Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Life Long Learning

Wednesdays are my "light" day at school. I teach only three classes and have four prep periods. I've never had a luxury of a large block of time such as this. Generally on Wednesdays,  I'm glued to a computer uploading lessons from the previous day, writing exams, or preparing lessons for the follow couple of days. But, as this is the last "highly academic" week for the students, and I've finished the "curriculum", I have the opportunity to learn and teach some new things. Last week I asked my students what they would like to learn and I got some GREAT ideas: rules of baseball, the history and development of the Swiss Army Knife, Dubstep and House music....

Baseball is fairly easy to teach because I grew up with it, and it provides a great opportunity to have a TPR lesson. (Total Physical Response). In other words, we can go outside and play. But, before going outside,especially with the older students, I can teach lots of vocabulary and then have a "mock" baseball game on the white board with quiz questions for review. Plus, for the older students, lots of baseball words are used in our business world. That's a home run or We struck out with that idea or the infamous Let's give criminals 'three strikes' before we lock 'em up.

Learning about the Swiss Army knife was new to me. Of course, I'd played with the Victorinox Classic when I was a kid and I remember being afraid of the blade but thinking the mini-scissors were cool. However, I'd never thought about the engineering, design, functionality, and purpose of the knife. Research of the company gave me some interesting history e.g.there used to be two companies, Wenger and Victorinox but a recent merger made Wenger the wholly owned subsidiary. Have the prices gone up? But a dictionary gave me the extra knowledge of the nouns and verbs needed to go with all the small parts. For example, I now know the difference between a rivet and a flange and I learned that a reamer can change a hole size. Better yet, modern Swiss Army knives have USB drives and laser pointers. (makes sense). And, I loved learning that "Swiss Army Knife" has actually entered popular culture to refer to someone as "useful" and "adaptable".

Moving on to music...I'd never heard of the genre "House Music". As a matter of fact, I was surprised to learn that it was "House" with a capital "H". I was too busy starting a family (at 'home')  at the time of this music's onset to be aware of anything except the possibility of doorbells waking sleeping babies. And, I had just recently heard of Dubstep but knew nothing about it. After some research I found the answers to some burning questions. Why are vinyl records popular again? What is a drum machine? What are some Dubstep songs or  who are some artists? I even learned that Sponge Bob sings Dubstep.

So, what's this got to do with Turkey? Not much except for the fact that I had the gift of time in this position and the ideas from clever students to make yesterday's learning quite enjoyable.

(Normally these types of topics make great student-directed research and student-led classes. At least that's what I would have done in the States. But, I know if I assign this type of project for homework, most students won't bother, (and it can't be part of their grade) and we haven't got the luxury of classroom computers. So, I look at the opportunity to improve my learning as a gift.)

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