I recently read the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is not a book review but rather notes of things I don’t want to forget. There were ideas here that made an impact on me become some of the stuff I already do and I didn’t know why I do it that way or the significance of what I do. I began to wonder if I’m consistent in doing things and knowing how important it is, I hope I do it more often. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it and I’m glad that I took the time to read it.
The book emphasizes seven basic principles using the acronym of SUCCES: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, story. I began to think about whether I use these in my classroom. I also looked at the lessons that I know really worked well and those that didn’t. I can analyze these and see the ones that didn’t work are the ones where I skipped these principles. When I looked at the ones that were successful, I saw the seven principles could be clearly seen.
Simple is very important. I have a relative that tells these long complicated stories whenever I get in a conversation with him and before he finishes the second sentence, I have drifted elsewhere. I can see his lips moving and hear sound come out of his mouth, but I quit trying to process what he is saying. It is too much work for me to try to figure out the point of what he is saying.
As for unexpected, I think it is important to think about what the students may assume. Sometimes their preconceived ideas can affect their attitudes so if I can stay ahead of them, sometimes I can surprise them. This surprise keeps them engaged into wanting to know more.
Concrete is a definite must. Many of my students have a hard time understanding the abstract if they can’t figure out the concrete part. I think most people are that way but we take it for granted that everyone knows this. I need to look at my lessons and make sure that when I introduce them, it is something they can see and experience.
I love to tell stories and I guess it helps me from being bored when I teach a lesson. If the lesson is boring to tell it, then I’m sure it is boring to hear it. So I like to throw in a story or two to keep us all interested. I believe that in my stories, I include the credible and the emotional part altogether. Knowing that something actually happened helps make it credible and usually if I remembered it, it is because it had some emotional impact on me. This emotion is something I want to share with my students.
When we do some review before a test, sometimes my students need a prompt to come up with the answer. I usually can remind them about the story that I told. When they recall the story, they are able to come up with the correct answer.
If you get a chance to read this book, I hope you take the time. If you have already read it, do you have any suggestions or comments to add? What was your opinion of the book?
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'NASCAR Duct Tape, in association with 3M'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/87231304@N00/1345233680 by: Sean Neakums