Sunday, 29 September 2013

Changing Times & TpT for High School



I wouldn't say that I teach like I was taught.
I certainly didn't have bad teachers!  In fact, many of them are now my co-workers.  However, times have changed dramatically since I was in high school, and I only started Grade 9 in 2000. 

We were expected to memorize equations and copy notes from the overhead projector.  Now I wonder when was the last time I used an overhead projector.

There are differing philosophies on how to teach high school students, but mine come from my experience, mostly in University.  I was on the Math department's council for all my years there.  Their big issues, especially with the curriculum change, were that students were coming in from high school unprepared for University.  Unprepared?  But we spent so much time memorizing formulae and note taking strategies (I still use N.B. in my own notes because of it).  How could we be unprepared?

That wasn't what the University was looking for.  They wanted us to have the knowledge, not of the formula but how to use it and where it comes from.  They wanted us to have listening skills more than note-taking skills.  Mathematics and the Sciences are so much more than knowledge and facts.  It's the thinking, the inquiry, the communication and the application skills that are so much more important.  Those are the skills needed to complete research and to have a successful career.

So instead of assuming what universities are looking for, copying skills (leave that to Xerox) and memorizing formulae (isn't that what reference packages are for?) inquire as to what they truly need students to be ready for.  In all of my courses throughout university: Physics, Math, Stats, Education, Astronomy, Psychology, Operations Research, Computer Science and Latin, I think I had one course that I actually had to memorize facts (Architecture, and I dropped it because I didn't agree that I should be tested on memorizing 250+ slides of doors, windows and fabrics per test).  In all of these courses I rarely had to copy notes (except for examples) because they were provided.  This allowed us to learn so much more!  

So now I teach with that in mind, I will never ask my students to memorize the Periodic Table (this really happens in some places!) but they will know how to use it.  They won't have to memorize the 100+ Physics formulae, but they will understand them and be able to derive some too.  And they will be spoiled by their loving teacher, because their notes will not require them to copy page after page from an overhead.  Why do I give them so much?  So that I can give them even more - opportunities to participate in academic discussion, engaged minds with experiments that shatter their preconceptions and a community of cooperative scientists.

I'm really glad to see this evolution of teaching among my co-workers.  I am so honored when they say that I, their former student, am now inspiring them to be better educators.

This is what I was thinking when I wrote a little blurb for the TpT blog post on why TpT is right for High School Teachers.  It's time us 9-12 teachers get on board.  Save some time in planning and put that towards offering our students a better education.  Check out what other high school teachers are saying.

Not sure where to start with finding resources?  Check out the new High School Science Pinterest boardTpT free resources for 9-12 and my High School resources on TpT.




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