How can teachers spice up lesson plans on core subjects?
Teachers are making subjects like math and writing more interesting to students by centering lessons around a fun theme or activity.
Some educators are creating fun learning environments through decorations. Arizona-based high school math teacher Cathy Mahoney, for example, transformed her classroom into a mini Harry Potter World, where a Hogwarts castle taped to the wall will help geometry students calculate slopes and angles, The 74 reports.
Others are focused on giving lesson plans a twist. One Ohio middle school English teacher Scott Dills staged a fake murder crime scene, according to ThisWeek Community News, having students work together to solve the murder, write case theories and defend them to learn about argumentative writing.
Innovative classroom furnishings, themed or not, have been proven to boost collaboration and encourage students and teachers to be more creative. It’s not just about the students here, either: Giving teachers the flexibility to create an environment that they enjoy and that works for them makes for an even more positive class atmosphere.
Harry Potter has long been a popular example among teachers, both in transforming classrooms and curriculums. Even 20 years later, kids still love the series. Not only does it make students more engaged in what they’re learning, but it also keeps teachers excited about what they’re teaching, The 74 notes. Plus, the shared interest is a way students can connect to their teacher — a positive relationship between the two means higher student performance and social development, the American Psychological Association says.
Some don’t necessarily agree. There have been studies, including one published in 2014 in Psychological Science, that say too much stimulation or too much classroom decoration, can be distracting and hurt students’ academic performance. Others might argue that exposing kids to violence in the media at a young age can have negative effects, so it shouldn’t be used in class lessons, either. But one thing is clear: Using themes like murder mysteries as the frame of a lesson plan is well-liked across the globe, The Atlantic reports. And, teachers say, it works.
Using innovation and fun in designing classrooms ultimately isn’t helpful if it’s done just for the sake of being innovative and fun. But as long as there’s still learning involved, grabbing students’ attention in an unconventional way could be a successful way to teach them a whole range of subjects — especially the ones they may be too bored or intimidated by to pay attention to.