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6 Highly Effective Ways to Teach Kids Today

By Kristen Keller

Every person in the world has strengths in certain subjects as well as weaknesses in others.

Our strengths are our passions; they ignite us, and drive us to learn more. In school, students are taught however, that they 'should' excel in all subjects. By ranking students with grades based on test scores for each subject, we inadvertently influence how students evaluate themselves in those subject areas, and impact how they feel about themselves overall.

But poor self confidence can lead to poor learning.

When grades are high, students develop confidence and a feeling of achievement and success. If grades are low in a specific subject area, then students are told to 'work harder' in order to raise their grades to the general standards. This implies that a student has a weakness that is holding him back and rather than motivate, it significantly lowers self-esteem.

So how to do we raise grades and confidence levels at the same time? We can teach students in a way they will enjoy and understand; we can teach students about their weaknesses through their strengths.

I strongly believe that any subject can be taught to any individual if we consider what type of learning style resonates best with the student.

Audio Learners; Learning Through Listening

Facts may not be very interesting, but when we add a layer of fun to the equation, we see excellent results. For example, some people are audio learners. Songs are a great way of remembering facts, dates, and many other tidbits of information, since songs teach through patterns.

Visual Learners; Learning By Viewing

What about students who don't excel at music? Visuals can be another excellent way to teach.

Many students learn best through visual representation, via pictures or video. In my grade school math classes, I know that I did not understand what the numbers or signs represented, but once I was able to do the multiplication by counting, or adding physical objects that I could see and touch like pennies, I was then able to understand why math was useful and how I could use it in other areas of my learning.

Relating Learning to Real-Life Examples

One of the things that drives me nuts is when teachers answer, "because it is,"- to a student's question. That is a lazy answer.

Students are naturally curious, and wish to absorb as much information as possible. In grade 7 I had an amazing math teacher who led me to start loving math and physics, due to way she presented questions. Each math problem we had to solve related to a character she created- a clown named Bobo- and who was always getting into trouble. It was always our job, as students, to solve the math problem and help Bobo before he would meet his untimely death. This not only allowed me to paint a picture in my head of what the math equations meant, but it was also fun, and gave math purpose.

Learning By Doing

Let students explore and discover. Let students get outdoors, think big, create big, and dream HUGE!

Even if it's through electronic media like online encyclopedias or YouTube videos, when students physically engage in the act of "doing", they begin to apply the material they have learned.

The same teacher who taught us to solve clown-related math problems, also took us on unconventional trips, such as taking us to the pool hall to learn about angles, and geometry. The techniques may have been unconventional, but the knowledge has stayed with me to this day.

Learning By Teaching Others

Students of all ages can learn the most when they themselves are the teachers, and when they are given the opportunity to teach others.

Teaching forces students to process the information in a different way in order to make sense of it before they pass it along.

One great technique is to give students 10 minutes at the beginning of the day to review what was discussed for the past week. This activity not only allows students to practice teaching each other, but it also improves information retention, and helps students on tests. Students should be encouraged to share information, not to keep it to themselves.

Learning through Strength

Cross-curricular teaching not only enables the teacher to get more creative with the material by using different subjects, it also allows the student to learn through one of their stronger subjects.

In some of my classes, I teach students about physics and art by teaching them to make robots that move and draw. Students who have difficulty in the sciences can relax and have fun learning about vibrations and forces while also enjoying the arts.

At the same time, students who excel in left brain activities like numbers, facts, and science, enjoy their time learning about the physics of making robots while they are also enticed to broaden their horizons and learn more about art.

Living our Strengths Encourages the Love of Learning

These are just a few examples of how we can teach students about their weaker subjects through their strengths.

Whether students' strengths include subject areas they are really good at, learning styles they embrace, a desire to have fun, or even the ability to communicate what they have learned to another, all of these teaching techniques allow more learning to take place, and at much more efficient and productive levels. Science Centres, Field Trips, even learning about geometry at a pool hall, all encourage students to learn by experiencing, to get involved, and live what they are learning in a fun way.

When learning doesn't feel like a task- or a chore, students of all ages are able to soak up and retain information, and really get the most out of their education.

And one more key to effective teaching; allowing students to fail and succeed on their own builds confidence and encourages educational growth today as well as an ongoing craving for future learning.

Find out more about fun teaching techniques, experiential ways of learning, and creative project ideas, at my Teaching With Fun website.

Kristen Keller is a teaching consultant, and workshop director for the Coast-to-Coast Robot Tour. She has been teaching at various school boards across Canada for the past 5 years.

Kristen truly believes experiential learning is for everyone, and is especially committed to teaching students in a fun, hands-on way, since she believes students learn the best when they are enjoying, and are fully immersed in what they are doing. Kristen currently teaches Artistic Robot Workshops, in schools across Southern Ontario.

Find out more about creative project ideas, fun teaching techniques, and experiential ways of learning at her Teaching With Fun website, or contact Kristen for more information on how to bring more fun, hands-on projects to your school at

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