Opinion
Education Opinion

Feeling Better, Thanks.

By Hanne Denney — October 29, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

I have to say I am feeling better now. Thanks for your messages of support. It seems I am not the only teacher who sometimes feels lonely, even if the midst of a teeming high school.

Here’s how I am getting over my case of Third-Year Syndrome. I presented a workshop at a conference for educators in my county: “Manipulatives in Secondary Social Studies and English”. My background is in early childhood education, and I applied what I know about teaching with manipulatives to very young children to what I know about teaching older children. It occurred to me that if I am teaching to multiple intelligences, and differentiating for learning styles and abilities, then using manipulatives is a good way to go. I’ve used seashells and cotton balls, little green army men, paintbrushes and post-it notes. I’ve had students moving around to tap out sonnet rhythms, and I’ve served rice with spices to demonstrate the importance of trade. I’ve used lots of “tricks” to reach my students. I believe in the theory of learning styles. I decided to share my experiences.

When I gave this workshop a week ago, the teachers who attended seemed to get excited by the ideas I was presenting. Some contributed their own ideas, which got me excited about other things I could do. I promised to write down the ideas, and send it out to the participants. I haven’t finished it yet, but I will this week. I couldn’t find much research on the topic, although it makes a lot of common sense to me. If a child needs to touch something, or create a visual image, or move something (including their own body) to learn, then I need to provide the opportunity to do so. Even in high school.

It is intuitive to me that adding manipulatives makes learning more fun and interactive. Students may not talk to each other in class discussion, but they’ll pass spices around to smell and taste. Students will remember more about the lesson reinforced with manipulatives. I know that’s true, even if it’s not “proven” yet. The little children I taught years ago still remember about horseshoe crabs because we dug holes in the beach and buried pebbles, just like the crabs dig to bury their eggs. My senior English 12 students remembered trench warfare of World War I (taught in my 10th grade World Civilization class two years ago) because they had lined up little soldiers standing in trenches drawn on a chart. I just tested my theory of secondary manipulative use. I asked these same kids to describe trench warfare in writing, and had very little response. But when I gave them the little army men to set up again, 8 out of 10 students were able to describe the horrors of trench warfare. Only one said, “I still have no idea” after the exercise. This is a rather small sample, I know, but I think it works.

So. I’m back into the excitement of teaching because I presented my ideas to my colleagues, and received some positive feedback. Maybe that’s what I need to do when I am feeling bogged down by “same-old, same-old”. Try something new, and talk about it, and ask others about it, and write about it. I have to get excited about it.

I’m looking forward to school this week. Hope you are, too.

And if you want a copy of my notes on using manipulatives in secondary English and Social Studies, send me an email at hdenney@aacps.org. You have to promise to add your own ideas and send it back to me. Keep me excited.

The opinions expressed in Ready or Not are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP