I’m sitting here looking a the Gulf of Mexico. No oil, no smell of oil. Only deep blue-green waters with white crest as the waves crash against the shore. Only smell is salty air. I see snow white sand with green and tan stalks of sea oats blowing in the wind. There is a random car that passed every few minutes, a street seperates me and the beach. I hear the waves crash and a weed-eater in the background.
(OK remember that paragraph, I’m coming back to it! You know I could not just have a blog post that just started and stopped normally)
Last night I got to meet someone who I respect greatly. Many of you know my obsession with the ocean and its ecosystem. If not, here is a brief explanation. The person who I respect the most when it comes to ocean conservation is Philippe Cousteau. Last night I went to the Discovery Education’s VIP reception at the AL MEGA conference to hear him speak. (No I did not go to the conference, but drove an hour to hear Cousteau speak). He said two things that really stuck in my mind with which are a huge part in my teaching philosphy. So let me share.
The first thing he said was that teachers are storytellers. I think that is so true. I love lessons where my students are using discovery to learn, but there is a time where they need to hear information as well. So often we get stuck on the fact that teachers should never be at the front of the room speaking, etc., but you know what, children like stories! I remember last year teaching hurricanes, I told the kids my story of Ivan, I used pictures and videos to enhance that story. At one point I looked up and my entire class was listening, watching, LEARNING. The story became real to them. We forget this. We become so anti-lecture that we forget there is a difference between lecture and telling a story.
Digital storytelling is my favorite thing to do with kids. Have them create these stories using fun presentation tools. We need to teach them the value of these stories. Instead of being a project, it needs to be “Look Mrs. Dykes does this all the time,do you remember the one about the moon she did, lets make ours like that!”
Teachers hold a wealth of information, we are experts in what we teach, we NEED to share it. We need to share it in a way kids want to hear it. Lecturing is not fun and I think can be bad, but storytelling is not a bad thing. I needs to be done every now and then, not every day, but occasionally.
The other thing he spoke about that caught my attention was teaching kids to be critical thinkers. I could go on and on about how important teaching problem solving – no not math problems, real life problems – but I feel as though I would be preaching to the choir. I am putting it in here to remind me and you of it. Remember my BP post (it is the one linked earlier) and how I blame BP for not being problem solvers or the situation in the gulf would have never happened. We need to prepare our students for a life of problems ahead. They will be the ones taking care of our Earth, our economy, and our government. The need to know how to think beyond memorization. They need to know how to step up and change what ever bumps life throws at them.
Now back to the first paragraph. Could you picture what I was talking about? Could you imagine the beach, the sounds, the smells? Your students need to be brought to that place. Where ever, what ever, you are teaching. Tell them the story. How much better would my story been if I had included pictures, audio, or video as well as the words? That is way storytelling with technology is even more meaningful. You all are great teachers, I know that, lets be even better!!