Friday, August 14, 2015

Lessons in Education, Featuring Gary Larson: Part V

By Ed Tech Maniac, Darin Anderson


With his cleverly constructed The Far Side comics, Gary Larson has a knack for bringing out the child in all of us. In this particular strip, Larson shows the fun side of even the starchiest of professions - the lab coat-wearing research scientist (and perhaps his close relative - the plaid-donning school teacher).

Here, one of the simplest reminders of childhood, the ice cream truck (not to be compared to the liver and onions version) serves to break the monotony and stress of applied research and allows the scientists an opportunity to let loose and leave the microscopes behind. The exuberance in their faces - the waving arms and fist pumps - all signify that the otherwise stuffy and subdued docs are going to pound some Klondike Bars and live life, if even just for a few moments.

As thousands of us educators and students head back to school for another year of rote testing, tedious homework, piles of papers to grade, and staff meeting after boring staff meeting, let us really take this Larson gift to heart.

Find time to have fun with your peers, your family, and especially your students. In the midst of yet another common assessment or what-does-this-have-to-do-with-me PD day, look for ways to liven up your experience. As your students struggle through another rough unit in science, take moments to stop and go outside and smell the roses (literally). Keep your kids off balance with an impromptu accordion polka in the school parking lot (I have personally witnessed just such an occasion).

While the pressures of education are ever-increasing, remember that first and foremost we are in the business of people - and people need laughter and fun and spontaneity.

Here are a few ideas, many with a technological flavor:

  • Send your kids (or fellow PLC members) on a scavenger hunt.
  • Try the wide variety of brain breaks available at GoNoodle.
  • Incorporate music into transition time or during seatwork. Music works wonders for kids and teachers.
  • Turn a writing assignment into a mobile video assignment.
  • Organize a class food outing. Say, pizza on the football field. Many restaurants will donate for a worthy cause.
  • Supply ice cream sundaes with a different topping for each skill or concept demonstrated.
  • Book walks, where you literally take your book for a walk...with the pages open, of course. Or use the Kindle app or free public library e-books.
  • Hold goofy hat days, or silly socks, or dress like pirates for no other reason than to laugh.
  • Most of all, invite the students to come up with their own ideas. After all, aren't they the reason behind all of this?

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