Teaching with Technology

7 Tips for Creating Memorable Learning Experiences

If you aren't as entertaining as educator Rushton Hurley, who does funny voices and makes jokes while talking a mile a minute, getting your students excited about school projects might be a tough assignment.

He boils it down to this: If you ask for a "one-page report," the student will write a page and stop. But if you ask, "Can you make it fascinating?" you'll get a better product, and the student will learn more.  "Why not?"

Memorable learning, said Hurley, is outside the book, the school bus and the campus; and it's hands on and engaging and involves talking, being creative and taking risks.

"It's the stuff that sticks. We have a lot of days when things do not," Hurley said during a workshop at FETC 2016 in Orlando. "Much of what happens in classes is sitting and listening and trying not to fall asleep."

Hurley, a speaker and education trainer, is also founder of Next Vista for Learning in Santa Clara, CA, which maintains a library of videos that teachers can mine for free ideas. He has been a Japanese language teacher, a principal of an online high school, a teacher trainer, an educational technology researcher and a school reform consultant.

He's all about Great Projects!

While boring is the word most used to describe school, Hurley said he believes kids like school, where they find friends, structure and caring adults. "It's not so much boring as predictable," he added. "I say, 'Today, we're going to try something new. What do you guys think?'"

Video projects produced by Hurley's students include one on an autism center, one on the Palo Alto Humane Society and a video about Project READ of Redwood City.

Hurley's tips for Great Projects:

  1. The first great project Hurley discovered was packing an egg so it could drop from the stadium and not break. Why not do something similar?
  2. Say, "Here is what I want you to learn." Let students figure it out as much as possible.
  3. Don't praise students too much so they know they earned it.
  4. Students forget things over the summer. Get them to build a video library of things they are supposed to remember.
  5. The quality of their work will improve when they start praising each other's work. "When students know that others will see their work, they want it to be good," Hurley said. "When it's just the teacher, they want it to be good enough."
  6. Have them watch videos others have made to get ideas.
  7. Remember that kids want to know they can make a difference.

For more information, visit the resource section at Nextvista.org.

About the Author

Patrick Peterson worked for Florida Today, a Gannett daily newspaper in Brevard County, Fla., from 2005 through 2013, and earlier was embedded with U.S. Marines as a reporter during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In Biloxi, Miss., he was a reporter for The Sun Herald newspaper and also founded and ran a charter boat company. He is a journalism graduate of Louisiana State University.