This year, I am trying to break away from my normal method of teaching. Even though I try to integrate technology into the classroom and do fun projects with my students, I still rely on books, study guides, PowerPoint presentations with notes and class discussion, and videos.
Pros: I cover the material. The students (for the most part) learn the material.
Cons: It is not as engaging as it should be. Some students can't read at the level of others, some copy other's answers without ever looking at the material. The students like looking at the images and discussing them, but they don't like taking notes. And it's almost impossible to keep the entire class awake during videos (not that they are boring, but when you get up in the morning and see some of your students posting to Facebook at 3 am, you know how your cards are dealt).
This year, (4th block B day) one of my classes is ALL students who have had me before. One of them asked if we were going to take a lot of notes this year. I told them (as I tell all of my classes) that if they learned the material, I didn't care HOW we did it. They asked for no notes, I told them I'd try to think of a solution.
That evening, I decided I would offer all of my Art Appreciation II classes the option of blogging the important material and then viewing and discussing the PowerPoint and videos or taking notes during the PowerPoint and videos.
The next morning, I had my step-by-step instructions for using edublogs.org all written out. I explained the options to my 2nd block A day Art Appreciation II class. Blogs? No way. Just give us the PowerPoint and notes. I was floored. I discussed it with the other art teacher at lunch. "Maybe they're too lazy to do it - maybe they will be afraid it's more work." I didn't know. I told them that if they decided they wanted to try it in the future, I would be happy to do it with them.
Disappointed, I offered the same options to my 4th block A day students. Blogs? We get to get on the internet and make a webpage? They were all over it. I printed out a list of information that their blogs needed to have and showed them how to make a student blog. They were so excited! Once their blogs were published and they saw their 'webpage,' they were so proud! I encouraged them to write down the url so they could go home and paste it on Facebook or show it to their family.
The next day, I had the original class that asked for no notes, 4th block B day. I gave them the option, and their reaction was the same as 4th block A. They were so pleased. One student had to finish his at home because he couldn't find the perfect picture of Stonehenge! Afterward, we viewed my PowerPoint and a couple of videos of cave paintings, etc. Then came the most surprising thing - after watching and discussing this video of a man using Neolithic methods to build a concrete henge in his back yard, the students asked if they could build a scale model of Stonehenge! I was floored. And excited. Today my husband has been in his shop building a 24"x24" tray that's about 4" deep to hold our dirt and sod. And the students didn't just ask - they were excited about it! A couple of the students wanted to do it, and as soon as it was mentioned, the other students agreed.
I have to get with the math department - this is going to be a great interdisciplinary lesson.