Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Incorporating Multiple Senses to Increase Learner Retention

Have you ever read a book or article and after finishing, can’t remember exactly what you read? Sometimes you might even catch yourself drifting while reading and then go back and reread a paragraph or two. Or while watching a movie, we might drift off and miss something important that was said or done, and we’ll rewind it to see what we missed. I’m sure most of us have done so at one point or another. The point is, if we’re not actively engaged in what we are reading, hearing, or seeing, most media goes in one ear (or eye) and out the other. According to William Glasser, students retain or remember only: 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they discuss with others, 80% of what they experience by doing, and 90% of what they teach to others. Combine this with the idea of multiple learning styles (eg. Audio. Visual, Tactile, and Reading/Writing) and it might seem like a daunting task for teachers to find that perfect circumstance in order to increase student chances for learning and, ultimately, their retention. This is especially true in today’s multimedia-saturated society where it is difficult for educators to compete for our students’ attention. As teachers, we need to have a myriad of teaching strategies in our bag of tricks. An additional hurdle that teachers face at Sorenson’s Ranch School is the fact that students have to do at least part of their work independently. A teacher could also have several students working on different subjects in the same class. Additionally, students in the same class may be separated by their skill-levels/ abilities, and the majority of SRS students have an IEP (Individual Education Plan). Meeting all of our students’ educational needs here at SRS can be difficult. However, one strategy that can be incorporated in the classroom to address these difficulties is the use of videos. I have supplemented my World History classes and Geography classes with a variety of films. There are several excellent documentaries available on-line. Yes, I do get some moans and groans from students when I say the word “documentary”, but for the most part, once they start watching, most students are fully engaged: making comments, asking questions, and participating in classroom discussions. It is rare to get through an entire film without pausing to engage in such discussions. We also watch “made-for-Hollywood” movies. It’s always a good idea to preview the films for historical accuracy, appropriateness, and I also jot down notes of important information or vocabulary that may need clarification. Having a worksheet to go with the video greatly increases student involvement. I have occasionally found some suitable worksheets on-line or created my own. After watching certain movies, some students have wanted to research the topic further and have created posters, slide presentations, and/or a written report which was then presented to the rest of the class. By incorporating worksheets and class discussions with watching films, teachers can reach the audio learners, visual learners, and read/write learners. We are also increasing the percentage points of retention on Glasser’s chart. When students choose to do projects, which are then presented (taught) to the class, retention increases immensely. Active engagement in learning is critical to students’ success. Using the visual arts medium is one method to accomplish this outcome.

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