The average attention span of a healthy, normal teenager is estimated to be 32 to 48 minutes long. It is common for a subject lesson to exceed the average attention span of a teenager. Passionate teachers constantly look for creative ways to captivate their students, drive home the lesson, and make learning a fun activity.
However, in Malaysian high schools, the syllabus is geared towards focusing on textbook materials particularly for SPM and IGCSE. Often, the theory and practical aspects of studying are separated to make examinations more effective. This phenomenon may hinder a student’s interest in the subject.
Thankfully, there are ways to make learning enjoyable.
Here are 5 fun lesson plans teachers could integrate into their teaching to make the learning experience exciting and simultaneously motivate students.
1. Field Trip Day
Everyone needs a change of environment once in a while. Students are no exception. The thought of studying in a classroom all day can make learning a dry and somewhat dull activity. Teachers should take the students out for a field trip.
We recommend finding a destination that is in line with the subject or topic studied. For example, for Chemistry, organize a tour to a local food processing plant, or for Biology, to the local zoo or aquarium.
Plantzania – Plantzania is an edu-ecotourism science hub that combines education, outdoor activities, and experience with mother nature, while incorporating the 5F concept: Farming, Foresting, Fun, Fantasy & Fascinating. Organizers can choose between 2 package options that cater to a smaller group of 15 participants or a larger group of 50. Plantzania is open to high school and tertiary education students.
Find out more about Plantzania here: https://www.plantzania.com/plantzania-school-attack-club/plantzania-industrial-visit-package/
Kidzania – Kidzania caters to students aged 4 to 14 offering realistic role-playing, hands on real life occupations in a fun yet engaging learning environment. Students are exposed to a variety of roles available, ranging from cashiers to endoscopy anesthesiologists. With every visit, teenagers experience real-life skills such as starting a career and financial literacy. There’s even something for teachers! There are four options for teachers’ resources based on Psychomotor development, Cognitive development, Emotional development, and Social development.
Find out more about Kidzania here: https://www.kidzania.com.my/
Entopia – Entopia brings you nature’s largest classroom and discovery hub, where butterflies and insects are free to come out and play. Students will be greeted with 2 worlds of discovery - The Natureland living outdoor gardens and The Cocoon indoor discovery centre. Over 150 species of fauna and more than 200 species of flora are being showcased throughout Entopia’s entire exhibition. It’ll be a sure way to get your students interested in wildlife and the environment.
Find out more about Entopia here: http://www.entopia.com/
Field trips can help students see the applications of their learning in the real world. It also fosters social activity outside of the classroom and gives them something to look forward to – a day out.
2. Special Guest Appearance
Who better to talk about a subject than someone who lives and breathes it? As a teacher’s experience in a specific subtopic might be limited, there’s always the option of a guest speaker.
Start by inviting a POC (Person of Interest) who is an expert on the subject matter. One brilliant way to effectively do this is to invite a fellow alumni or a former student to come share his or her experience with the juniors. Preferably, choose one that pioneered related breakthrough technology or someone who works in the field of study.
Special guest appearances allow students to absorb first-hand experience and knowledge from the guest speakers themselves. Question & Answer sessions after the guest’s presentation encourage an interactive atmosphere. A guest speaker may also have opportunities for students after school such as internships, job vacancies, and apprenticeships.
3. Team Building
In the working world, part of an employee’s training includes mandatory Team Building. Team Building is an event or a series of events consisting of exercises that enforce positive team behavior and interaction. As students also work in teams, team building activities can be used to foster their cohesion. It could be a camping trip or a day trip with planned out activities which can be done at places such as Skytrex Adventure, that provides different circuits with different levels of difficulties. Find out more here: https://www.skytrex-adventure.org/
Team building has immense benefits for teenagers. Students will be pushed to work with those they don’t usually work with. This creates a sense of camaraderie and showmanship to take on tasks.
Not just students, but teachers also participate as part of the team. Team building further reminds us that learning is not confined to textbooks and classrooms.
4. Combined Learning
Many subjects such as Pendidikan Jasmani (Physical Education) and Moral Studies are often taught with combined classes. Combining students from multiple classes makes learning more fun. Students relish the interaction with new faces from other classes as well as familiar ones.
Combined learning reduces the need for more teachers. Only one teacher needed for the class, significantly reducing lesson planning. In fact, 2 teachers can take turns to teach one class. The end result is a more dynamic lesson overall. Sharing teacher duties also reduces teacher fatigue.
Another benefit of combined learning is to foster equal interaction. Some classes may look down on others (due to school streaming) but both classes studying the same materials will change that outlook. It creates a levelled playing field for students to recognize other classes as their equals instead of their rivals. Sharing a classroom also enables the sharing of materials. A school’s computer lab may have a limited number of computers, so group projects are easier carried out with combined classes.
5. A Day Off
What? Really? No – a ‘day off’ does not mean we do not do any learning. Taking a day off means teachers encourage students to be creative in their learning experience within the boundaries of the subject material they are doing. One idea is to encourage students to read, write, watch educational programs, or simply discuss previous lessons learned.
The benefits of taking “off days” could be tremendous. Students will realize that there are different ways to learn the subject instead of the teacher speaking in front of the class. They will get creative in finding ways to learn on their own – and this is a priceless experience for college and university.
Most importantly, students learn that it’s okay to take an “off day” especially when working hard.
This will be handy after cramping in hours and hours of study for SPM or IGCSE or any other final examinations.
These are just some ways to get creative in lesson planning. Try any one of them and we guarantee your students will thank you for it.