Hands On the Content for IB Students

“Oh yeah!” the students cry out as they clear away the immediate space in front of them.  Hands reach out for the papers, scissors, and glue sticks.  Immediately heads bend intently as students arrange the pieces, discussing with each other what is most logical.  Once a consensus is reached, we have a conversation on the content contained in their organized diagrams.  Some eagerly include additional notes to their diagram.  Next, they find themselves with a graph to be annotated accompanied with “Factors Contributing To” each phase of the diagram.  All of this must be logically worked through and the students energetically approach the task.  Further consultation secures understanding. 

The completed diagrams and charts become part of their notes for this topic and will hopefully serve as a useful review next year at this time as they face their IB exams.  Furthermore, they are already conversational about a topic that has been allotted us two hours according to the IB guidelines whereas these students have nailed it in one hour!  Plus, they have genuinely enjoyed the process.

I almost feel guilty about these types of lessons, because I’m not “doing” anything. Of course, an hour of prep time is needed to simply cut out all the pieces and arrange them in sets for the students.  Once it is set up, it’s a lesson on autopilot.  Student enthusiasm and ultimate level of understanding makes it completely worth it.  As they depart the room a ripple of “thank you”s ensue.  Surprise and satisfaction surge through my being as students actually thank me for a lesson.  I invariably think, "So much better than a lecture".

What teaching strategies have you found effective for either students or yourself?