“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” I am willing to bet that many of the people that you share this quote with will agree with it. It seems to fit right in with the collective conscience of youth today. However, this quote is attributed to Aristotle over two thousand years ago.
I’m tired of hearing that children these days have short attention spans and are more disrespectful now more than ever. While I do believe that we live in a day and age where immediate satisfaction is a way of life due to advances in technology, I don’t believe that it has turned our children into monsters. After all, how often do we as adults get upset when a text or email doesn’t get replied to right away? Children need to be inspired, engaged, and dazzled. This is nothing new. However, we must do a better job with the tools that we have available to us now more than ever.
Here are five ways not to be boring for your students.
- Use Technology
This should be a no-brainer, but we still struggle with it. We still treat the use of instructional technology as an add-on to our lessons. We are not integrating technology into our daily routines and instruction. Let go of the old pen and paper book reports, worksheets, and textbook work. Have students use iPads, laptops, and cameras to create learning experiences, solve real world problems, and to become publishers of their work.
- Don’t Lecture at Them
Do you liked to be talked at? No? Now think about a ten-year-old sitting in a classroom all day long being talked at. It’s terrible. It’s no wonder why they get off task and start talking to their neighbors, leading to perceived behavioral problems. We need to let our students explore and find information on their own. We need to engage students in project-based learning, self-discovery, and innovation. Gone are the days of listening to the sage on the stage.
- Be a Performer
We all know that teachers are actors. They get in front of a fickle audience every day and use a variety of tools to get students to digest the content they are teaching. Teachers need to sell it. Put on a show. Use props, music, video, and elaborate dance sequences … whatever it takes. No one wants to listen to the sage on the stage, but students will engage in a multimedia presentation and exploration that they can be a part of. Make it about learning, not teaching
- Go Multimedia
There is nothing worse than learning about a topic and never seeing it in action. Teachers need to engage their students with pictures, videos, and hands-on experiments. Learning is an active, not a passive endeavor. If your lesson is on Mt. Shasta, then please let them see a picture of it! I’m not talking about the picture in the textbook. Go online and show them a variety of pictures. Find videos and first-hand documents from climbers. Google is our friend. Use it.
- Get Personal
My students had a hard time believing that I had a life outside of the school. I joked once that I slept in my classroom. They believed me until I began talking with them about my own interests – music, movies, sports, family. I got personal with them so I could become human to them. For my hard to reach students, that made all the difference. We bonded over a love of heavy metal music. Other teachers asked me how these children were always so engaged in my classroom. I told them to brush up on their Metallica.
Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.