Thursday, September 1, 2011

Structure doesn't have to mean BORING

Posted by Mitch Zeltzer

Earlier today we tweeted the following kids tip: (via @getdynamix on twitter)
"Structure doesn't make things less fun for #kids, in fact, it creates an opportunity for MORE #fun!"

When I'm running professional development workshop for professionals in the youth sector and make this statement, participants are often puzzled by this claim.

To a lot of people, working both in and out of the youth sector, structure means;
  • Tell the kids exactly what to do and how to behave, 
  • Have everyone sitting quietly facing forward,
  • No moving, talking, laughing, or anything ending in "ing"
This, of course, would be boring and is NOT what we mean by structure!!

At Dynamix, structure means:
  • Keep things organized
  • Keep the students engaged by having them sit / stand in strategic positions
  • Use audio, visual and kinesthetic instructions and demonstrations
  • Make the experience unique and FUN
So to illustrate the difference between boring, seemingly structured and Structured the Dynamix Way, here's an example:

Situation: You've just finished teaching a lesson and would like to review the content

Option A: 
- Ask a review question
- Call on one person to answer (which by the way the only people likely to raise their hands are the ones who really understood the content, not the ones who truly need the review!)
- Ask another question
- Call on another person (or possibly the same smarty-pants!)
- And so on...


Option B:
- Split the class into groups of 4-5 students
- Provide the class with a topic of discussion
- Let the students discuss as you circulate

Review: Not too bad, but still not quite structured/creative enough to really keep ALL of the students engaged.

Option C: The Dynamix Way
- Split the class into groups of 4-5 students
- Provide each group with dice (enough for each student to get 1)
- Provide the class with a topic of discussion
- Before students start discussing, all players roll their die at the same time.  The student to roll the highest number starts the discussion.
- Starting with that student, and moving clockwise, each student will have 1 minute to respond to the topic
- At the front of the class place a countdown timer that counts down the minute, and assign a fun action and/or sound that the rest of the students in the group are to make with the student's turn is over
- Pick a new topic and repeat the process

Review: More structured, more accountability, more fun!

There are tons of examples and situations out there where you can apply the same logic and creativity.  You just have to look for them and try different things out!

Stay structured and have FUN!!!

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