“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” — Jeannette Walls
Hands-on, relevant projects take more time are critical for students’ learning
When I recall my time teaching summer school in the early 2000s, most of what I remember is seating in the midst of my students and getting immersed in hands on learning. During the long summer hot days, the last thing I would do as an experienced teacher is bombard my students with dreary long notes or repetitive tasks. I took my students outdoors to explore and focused on hands on projects. It is imperative to make learning fun for these students as they are already reluctant to be indoors when they perceive that their classmates are having fun during the summer.
Over the long break, we had over 50 children in our STEM bootcamp program and we kept hearing from the parents that the children were more engaged in our program than they were school. Children who had behavior problems during school where too involved in their projects to think of acting up.
I have reflected on why summer programs work well for children. There is a cap on how many children are a part of the program, the curriculum need is limited, and the pace is tightly defined. There are no tests and innovation is highly welcome. During the summer, it is ok to cut out certain topics to focus on projects. Above all, children are given ownership over their own learning working their way through tasks and hacking the engineering design process.
As we dwell upon Quality teachers this World Teachers day this Friday, I would like to enjoin both teachers and parents who are partners in the desire for students to succeed; to break out of the norm and adopt what we do during the holidays for children. Prioritizing making student learning experiences engaging, teaching students how to collect and analyze data, identify patterns, break down complex problems into their more controllable parts, deduce solutions, construct models and develop algorithms. Projects, more than lecturing, gives students opportunities to enhance these skills, and summer, as it turns out, is the perfect time to practice this.
Experimenting with our curriculum by testing hands-on lessons that, among other things, had students understand how drones work and man themselves. Studying about climate change or discussing the application of math to the real world created major improvement in comprehension for our students. Radicalizing learning created summer successes with our group which in turn boosted the self-confidence of our children. Our goal should be to create quality teaching that would inspire teachers year-round to embed more computational thinking in their own classrooms.
Let’s have children go beyond assignments and get students to become creators. The 21st century belongs to the creators as we can see by the superstars in almost every field of endeavor lately.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.