Teaching Content Outrageously: How to Captivate All Students and Accelerate Learning, Grades 4-12

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You can also post your Outrageous classroom management suggestions by submitting a comment to the post on classroom management below, or e mailing it to me at: info hots. While the emphasis of the book is on Outrageous lessons for the teaching of existing content objectives, there is a major section on classroom management. This does not just refer to discipline, but also on how to get students engaged in behaviors critical to all learning, such as speaking up, taking notes, listening to other students' answers, etc.

Outrageous classroom management means getting students to engage in these behaviors without lecturing them on it, but by creating a scenario within which they naturally do so. For example, you can get students to speak up by putting cotton in your ear and pretending to have an ear infection, and that you cannot hear them when they speak softly.

There are many other such examples in the book, but I would be interested in hearing your effective Outrageous techniques. Posted by Stan at AM 2 comments: Links to this post. Teaching Math Outrageously. Math is all too often taught as a cut and dried set of rules to be memorized and practice. However, mathematics is really about creating and solving puzzles and discovering relationships. To mathematicians math is gamelike and fun, and those sense can be recreated for students via Outrageous lessons. As a former math teacher, I received funding from the National Science Foundation to create a pre-Algebra curriculum based on fantasy.

There are a variety of techniques that can be used to get students involved in discovering math rules, including anthrophormizing concepts, motion games, etc. There are several examples of Outrageous math lessons in the book, including using dancing to enable students to discover the rules for multiplying signed numbers. Language arts easily lends itself to Outrageous instruction, and there are lots of such examples in the book. In addition to teaching literature, Outrageous teaching can also be used to make 'boring' grammar and writing content exciting to students.

It flexibility allows it to be widely applied to the most frustrating ideas to teach and learn. I am also proud that California English was the first discipline specific journal to publish an article about Outrageous teaching Feb Teaching Foreign Language Outrageously. Foreign language teaching lends itself richly to Outrageous instruction. It is quite easy to create imaginary scenarios and settings that get students to learn new language concepts and definitions by being immersed in the moment. There are several examples in the book of students learning new definitions strictly by playing along with teacher role-play.

Please send your successful examples of successful foreign language Outrageous lessons. If you own the copyright to this book and it is wrongfully on our website, we offer a simple DMCA procedure to remove your content from our site. Start by pressing the button below! The combination of cognitive science, humor, insight, techniques, and examples will make you laugh, inspire you, and give you the practical tools to create imaginative and original ways to teach key content objectives. Let Stanley Pogrow show you how dramatization and humor can help you teach any content far more effectively to a wary classroom audience.

This is the one book that should be read by all those who want to make a difference by captivating, inspiring, and empowering all learners. Hal Williams, Tucson, AZ Teaching Content Outrageously For teachers who struggle to connect with students who seem restless, bored, and indifferent, Teaching Content Outrageously offers the perfect antidote.

We offer classroom-tested and research-based teaching resources for a variety of grade levels and subject areas. Whether you are an aspiring, new, or veteran teacher, we want to help you make every teaching day your best. From ready-to-use classroom activities to the latest teaching framework, our value-packed books provide insightful, practical, and comprehensive materials on the topics that matter most to K—12 teachers. We hope to become your trusted source for the best ideas from the most experienced and respected experts in the field. Pogrow ffirs. He demonstrates his creativity, and that of the teachers he works with, in this powerful reminder that lively lessons produce engaged learners.

A wonderful book demonstrating that creative teaching is within the grasp of all who are privileged enough to be called teacher.

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Pogrow tells not only what outrageous content teaching is, but how to do it effectively, and how to train others to do it. The book is vital for teachers and professional developers interested in accelerating student learning as well as in improving teacher practices. The book is informative, practical, and fun. All rights reserved. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate.

Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. Jossey-Bass books and products are available through most bookstores. Jossey-Bass also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books.

Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN pbk. Education—Experimental methods. Teaching—Aids and devices. Creative teaching. Drama in education. P64 Pogrow f In addition, as public schools in the United States become increasingly segregated by race, and as accountability pressures grow, all of these problems are exacerbated.

The problems with the first three are obvious. What is a teacher to do? The best solution is to convert those content lessons into learning experiences that are so fascinating and entertaining that students cannot help but be drawn into what you are trying to get them to learn, and hang onto your every word and gesture!

A pipe dream? A fantasy? Not really. It actually is possible to draw all students deeply into what you are trying to teach, pretty much whenever you want to. This book describes a methodology for creating lessons and units for teaching any content, be it traditional or standards based, in ways that engage and inspire even the most reluctant, resistant, and superficial learner. The techniques provide a way for teachers to have fun teaching those lessons and units that have formerly been trouble, while increasing student learning. In this book you will meet teachers across the content areas who are teaching in such an unusual and daring fashion that the only adjectives that apply to describe these lessons and units are outrageous and highly effective.

These types of lessons and units are hereafter referred to in this book as Outrageous Teaching, or teaching content Outrageously. The Outrageous Teaching approach is designed to teach conventional content objectives more effectively and quickly than traditional approaches.

It is the fusion of art, creativity, imagination, and emotion—and pragmatics. The techniques of Outrageous Teaching are designed to be employed by any teacher with a bit of daring in any content area in grades 4 through The focus viii About This Book Pogrow f PURPOSE This book presents a validated methodology for designing highly dramatic and unconventional lessons for meeting standards-based content objectives or any other content objectives that any teacher can use in any curricular area. Most teachers already use some of these techniques in their everyday instruction to maintain discipline and for other instructional management purposes.

If you would like to experience this amazing transformation in your classroom, read and use this book, which provides a specific planning methodology called the Dramatized Content Planning Method. This method makes it possible for all teachers in all content areas to design such lessons. In addition, the book provides extensive examples of teachers using these techniques in different content areas.

You will find here lessons that are masterful. Can you design such lessons? Although you may at first feel intimidated by how good these lessons are, please keep in mind that most of the highlighted lessons were designed by inexperienced student teachers. If they could tap their imagination to create these types of show-stopping lessons, you too can develop highly original and creative Outrageous lessons that convert even the most prosaic topics into captivating and effective learning experiences.

All the sample lessons and units in this book are highlighted. The techniques presented in this book are highly practical—albeit a bit weird. They are derived from my research and successful experience using drama as a curricular technique in the large-scale reform programs I have developed over the past twenty-six years, and from my work with student teachers at the University of Arizona.

This program integrated theories of learning, technology, and drama to create a powerful Socratic learning environment for developing the types of thinking and literacy skills that underlie all learning, and it substituted these activities for remedial instruction. I also designed Supermath, which is an alternative approach to teaching the pre-algebra topics that are most difficult for all students to learn, such as word problems. Supermath used technology to create fantasy contexts in which math content was critical for resolving dilemmas that were of interest to students, as a way to teach both mathematical reasoning and content objectives.

Both of these programs incorporated heavy doses of dramatic technique, humor, and fantasy, and led to key discoveries about the conditions under which a dramatic approach could increase and deepen learning to a greater degree than relying on conventional approaches. Could such knowledge be used by all teachers in their everyday teaching? To find out, I asked each of my student teachers to prepare a highly dramatic lesson for me to observe.


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Over time I refined how I prepared them to create such lessons. The result was some of the most amazing teaching I have ever seen. Examples of these lessons and units are found in Chapters Five and Seven. Thus, the techniques presented in this book have been developed, used, and validated over an extended period. All of the sample lessons and units described here are ones I witnessed teachers using successfully with students—often in the toughest classrooms and schools.

In addition, to give a better sense of what it is like to develop and teach these types of lessons and units, each example not only describes the lesson but also describes the background of its development, the reaction of the teacher and students, and the aftermath and effects of the lesson. This book is designed to enable all teachers who have a sense of humor, a dash of daring, and a desire to reach their students more deeply to use the techniques of Outrageous Teaching to develop highly original, creative, and engaging ways of converting even the most prosaic content objectives and topics into captivating and effective learning experiences for their students.

The book is also designed to be used by administrators and instructional leaders seeking a x About This Book Pogrow f Clearly, Outrageous Teaching is not the first effort to enhance instruction through dramatic technique and the use of humor and fantasy. This practice goes back to ancient times.

Many teachers already employ drama and other progressive techniques such as simulation, role-play, games, readers theater, and so on. What makes Outrageous Teaching unique compared to traditional classroom use of dramatic technique is that, rather than relegating such techniques to review and enrichment, it is specifically designed to be the primary instructional technique for teaching targeted content objectives.

This is the goal of Outrageous Teaching, regardless of whether the targeted curriculum objectives are mandated by state or federal standards or by the independent decision of a school or district, or selected by you, the teacher, on the basis of your own instincts about what is important for your students to learn.

Outrageous Teaching is thus both effective and efficient. As readers will see in the sample lessons presented in the book, Outrageous Teaching not only increases content learning and transforms the student-teacher relationship, but also does so in less time than traditional teaching. Also, the techniques are optimized for content learning in grades 4 through This means that the techniques can be used to teach rigorous and complex concepts.

Indeed, the more rigorous and complex the concepts are, the more valuable the techniques are for making them interesting and accessible to students. In addition, Outrageous Teaching is so powerful that even a few such lessons are transformative for both About This Book xi Pogrow f Students who formerly were passive come alive and reveal their true capabilities. Because Outrageous Teaching is effective, efficient, and focused on complex content objectives, its use is consistent with, though not limited to, the current emphasis on standards and accountability.

Standards and accountability dictate merely what content should be taught, not how the content should be taught. In addition, teaching Outrageously does not require additional funds or equipment—it requires only imagination and daring.

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Enough about pragmatics and standards. The bottom line for teachers and students is that it is lots more fun to teach and to learn through Outrageous Teaching than through traditional instructional approaches. It is hoped that reading this book will put lots of smiles on your face, with an occasional belly laugh, and above all, inspire you to venture forth. The chapter also provides a glimpse of an Outrageous lesson. Chapter Two discusses the history of incorporating dramatic technique into education.

It presents the different schools of thought and describes how the use of dramatic technique evolved differently in the United States than it did in England. This chapter also discusses the theoretical and research bases that support the use of dramatic technique as an instructional tool, and provides a follow-up glimpse of the Outrageous lesson previewed in Chapter One. Chapter Three describes the typical uses of dramatic techniques in the classroom—from maintaining discipline and providing instructional management to using student role-play strategies, including games and simulations, to review and reinforce content learning.

The chapter then discusses how many of these widely used, valuable techniques form the building blocks of Outrageous Teaching. It then compares how Outrageous Teaching differs in its application of those techniques and why it tends to be more efficient and effective for teaching standards-based content, or any teacher-initiated content.

The example of the Outrageous lesson glimpsed in earlier chapters is then presented in its entirety xii About This Book Pogrow f Chapters Four through Seven focus on the how-to and practical aspects of implementing Outrageous lessons and units, along with lots of examples, and advice on how to get started. The sample lessons are highlighted with a gray screen. Chapter Four describes the daily-lesson planning method used to create Outrageous lessons and links the techniques discussed in the preceding chapters to the sample lesson presented in Chapter Three.

Lots of additional examples are presented to illustrate how to plan each part of an Outrageous lesson. A lesson-planning template is also provided. Chapter Five presents additional examples of teachers conducting Outrageous lessons in a variety of content areas with students in grades 4 through It discusses how the lessons were developed, and the reactions of the students and teachers to these very different types of lessons.

The techniques used to develop the lessons are compared, and the lesson plan template for each lesson is provided. Chapter Six describes what can be learned from the experiences of the teachers and students in the sample lessons presented earlier, in terms of the benefits for students and teachers and for the process of lesson development.

Chapter Seven discusses how everyone, from individual teachers to schools and the profession as a whole, can get started using Outrageous lessons. It also discusses how the planning techniques can be extended to create Outrageous units, and to develop lessons for the earliest grades. Chapter Eight reviews the rationales for and benefits from teaching content Outrageously. Together these chapters provide both a theoretical rationale and a specific, validated methodology that all teachers can use to apply dramatic technique, humor, and imagination to their teaching in order to enrich their professional practice and inspire transformative student learning.

They also offer many inspirational examples of successful experiences. About This Book xiii Pogrow f Stanley Pogrow started his career as a math teacher in the New York City public schools. He currently serves as professor of educational leadership at San Francisco State University. HOTS has been used in approximately 2, schools in forty-eight states and has served close to a half-million Title I and LD students. HOTS has won numerous state and federal awards. Pogrow also developed Supermath, a form of pre-algebra mathematics curriculum that develops math problem-solving skills in all students.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Supermath uses technology to create dramatic contexts for applying and inferring mathematical concepts constructivistically. His latest reform effort is the Hi-Perform School, a redesign of high-poverty elementary schools to reduce the learning gap. He is the author of four books, including Education in the Computer Age: Issues of Policy, Practice, and Reform , and more than one hundred journal articles.

He did a series of monographs on exemplary middle school curricula for each of the major content areas for the National Middle School Association. He has made more than presentations around the United States and abroad. Pogrow is a noted teacher educator. More than three thousand teachers have gone through his small-group, weeklong workshop on how to develop thinking skills in children born into poverty, and he has mentored more than one hundred student teachers. He continues to offer workshops on thinking development and schoolwide questioning strategies, and now plans to offer workshops on creating Outrageous lessons.

Without them, their ideas, and their dedication to students and to the craft of teaching, this book would not have been possible, nor would any of my other professional accomplishments have been possible.

Toward a Neo-Deweyan Theory of Curriculum Analysis and Development.

I would also especially like to thank the first teacher I ever observed, who was also the best—my mom, Rhoda may she rest in peace. A very special thanks goes to Christie Hakim, associate editor at Jossey-Bass, for maintaining her interest and support over the four-year period from when I first broached the idea for this book to when I had the time to start writing it. Her enthusiasm for new ideas is inspiring. In addition, her critical insights were always on target and an invaluable guide. Finally, I would like to thank my research assistant, Penney Radillo, for her research on the history of theater, and Barbara Bobbi McKean, associate professor of theater arts education at the University of Arizona, for her suggestions on sources.

Pogrow flast. M chapter ost teachers enter the teaching profession with an idealistic vision of impacting the lives of their students. They see themselves in a classroom in which their students hang onto their every word. It is a battle that is often lost. As many teachers realize, conventional approaches to content instruction, even approaches employing state-of-the-art, best-practice strategies, are often inadequate for serving the large percentage of students in public schools who are reluctant, superficial, or resistant learners.

They are often inadequate for meeting standards-based content objectives, even in high-performing schools. A major challenge for teachers is how best to motivate and engage students who are discouraged or underachieving their true potential. Underperforming learners, be they students born into poverty or from advantaged backgrounds, often do not see purpose in what they are taught and respond with boredom, apathy, and misbehavior.

Conventional approaches to instruction have been inadequate in reversing the low achievement and high dropout rates now prevalent in all too many schools. Dropouts report that boredom is a major contributor to their ONE Pogrow c There are also large numbers of reluctant learners who do well generally but have lost motivation to learn in a particular content area. This inability is typically viewed as not having the skills to maintain discipline. Indeed, little has changed since Charles Silberman documented the absolute boredom of students in the typical classroom in high-poverty schools in his classic book Crisis in the Classroom: The Remaking of American Education The experience of walking through a high-poverty school is much the same today as it was thirty or a hundred years ago.

The dominant expression on the faces of disadvantaged students is generally boredom or resignation. The same is true when teachers in all schools and in any content area teach particular lessons and units. But this need not be so! And that is why this book was written. It is time to recognize that this era of on-demand, individualized, and YouTubed entertainment is producing as fundamental a shift in communication and learning patterns today as the printing press did years ago. The key to teaching reluctant and resistant learners who have grown up with unsurpassed access to on-demand entertainment is to transform the classroom into a highly intriguing learning environment, to make it entertaining, dramatic, visually captivating, and a multisensory experience.

It is time to accept that we cannot always teach content conventionally! This approach does not work anymore for most students. Unfortunately, even if you agree with this sentiment, chances are that you teachers were not trained in how to produce highly creative unconventional instructional environments that can increase learning. Nor were you administrators trained to encourage the use of unconventional instructional approaches as part of a systematic approach to school improvement.

But even if you did want to create very dramatic learning environments, most of the published work on using drama and humor focuses primarily on using 2 Teaching Content Outrageously Pogrow c All of these are important uses of dramatic techniques. However, they only scratch the surface of the potential of using dramatic instructional approaches. We can transfix students even while teaching seemingly prosaic content. Later in this book you will read about lessons in which hard-core problem students and classes in the toughest schools were transfixed and hanging on every word and gesture of their teacher.

When that happens, it is an inspirational and fun moment for the teacher as well. After even one such experience, student and teacher come to view each other differently—with mutual heightened respect and admiration. The big need is for a practical way to use dramatic approaches as a primary technique for teaching new content across the curriculum in grades 4 through 12—that is, to teach the content Outrageously. Outrageous Teaching is a powerful tool for all teachers to use to stimulate learning in those lessons and students for which conventional instruction is not likely to be effective.

This book goes beyond conventional notions of using dramatic technique in education. The goal is to use dramatic technique, humor, and imagination in combination to create lessons that are so different from conventional instruction, and so far out, that the only words to characterize them are Outrageous and amazingly effective. What is Outrageous Teaching and why is it so effective?

Why is it able to captivate reluctant and resistant learners and squirrelly classes? Why is it able to stimulate high levels of learning in otherwise passive or confused students? Can drama and humor really be the basis of a large-scale tool for improving content instruction and increasing academic achievement? To understand what Outrageous Teaching is and why it is so effective, it is important first to understand dramatic technique, the base on which the method is built.

Note: This site no longer exists. On the basis of these definitions, this book views classroom use of dramatic technique as Teacher actions that turn lessons into a collective experience by creating a story or context that produces excitement and other emotions central to acquiring and consciously processing the key content ideas and knowledge. Although this definition includes what most educators think of as drama— that is, theatrical productions—it is a much broader definition that includes all aspects of artistic expression that performers—in this case, teachers—can use to create a dramatic tension that enthralls and draws in an audience—in this case, their students.

As such, it is the most underused and powerful teaching technique in American education. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. See the history of drama use in Appendix A. Dramatic practices are also widely used in the modern classroom. Many teachers are already familiar with conventional techniques that engage students in role-playing, improvisations, games, and simulated experiences.

Although these practices are important, they barely scratch the surface of the potential of using dramatic technique as a teaching and learning tool. The method featured in this book places great importance on the role of the teacher in incorporating dramatic practices into the design and staging of the original content instruction, rather than first teaching the content conventionally.

The goal of these practices is to capture the attention of students at the onset of the content instruction, and to gain their willingness and commitment to fulfill specified content learning objectives. Although the conventional reinforcement approach to using dramatic technique is valuable, it tends to be inefficient. In other words, you are basically teaching the content objectives twice—first conventionally and then using dramatic technique to reinforce it.

Why not just teach the content from the beginning using the more creative, enriched approach? That is the goal of Outrageous Teaching. Outrageous Teaching it is not designed to replace all instruction. However, for those lessons and content objectives that a teacher has decided will be of greatest Why Teach Outrageously in All the Content Areas?

It is how the content objectives are taught from the very beginning—as opposed to being merely a supplemental approach. In Outrageous Teaching, the teacher teaches the same lessons he or she would teach using conventional methods, covering the same content, but in a very different, far more compelling fashion.

No lessons are added to a unit to incorporate Outrageous Teaching. Outrageous Teaching is thus the first classroom use of dramatic technique that does not require incorporating additional lessons to teach content in an enriched fashion. Outrageous Teaching integrates humor, imagination, and dramatic technique to develop inventive storylines that provide a context that seems important to students in terms of how they think.

For most of the lesson, students have no idea what the content objective is—even as they are learning the content. All they know is that whatever is happening seems interesting and strange. The storyline also contains a dilemma that students are called on to resolve and, in doing so, to unknowingly, at first, learn and apply the formal content. The more Outrageous the storyline is, the better it is. The specific techniques for creating such storylines and for planning Outrageous lessons are presented in Chapter 4, and examples of real lessons and storylines are presented in Chapter 5.

This form of teaching is called Outrageous Teaching because although the same content objectives are being taught as in conventional teaching, the resulting lessons are different from and more imaginative than those taught by conventional teaching methods. Outrageous Teaching provides a whole new motivation and a new context for the student learning to occur in.

Outrageous Teaching is equally applicable across all content areas in grades 4 through 12, and equally applicable to all students and to all content objectives. The techniques are especially valuable for lessons in which all the other techniques a teacher has tried have failed to create student interest or understanding, or to engage resistant and reluctant learners. Indeed, although Outrageous Teaching derives from the traditions of dramatic technique and humor, the methodology provides a practical way to operationalize other progressive conceptions such as constructivism and discovery learning.

Of course the best way to understand Outrageous Teaching is to observe an example of it. All of the sample lessons and units in this book are highlighted. Let me introduce a lesson taught by one of my student teachers, whom I will call Dwight, to a class of high school sophomores. The Lesson Begins The students file in, and once they are settled, the teacher announces that Dwight is home sick today but a special guest is coming to make them an exciting offer.

The visitor then arrives. He has a huge, bushy white beard; wears a tall, Amish-style black hat; is dressed in overalls; and carries a tree stump. He emphatically puts the tree stump on the floor and announces in a booming voice: I am a master salesman and have heard that all of you in this room have wonderful social skills and would make great salespeople. I am here as part of a national search to find the next generation of salespeople to sell a new, exciting line of products, the next great product, a complete line of stumps!

By now the students have recognized Dwight and are starting to titter a bit, although they are also curious. Dwight continues: I see that you are skeptical about the importance and sales potential of stumps. Well, let me tell you all the things you can do with stumps and I am sure that in five minutes you are all going to want to know where you can buy one.

Dwight is teaching a traditional content objective that is very hard to communicate and get students interested in. Most of them struggle with learning the content. What objective do you think he is addressing? And in what content area do you think he is teaching? Hint: He is not teaching a woodworking shop course, and he is not preparing students to learn how to use a chainsaw.

If Dwight is correctly using the techniques described in this book, at this point you should be as much in the dark as the students are about what is going on. Dwight is using, in a very conscious manner, specific techniques described later in this book, and the lesson is designed to teach a critical content objective. As you might assume, daring to conduct a lesson such as the one taught by Dwight might take more preparation time, not to mention a bit of courage.

Why go to this trouble? Why does Dwight feel it is worth the effort and daring to make a critical content objective come alive for his students? Teaching the Reluctant or Resistant Learner Some students have become reluctant to learn from conventional instruction and others actively resist such learning. They have stopped responding across the board and are unmotivated, or unable, to make more than minimal effort.

They find conventional instruction boring or unenlightening. Other students do not understand what is being taught even when and if they try to learn it. Such students are disproportionately composed of students born into poverty, minority students, those whose native language is not English, and those with special needs. As these students experience difficulty and even failure, their reluctance to learn turns to active resistance.

This results in social concerns about inequity in educational outcomes—the unfortunate learning gap. One of the revelations that teachers often experience when they teach an Outrageous lesson is that reluctant and resistant students suddenly emerge and shine and their innate intelligence comes to the fore.

Many students who have not 8 Teaching Content Outrageously Pogrow c The emergence of such students is not only a revelation to the teacher but also an affirmation to the student that he or she really can excel and that the classwork is relevant and interesting. Other reluctant learners are highly motivated and do well generally but have a dread and a seeming inability to learn the concepts of particular types of content. Math phobia, whether real or imagined, is an example. Most students dread certain academic areas or content topics, and all teachers do not look forward to teaching particular lessons and units because they know that students will have trouble or purposely resist.

We all, whether students or teachers, are weak in certain academic areas. For example, as a student I was able to understand the intimidating subject of calculus but could not grasp the details of chemistry, and almost all of the middle and high school students I taught had trouble with math word problems. What were your weak content areas and topics as a student? I suspect you would have benefited if your teachers had used some Outrageous Teaching, and your students will benefit if you use it now to teach selected learning objectives.

Finally, some students generally do well but learn superficially. They learn by relying on their memory, or they want to learn only what they need to know to answer test questions correctly. Such students are reluctant to understand the deeper meaning or inferences of what they are learning. These reluctant learners generally do well in the early years of schooling but are at a disadvantage at some point later on.

Reducing the Learning Gap The learning gap in our public schools is one of the most vexing social problems facing our society. As education becomes more important in achieving economic success, a persistently large gap remains between the performance of white students and that of African Americans and Latinos. The gap exists when students start school, and grows ever larger after the fourth grade. Progress was made in reducing the gap between and , but it widened again thereafter. The graphs on page 33 show that the black-white reading gap for thirteen- and seventeen-year-olds was smaller in than in The consequences for society are the continued marginalization of a substantial portion of our population and a major social inequity.

Recent reform efforts to reduce the learning gap have relied on conceptions of learning from behavioral psychology, which view poor test performance as simply lack of knowledge, and students as vessels that have simply to be filled up with knowledge. If they have not learned it, teach it again, and again, and again—the same way. Pound it in! Some schools are now teaching basic reading skills three hours a day in an effort to get test scores up.

This approach simply has not worked. As recently as , after a decade of such reform, results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress NAEP showed that approximately half of urban black and Hispanic students are not meeting basic standards in fourth grade reading. Another effect of sole reliance on simplistic instructional approaches is the high dropout rate. A recent study funded by the Gates Foundation found that almost half of high school dropouts report being bored with what was being taught Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Morison, Clearly, relying on force-feeding content to students is not reducing the learning gap.

Something more, or something else, is needed. Judicious use of Outrageous Teaching provides potential to produce substantially higher and deeper learning outcomes and test scores for reluctant and resistant learners than relying only on traditional, or teach-to-the-test, approaches. Indeed, Outrageous lessons and units are viewed as key tools for reducing the learning gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. It is therefore important that Outrageous Teaching not follow the traditional pattern, in which progressive techniques are adopted only in high socioeconomic status schools.

Although the techniques are appropriate for such schools, I hope they will also be widely adopted for teaching those reluctant and resistant learners who were born into poor families, they can make an even bigger difference, and help solve one of our most vexing social problems: the learning gap. Research has shown that students raised in caring, low-income homes generally have substantially less verbal interaction with adults at home compared to their peers from moderate 10 Teaching Content Outrageously Pogrow c As a result, most of their preschool learning comes from passive TV watching.

Even children from higher-income households are raised on a heavy diet of TV. Children who grow up watching Sesame Street and other cartoons and video games come to view learning as watching animated characters engaged in dramatic situations and getting new information from dramatic contexts. When they walk into the first grade classroom, the culture shock is that the teacher is not a big bird—there is no costume, no graphics, no animation, and no compelling dramatic contexts.

There is just an adult talking. My point is not to argue that such massive passive learning from entertainment is good. Rather, schools need to recognize the dissonance experienced by students when they enter dramaless learning environments such as those typically found in American classrooms—particularly now that we are so sensitive to other forms of cultural disconnect. We continue, however, to ignore the need to gear instruction to the cultural sense of youth—in other words, to the shared experiences of youth worldwide in learning from dramatic contexts. Educators also need to recognize that the dramatic contexts of TV shows and YouTube promote powerful forms of learning.

Of course our students are often learning things we would prefer they did not. Indeed, there is an old joke that TV is called a medium because it is seldom well done. At the same time, it makes sense for schools to capitalize on the power of dramatic contexts to teach that which we in fact do want students to learn.

Whenever educators address the issue of cultural differences, they always gravitate immediately to thinking in terms of racial and ethnic differences. Although these differences are important, there is a cultural divide that is generally ignored and that is limiting the usefulness of instructional approaches.

Kids all over the world share bonds of knowledge and perspective that are outside the realm of what most adults know and experience. Youngsters in Harlem, New York, and youth in Bush, Alaska, who have access to satellite TV and the Internet can have more knowledge and perspectives in common than they have with the adults in their own community.

I could design a test of cultural knowledge that these seemingly disparate students would all pass but that the adults in both communities would fail. The teacher tries to convince students that something is important to them now because it will be important to them when they become adults. But the students are not adults.

Indeed, many of them may even be rebelling against or intimidated by adults and adulthood— which can cause them to further rebel against learning the content. Such a seemingly progressive notion of instruction is in effect a capitulation to the notion that it is impossible to make the ideas important to students in their current state, and is in effect a demeaning view of what students are capable of appreciating and responding to.

Although the young are immature in many ways, they do have heightened insight into important human concepts such as fairness and friendship that are often eroded in the adult world.

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Outrageous instruction is built around Creative Authenticity, i. Connecting with High School Adolescents High school teachers at general education conferences often lament that almost all of the innovative ideas seem to be geared to younger students.

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Examples of Outrageous Teaching being used effectively to teach complex content and difficult classes at the high school level—including with low-performing seniors—are provided throughout the book. Outrageous Teaching is more than just an additional tool, however. Even a single lesson is a transformative experience for teachers. It reaffirms their craft skills, and it feels like a pioneering achievement, because it is probably the first time the content objective has ever been taught that way. In addition, Outrageous Teaching builds a new relationship between the students and the teacher.

Barriers fall and are replaced by mutual respect. Students react to such lessons as evidence that their teacher really cares about their learning and is willing to go the extra mile and take chances to make sure they succeed. After such a lesson, students respond more positively even to conventional instruction and feel heightened respect for their teacher. Teachers also gain a new perspective on the creative and thinking capabilities of their students, particularly of those who have been reluctant and resistant learners.

Using highly dramatic techniques to increase content learning is a natural extension of the theatrical tradition, and it produces powerful results. Indeed, the root of progressive advocacy in favor of incorporating drama into education was the desire to teach content in more effective and meaningful ways. Nevertheless, it is not obvious how drama and humor and imagination can be used to teach content in ways that provide a consistent advantage over conventional instruction.

To accomplish this purpose, formal methodologies are needed, along with a knowledge base of accumulated experience. Methodology is used in all the creative arts. Dancers have choreography, musicians have instruments and music notation. Similarly, a methodology is needed for organizing the kind of highly creative instruction that is described and advocated in this book. The short answer to the question of why Dwight was teaching an Outrageous lesson is that I required it of my student teachers. He wanted to discover if he could teach unconventionally without losing control of his class or looking foolish.

Would students buy into his ideas? Would they pay attention? Would they learn? These are questions that all teachers could reasonably ask, regardless of how experienced they are when they explore a new, very different technique. These questions were of particular concern to Dwight given his inexperience, and that this class was one with which he had gotten frustrated. I had observed this class several times. It was a difficult one to teach because the majority of the students did not like to participate, and some even delighted in being unruly. Most simply enjoyed looking bored and spacing out.

On most days, the first fifteen minutes of the period were lost to student groans and excuses, requests for pencils, requests to go to the bathroom, and so on. It was worse on days when Dwight introduced a new topic. Teaching this content using conventional instructional methods was like passing a kidney stone, so he was apprehensive about how the class would respond to an Outrageous lesson.

Perhaps a better question to ask is, Why did Dwight pick that particular lesson to teach Outrageously? The lesson Dwight picked was the first one in a unit that the district had defined as a major learning objective. It was a critical lesson. It was also one that teachers throughout the district had trouble teaching to most students. He also knew that the lesson and unit would bore his students to the point of resisting and stalling them using the wide array of techniques that sophomores have available for such purposes.

This was the first time the students were taught this critical content. This was the learning experience. And even though for the most part Dwight would teach the follow-up lessons 14 Teaching Content Outrageously Pogrow c What was the content objective? Was the lesson successful? Did Dwight or the students get splinters? Did he get reprimanded by his principal?

Was he ostracized by other teachers? Stay tuned. Can You Teach Like Dwight? Keep in mind that Dwight was not an extrovert or a jokester by nature. Nor was he very experienced. His lesson was a calculated professional process. Therefore, if someone as inexperienced as Dwight could change his persona for a lesson and make it effective, anyone can.

You can be like Dwight and all the other teachers whose Creatively Authentic Outrageous lessons and units are described in the upcoming chapters. Indeed, it may be impossible to teach a really good conventional lesson without the use of dramatic technique. Even maintaining discipline requires the use of dramatic elements.

Discipline is not just laying down the rules. In any case, something you do has to convince students that they should obey you.


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So, chances are you already use dramatic technique. Outrageous Teaching merely requires you to embellish these techniques in a more imaginative fashion to reach a different goal—enhancing content learning. SUMMARY Advances made in knowledge about curriculum and learning have not been matched by progress in making learning fascinating to the vast majority of underachieving learners. Teachers have tremendous untapped creative potential that is critical to improving education in a wide variety of dimensions, from increasing student interest in a given content area to general school improvement and to reducing the learning gap.

It is time to tap this creativity to create more dynamic learning environments for reluctant and underperforming and resistant learners. Organizing Outrageous lessons in grades 4 through 12 requires only a vivid imagination and courage. It does not require special training beyond reading this book.

Because such lessons require extra planning, the methods offered here should be used strategically, where they can do the most good. If Dwight and the other student teachers could develop tremendously creative and effective Outrageous lessons, experienced teachers certainly can. In addition, because Outrageous Teaching techniques focus on teaching the content objectives that are already in the curriculum, the methods suggested here are consistent with the push for accountability and standards.

More important, however, the use of Outrageous lessons and units represents good practice under any conditions, and provides high levels and unique types of satisfaction for both teachers and students. They are also lots of fun for everyone! The answers to these questions are examined in this chapter from a historical perspective, then from a research perspective, and finally from a theoretical perspective. Consideration of the instructional role and uses of drama has always evoked heated debate.

Many ideals, rationales, and methods for its use have come and gone, or coexisted, or more commonly, competed for attention. To capture this rich dialogue, this chapter first discusses the history of incorporating dramatic technique into instruction. It shows how the proposal for Outrageous Teaching is a rekindling of an enduring—although bumpy—constant going back to the ancient roots of drama: the use of dramatic technique as a pragmatic teaching tool. The chapter shows how this historical phenomenon is the basis of the ideas and techniques proposed in this book, and why it had fallen out of favor.

The relatively low level of creative teaching that incorporates drama in the typical American classroom is surprising given that from ancient times the impulse behind drama was to teach. The ancient Greeks created drama to teach civic values and responsibilities. They used it as a tool to convey the content deemed critical by the rulers of the time. See Appendix A for a brief summary of these origins. The use of drama in American education, however, evolved somewhat differently. The chapter also discusses the available research on the use of dramatic technique to support content learning.

It then looks at the latest theoretical perspectives from a wide variety of disciplines that a support the use of dramatic technique as an instructional tool, b suggest the conditions under which it TWO Pogrow c Progressive Origins In the concept of child-centered education was developed. Some early progressive educators, in looking for good examples of an enlightened approach to teaching, saw drama as the centerpiece of such an approach.

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Drama was introduced into schools under the rationales of supporting child-centeredness, promoting an activity method of instruction, and developing self-expression Bolton, The most notable practitioner of this progressive approach was Harriet Finlay-Johnson — In her role as headmistress of Sompting School, West Sussex, England, her ideas attracted national and international interest. Finlay-Johnson translated these ideal into practice and introduced dramatic methods of teaching Bolton, She introduced such techniques as nature rambles, educational visits to museums and libraries, lessons out-of-doors, and incorporating cookery, handicrafts, art, and drama into the curriculum.

She allowed her pupils a degree of freedom and autonomy that was unheard of in other Victorian schools. Although Ms. Dramatic activity was seen as a dynamic way of illuminating and promoting the acquisition of knowledge rather than as drama for the sake of art Bolton, The new speech movement used drama as a form of training to help students master elocution and thereby provide them with self-confidence.

The movement was led by the work of Winifred Ward, who established speech training courses as part of the teacher training program at Northwestern University. This was the first time that dramatics were taught in a college of education in the United States. Ward trained many of the leaders in the educational drama movement in the United States and had a profound impact on American education Shuman, The next step in the evolution of the use of drama in education occurred in England in the s, when Peter Slade attempted to bring natural and spontaneous play into the classroom Bolton, The focus of his work was to encourage spontaneous expression for its own sake.

Rather, Slade encouraged spontaneity of expression. What was expressed was seen to be of less importance than the freedom to express it. In time the philosophy of drama as self-expression fell out of favor because teachers felt uneasy with its lack of specific purpose, direction, and progression. She rebuilt the tradition started by Finlay-Johnson to link the use of drama to classroom content. She became the biggest influence of her time in redefining the relationship between drama and education and in recasting the role of the teacher. Perspectives on Dramatizing Content Instruction 19 Pogrow c She was less concerned with what the students knew about the historical event than with deepening their understanding of it.

Heathcote established a pedagogy for teachers to design the role-playing experience and mediate the group process. The goal of such mediation was to increase the likelihood that both individual understanding and a productive group dialogue about resolving the dilemma would occur.



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