Saturday, March 25, 2006

Active Learning

I was recently told that I’ll be teaching just in the sixth form next year and not any of my adult classes. I’ve enjoyed teaching the Access course and my evening classes. But I’m taking this as an opportunity to rethink teaching and learning strategies, chase out the old and make a fresh start. I think the younger kids are a lot less tolerant of 40 minute talks where they are expected to take notes, even if they are encouraged to ask questions. The challenge is to develop a greater active learning approach – with a much greater variety of activities than just group discussions and feedback that I do. It is very easy to fall into one way of doing things. I think changing things around like this could be a good way to save me from this rut. So I’ve been trawling Amazon - as you can see from the links - for activities and ideas about teaching today I want to get to work redesigning my teaching with as many new ideas as I can. Also it’s an opportunity to really go to town with PowerPoint. But again I want new ideas: I don’t want to just by transfer my notes from handouts to screen but to go beyond bullet-points.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Good Samaritan

Today, Nettes and I were teaching Sunday School. We were looking at the story of the Good Samaritan. Rather than taking the angle about helping people, we focussed on prejudice. An important point of the story is that a Samaritan helped a Jew when Jews were prejudiced against Samaritans. Jesus was showing that loving your ‘neighbour’ doesn’t mean just loving those whom you are close to. It also means loving those who are different from you. So rather than judging someone because they belong to a different group, we should help them.

This may involve changing our attitudes towards that group of people. It starts with changing how we think, but it also means changing what we say and what we do, despite how we feel – a good lesson in itself. Last night, we had been looking at this video about how one teacher taught her class about prejudice. But in our class we simply role played how we can act differently to people. Finally, we draw pictures of different sorts of people – different races, people from different countries, old people, young people, disabled people – on a piece of paper with the verse ‘love your neighbour’ on it as a way of celebrating diversity.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Unhealthy Temptations

Looking through the newspapers I’m stuck by the fact that there are many temptations in the world. Illegal drugs lead to more crime. Anti-depressants as a quick fix can be addictive. Morning-after-pills are availably cheaply for teenaged girls. Affordable loans can just get us further into debt. It doesn’t really matter where you live this wasteland of temptation just seems everywhere. Is there no relief from it? Then there is our own anger, arrogance, pride and selfishness to content with...

One headline that stuck a deep chord in me said that the obesity epidemic is a 'bigger threat than terrorism'! The time has come for me to do something about this one: to eat more healthily and get more exercise. I’m going to take a ‘health walk’ once a week. And I’ve picked up some literature on looking after your heart. So I am looking at what I need to cut down on. It appears that saturated fat is a big one. I did order a book from Amazon on getting fit but it’s been delayed - drat it! Nevertheless I’m persevering with this health drive. After a few weeks of buckling down I trust that I’ll have a healthier lifestyle.

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