All work and no play....

At the end of every workshop I hear myself thinking that there cannot be anything better than the one I just attended, only to feel a slight jab which seems to say "Always jumping to conclusions!!". Personally every workshop has been better than the previous one. But there is one that stands out, possibly because I have used some of them as a student. Looking at tools for teaching through the eyes of a teacher was not only amazing but also enjoyable. The strategies which really appeal to me are games, graphic organizers and concept maps. 
I vividly remember attending a workshop on Effective Learning as a grade 10 student. The facilitators spoke about different ways to learn smart instead of hard. The two techniques I imbibed were mind maps and story-making.
Mind map is a graphic organizer and is just another term for spider web. From personal experience I can vouch for the usefulness and effectiveness of mind maps as a tool for teaching/learning. 
Story-making works very well for Geography, for example while learning about crops, the key words for soil type, temperature, uses, location can be strung to make a story. For a student writing an exam, it becomes easier to recall the story rather than a list of unrelated words.

Open Sesame is a supplementary paper published exclusively for children. Just between you and me, I love reading this paper, solving the puzzles and riddles, completing the crosswords and sometimes even coloring a cartoon. The edition on Friday had an article about making your own board game. This tickled my gray cells!! I made a square of 5x5 and drew some ladders and snakes. I wrote out 25 questions related to photosynthesis and borrowed a die from my sister. I began playing the game all by myself. 
The rules are pretty simple. Each numbered square corresponds to a question. If you answered a question correctly you received as many points as the die shows. If you reached a ladder you climb up and answer a relatively difficult question. Were you to reach a snake's mouth, you slide all the way down to its tail and miss a turn to roll the die. If you land on a square that has been answered, you roll the die again. 

If as an adult I enjoyed playing this game, I can only imagine how much a young learner will enjoy learning through such strategies. I should start thinking about how best to incorporate this game into one of my practice teaching sessions. After all 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'.

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