Telling tales to teach

Sunday November 11, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/11/11/education/12176460&sec=education

By DR TERMIT KAUR

Lessons can be fun if teachers impart their knowledge in an exciting manner with both traditional and modern learning tools.

IF YOU were to ask me to explain how I teach, I would tell you I am a storyteller. That’s how I teach. This approach suits itself well to the subjects that I teach.

I enjoy relating my teaching to real life situations. I feel as if I have to nourish my students with information. I know that it is “old school”.

Well, yes, I am from the old school. But on the other hand my stories do force my students to think critically about what I teach, and relate it to the real world!

It does work for me, and I am a happy teacher!

Recently, one of my students told me: “You do have an interesting way of teaching us. You tell us stories. At times we don’t think that we’re learning, yet we do!”

I must say that I was taken aback by that compliment, because there are days when I wonder if I have managed to impart my knowledge to them. When they tell me such things, I am both pleased and relieved. At least my students are thinking!

I believe there are teachers like me, who tell stories in the classroom to put a point across. At times, we manage to reach the students and get them engaged, but at times, we are so involved in telling the story, that we may go off tangent altogether!

Many a time, teachers like me find it difficult to strike a balance between teaching and using new tools of technology.

Here are some tips on how teachers can use the storytelling method to get a point or message across.

First, lecture (or tell stories) about the given topic. Then, ask students to work on, and answer the exercises from their textbooks. What a smart approach!

The teacher could find articles in a newspaper or magazine, which to me is “traditional” way of engaging in assignments.

It may seem simple and straightforward, yet information is being absorbed and learning is taking place!

Old and new

We are talking about getting students to use “old school” technology (books, paper and writing instruments) to learn!

The teacher should then get the students to participate in an electronic discussion forum — getting students to use the Internet to search for more information on the topic discussed, or getting them to prepare a presentation on a topic using SmartArt.

How about using Facebook? It is easily accessible and it is a free social learning platform. The majority of students are already familiar withFacebook, hence learning can be immediately focused on the topic or subject. Educational technology is a tool, which should be used to enhance learning.

Traditional teaching methods are also tools. Tools are most effective when they are used for the purpose that they were designed for, and by people who know how to use them.

A good teacher would, when given a topic to teach, find ways to teach it using the toolbox of traditional teaching methods and technology tools that are now available.

The important thing to understand is that a teacher doesn’t need to always use technology to help students learn.

Instead, a teacher should use the method that is best suited for the intended outcome, and a method that makes learning happen.

Integration of technology can certainly make learning happen as it can assist in reaching a wider scope of information.

It is important to understand that we all struggle trying to strike a balance between our own teaching styles and using technology to help students learn.

Just make sure that you do not become a slave to technology! It should instead be used to enhance learning.

Here are a some websites to help parents and teachers get free and easy access to some information where children can learn and develop cognitively.

>
http://www.starfall.com— 
Initiated in September 2002, this website started out as a free public service to teach children to read with phonics. The systematic phonics approach is perfect for preschoolers, kindergarten and lower primary schoolchildren and those with special needs. The website is an educational alternative to other entertainment choices for children.


http://www.poptropica.com — 
A unique online experience for children to enjoy during their free time, Poptropica was developed by Family Education Network (FEN), the makers of Funbrain.com. For over a decade, children, teachers, librarians, and parents have enthusiastically turned to Funbrain for its interactive learning games, online books and comics.


http://www.seussville.com/#games — 
This is the official home of Dr. Seuss on the Web. It is the place for children of all ages to play and learn with Dr. Seuss’s whimsical books and classic characters. The Cat in the HatGreen Eggs and Ham, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and all of the Dr. Seuss books leap to life through interactive games and activities that will enrich each child’s reading experience.


http://www.lil-fingers.com
 — Lil’ Fingers is a storybook site for toddlers with educational games, storybooks and printable coloring pages. The Free toddler stories, activities and holiday sections are designed with bright colors and big buttons for little fingers.


http://www.pestworldforkids.org
 — The website explores pest ecology as the intersection between human-created habitats and animal needs for food and shelter. The site is designed for students in primary schools. It also offers interactive learning games that could make learning fun. nThe writer is a senior lecturer at the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Her main interest in research is in the area of ICT in Education and the use of Peer Coaching in Technology Integration in Teaching and Learning. Her most recent achievement is a Gold Medal in the Malaysian Technology Expo 2011, for creating a courseware using the SmartBoard. She is currently working on the development of an Interactive Teaching and Learning Lab at USM.