Thursday, October 8, 2015

Students' Learning Styles

A year has come and gone, and I'm back to blogging once again.  Join me as I ponder how to teach writing well, how to write well, and how to enjoy literature.

During the summer I spent two weeks on a fascinating seminar sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities on Slavery in the American Republic.  I'll be blogging about some of the things I learned during that trip in future blogs.

For now I will focus on learning styles, and how to reach students with varied learning styles in the writing and literature classroom.  One of my colleagues recently discovered his first-grade daughter may have dyslexia.  As he processed all that a diagnosis might mean, I began to think about how I teach students who don't learn best by traditional reading methods.  I found a helpful exercise as I was searching online for a way to teach Oedipus the King in my World Literature class. Here is what we did.

I presented four scenarios and had students move to the corner of the room representing their view.  The first question was "who or what determined Oedipus' fate?"  They could choose "the gods," "Oedipus himself," "fate," or "no one.."  A majority of students congregated at "the gods" corner.  Then a spokesperson from each corner of the room had to articulate why he or she chose each position.  Students had an opportunity to move to a different corner, and some did.

This is a simple exercise, but the students seemed to really enjoy it.  They got to get up and move around -- so it kept them awake.  They had to articulate their position, so it involved speech and persuasion, and there was no reading involved.  I will definitely use this exercise again, and I encourage you to try it in your classes.  Let me know how it goes!

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