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6 Innovative Teaching Techniques

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Human beings are the only living creatures on the planet who are blessed with an innate self-learning ability. Noam Chomsky, an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist also known as  “The Father of Modern Linguistics” has proved in his theories that human beings are born with an innate ‘Language Acquisition Device’ [LAD]. Even without any conscious effort made by the family members, a child learns the most complex language or even multiple languages before s/he is three years old.

As we look around, we see that the ability of a growing child is many folds. He may not have even learned to articulate his tongue properly but would be pretty handy with a smartphone, a champion at capturing moments on a device, or even winning an online game defeating people several times older. Evolution at a rapid pace is clearly visible in the present generation. It is a never-ending process.

Change is the need of the hour, for we are living in an era where every bit of information is available at the tip of the thumb. Gone are the days when a child would run to his parents to know a thing. Now he knows that ‘Google Baba’ knows everything. The present generation is more gadget and techno-savvy than the older ones. With such advancements in the system, can we have the same education system, the teaching techniques and the styles of yesteryears?

We need to develop ways by which the young minds can be trained to be the most prolific creators, inventors, and scientists, fueled by an insatiable appetite to discover, explore and thereby indulge his curiosity in creative activities.

There are a number of innovative methods like ‘Hands on Learning’ , ‘Role Play’, ‘Story Telling’, ‘Visual clues’, ‘Text Cards’, ‘Word Games’, ‘Mini Labs’, ‘Science Kit’, ‘Audio – Visual modes’, to name few, that do focus on holding a student’s attention by making the lessons more interesting and fun. Some of these are actively being used by educators worldwide. But as we recall what brilliant mind ones said, we’ll realize the fact that something new and innovative needs to be added.

According to Albert Einstein

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This quote brilliantly reminds us of the unique talents and what one can offer the world. Since every student is unique in his/her own specific ways,  any one strategy or teaching technique for most of the topics and almost every subject cannot train his/her mind. This calls for innovative and interesting teaching techniques. If we want something new, we need to stop doing the old.

Educators need to develop ways that will make every topic of a certain subject interesting. Teaching – Learning strategies need to be changed. An educator cannot follow the same old ‘Sage on the Stage’ strategy. The class needs to be made more fun and interactive. This requires a steady and consistent use of innovative teaching techniques.

Here are some of the most well known and effective techniques:-

1. Virtual Teaching –

Virtual teaching is educating in ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ (VLE). It is a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a student’s learning experience by including computers and the Internet in the learning process.

The principal components of a VLE package include curriculum mapping (breaking curriculum into sections that can be assigned and assessed), student tracking, online support for both teacher and student, electronic communication (e-mail, threaded discussions, chat, Web publishing), and Internet links to outside curriculum resources.

VLE users are assigned either a teacher ID or a student ID. The teacher sees what a student sees, but the teacher has additional user rights to create or modify curriculum content and track student performance. There are a number of commercial VLE software packages available, including Blackboard, WebCT, Lotus LearningSpace, and COSE. Edmodo, Moodle, BrightSpace, WizIQ, and Udemy are some of the amazing virtual teaching platforms.

This is an all time tested strategy wherein the data of an educator, as well as the report of the student, is kept. It maintains all time ready record of the topics covered, learned, understood, activities are done and also the score. A statistical presentation of the progress is just a click away.

2. Hands-on Learning –

‘Hands-on learning’ is learning by doing. Students learn through all their senses. They like to touch and manipulate things. Though many consider it like a fidgety mind, hands-on activities activate their brains.

‘Hands-on is minds on’. It has endless benefits. Hands-on projects also build the fine motor skills that children will need to use for functional activities throughout their lives. It unleashes the power of learning by doing.

Activities such as constructing a miniature city out of recycled materials, or crafting a butterfly’s life cycle using fabric scraps, not only help kids strengthen their hands and minds, they are also fun and engaging.

In higher grades, the same technique can be used in ‘Matchstick Mecanno’ to teach 3D structures, notched pencil to teach rotation motion, etc.

3. Role-play –

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Role-play is a technique that allows students to explore realistic situations by interacting with other people in a managed way. Students can intellectually and physically involve while understanding the topic. It allows a more student-centered approach to learning. It increases student participation, stimulates interest in the subject and encourages them to continue reading further.

When teachers use role-playing as instruction, students have the capability of developing deeper involvement, helps learners develop emotional connections and knowledge about the issues at hand. Many sensitive topics can be dealt with by using this technique. It can help ignite feelings of nationalism through this technique.

It is can not only be used for learning a foreign language and literature but also subjects like History and Science. Students can take the role of atoms or molecules to study a chemical reaction. Role-playing is a great way to make children step out of their comfort zone and develop their interpersonal skills.

4. Virtual Labs –

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Virtual labs are replications of real web labs, available to the user through a desktop computer or a VR headset. A virtual lab simulation includes true-to-life missions for students to complete, highlighting the connection between science and the real world. This makes virtual labs all the more engaging to students.

Comparing with traditional laboratory, the virtual laboratory is particularly useful when some experiment involves equipment that may cause harmful effects to human beings. Detailed diagrams, illustrations or close up pictures allow students to virtually get inside a plant or animal part without actually doing it. Dissections in biology can be studied thoughtfully with a virtual hands-on sensation without the problem of odor and similarly, experiment a chemical reaction without burns.

This teaching technique is highly effective as it provides access to resources supporting the development of realistic and engaging classroom activities, facilitates networking and exchanging these activities through an online community and increases the attractiveness of science studies and careers to students.

5. Fishbone –

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This is a type of graphic organizer, consisting of a fish-shaped graphic or map that is used to explore the many aspects or effects of a complex topic. This is a visual tool for organizing critical thinking which is a good approach for problem-solving in science.

In this diagram approach, the head of the fish represents the change, the ribs show the reason and riblets have the supportive evidence. The purpose of a fishbone diagram is to break down into successive layers of detail, the root causes that potentially contribute to a particular effect.

The Fishbone diagram can be used to prepare for a writing assignment. A student must concentrate on the main topic, list the big ideas concerning the topic, and think of the attributes/qualities/functions/effects associated with each of these ideas.

A fishbone map can also be used to explore the implications of improved farming methods or a new scientific discovery – or any other cause-and-effect scenario.

Common uses of this type of diagram are product design and quality defect prevention to identify potential factors causing an overall effect. Each cause or reason for imperfection is a source of variation. Causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify and classify these sources of variation.

The process of creating a fishbone diagram helps the student focus on the topic, requires the student to review what he/she already knows in order to organize that knowledge and helps the student to monitor the growing comprehension of the topic. It also helps to point out the areas where the student must investigate more which is where the fishbone is difficult to fill out.

6. Sports Based Learning –

Sport-based education (SBE) uses sports intentionally to teach and develop targeted cognitive, social, psychological, moral, and physical outcome goals. Sport-based education involves the application of relevant research in developing a curriculum to teach 21st Century survival skills.

This is an interesting approach to learn problem-solving in physics or a stepwise method to study complex chemical reactions.

The background of a Mathematics problem, hidden in the course of a story in a textbook or within a video module, might be a fun process, but ultimately, a student still has to solve the particular problem using certain mathematical techniques that do need to be learned.

A game of football or cricket helps them to learn about the percentage, average or probability which can find its use in physics problems. Sports are mostly played in teams which also promote the importance of teamwork that helps them to synchronize better in group projects.

Game-based learning and training are used already in aviation, healthcare, and the medical industry. It helps them in building non-cognitive skills like patience, motivation, self-control, and perseverance which is a must for children to succeed in later life.

Not alone sports-based learning but all other teaching techniques have many fold benefits which are immeasurable. From creative to critical thinking, analyzing, pondering, visualizing, imagining, guessing and all other soft skills like empathy, patience, perseverance, compassion, etc. Also, school management software helps in these various innovative teaching techniques to explore.

For an educator to plan and arrange one or more techniques in teaching a certain topic may seem to be a tedious and challenging task for it requires a concentrated effort to mix and merge and prepare an innovative, ready to implement lesson plan.

No wonder why Simon Sinok once said –

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.”

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