Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Dynamic Learning Environment/Fun and Joy
|“||When we are active and truly enthusiastic about our lives and jobs, we are often much happier.||”|
—Ron Clark, 2004
It has been said that we learn something new every day from the day we are born. What are these things? Well it can be anything from learning the a b c‘s, riding a bike, or repairing a car engine. Many of the skills or new information we learn throughout our lives are learned in a school or college and for many, they are things that are carried with them through the rest of their lives.
From preschool all the way to college, one common thing that we all learn is to make transition. What I mean by this is from early in preschool all the way to middle school, learning was fun. Most of us learned our alphabets by singing along with a nice tune. We got to play with blocks to learn shapes and put pieces together. So what happened to the fun once we grew up and the classes became longer? Those who teach or are being taught now aren’t having as much fun in the classroom as when they were younger, and for some, aren’t really retaining the information as well because they aren’t being engaged enough. Couldn’t there be a way to keep learning fun and exciting for any age group? Of course there can. It doesn’t have to be all fun and games, but it doesn’t also have to be boring and bland either.
According to John Luckner, integrating fun activities into teaching can help strengthen students’ communication skills, builds self confidence, and help instill a greater appreciation of alternate forms of education. (Luckner 33)
Enthusiasm and laughter can also go a long way in any classroom, which is why there can be fun and joy in a learning environment but it must be incorporated with the fundamentals of learning for all learning types.
If a teacher walks into a classroom full of students, back slumped and the look of not wanting to be there, then the students aren’t going to be all too excited to be there either. In their minds they are probably thinking about how tired they are from getting up early or how they can’t wait to get home to watch their favorite show. But if a teacher comes in with their head up high with a huge smile and a positive attitude, it will most likely get the students to smile as well and probably wonder why their teacher is smiling. Ron Clark, teacher and author of The Essential 11 describes in his book how he would capture his student’s attention by moving around and throwing his whole body and self into his lessons. Once they saw just how enthusiastic Mr. Clark was about teaching them, they soon became enthusiastic about learning from him. (Clark 20)
Just coming in with a smile and positive attitude is not the only thing a teacher must do to get the students active in learning. As a part of planning the school day, teachers are responsible for a number of tasks. The most important task is how to make learning creative and enjoyable for all students. Some creative ways to spark a student’s mind to learn are songs centered around the subject being taught, toys or props, games, and more. There is an endless list of techniques and tools that are to get and keep the student’s engaged in learning, but it takes a teacher’s devotion and creative mind to bring it out.
Here are some fun activities to spark a student’s mind from Education World™ http://www.education-world.com/:
- Quotations of the day
- "Every Day" Activities Across the Curriculum
- Journal Writing Every Day
- Find it Fast! – a fast paced review of any subject
- The Dictionary Game – Students guess the real meaning of unfamiliar words
6th Grade teacher Deb Odom used comics to help her students learn new vocabulary and also help develop their own creative minds by creating their own comics to reinforce what they were learning. This proves that with the right creativity and motivation, anything can be a tool and aid in the classroom to add a little fun and excitement to learning.
If as a teacher you don’t feel like you have a creative mind, but are enthusiastic about teaching and helping students learn, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources out there to give you many ideas and activities to add fun to your lessons.
Technology in the Classroom
|“||A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.||”|
—Henry B. Adams
Technology is growing bigger and better each day and has definitely come a long way over the years, and it is evident in today’s classrooms. Many schools have computers in each classroom, television, and smart boards “an interactive that is a large, touch-sensitive display that is placed on a wall or floor stand in classrooms, meeting rooms, boardrooms and other places where people gather to meet, teach, train and present.” (Wikipedia) The smart board is primarily connected to a computer so that a teacher can upload presentations, pictures, or other media to be projected to the class. This piece of technology is certainly different than the old chalk and blackboard. With this new method, teachers can implement many types of techniques and tools to go along with their lesson plans in a very fun and organized way.
“In today's world of video games, cable and satellite television, and high action digital video, teachers need to integrate technology in order to keep the attention of their students.” (Wikipedia)
Technology can be a very fun and engaging addition to the learning environment. A teacher can incorporate visual and auditory technologies into their lessons to promote a fun learning environment. This can be anywhere from watching a movie, listening to an audio disk, or playing a computer game. A fun activity utilizing the computer in a classroom where available is to have the students go on a virtual treasure hunt that goes with the subject they are learning. You can provide a list of certain things they must hunt for using the web.
By including some technology in the lesson plans, it not only keeps the classroom a fun and exciting place to be but it also helps to enrich the learning process by giving it that extra “wow” factor.
All for Fun and Fun for All!
Preschoolers and elementary schoolers are not the only ones who can have fun learning. Learning can be fun for all ages! Some ways a teacher can promote fun in a class of high schoolers or even college aged students are through fun stories, often about personal life experiences that can give them something to relate to, competition games such as classroom trivia, or lively class debate. No matter what the age, learning can be fun for everyone of any age. It is just a matter of finding and channeling that fun to make what is being learned more enjoyable.
In a learning environment such as a classroom, it is up to the teacher to figure out how and what kind of activities would help keep everyone interested and also help enrich everyone’s learning. Don’t fret. Again, if you are stumped as to what kinds of activities would make learning fun, search the web or ask other teachers how they keep their students engaged in learning and at the same time having fun doing it!
Multiple Choice Questions
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Click to reveal sample responses.
- Clark, R. (2004). The Excellent 11. New York: Hyperion.
- Education World: The Educators' Best Friend. (1996-2007) Retrieved September 15, 2007, from Education World Web site: http://www.education-world.com/
- Harmin, M. (1994). Inspiring Active Learning: A Handbook for Teachers.
- Kaplan, A., Patrick, H., & Ryan, A. (2007) Early Adolescents’ Perceptions of the Classroom Social Environment, Motivational Beliefs, and Engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology. v 99 no 1, 83-98 14 Sept 2007
- Luckner, John. "Using Fun as a Teaching Tool." Clerc Center. 2002. 15 Sept 2007 <http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/Odyssey/Spring-Summer2002/fun.pdf>.
- Morgan, B., & Odom, D. (2006). Stories from Tween Classrooms. Educational Leadership. v 63 no 7, 38-41. 14 Sept 2007
- "Smart Board." Wikipedia. 14 Sept 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_board>
- "Technology Integration." Wikipedia. Mar 2007. 14 Sept 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_Integration>.