Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaching Books: Teaching with Adolescent Learning in Mind by Glenda Ward Beamon

[I'm not going to try to review the books I'm reading as part of my transition to becoming an educator. However, I do want to at least do summaries, both for myself and if anyone's interested. Consider these mini-reviews, if you will.]

This book, which is a bit dated in terms of references and use of technology in the classroom, focuses on the idea of using what we now know about how adolescents learn to change how we teach students in the classroom. This is referred to as Adolescent-Centered Teaching, or ACT. (The problem with this acronym is that ACT to me and probably most people is a particular type of test.)

A lot of time is spent on talking about the emotional needs of teens and how to approach them in terms of trying to get them to learn. This book argues that the key is to engage them by bringing the learning to them in ways that they can relate, or by giving them activities that draw them into the material.

There is a high priority given to teaching knowledge, not test content, using group activities, and varying learning methods on a regular basis. The idea is that teens do not learn when lectured to. The book also argues that a teacher must be careful not to do anything that will emotionally damage the student, such as putting them on the spot in front on their peers.

The author uses a lot of studies of learning to make her points, but it's hard to know how many of these studies are valid, as sample size is never referenced. There also seems to be a bit of a gap between the ideas espoused (get a DNA testing machine!) and a teacher's ability to actually gather such a resource. Also, nothing is said about working with proscribed curriculum. The book's focus is on ideas, but placement within reality of a teacher's situation is not discussed.

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