How to Keep Your Students Engaged with You in the Learning Process.
One of the most invaluable lessons I have learned and observed is the importance of keeping your students involved in what you are saying to them. One way to keep your students interested is to teach your lesson in a format that is shorter and more concise. Give your students short “info-commercials” on both important facts that they will be required to know and understand as well as fun commercials that are not necessary, but provide some fun facts that will change the pace of the lesson and keep your students actively listening to what you have to say. These fun fact “commercials” are a good way to keep everyone awake and involved in the lesson.
How to Approach Commercial Teaching
If you see your lesson as a series of fun facts that build off each other or a series of 10-15 minute seminars that build up you give your students the opportunity to climb this staircase of knowledge with you instead of trying to teach a mountain one lecture at a time.
Present your key facts that you are trying to convey, for example on the topic of ecosystems and biomes start with the big picture, the earth is split into several geoclimactic zones based largely off of the way that air rises and falls in the atmosphere starting at the equator and moving up and down the globe. This explains why there are great continental commonalities in rainforest zones, dessert zones, temperate zones, etc. close that commercial lesson with perhaps a worksheet or another kind of independent practice for the students to apply that chunk of information and demonstrate that they are tracking with you and their classmates on this topic. One example of a guided practice for this lesson could be to give the students world map outlines and have them follow along with your lesson circling or highlighting the different biogeoclimactic zones and biomes of the world.
After conferring with the class and ensuring that they are all following with you, and are demonstrating clear mastery of the topic you can progress down your big picture to a smaller picture and go into the different types of world biomes. Continuing down you might get into a new commercial on rainforest biomes, on that sort of level there are a great many opportunities to open the floor to fun random (on-topic) commercials. This is also a great opportunity to allow some of your gifted learners, or students who need/want extra credit to earn bonus points by doing their own ahead of time research into a fun-commercial that they are willing to present to the class in a 5 minute PowerPoint or poster presentation.
Example of Using Commercials in the Classroom
|Hura Creptians, or Money No-Climb Tree covered in spines|
Some examples of great rainforest commercials are talking about some of the plants and animals of the rainforest. For instance, one commercial that I have done during a lesson on the Rainforest was on the Hura Creptians, or Sandbox Tree, also known as the Monkey No-Clime Tree and the Dynamite tree. This tree is found in the Rainforest and it has huge thick spines all up its trunk making it a bad climbing choice for monkeys, it also has explosive fruit. The fruit from this tree builds up pressure and then pops sending its seeds off in all directions at up to 150 mph. That is a pretty incredible tree.
Giving students these fun fact commercials gives them the opportunity to become even more curious about what else is out there in the world, what other fun or crazy things can they explore or discover for themselves.
I think it is vital as a teacher to give your students a reason to be excited about learning, excited about your subject matter and excited about being in your classroom learning about the world around them. Commercialized teaching is one useful technique for presenting the natural world to your students in a bit sized and exciting format.
Here is another idea for a short commercial on streams and streams sampling: Electroshocking