One thing about teaching History is that you have a lot of videos that you can show to enhance the lesson. Today I showed a clip of Ken Burns’ Civil War Mini Series. I don’t like showing videos too much, because it seems too easy. I have heard of a few teachers who show videos every day, and spend most of their time just sitting in their chair. Videos are what you leave for a sub. Today, however, I gave my lecture, then I showed about fifteen minutes of the video to let the kids see what I was teaching about. I had them take what I call, “IDK” notes. IDK stands for “I Didn’t Know.” I told them that I wanted them to write down anything that they learned that they didn’t know before. So anything they got in the lecture could not be in their video notes. After the fifteen minutes, I still had about 5 minutes left in the class, so to occupy that time, I had them first circle the one fact on their page that made them say, “Wow!” Then I have them find 5 other students and write down their, “Wow Fact” on their paper. So the kids are spending that last five minutes walking around learning new facts that perhaps didn’t get on their paper. It gets kind of loud, but it’s a good loud.
Today’s Tip for New Teachers: Try and give cute/cool names to your assignments. Instead of just calling them “video notes,” I called them “IDK” notes. Even if the assignment is one of those boring find-the-answer-in-the-book activities, you give a cool name like, “History Treasure Hunt,” the students will view it as more than just boring seat work – well most students will. Kids will perceive school work how you present it. If you say, “Here’s a worksheet to review state standards,” the kids will respond with groans. However, if you tell them it’s a “TITE” sheet, they’re going to say, “a what sheet?” Then you can tell them, “It’s a ‘This-Is-Too-Easy sheet.'” You’ll get a different reaction from your students based on how you present the activity. Trust me. It works.