Episode 66 – But Are They Really Learning?

Frank Noschese

This week we discuss teaching techniques with Frank Noschese.  Frank is a high school physics teacher at John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y.  and an active blogger.  We talk with Frank about blogging, active student engagement, flipped classrooms, psuedoteaching, and the Khan Academy.  Join the conversation and leave your comments.

Preview from the Show:

There’s a lot of research and evidence to backup the fact that having a more interactive class does work.  And there’s a lot of ways to go about being interactive.  One way is with the questioning technique that you were talking about in the Harvard justice videos; I haven’t seen them, but it sounds like that’s one way.  Or using clickers is another way. Or with whiteboarding and modeling, where the kids are working in groups on these problems, and they’re working on them on these large whiteboards that maybe two or three kids can work on at a time, and they share and present their solutions to the problem.  So there’s lot of different techniques depending on the size of the class and the materials that you have, so I don’t think anybody should just be able to throw their hands up and say “well based on my situation, the only thing I can do is lecture”, because there’s always different techniques.

If you think back to even how you learned – something that you found you had to struggle through, whether it was a sport or an instrument, or a kind of arts and crafts, woodworking – anything like that.  You worked hard at it, got feedback from someone who knew what they were doing, there were lots of tests along the way to see if you were getting it or not.  That kind of interactivity and feedback is so necessary for learning.  And then there’s also people that say – we had this conversation on twitter a few months ago – where somebody said “but kids do learn from lecture, there are kids that are gaining.”  And it’s true, there are kids that do still learn physics through lecture, and what we think is going on there is that the kids are doing these active engagement strategies in their head, so they’re trying to think ahead: “what’s the next step this would take”, or “how does this fit in with that,” and they’re doing it in their head.  And these are very few kids that actually know how to learn from a lecture, and I would say the bulk of students just sit there and think that they’re going to learn from osmosis.


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