You’ve got to grab kids’ attention, in this video-game culture, or you will lose their interest.
With that in mind, young teachers-in-training showcased novel approaches to student engagement — such as tying celebrity culture to math and nutrition instruction, and other projects — at a Showcase of Learning forum at Red Deer College on Thursday.
The idea was to create classroom programs that are not just fun, but educational, said Brent Galloway, an instructor in RDC’s education program. “This is about real purposeful, deep learning…”
In that vein, Justin Moltzahn and his partners’ Eat Like a Champ display compared daily calories needed by Canadian elite athletes, such as hockey player Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, soccer star Christine Sinclair, and shot-putter Dylan Armstrong.
Moltzahn reasoned that students in his class would be drawn in by the celebrity theme to practise multiplying and dividing fractions, and making pie charts of appropriate daily food portions. At the same time, they would also lean about nutrition. Moltzahn believes in maximizing educational potential: “there are four educational tie-ins” with the one celebrity-themed program.
The other goal of the learning showcase was to get RDC education students investigating subject matter of relevance to young people.
Courtney Smith and Randi Cummerford’s What is Beauty? project plotted out self-esteem games that were later tried out on Smith’s dance school students. One required the girls to line up in front of a line on the floor. Questions, such as: ‘have you ever been called a bad name,?’ or “‘is there a part of your body that you hate?’ were asked and the affected student would be asked to step forward.
Cummerford said eventually all the kids had crossed the line, showing that everyone has negative experiences and insecurities.
A display by Brooklyn Soley and Amy Johansson pulled together various learning resources on mental health for teachers in the school system. Soley learned mental health can be tied to bad classroom behavior. “We have to understand these kids… sometimes they’re not trying to be defiant, but are just acting out what they’ve learned at home.”
With a social work background, Johansson already counsels for Red Deer Public Schools and is now getting her education degree. She knows few school counsellors are spread thin helping a lot of students. By educating teachers about mental health, Johansson reasoned more help will be available to kids: “We’re trying to be pro-active.”