Hands-On Learning

(PIDP Week 6 – My thoughts on an interesting education-related article)

I read an article online by RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching), which said the following, “Somewhere between kindergarten and the senior year of high school, many students lose their natural love of learning. Sadly, it is replaced by apathy and disaffection. As students struggle to connect with what they are being taught, they fall further behind and become more disconnected. The engagement gap has an even more profound negative impact on students who are coping with learning challenges. Fortunately, simple and proven tools exist to close the engagement gap: hands-on activities rekindle a love of learning and connect abstract concepts to the real world — while achieving desired educational outcomes.”

hands-on learning

Learning needs to be participant-driven and active. When you combine activities that require movement, talking, and listening, it activates multiple areas of the brain. “The more parts of your brain you use, the more likely you are to retain information,” says Judy Dodge, author of 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom (Scholastic, 2009). “If you’re only listening, you’re only activating one part of the brain,” she says.

In my class, I would like to adjust my curriculum to involve more time in the shop as I believe my students would benefit from more hands-on learning. I would like to try start using the practical work as motivation for my students to dig into more theory. In the shop, I could ask each student to quickly explain what they’re doing and why, as well as what they’re learning along the way. I believe this would give them motivation to dig deeper into their books to prepare themselves for their hands-on work. Everyone wants to leave my class with a career in welding. This would also provide me with authentic opportunities for observation and assessment; I could see how well the students follow directions, how they apply their knowledge and how they use their skills to complete their given project. We already do this in some sections, but it would be great to increase the practical components in other sections. I could start with a small adjustment to my curriculum and expand as much as possible from there.

Students want their education to be for real and I wholeheartedly agree that should be the case.  Giving them the hands-on experience they need is crucial to their success, don’t you agree?



Bridging the Engagement Gap with Hands-On Teaching, February 2013. RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) http://www.raft.net/case-for-hands-on-learning.

Dodge, Judy, Scholastic, 2009. Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom


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