I prefer to learn by immersing myself in the experience. Yes, I can learn by reading or simply watching someone go through the steps of a task. However, in order for me to fully grasp a concept or to understand the idiosyncrasies of something I need to be not only an active participant but often times I need to repeat the process multiple times in order to complete it on my own. The most recent example of this that I can think of was setting up my blog. I had to complete many of the steps while watching the videos, and the fact that my screen didn’t look exactly like the screen on the video was very taxing for me….because I starting questioning if I was even doing things right. This applies to many things. I am personally lucky enough that I can read something and follow the steps without a visual (in most cases) and have the same end result. I am not necessarily a hands on learner in the sense that I need materials to help me learn but I definitely have to do the action to learn the method.
I believe that because of my desire to immerse myself in the learning experience I tend to create that same type of experience within my classroom as much as possible. My typical lesson includes the required direct instruction, but I find ways to add music, dance and various interactions into the learning process. Once the direct instruction portion in completed and the students have their practice time we always start by working together then on their own. If it is math, manipulatives are used as visual and tactile supports. Since I work with young students I feel that the music/dance element really helps them to focus when it is time to sit still and provide a movement to connect to material. Lastly I integrate Kagan structure into out learning. These allow for group interaction and learning opportunities.
My practices come from a variety of places. Some are things I have learned from other teachers or have been encouraged to use. Mostly I they are imbedded in the belief that students need to be engaged in learning in multiple facets. By trying to approach topics from a variety of ways (music, movement, direct instruction, practice, interaction) students are more likely to find something they connect with and gravitate to. Each method also helps to reinforce the instructional objective.