbering system simply continues but the students' number now applies to their entire group.
Use of songs, charades, etc. as a start-up activity gets everyone in class involved. The "Fair-Box" holds every student accountable, those students in the back of the room will find themselves wanting to participate. This method will successfully "fool" every student into learning in-depth content. Due to the variance of presentation styles to start lessons students will get involved, students will be active learners and students will recall information because it grabbed their interest and attention. Have FUN with education; if you, the educator, have fun teaching then the students have fun learning; Make Education Fun.