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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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My Story Maker

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, web tools, Websites | Posted on 15-06-2009

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What it is:  My Story Maker is an amazing interactive website created for the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh.  My Story Maker is an interactive story book where students are in charge of creating a story.  Students choose characters, and a genre and then begin telling a story.  The students create the story by dragging and dropping characters, objects, and backgrounds into their story.  The characters can have emotions and perform actions with the different objects and interact with each other.  As students drag different elements to the story book, a story is written for them based on what is happening in the pictures.  When they are finished, they have created an interactive book that they can read and share with friends.

How to integrate My Story Maker into the classroom:   My Story Maker is a fantastic interactive tool to get students creating a story.  What I love about this website is the way that it encourages students to create by first thinking about the elements of a story (who will it be about?, what kind of story will it be?, what happens first?, what happens next?).  This is a great tool to use to help students understand the importance of beginning, middle, and end, setting, supporting details, and dialogue.  My Story Maker would be fun to use to create a whole class story using an interactive whiteboard.  Students could take turns adding elements to the story and reading the story aloud.  As students create the class story, be sure to keep them thinking about the setting, plot, and characters.  My Story Maker can also be used individually on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.  The written story will be very basic “Fox threw a ball to lion.”  Encourage students to embellish their stories with vivid verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  When students are finished with their story they can download it, share it with others, preview it, or print it. 

 

Tips:  I learned about this site from Kevin Jarrett‘s excellent blog.  Check it out for great tips and inspiration for your classroom!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using My Story Maker in your classroom.

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