Teaching Tools – Making Subjects Relevant

As technology has improved, so have the teaching tools available in classrooms. Some of these tools have even replaced more traditional ones. Is important for a teacher to remember that a teaching tool is not a replacement for instruction but rather an instrument to help facilitate the communication of knowledge and information. The tools that a teacher is choosing should match the abilities of the teacher and the students. An instrument or device that is overly complicated may have a negative effect in the classroom, becoming a distraction rather than complementing the source material. Tools can play a crucial role in helping students to gain a better understanding of the world around them.

Traditional tools like pencils, paper, and books are not likely to be replaced anytime soon by a technologically advanced equivalent. Teachers have been using a variety of tools in certain subjects for decades. For instance, a science class would not be the same without a microscope, test tubes, or Bunsen burners. These are very practical devices that can help a student better understand the subject being taught. Overhead projectors have also long been a favorite of teachers for a variety of different types of curriculum.

Modern technology has put a wealth of information at the fingertips of just about every student. The use of computers and the Internet can be an excellent way to get students involved and engaged in a subject. However, it is important for teachers not to rely too heavily on these devices since they can get in the way of a student learning basic skills. For instance, a calculator is not a replacement for basic math skills. Likewise, automatic spelling and grammar check software should not take the place of a student’s ability to master good spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Teaching tools like software programs can help a student to take a hands-on approach and learn actively rather than passively. Regardless of the type of device being used, there really is no substitute for an involved and caring teacher. In truth, teaching tools are where ever an educator finds them. Encouraging students to bring an item from home is one way for students to find their own teaching tools. Anything that helps a student further their knowledge of a particular subject is a tool that teachers can utilize to provide a positive experience. Finding ways to make the curriculum relevant to today’s students is every bit as important as it ever was, but now there are more options than ever available.

Teaching Vocabulary – Incorporating New Words

Mastering vocabulary is absolutely fundamental to developing a good understanding of the English language. Students with a wide vocabulary will make a better impression on potential employers and have an advantage over their peers in the corporate world. Teaching vocabulary can be a challenge for teachers because in order to do it effectively it must also be engaging and entertaining to the students. A good education in vocabulary should begin as soon as students start learning to read. The first book that a child ever picks up is the first step to the development of an expanded and vivid vocabulary.

A teacher should decide on a list of words that he or she will focus on as an integral part of the overall curriculum. Vocabulary words should be selected that are age-appropriate. Choosing words that a student is likely to use in everyday conversation, once they understand its proper use and meaning, is a good way to help a child expand their vocabulary. Students can be motivated with rewards and games which encourage them to learn as much as they can. Fun activities like puzzles can also help a child learn while they play. A number of different activities can be centered on vocabulary development.

The teacher should use an expanded vocabulary when delivering lessons to students. Regardless of the subject matter being taught, using new words in place of more common ones is a good way to introduce students to different ways of expressing the same idea. By immersing students in new and unusual words, both the student and the teacher can have fun with their vocabularies. A teacher may even encourage students to write new or interesting words in an area where they can be referred to by other students. A reward may even be given on a periodic basis to the students that introduce the most unique word.

As with most other new skills, repetition is necessary if a student is going to incorporate new words into their everyday vocabulary. This will require a teacher to quiz their students on the vocabulary words presented on a regular basis. Students should be encouraged to use these new words while answering questions or other types of classroom activities. Old vocabulary words should be revisited periodically so that they stay fresh in the minds of students. Memorization is important, but new words will be quickly lost if the student does not use them on a regular basis.

Teaching Methods – Ensuring Success

It is difficult to come up with a short list of solid teaching methods that will prove applicable in every situation. This is because the methods that are successful with one group of students will fall on deaf ears with another. Age, geographic location, and even socioeconomic backgrounds all affect which methods that are the most useful for a given group of students. While all students possess the capacity to learn just about any subject, the best way to reach them does not necessarily apply across the board. There are, however, a few key ingredients that make up a successful approach to teaching in just about every circumstance.

One of the most important things that a teacher can do is keep the parents informed of their child’s progress and behavior. In the past, a teacher may simply have sent home a note but today, thanks to computers, there are a number of different communication options available. Of course, when it comes to sensitive information or discussions that may be difficult, the phone is still the best alternative. Another thing that every teacher should keep in mind is how they will handle last-minute changes in scheduling. Every student looks forward to the myriad of interruptions that can take place on a daily basis.

Whether it is an assembly, a fire or tornado drill or some other interruption, a teacher should be prepared for anything. It is important for every teacher to have a few tricks up their sleeves that can be put to use when ever students need to be engaged or distracted for a short period of time. In addition, it is a good idea to have something for students to do as soon as they enter classroom. Regardless of the situation, dead time is a chance for children to get into mischief when they could otherwise be learning.

There is nothing wrong with expecting students to meet certain basic standards. Depending on the age of the students these standards will vary somewhat. At a certain age, every student should have their basic math and writing skills down cold. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as the ability to form coherent sentences should be some of the basic skills that every student has once they leave middle school. Another way to ensure a successful classroom environment is to make sure that every student has a clear understanding of the procedures and rules that must be followed.

Teaching Materials – Developing Exciting Lessons

There is a vast array of teaching materials for modern educators to choose from. In fact, the decision to choose which resources and products are the best for a particular class can be somewhat overwhelming. It does not help that every manufacturer claims to offer a superior product over those provided by their competitors. It is necessary for a teacher to carefully determine which materials are going to be best suited to their particular style of teaching and the needs of the students in their class. There are a few things that a teacher can do to help choose the right materials and curriculum to present.

One of the most important concerns that must be addressed regards the budget. Since the majority of schools are not blessed with an over abundance of funding, it is often necessary for teachers to make some tough choices when deciding what materials they are going to use to help expand the knowledge of their students. An innovative and forward thinking teacher may choose to incorporate some of the free teaching materials in their area. For instance, a teacher in a rural area may use some local farms or ranches to help teach subjects like science or economics.

Material should be chosen that complements the style of the teacher and the ability of the children that the material is going to be presented to. Most textbooks are not written in a way that takes into account the different approaches that educators throughout the country use. They simply present facts without regard for the way that children take in and process information. Materials that help expand on some of the information present in the textbooks can make a subject much more engaging to the students as well as more fun to teach.

If it is at all possible, a teacher should try to avoid material that they find boring or uninteresting. If a teacher does not find the material to be interesting, they are not likely to present it in a way that encourages critical thinking from the students. If students can tell that their teacher is uninterested then they are likely to follow suit and give little regard to the subject matter. Although it is cliché, teachers should try to think outside the box and come with new ways of approaching age-old material. If a teacher can find new ways to teach the same old subjects, their interest and excitement in the material will become infectious.

Teaching Exceptional Children – Keeping Gifted Kids Engaged

It is a sad fact that most schools spend more time and energy coming up with policies to help challenged students than developing ways to teach the academically gifted ones. It is important for teachers and administrators to keep in mind that both groups require special attention. While the students that are struggling definitely require a little extra attention in order to help ensure their success later on, exceptional children also need special curriculum in order to keep them actively engaged in school. Children that are gifted academically run the risk of becoming bored and uninterested in school if they are not consistently challenged.

One key element in teaching exceptional children lies in keeping them together. Gifted students must be given the opportunity to advance at their own pace as much as possible. Placing gifted students in groups not only gives them the opportunity to move through the curriculum at a higher pace, but allows them to encourage one another along the way. Depending on the age group of the students, this may require setting aside some special time for these students on a regular basis or putting them in their own class altogether. The students also benefit from teachers that approach the curriculum a bit differently.

Teachers faced with exceptional students should be encouraged to ask open-ended and thought-provoking questions rather than simple yes or no ones. When it comes to handing out assignments, the students will benefit from more thought-provoking projects rather than simple stacks of worksheets. Gifted students are unique not only because they have the answers, but because they also are likely to have a lot more questions on the subject matter. The students should be encouraged to ask questions even if the teacher is not 100% confident that they know the answer.

A common mistake that many teachers make when teaching exceptional children is forgetting that intelligence does not translate directly into maturity. The age group of the students must be constantly kept in mind. Younger children, regardless of how gifted they are, are just as likely to get cranky or upset when they are hungry, tired or frustrated. These students will also be much more comfortable than their peers when it comes to trying out something new. They are likely to be a lot more willing to step out of their comfort zone but may be reluctant to participate in activities that they do not excel at. Encouraging them in these activities will help them to grow up and be well-rounded adults.

Teaching Tips – Going from Good to Great

Exceptional teaching is not something that just happens. In order to become a truly great teacher, an individual must be willing to put in the time and effort necessary. Good teachers are willing to continually improve their skills and advance their abilities. Every individual that has made their way through the public school system is likely to have a handful of names that they will recall the instant anyone asks them who their favorite teacher was. Teachers have the ability to make a profound difference in the lives of their students. The effect that a teacher can have on a student’s life will last well into adulthood.

Some teachers refer to the elements that make up effective educators as the 4P’s. The first of which is planning. There is no such thing as a teacher who is too prepared. This involves not only developing the curriculum that the teacher is going to present, but also being prepared for any disruptions or difficulties that will undoubtedly present themselves during the school year. In order to teach the material in a way that is going to resonate with students, a teacher must become comfortable with it and prepared to answer every question that students will ask.

The second P is persistence. Being a great teacher means that an individual cannot give up once things get difficult. The teachers that adults remember from their childhood are the ones that were willing to go the extra mile for their students. Along with persistence comes patience. Not every student learns at the same pace and in order to ensure that each student leaves with the necessary knowledge, a teacher must patiently tend to the needs of each student in his or her class. Simply relaying information out of the book is not enough to help students gain a real understanding of the material.

The last and possibly most important element is passion. A good teacher presents information in a way that is accessible to students, but a great teacher does it in a way that is exciting and engaging to the students. Students, regardless of their age, have no problem spotting the teachers that really care about what they are doing and the ones that are just showing up for a paycheck. Teaching successfully is just as much an art as it is a science, and memorable teachers have the passion that it takes to do the job in and day out.

Teaching Tolerance – Developing Respectful Attitudes

Within the last few years there has been quite a bit of emphasis placed on reducing bullying within public schools. Once seen as little more than a rite of passage, educators are beginning to understand the negative effects that childhood bullying can have on an individual as they grow up and throughout adulthood. Recently, the subject has been thrust into the public spotlight due to some tragic events that resulted from individuals being bullied or made to feel like outcasts. The fact that no two people are identical is something that should be celebrated rather than ridiculed.

Teaching tolerance to a child is not only the ethical thing to do, but it also makes an incredible amount of economic sense considering the rapid globalization that is happening in today’s business world. It is more likely now than ever before that a child will grow up to do business with people from all over the world. A child that is raised to have respect for different cultures and ways of life will be much more likely to enjoy success in their career. The idea of tolerance goes beyond simply tolerating individuals with different lifestyles and actually involves developing appreciation and respect for others.

Young children should not be forced to pretend that everyone is the same. Children recognize the differences between people of different races, backgrounds, and religions but are not nearly as judgmental as adults. Children should be encouraged to discuss the differences that they see without being taught that they are good or bad. Curiosity should be encouraged as long as it is respectful rather than judgmental. Most individuals welcome questions regarding the things that make them different. Students should be prompted to find out more regarding the different cultures that they are likely to encounter at school.

While learning about the different customs and practices that different cultures participate is an excellent way for a child to become a more well-rounded adult, they should also develop an understanding that there are as many things that make people similar as there are that make them different. Regardless of where a person comes from or what language they speak or religion they practice, people from every culture work hard, have families, and deal with the same issues as others in the community. Students should also be encouraged to develop friendships that cross racial, cultural, and gender differences. This will help students to understand that the things that make us different as individuals also make us unique as a nation.

Teaching Styles – The Best Ways to Reach Students

Creating a learning environment that is both dynamic and engaging to the students involves developing a teaching style that encourages interaction. Two of the hallmarks of effective teaching are motivated students and prompt feedback. Every teacher will develop his or her own particular style of teaching but there are three that have been recognized by a number of experts as being both productive and effective. These include problem-based learning, the Socratic Method and cooperative learning. The style that works for a particular teacher will depend on their personality and what they are comfortable with as well as the age of the students in their classroom.

Of all the styles, the oldest method is probably the Socratic style. During a traditional lecture, students are given information in an almost mechanical style which can lead to loss of interest and difficulty retaining information. The Socratic Method stands in stark contrast to this because students are given questions and encouraged to find answers on their own. Students taught in this way are trained to find the answers to the questions being given to them and then to seek out even more questions regarding the answers they have found. This method encourages students to analyze concepts and question the assumptions being made.

The problem-based learning style puts a heavy focus on the development of a student’s problem-solving skills. Students are given real world problems and are encouraged to find solutions on their own. They are given an incredible amount of freedom to explore the problem and come to their own conclusion. The skills a student learns from this style of teaching are applicable not only during their education but far into adulthood as well. Individuals that develop good problem-solving skills are likely to grow up to be innovative adults that find new and unique solutions to problems faced by everyone.

Cooperative learning involves organizing students into teams of students with a variety of different ability levels. This method allows students to learn not only from the teacher but from one another as well. It encourages students to discuss problems with one another. This method has become particularly popular because it forces students to get engaged in the material regardless of their level of understanding. Students get a sense of accomplishment by mastering a particular topic and helping fellow students to understand it as well. This method also helps to improve student’s communication and social skills. Their self-confidence is also boosted when they realize that their contributions have value and are respected.

Teaching with Technology – Embracing the Modern World

Every aspect of the modern world is becoming more dependent on technology each and every day. This makes incorporating technology into the lessons taught in the classroom not only a good idea but it absolutely necessary one. A teacher does not have to be an expert in computers in order to teach with technology. In fact, most textbooks come with links to websites with additional information. The teacher’s addition of most textbooks will also include a list of outside resources. This can help a teacher to develop multimedia presentations or come up with assignments that require additional online research.

While many teachers may scoff at the idea of turning to younger and more inexperienced teachers for advice, these individuals are likely to have a few fresh ideas when it comes to utilizing modern technology. In addition, the director of the school’s computer lab may have a few helpful suggestions. Teachers in different departments may be using material or technology that can be put to use in other areas of the school as well. The Internet brings with it a wealth of information at the fingertips of every individual and resources like this can make a powerful addition to any teacher’s curriculum.

Since just about every household has a computer, another way to utilize technology is to assign projects that require a student to use the computer that they have at home or at the library. This may include requiring students to develop a slideshow presentation or including graphs or spreadsheets into their completed assignments. Programs that most students have access to can be very useful when it comes to classes like mathematics. Most math teachers are not likely to encourage their students to use the computer to solve math problems, but requiring their students to present the material by using a program like Excel may be a good way to utilize technology.

Teaching with technology may also require that a teacher refresh their own skills. Most teachers are accustomed to consistently trying to improve their abilities and further their own education. Taking a few computer classes and spending some time with the programs that the students are expected to use can do a great deal to help a teacher brush up on their own abilities. An important thing to consider when using some of the technology available is to avoid becoming over dependent on it. It is all too easy to rely on software to do the teaching instead.

Teaching Quotes – Celebrating Great Teachers

“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.” The author of that particular quote is unknown, but the message is as true now as it ever was. Teachers are second only to parents when it comes to the individuals that have the most profound impact on the development of today’s children and tomorrow’s adults. Any person, if asked whether or not they had a favorite teacher, will respond with stories of a particular individual who really brought a subject to life or gave a little extra attention when it was needed. Teachers do not just relay information, they help children develop social skills and self-confidence.

The comedian Lily Tomlin once said, “I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” While that may have been said in jest, a teacher that gets through to his or her students is one that can help a student understand how certain information applies to the outside world. Whether a teacher is encouraging a student to bring an object from home or presenting material in a whole new light, effective teachers deliver lessons that stick with a student long after the school bell rings.

The effect that a teacher has on an individual’s life will echo for years after they have left school. A teacher that presents a subject in a new or engaging way to an otherwise uninterested student may very well be educating tomorrow’s brilliant inventor. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Those words by Henry Brooks Adams effectively sum up the influence that teachers have. The technological advancements that we enjoy today would not have been possible if the individuals that created them were not inspired and encouraged by special teachers of years ago.

John F. Kennedy once remarked on the irony of paying plumbers higher wages than teachers. Teachers fill one of the most essential roles in a successful society. As the world has gotten busier, the demands placed upon educators have become ever greater. John Scully summed this up when he said “We expect teachers to handle teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and the failings of the family. Then we expect them to educate our children.” In truth, it is hard to overstate the importance that qualified educators have on the advancement of society and technology. An unknown author once wrote,” A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image.”