Engage!

“HANDS ON IS NOT ENOUGH!”

This is what I was told on my first day of Integrating Science and Technology class. “Hands on is not enough.” A student must also be engaged in the lesson. This seems like it would be common sense, however, it is a vital point that I had never given much thought to. The following is a part of my response to Eric’s thread in our class discussion this week on Blackboard, in which he pointed out the importance of engaging a learner:

 

The other point you reiterated, which was stated in class, was the idea that “hands on” isn’t enough.  You have to engage a learner.  It makes perfect sense, but I never really thought about it, until we heard it in class.  I had one of those “a ha” moments.  It made me go back through and realize how that has been applied in our classes at Warner.  So far, all of my classes have been over 3 hours long, but I am always surprised at how quickly the time flies.  My classes have been back to back.  I am in a classroom (most of the time) for 7 hours, and it has never really bothered me.  However, I remember undergrad classes, as well as high school classes, where an hour was agonizing.  This is when it hit me; our professors have successfully engaged us in learning in every class.  They are modeling what we should be doing in our future classrooms, as well as when we take part in professional development.
After class, I really started paying attention to how people were engaged in everyday situations, especially while they were learning.
butterfly

This picture is an example of how my Mia was engaged in learning. My oldest had been studying bugs all week at school. She came home one day, and insisted on drinking everything from the cup in the picture. She also had to use a straw. I was too busy to really ask any questions, and assuming she was just proud of a craft she did at school, I let her do what she wanted. At dinner time I realized what the cup and straw actually represented. Before dinner, Mia had found her butterfly wings, and put them on. I again didn’t really pay much attention, since my daughters love to dress up. However once we sat down, she dramatically drank from her cup with her straw. She then commented on how tasty the flower was, and asked if I thought it was cool to be having dinner with a Monarch Butterfly. She then told me about how nectar nourishes her, and she explained how butterflies eat. To engage a classroom of children who were 5 years old, Mia and her classmates were encouraged to become living models, and were guided to reflect on what they were doing as “butterflies”.

Another example, I was reminded of while having a conversation with my 8th grade science teacher (Yes we still keep in touch). I had remembered a lesson where she simulated early earth. As students, we had blind folds on, and were told to think about, based on what we had already learned, what early Earth would have been like, as if we were there. I remember picturing a volcanic ridden landscape. As I did this, the smell of methane wafted in the air. I felt heat on me, and smelled ammonia. There was also a zapping noise I kept hearing. When I discussed this experience as an adult with my previous teacher, she let me know that she had used methane in a flask with a stopper and wafted it towards each student. She had also used a very bright heat lamp, a small amount of ammonia and again waved her hand over the top toward the students. Also, she had used a high frequency coil to make a “Zapping” electricity sound for the lightning. It had made her day that I could recall that lesson almost 15 years later. The reason for that, I feel, is because she had successfully engaged every students’ mind with the lesson. She obviously wasn’t able to take us to early Earth to let us experience it, however, in her own way, she brought early Earth to us. With this I leave you with Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise

Engage!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*