It's too easy to point out Confucius' saying that ends with "I do and I understand". But it's also true! Learners must be highly involved in experiential teaching strategies to be successful 21st century citizens.

Where do you use experiential strategies? How often?

If say “I use them every day!” I am not sure I’d believe you. And if it were true I’d not be sure how effective a teacher you would be and also would be wondering if you weren’t on intravenous when you got home.

These strategies will take a lot out of you!

So before we get all that much more deep into things experiential and particularly into simulation and role play let’s be sure of a couple of obvious and not so obvious tenets:

  • Using ANY teaching mode every day is probably not good instructional practice
  • Experiential strategies are often difficult to assess using conventional measures
  • Experiential teaching strategies typically take longer instructional time than chalk and talk strategies
  • You’ve got to know your audience and your audience!
  • Some things just are not worthy of or do not lend themselves to simulation and role play strategies
  • In order for an experiential strategy to be worthy for a content area or skills domain the teacher must carefully reduce the area’s content of skill to a simple but comprehensive model.
  • Teachers need to be comfortable in their new role.

This post will examine the first two points.

  • Using ANY teaching method …. Here I confess to some uncertainty. Why not use a method if it works? Am I arguing for using strategies that DON’T work? No, I am arguing for using a variety of strategies whose research or practice seem to bear themselves out as effective for your students. At the risk of wandering into a discussion of computer simulations, I think it is reasonable to assume that even the most engrossing version of the latest computer game (simulations all after all) have to lose their luster over time. And the fact is that other strategies, case studies in social studies for example, are worthy because these strategies require and reinforce skills that students also need to practice and master.
  •  I am not proud of what I will also offer next. If you “convert” your  class experiential – enthusiasts, you can bet that they will have a lot of trouble re-converting to the next chalk and talk teacher they have. I told you I wouldn’t be proud of what I would say. But I believe this to be true nonetheless.
  • Experiential strategies are often difficult to assess … Also a sad fact I am afraid. Multiple choice exams about the War of 1812 if you could somehow “simulate” the War of 1812 might be problematic unless you somehow could design a really content-laden experience. However, and this is critical, I guarantee, money-back, that they will be able to write any essay, solve any problem you or an outside agency poses to them, by the nature of the engagement and participation you exacted from their involvement.
  • I guess the umbrella comment here would be “Choose and choose wisely.”

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