Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/RoNGrAal77I
- Getting our students learning.
- Engaging their minds and passions
- Running things efficiently
- Keeping them out of trouble
So our topic today helps with all four of these. We want to explore how to be predictably unpredictable ... NOT predictably predictable.
Sounds confusing … predictably unpredictable. Let’s go deeper. There are a couple of levels to this.
- Our students know what to expect from ANY ordinary classroom lesson. They’ve seen a lot of them.
- They know what to expect from YOUR ordinary classroom lesson.
- The question is … What do they expect from yours?
Then ask yourself … are they ever expecting anything surprising from you? Any spontaneity? Do they have to pay attention for fear they’ll miss out on something interesting?
Some TV examples, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are masters at this. There’s a huge element to their shows that you never know what you’re going to get next. But you know that every time you watch them you’re going to not know what will happen. You know that at a couple of key moments they’ll be unpredictable. It’s predictable that they’ll be unpredictable.
And you don’t want to miss out. They have our attention. We can build that element into our classroom environments. Not only can our content be surprising (e.g. Grammar Ninja) but so can the delivery.
Students will be engaged, and even the troublemakers won’t feel as much desire to cause trouble. This will help things go more efficiently and will create an environment more passionate about learning. It helps with all 4 areas of classroom management.
So let’s look at some real classroom examples … let’s take a few standards and brainstorm how to be unpredictable and surprising.
How about in grammar? Nouns. We all know how to teach a predictable lesson on nouns. The students know exactly what that looks like. So what if you started out with the expected worksheet, bookwork, or PowerPoints … whatever they expect from you.
Then give them a surprising location or situation and have them brainstorm interesting nouns in that place.
Or take them safely outside and have them find the most interesting nouns of each category.
All students are likely to be more engaged and processing what they already learned.
We could be similarly unpredictable while teaching Prepositions. What if instead of describing what prepositions are, you acted them out. And not just acting them out with an object and an object. You put yourself in the locations compared to something. And what if you planned ahead and didn’t just compare your location to a desk, which is predictable. What if you busted out a beach chair? Or a giant stuffed animal from the county fair? Or a big trash can (use a clean one!)? Take every element of the lesson and make it surprising. The students won’t want to miss out.
Or what if you’re teaching shapes? You could bring in surprising objects that have shapes. You could take pictures of surprising objects all around your local town that students will recognize. You could even have them with an assignment to take their own pictures of surprising objects around their neighborhood or at school that have all the shapes they’re learning. This could be for young learners or even in secondary level Geometry as they’re learning the different proofs for circles and rhombuses and all that.
I love what our friend Luke at Students of History is doing. He’s taking his own fun field trips on weekends and filming himself at various historical landmarks and battlefields and giving tours for his students. Then as they learn those topics year after year, it’s surprising and cool to see those locations with, not some random outside person, but with their very own teacher! This is riveting, engaging, and surprising. It shows his street cred and is a creative way to deliver the content instead of him just talking about it that day.
Conversation of the Day: Take a second look at a topic you’re teaching this week and share a way you can teach an element of that lesson in an unpredictable way.
Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.