By Teachers, For Teachers
Whether you’re looking for a few teaching strategies on how you can empower your students to be contributors or are trying to cultivate a classroom of equity, these teacher tips and advice from veteran teachers will have the answers you need. Here are some answers to many teachers’ frequently asked questions, as well as a few teaching strategies to ensure your students will participate in class.
Question: Our students are expected to complete with their peers from across the globe, but in today’s society these children take a more passive role in their community. Decades ago, children were responsible for helping their families survive, while today the only job children have is to succeed in school. How can I empower my students to contribute to their own learning, as well as the community that surrounds them?
Answer: Today’s teachers have the opportunity to engage their students in more meaningful and motivating lessons so that their students can be a more productive part of society once they leave school.
One way that teachers can do this is by having their students collaborate with their peers. Not just the peers in their classroom or in their school, but their peers from across the globe. Technology has made it possible for students to learn and collaborate with anyone and everyone. Once children graduate from school, they are expected to live and work in a world where they have to deal with a variety of individuals with different races and ethnic backgrounds. Today’s teachers can connect their students with individuals of all cultures. Students can learn how their peers live in Japan by creating interview questions and asking them about their lives. They can gain access about another country by Facetimeing or Skyping an expert who lives there. There are literally thousands of ways that students are able to communicate and collaborate with their peers from near or far away.
Teachers can empower their students to contribute to their own learning by having them become researchers in the classroom. With the Internet today, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Students can learn how to weed out the bad and find the good information that is credible and reputable. Sharpening students’ research skills is a great way for them to actively contribute to the classroom, as well as take some control over their own learning.
Question: I am always trying to create a classroom that is fair and where all students are equal. What are some teaching strategies that I can use that will cultivate a classroom where all students are welcomed to participate equally?
Answer: Many teachers take a great deal of time focusing on classroom management, but lack the time on finding teaching strategies that provide a fair learning environment. Education equity is about students having the right to a fair and equal education. One strategy that many teachers utilize often, and find to be effective, is using cooperative learning groups. Think-pair-share is a cooperative learning activity where all students must participate in order to succeed. This strategy gives all students the opportunity to have an equal chance at participating. It involves having students write their ideas down about a specific topic, pair up with a partner in class and discuss and compare their thoughts, then share their thoughts with the whole class.
Another great strategy is the jigsaw learning strategy. The jigsaw technique is especially effective in creating a fair and equal classroom community because each student is responsible for one another’s learning. Students find out real quick that each group member has something equally important to contribute to the group in order to make the task a successful one.
Question: I am sick and tired of the same old cold calling and using popsicle sticks to get my students to participate, there has to be another way. What are some ways that I can get even my most reluctant students to participate in class?
Answer: While popsicle sticks are most teachers’ “Go-to” strategy to get their students to participate, there are other strategies that will work. The jigsaw technique (and the think-pair-share strategy that was mentioned above) is not just a great way for students to equally work together but it also creates a learning environment where all students must participate equally in order to succeed.
The whip-around strategy is another way that you can get your students to talk. The way this technique works is the teacher poses a question and gives each individual student about 30 seconds to one minute to answer it. The teacher essentially “whips around” the classroom asking each student a question. This strategy gives all students who are not used to exercising their voice or getting their thoughts out a chance to speak.
Do you have any questions for our veteran teachers? Please leave your questions in the comment section below, we would love to help you out.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.