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Interactive Learning Experiences, Grades 6-12

Interactive Learning Experiences, Grades 6-12
Increasing Student Engagement and Learning

Second Edition

September 2008 | 168 pages | Corwin
'This book will excite teachers who want to motivate today's secondary students. Information about the brain, presented along with the authorÆs personal teaching experiences, tips, and creative game ideas, makes for a very worthwhile read!'ùCindy Bean, Seventh-Grade Math TeacherArcola Intermediate Middle School, Schwenksville, PAEnergize adolescents with memorable and engaging learning experiences!Research shows that the adolescent brain is wired to seek novelty and ignore familiar stimuli. This innovative resource demonstrates how teachers can transform everyday classroom lectures into memorable experiences and reinforce course content by introducing new, different, and surprising elements into daily lessons.Based on brain-compatible teaching principles, the updated edition of Making Learning Come Alive shows how to use stimulating interactive learning experiences to connect teenagers with content. Teachers will find activities and ideas for introducing each learning experience and will discover how to design and assess their own. Updated throughout, this new edition offers:Nine new sample learning experiences, including four in math and science A revised assessment chapter that covers standards-based education and NCLB Reflection questions in each chapterThe learning activities can be used as is or modified to connect with hundreds of themes and concepts across middle school and high school curricula.
About the Author
1. Why Create an Experience?
What Is an Experience?

Brain-Compatible Learning

Seeing Into the Brain

How the Brain Learns

Brain Research and Education: What Teachers Need to Know

Why Is It So Hard to Impress a Teenager?

Emotion: At the Center of the Brain

Complex Learning Activities

The Power of Reflection

Reflection Questions for Teachers

2. How to Create an Experience
Preparing a Classroom Environment Conducive to Experiences

Here's the Problem

Spread the Love: Rapport-Building Exercises

The Physical Environment

Strategies for Creating Experiences

What Does Infinity Smell Like?

Move Your Body

Using Music to Build Anticipation, Excitement, and Readiness

Tying Music to Your Curriculum

Fantasy Contexts

Putting It All Together: Creating Your Own Experiences

Student Involvement

Other Ideas for Experiences

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Ideas for English and Social Studies Teachers

Ideas for Math and Science Teachers

Ideas for World Language Teachers

Ideas for Health, Wellness, and Physical Education Teachers

Reflection Questions for Teachers

3. How Do You Assess an Experience?
Traditional vs. Authentic Assessment

Reflection as Formative Assessment

Aligning Your Experiences to Standards

Why Standards-Based?

Reflection as Summative Assessment

Other Considerations

See What They Already Know Before You Begin

Reflection Questions for Teachers

4. Sample Experiences
Guess Who Had This for Dinner

The Eliminator

Morning Move-Around

The Wave

Two Truths and a Lie

The Name Game


Old-Fashioned Sing Down

Musical Moment

The Reveal

Debate Shift-Around

Save the Princess


The Arrest


The Scream

The Fire


Island Survival

The Salesman

Witch Hunt

The Farm Game

Crime Scene

Rollercoaster Designer

5. Making Experiences Work for You
Resource A. Reproducible Handouts
Song Reflection Report

Save the Princess


The Scream


Island Survival

The Salesman

The Farm Game

Crime Scene

Lab Report

Resource B. Additional Resources
Brain-Based Learning Fun Kit

Web Resources About Brain-Compatible Learning

Web Resources About Simulation Games


"This book will excite teachers who want to help motivate today’s secondary students. Information about the brain, presented along with the author’s personal teaching experiences, tips, and creative game ideas, makes for a very worthwhile read!"

Cindy Bean, Seventh-Grade Math Teacher
Arcola Intermediate Middle School, Schwenksville, PA

"Makes teachers think about the purpose and connection that a game will have to the curriculum as well as to students’ lives. This book helps clarify the purpose of including meaningful experiential games in the classroom."

Joan Baltezore, Biology Teacher
West Fargo High School, ND

"Smokler passionately argues the need for games in the curriculum as a means to create authentic and meaningful learning experiences. Hands down, this is the best book I’ve read about the use of games in the classroom!"

Sherry Annee, Biology Teacher
Brebeuf Jesuit Prep School, Indianapolis, IN

"The book begins with the teenager’s brain. In layman's terms, it lets teachers know why teenagers are difficult to engage and how to create a classroom atmosphere that will hold their attention and allow them to learn."

Melody Aldrich, English Teacher
Florence High School, AZ

"Gives teachers a variety of simulations and creative ideas they can try in their classrooms to help enhance and energize their teaching."

Chris Baker, Eighth-Grade Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair
Salem Middle School, Apex, NC

David Smokler

David Smokler currently teaches English in Needham, Massachusetts. Jobs for English teachers were nonexistent, so unable to get a traditional teaching gig, Smokler accepted a job teaching juvenile offenders on a horse-drawn, cross-country, covered wagon train. He planned lessons and taught literature and writing to more than fifty incarcerated students while traveling twenty to twenty-five miles a day on horse- and mule-drawn wagons from Pennsylvania to southwestern Texas. On the wagon train, Smokler began to develop some of the experiences in this book. After another year of teaching juvenile offenders in prison, Smokler moved to Cape Cod... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412963367
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