Classes are well underway at the university where I teach. I’ve taught Elementary Latin for so many years that I’m ready to teach it any hour of the day or night. Nonetheless, I know I need to be on the lookout for ways to shake things up.
These days, technology is often one of the first areas educators of all ages of students turn to. There are more resources than ever, from tablets to smart boards to devices that can help a student with a hearing impairment record lectures. Provided you have access to the internet, there is the chance to take university-level courses in computer science, mathematics, electronics, immunology and much more via massive open online courses or MOOCs such as Coursera or EdX.
Here are some innovative education solutions happening now in a classroom that may be near you or very far away:
1. Let Them Play Minecraft
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Teachers around the world are using Minecraft, a video game that can be played on a number of devices as well as computers and that has users create structures in a 16-bit world to teach science, city-planning and speaking a new language. A company called TeacherGaming runs MinecraftEdu to assist teachers in setting up ways to use the game to teach gravity, explore ancient worlds and more.
2. A teacher uses neuroscience to teach the children of Brazil’s favelas
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
To teach the impoverished children in the Rio de Janeiro’s slums — where drug-related violence and domestic abuse are rampant, Yvonne Bezerra de Mello runs a school that “integrates neuroscience with didactics.” Students raised amid chronic poverty and violence have many “learning gaps” that require specialized techniques, she says. Her students attend school
… In a brightly painted classroom where they are free to get up and wander out, or move chairs. Lessons are divided into blocks of no more than 20 minutes and the more-able children take turns to instruct the class through role play. Subjects are covered for short periods in varied ways, often linked to real life, with no note taking or rote learning.
The children attend the rest of the school day at a mainstream school.
De Mello’s methods have been so successful that they are now being used in 150 other schools in Brazil and have started to attract international attention from educators as far away as Germany. As she tells the Guardian, “if children do not have this pre-learning, they cannot hope to complete their education, let alone hold down jobs. But if we help them to repair these ‘learning blocks’, they can have good prospects and lead worthwhile lives.”
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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