Think back to your days in school; was there ever something going on outside of class that your teacher thought was important to learn about? Did this topic tie into class but also spark interest in you and your peers? If so, they were most likely teaching in the margins.
So, what are the “margins?”
Think about a piece of notebook paper. The middle, with the lines, is structured and usually holds up to whatever standards are needed for taking notes, writing an essay, etc. Think about this like where standards are and planned lesson plans that a teacher has had for years. And now think about the margins. That’s typically where people would doodle or make little notes to themselves. This is where creativity occurs. This is what it’s like teaching in the margins.
Teaching in the margins is taking a lesson even farther to spark the student’s interest. It breaks routine and makes class, even for teacher’s, more engaging and exploratory. It’s learning outside of the box that is student led with the assistance of the teacher when it comes to preparation. It is creative, innovating and something that the students could really enjoy!
In this article, a Kentucky teacher talks about what it is like to be teaching in the margins:
Teachable Moments vs Margins
Margins and teachable moments are usually confused with each other because they both tend to add to higher learning but they are actually very different and here is how:
- Short term
- Sparked by a question inside of class
- Not planned
- Relates to the class entirely
- Typically, inside the box
- Long term
- Sparked by life outside of class (life imitates art)
- Planned lesson, even if it was an hour ago
- Pushes the curriculum to its boundaries
- Typically, very outside the box
Has an event ever occurred and you wanted to incorporate that into your lesson ASAP? If so, you were definitely taking your class to the margins! #NSTA #scienceteaching #EDT431 @AnnMacKenzie #explorethemargins
— Kacey Kopack (@kopack_sci) September 19, 2018
There are many ways as to how to take your class to the margins and these are some ideas and activities you could do:
- See a large event happen on the news that relates to what you are teaching? Have the students explore this through making their own experiments or research presentations.
- Have a day once a week, for maybe 20 minutes or so, where the students get to choose how to open class to allow them to explore what they enjoy.
- Have them create their own lessons for the class!
- Allow inquiry based learning, especially if the students find what they are studying interesting (even if it’s stretching the curriculum a bit). This is good!
- Adopt a class pet! Animals are spontaneous but it could also add to learning in the classroom through observation.
In a science classroom, the margins should always be explored, even if it’s chaotic!