Friday, March 27, 2009

Reflection #3

In this reflection I want to write about what I plan my classroom to be like. I want my classroom to be one that is conducive to learning and one that is a fun environment to learn in. History is a subject that many students find very boring and are not interested in it because of this. I think one reason why many students find history to be such a boring subject is because of the way it is taught to them in school. History classes, especially at the higher levels of education, tend to be lecture-based classes. In this type of learning environment a student is not actively engaged in the class, but instead they are just listening to their teacher speak about something they might not even be interested in. I am a history major and even I have a hard time focusing and learning in this type of environment. I had an American history course last semester at nine in the morning and many days I struggled to stay awake. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in the subject matter; I was actually very interested in it. The class consisted of my professor lecturing for the entire class with no interaction with any of his students. There was never a class discussion about the topics we were learning about and the only time a student and the professor engaged in dialogue was when a student asked the professor a question. I do not think I spoke to my professor once during class. The only days that were not lecture days were exam days and there were only two of these the entire semester. It was very disheartening at the end of the semester when I took my final exam that the professor still did not know my name. I did not learn very much in this class and at the end of the semester I did not feel like I had learned anything I hadn’t already learned in the American history course I took in high school. I feel like I learn history best from reading from a textbook for homework and then listening to a lecture about what I read. After taking this American history course in college it taught me that although I learn history best when it is taught to me like my history professor in college taught me, it is difficult to learn when the classroom is very redundant. It is also difficult to learn when there is no social constructivism in the class. Social interaction can be a useful tool in teaching and this is something I plan to use.
In my classroom, I plan to use different teaching techniques to help meet all the different learning needs of my students. Using different teaching techniques will also hopefully make my class more interesting and keep my students attention in class. I will assign one or two chapters of reading from the history text book for homework every week and I will spend two class days lecturing about what my students read. I will try to have one class discussion a week talking about some of the things we have read and talked about in history. Class discussions can be a useful teaching tool to promote social constructivism and can also be used to find out how deeply of an understanding students have about subjects of history. Therefore these class discussions can be used to test how much a student knows. This could be helpful for a student who might have trouble with written tests because I would be providing an alternative way for students to share their knowledge. The other two days of class would be “all-purpose” days meaning that I would use these days for whatever purpose I needed them for my class. I would use these days for different learning activities such as watching a video or doing projects. I will try to use these two days to break the monotony of class, so I am not doing the same things everyday and my students do not become bored or disinterested in my class. I would also use these days to administer exams, which I would probably give about once every two weeks. My tests would consist of multiple choice questions along one or two written essays and not be purely essay-based like the American history course I took here at Berea. I think a test that has multiple choice questions along with a couple of essays is the best way to determine how much a student has learned. My goal is to create a classroom that promotes learning but also one that a student enjoys being in and learns a lot from.

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