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Why Drill and Skill are Necessary in Education

I am a very creative person.  I love discovering, thinking, designing, and having a finished product to show.  I learn this way. Before I can create to demonstrate knowledge, I need to build a good foundational understanding.  Lately I have notice that “drill and skill” are getting a bad reputation in the education community.  Drill and skill games are sometimes seen as a waste of time, a memorization of unnecessary facts, or a lesser use of computer time.  I believe that drill and skill has an important place in education, particularly in the primary years where basics of learning are built.  These activities give students an opportunity to practice a skill and become familiar with it before creating with it.  Drill and skill games and activities give students room to find patterns and build understanding.  Consider a lesson on homophones, we could just ask students to create illustrations of each word using a program like Tux Paint and upload them to a presentation or class wiki.  But without some drill and skill practice, students may not have solidified their understanding of the concept.  They will most likely complete the assignment, but because they haven’t practiced the skill first, they haven’t had adequate time or interaction with the concept to recognize patterns and make connections.  If we begin with some drill and skill, students create with a more solid base of understanding that can then be built upon.  We offer the student the light-bulb moment when they start to recognize patterns or connections in content.    The mistake that is often made in education is the belaboring of drill and skill.  We burn students out with the constant fact practice, never giving the chance to actually do something meaningful with those patterns they have discovered in learning.  I am finding that, as in everything in life, learning requires a balance.  Don’t completely cut drill and skill from your classroom and don’t go overboard with it.  Give students an opportunity to practice the skills that they are learning, and then allow them to do something with them.

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Physics Central: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Download, Evaluate, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 09-01-2013

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What it is: Physics Central is a fantastic website full of…you guessed it, physics! There are fantastic sections for students to explore science, activity books, experiments and activities.  Students can learn more about physics in action (physics as found in the world around us), meet physicists, and learn about physics research.  Physics Central will ignite a students curiosity in: sound, electricity and magnetism, force and motion, light and optics, material science, quantum mechanics, space and the universe, and thermodynamics and heat.  My favorite find on Physics Central so far (I’m sure there will be many more favorites the longer I explore) is the Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair section.  Here, students will find a downloadable kit that includes a manual, comic book, and four related activities.

How to integrate Physics Central into the classroom: Physics has always been among my favorite sciences.  There is something about it that is fascinating to me. Physics Central is packed full of great resources to enrich your classroom.  The comics are a fun way to learn about famous scientists, inventors and events in science history.  The complementing activities bring the comics to life and invite students along on the journey of discovery.

Work with your students on a “PhysicsQuest” like Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair and see what they come up with. Compare their results with the actual solutions (posted on the site).  Join the current PhysicsQuest with your students to help students recognize the fun and relevance of science.  You can register now for the Spectra: Turbulent Times quest.

Tips: Start a PhysicsQuest with your students, as an after school club, or as a home extension investigation.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Physics Central in your classroom.

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