A new trailer has released for the upcoming Harry Potter movie, and I'm really excited about this movie. I was thinking about why I would post this here, on a blog devoted to educational technology, and it dawned on me that the same psychology that we would use in a classroom for pedagogical purposes is at play here. The studios are whetting our collective apetites around this upcoming film. It's the exact same kind of thing that we can do in our classes to get our students excited about their learning. There are lots of technology tools to help "HOOK" the kids, including podcasting, web applications, etc. and many of these are great for not only getting kids interested but also building on their background knowledge.
Several years ago, I was creating a lesson around plate tectonics and wanted to shake things up a bit and approach the content from a completely new perspective. At the time, Bjork, the singer from Iceland, had released a song and video for her composition, "Joga." The video was a metaphorical journey through the breaking up of a relationship by comparing it to the breaking apart of the land. The video showed Iceland breaking into pieces, with eruptions and earthquakes and faulting--everything I would be teaching in Plate Tectonics. In order to build interest and momentum, I wrote the word "Joga" on the board a couple of weeks beforehand. As the day for the lesson got closer and closer, I wrote the word bigger, I dropped the word into conversations, I pointed out that "IT" was coming soon, without giving away any revealing hints. By the time we got to the actual lesson, the students were virtually drooling over what I was asking them to do, and the conversations and learning that happened were intense, unexpected, and memorable. Some of them even wrote on their end of year evaluations that they would remember that particular lesson for a long, long time!
All that to say--sometimes a little show is important, a little entertainment, a little flash to get the kids really engaged. The brain remembers things that are exciting, that connects to the emotions, and anything that is different from the routine. I've said before that I don't expect teachers to feel like that must entertain their students at all times, but you've got to admit--a little excitement goes a long, long way!
So, without further adieu--here's the thing that's got me excited today: