Do lessons need to be meaningful? Definitely. Do they need to be fun? Desirably. Do they need to be creative? Not necessarily.
“I aim for making fun lessons that also have meaning” is the oath that every serious teacher needs to take and uphold to while involved in their lesson planning endeavors. Creativity does matter but hardly to such a great extent as does relevance. What grabs and sustains students’ interest is the element of relevance and challenge which in turn makes learning memorable and thereby enhances retention.
Turning down Creativity while Turning on the Element of Challenge
To be entirely honest, a few times I find myself making overly-abstract activities that did have the fun factor but failed at delivering the knowledge. One time, I attempted teaching grade 5 students adjectives of personality along the idea of classifying feelings and emotions into positive, negative, and neutral by color-coding them and playing the twister game to practice the lesson. Complicated, isn’t it? Or better say, twisted, isn’t it?
My honest advice is, keep it meaningful and simple – one objective at a time. With extremely creative lessons we run the risk of failing to deliver results in terms of knowledge acquisition. You would be surprised that the ambitious kids even enjoy working on simple worksheets:
But most of all, as I have already mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, kids like activities where they adopt the detective’s role and investigate clues or crime scenes. How do I know? Definitely by the apparent level of engagement, by the spontaneous recollections of such games, and by the testimonies of the students themselves:
The Portfolio Reflection is a great tool for gathering useful feedback and gaining insights into the effectiveness of the activities. After collecting students’ responses, I run the statistics and get the basic facts as to the most and least popular activities. In this case, the range of activities is broad and spans across simple writing (such as worksheets), advanced writing (creative essay), reading, collaborative watching and summarizing, creating, investigating, and role-playing. There is also a balance between individual and group activities, between more interactive and more straightforwardly educational.
The two activities that topped the list involved setting up and investigating clues and observing mysterious/suspicious things around the school while practicing passive voice and past tense, respectively.
Bottom line, in your lesson planning don’t complicate your life nor the lives of the kids by imagining highly creative lessons. Instead, keep it simple, fun, and to the point. You would be amazed how kids can make the seemingly boring activity come alive as long as it represents a challenge.
Simplify teaching and learning.