Enhancing Your Classroom Learning Environment
We all know enrichment programs and lessons are often the first to go when school budgets are cut. Don’t let this affect your classroom – work with the teacher and reach out to class parents, friends, and community members to volunteer their time leading enrichment lessons for students! Not only will they enlighten the classroom community and add to the curriculum, but their knowledge and excitement can spark interest in kids for future hobbies, extra-curriculars and even careers they may pursue.
1. Technology: How can new technology benefit an education? Bring your tech-savviest parents and school leaders and encourage them to show kids the tips, tools and tricks they can use when it comes to technology and enhancing their learning. Whether it is fun new iPad, tablet and smartphone apps, or educational sites and resources online, giving students something to do on the web (other than surfing youtube and im’ing their friends) is going to be beneficial for student and teacher. Online safety is also a hugely important subject this day in age, focus an entire lesson on this and how kids can be proactive in keeping themselves safe online.
2. Art: Hopefully your school still offers weekly art classes for students, however, for those who don’t (and those who want more art), reach out to parents, local artists and maybe even local college professors or graduate students. Find artists who can come in and not just share art history and education, but explore new art projects with the class – from drawing to sculpting, collaging, basket-weaving, and even face painting one another!
3. Gardening: Whether it’s planting a windowsill herb garden or working in the school’s community garden, kids will love to dig in and learn about how to care for growing plants. A master gardener or local arboretum volunteer may be able to lend a hand when it comes to teaching watering and feeding know-how, the varying types of foliage, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and even a little photosynthesis!
4. Foreign Languages: No, we’re not talking Rosetta Stone for the classroom, however, linguistics and language tools are vital to a student’s education and their spelling and vocabulary development. Can a class parent teach students how to say “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” in four or five different languages? Students will find this (and some background knowledge of when languages developed and how they grew out of one another) super interesting.
5. Nutrition: What do kids really think the word “healthy” means? Do they know much sugar is in their favorite breakfast cereal? Or even what sugar does in their body? These important questions need to be answered while young people are still young, so they can develop good eating habits and tastes as they quickly grow up. Invite parents or local dieticians and nutritionists to share their knowledge with the classroom and engage students in hands-on lesson plans like mapping out what a real serving size is and trying unique fruits and vegetables (ocra anyone?).