Saturday, June 01, 2019

Kim Frencken: Should learning be fun?

Should all learning be fun?

 I think that depends on your definition of fun. Is it running around screaming and playing dodgeball? Or is fun a way to draw students in and motivate them? If the second definition is the one you're talking about, than by all means.... All learning should be fun!

Fun learning is meaningful. To kids. It is a connection. Students can attach a purpose. It is something that holds their attention. Something that they want to know more about.

My definition of fun is capturing the attention of my students and holding on to it until they master the topic. Bringing a subject to life. Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Sharing my excitement. An experience that students will not soon forget. Something that tickles their curiosity.

I realize that all subjects have a required element that is not necessarily fun, but once you find something that kids can sink their teeth into, you've found the one thing that you need to capture their attention. 

 I am not a fan of math (that's an understatement), but teaching multiplication is something that 3rd grade students (here in my state) are required to learn. 

Instead of rows of problems and a timer, I turned it into an activity. I started by putting students into groups so they could visualize what 12 looked like as two groups of six or three groups of four. Then I begin using objects. 

Not your ordinary counters, but things that we used in the classroom. Pencils, crayons, erasers, markers, and even rocks from the playground were put into groups. 

Students could connect with everyday objects so multiplying became part of everyday life. Talking about groups while teaching other subjects also tied things together. 

Yes, I used worksheets (or printables - whatever you want to call them). But by the time we were using them, students had seen and heard about multiplication in a real-world, applicable way. Every day was something different. They knew that we would have races or use flashcards or turn math problems into pictures. The end result, however, was the same. They learned to multiply.

Turning the mundane into a fun and engaging lesson is not easy. It requires imagination and creativity. You have to love what you teach. Your passion becomes contagious. Kids are very perceptive. They will know in a heartbeat if you are interested in the subject you are teaching or if you are faking your interest. 

 Why teach from a textbook when you can teach from the heart. If you are having fun, chances are your students will also have fun.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

No comments: