Oh look! Yet another way I can prevent students from learning!

This week, I decided to branch off of the use of Class Dojo and explore other methods that shouldn’t be used in classrooms. I came across this blog by Jennifer Gonzales, and each one of these was a pet peeve during my time in school before college, and unfortunately some of them have continued into my time in college. The method I’m going to focus on this week is giving students prepared notes. I cannot count all the teachers I’ve had that are guilty of this.

Remember way back when teachers used to roll out an overhead projector, riffle through clear transparency pages of printouts, and then mark them up with Vis-A-Vis markers? Remember the frustration when they couldn’t find the right page, only to have it be stuck to another plastic page? We’ll call that time the projector mode period. Most of my teachers, college, high school, middle school, and even late elementary school level, are still stuck in projector mode. Even back then, teachers did not understand the concept  of giving a basic outline of what they’re going to talk about that day and expecting students to take their own notes. Instead, they type their notes, put it up on a projector, and read it word for word. I even had one teacher go so far as to print out his presentations, but remove one word from every slide. We would be required to fill in that word and then hand in our notes so he could make sure we were paying attention.

These are the same teachers that misuse technology. They see a Smartboard and think, “Oh, a fancy overhead projector!” Instead of using it as a way to interact with students, they present their lecture notes on it. Smartboards have replaced overhead projectors, and Powerpoint presentations have replaced clear transparency sheets. This is not the way to have students take notes and this is not how to teach. Students are no longer taught how to take notes properly, and teachers aren’t doing them any favors by spoon feeding them all the information. When students copy the notes on the board word for word, they don’t retain as much as they would if they were to put the notes into their own words. Teachers also don’t realize that they cannot teach this way. Instead of using class time to engage their students, they are taking that time to bore students to death with lectures. Yes, sometimes a teacher has to lecture. But come on, if a student is falling asleep with their pencils in hand while copying notes off the board, is that really the best course of action to be taking in your classroom? 

Photo CC – Jim Hickcox

 

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18 thoughts on “Oh look! Yet another way I can prevent students from learning!

  1. I agree with this post so much! I hate when I have to just sit there and copy notes and not retain any of the information. My favorite way that teachers teach is when they are engaging students throughout the whole class period, and then have some sort of outline online that the students can access for later studying, but don’t really need to worry about for the actual class period. I think this makes students want to come to class and be more involved in the learning process.

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    1. I pretty sure I’m a lot older than you, as overhead projectors were super-high tech when I was growing up. I always loved the humming sound of them running and seeing my teachers face lit by them when the lights were dimmed. We also watched movies on actual film reels. 🙂 I understand how far we’ve come with regards to technology and love it. I’ve had a successful career;I understand it’s importance and place and love the variety of methods it allows teachers to engage students with. At the same time I personally still like writing notes during class and learn well by listening, reading and writing at the same time — the more senses engaged the better – it keeps me focused. They key is for teachers to be excited about what they are teaching regardless of technology, because many school districts don’t have all of those resources available. I look forward to using all the technology available to me in the classroom and being creative when there isn’t a lot available. On the flip side, I’ve seen the pre-written, fill-in-the blank notes work wonders for sped students in language classes. They weren’t so worried about missing things and could focus on the material and not worrying about writing the “right” stuff down. Very thought provoking post.

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    2. This is part of what I love about being an art major. Instead of predominantly lecture classes, we are working on something the whole class time. Having to sit through lecture classes makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. I can’t stand the “Here’s a Powerpoint, I’ll read through the slides, ok quiz over the Powerpoint on Friday,” type of classes. Teachers can’t expect students to learn anything by doing that.

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  2. Bravo – don’t use the new technology in your room to re-teach your same lessons. Expand your brain and skill set to teach the same content if needed, but with new strategies to make full use of your modern technology. It will take a little longer, but the results are SOOOO worth it! Maybe even ask the kids to help design the lesson – imagine that.

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    1. That would be great! When I teach, I intend to ask the students what THEY want to learn. Even if it’s building one or two sections a semester around their interests, at least they are getting a say in what they want to learn and will take an interest in it.

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  3. I found your post to be very informative and interesting. This isn’t something I have thought much about in the past, but it does make a lot of sense. I like to be able to take my own notes because I’m writing down the important points for myself, not what my instructor decided was important.

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    1. What also bothers me is when teachers (especially now at the college level) try to change your note taking style. Personally, I need to type my notes. However, some teachers insist on writing notes or doing it the way they deem is right. If you are learning and retaining the information, it shouldn’t matter how you take your notes or what information you write down.

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  4. We call this death by power point in the army. I really dislike these classes because they might as well just emailed me the power point or notes and I can just read them. I did have a teacher at Chadron State that I really enjoyed. She had a smart board. She would put a problem on the board and then make a student go up to figure it out. It became a class project to try and solve the math problem. She used the board correctly.

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  5. I hate the projectors I am also not a fan of power point. I would sit in class and write down the notes word for word but I wouldn’t retain anything because I was worried about time before the next page would be up. I much rather have a teacher lecture the class with notes and also take my own side notes!

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    1. I have that problem too. I usually take my laptop to classes to take notes because I can type faster than I can write, but one of my teachers won’t allow typed notes anymore. I absolutely hate not being able to type my notes for that class.

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  6. I completely agree with you Emily. Our teachers in high school crippled us by forcing us to copy down notes from a powerpoint or overhead projector. I had a teacher who would jump back and forth from a notebook he had from years before my time and the powerpoint and I would get so confused. It’s time for a change and it’s high time teachers started incorporating student interaction in the class other than to see the previous slide again. Great post!

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  7. “I even had one teacher go so far as to print out his presentations, but remove one word from every slide. We would be required to fill in that word and then hand in our notes so he could make sure we were paying attention.”

    I’m pretty sure I had a teacher who did this too!! I always hated it; I never paid attention to what was actually being said because I was only listening for certain words and phrases! I agree with you about note-taking; some of my best notes are the ones where the professor has no slides or presentation and just expects the students to keep up and discern what’s important; usually these are discussion-based classes and not fact-heavy science classes, of course. But yeah, I agree that engaging students is far better for learning than word-for-word PowerPoint slides.

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  8. I do agree with this blog, at the same time I do not. I prefer teachers to do their notes on a powerpoint. My most successful classes were ones that I took notes from powerpoints, studied those notes and aced the test! I think everyone just learns in different ways!

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