Sunday, August 1, 2010

Teaching Method: Dissonance/Randomness

One way that can really connect with students is adding a bit of "randomness" to the classroom. Especially in the math classroom where things are often kept very logical and dry, adding something different or even weird can make it memorable.

Ask students what they remember best from their previous math class and I bet it's something more along the lines of, "That time Jimmy fell out of his chair" or "When we sang that song" rather than some topic they were actually meant to learn.

Think back through your own past and the things that jump out at you were probably a little bit "off." But, this is especially true in today's culture. Consider the following cartoon that many of my students love:

It's just random enough to be funny. There are probably a few lines in there that stick out at you because they are just odd enough to make you laugh out loud.

Anyhow, in the classroom it doesn't have to be quite that odd, but something out of the ordinary can make something memorable. Here are some things I've done to make things stand out:

  • Discuss something in a funny accent (real or imagined).
  • Zis ees za unit circle. YOU VILL LEARN EET!

  • Make up a word or name for a topic.
  • The answer is 45 degrees, or as I call it 'Jimmy Blue Eyes.' (Remember--it doesn't have to make sense.)

  • If your school dress code allows it, wear something crazy.

  • Anything to mix it up a little and make it memorable!