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    Some of Both
    By Jess

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    I am also a new teacher. I think a combination of traditional and not-so-traditional is the ideal way to go. As a new person, it would be too hard for me to reinvent the wheel on everything, so mostly I stick to the book and accompanying worksheets. The reality is that the kids and parents understand and accept these methods of learning, so I don't worry too much about kids not liking school because they have to do them. I feel that the more traditional methods are probably more effective in boosting test scores, because they more closely resemble the test. Yeah, there are some things like songs or chants or games that could probably be more effective in learning things for the test, but as a new person I don't have time to create a whole bunch of those right away. (I set a goal for myself to create things little by little as my career goes on.)

    However, I do try to throw in some little extras here and there for students to apply what they've learned. For example, students might write diary entries of characters in history or make little books summarizing the story they read. Students LOVE these things, and they look great up in the classroom. However, they are terribly time-consuming, so if your school is super test score crazy (mine is only semi-test score crazy), you end up feeling pressured to move on to newer topics instead of going into so much depth. (Not the best approach, but that's the way it goes.) But if you can do them, they're great, and parents, kids, and administrators love them, too. So you shouldn't feel bad to use non-traditional methods.

    One final note: I have noticed that certain kids benefit from traditional methods and certain kids benefit from non-traditional methods. I'm not talking about Bloom's taxonomy or multiple intelligences or any of that stuff, I'm talking about certain kids having the capacity for more freedom-oriented activities and certain kids needing more structure. I have two classes. One class is the lowest class of fifth grade. Much as I try to do hands-on activities (as do the other teachers I team teach with) with them, many of them cannot handle anything that doesn't have very clear directions. A blank page is too daunting for them, and several of them cannot handle the freedom of group or hands-on work behaviorally. However, I have another class that is the highest class in fifth grade. These kids breeze through the worksheets I give the other class, and they're begging for something else. They LOVE hands-on, thought-provoking work. I know they learn more from this kind of work, too. So the point is, there's a time and class for the traditional stuff, and there's a time and class for the newer stuff. Since most classes have a mixture of abilities, I would have to say (and not from experience, since we separate ours) that it's really important to pair the smart kids with the kids who need more help.

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