# Do I really have to be an activist?

Well you won't have to throw yourself in front of a bulldozer, but you will have to be willing to "break the mold" and experiment with the way you set up learning activities in your classroom.

6/17/20242 min read

In an age where everyone is an influencer, it's easy to think you have more power than you really do. However, when it comes to what you do in the classroom , maybe you DO have more control than you realize. On an hour to hour basis you can change how you operate with your students. It's all about how you define yourself as a teacher. Maybe you have more agency than you realize.

Let's say you want to do a lesson on area of a rectangles in mathematics. Are you just going to tell your kids what area is and how to calculate it ? Or are you going to set up a series of activities that will lead your students to a true understanding of the topic. In other words are you going to let them play with the concept? Maybe they'll learn about using counters as a way of measuring the area of a shape. And while we're at it how about we discover the power of rectangular arrays?

And let's say it's been a while since you and your kids have done some writing just for fun. How about setting up a Speed Writing Activity where everyone gets to write on a topic based on an idea or a stimulus picture on your screen. Everyone gets to write for 5 minutes, (including yourself) and then when time's up those of us that are happy to swap what we've written with each other for the next ten minutes.

And oh no you have to do a science activity about the sun, earth, moon relationship. And instead of just watching a video you decide to do a group investigation to make up scale models of the earth and moon using playdough - using a 500 mm exercise ball as the sun for reference. Think of all the questions that need asking. If the sun is the size of the exercise ball, how will we calculate how big the Earth would be? How would we show - to scale - the distance between the model sun and the model Earth. How are we going to do all of this in a science lesson you ask. Well how about throwing out the timetable to devote half a day to exploring this topic. So the kids will not only be thinking about the aim of the project but how to go about setting up the model - this is true problem solving and it involves some maths and a little bit of ingenuity and persistence. The kids will need to find out about what scale means. They'll need to use calculators. Better still how about turning this activity into a team challenge, with basic instructions and hints to get each team going.

The whole point behind these activities I've mentioned here is that what you're really focused on is the actual learning taking place. The kids are learning by being explorers, just like the original mathematicians and scientists were but at an appropriate age level.

So where does being an activist come into it? Well it's about breaking the mold of what you think you should be doing to "get through the curriculum", to focus more on the setting up of interesting, challenging and fun learning activities. It's also about you as a teacher re-discovering the joy of being a true learner yourself!

END