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I think it’s wise to keep lessons from previous years, and I wish I were more organized when it comes to this practice. But I think there is a danger in using the same lesson twice, the danger being that you do not improve the lesson the next time you use it.
I try hard to push myself and learn from each lesson I teach. I ask myself: how can I do this better next time? What worked and what didn’t? Another question I ask is: how can I approach this from another angle, meaning how can I incorporate more of the different learning modes? I call this: hitting the target from many different angles.
Let me give you an example. Each year, my students study the famous Battle of the Alamo. They learn the basic facts, and after passing a test, participate in a reenactment of the battle using water balloons. The lesson has been hit, but I knew I could do better. So this year, I made a list of ways to bring this lesson more to life and to incorporate kinesthetic, auditory and visual learning. Here’s what I came up with:
- After watching an Unsolved History video, debate online whether David Crockett was killed while fighting or he surrendered.
- Design a 3-D Alamo model after studying a blueprint.
- Perform a song about the Alamo (to the tune of Usher’s “DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again.”)
- Create a video slideshow timeline.
- Create a video interview pretending to be a famous person from the Alamo.
And of course, have a water balloon fight!
I feel much better about the project, knowing that students will find something that connects with their learning style. The project also does a number of other things: produces grades for the subject, products for parent nights, ways to incorporate technology, and a deeper understanding of the lesson.
What do you think? Are there other angles to explore—other ways I could hit my target?