Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Are Your Students Retaining What You Teach? Use Tableaus!

Hello Viewers,
I've been thinking about the nagging question teachers tend to ask themselves.  Are my students retaining what I teach them?

This is a difficult question to answer because it is not easy to tell if they will remember the knowledge you give them after they are tested on it or even before they are tested.  A great tip to get your students to remember important and complex lessons, is using tableaus in your classroom!

 What Are Tableaus?

 Tableaus are frozen frames of people who are posed like statues.  They are like painted scenes, depicting an action or idea of a particular time. Tableaus are like  a picture snapped in time, a movement that will be remembered forever. These are great to use for History, English, Science, and many other subjects.

By breaking down a passage from the textbook which involves a scientific formula, an historical event, or a climax of a novel students are able to see the importance of the scene.

You should start out by creating them with your class and then have your students form groups and assign them an aspect of the lesson, depending on the subject, and have them create one of their own.  Make sure the students vary the movements to make each tableau interesting.  Us different levels and shapes in their movement, such as depicted in the picture above.  Then, when they are finished they can present it to the rest of the class and the class can give their input.  This gives students positive feedback and constructive criticism so they can see where there is room for improvement in their work and it enables them to connect the gaps in their understanding.  The repetition of the important concepts through the feedback the students receive will increase their retention rate.

Here's an example of a tableau used in a Drama classroom:

 A Helpful Website:

I received the tableau idea from this blog, which a teacher has put together.  There are great ideas for elementary teachers on here and I'm sure secondary teachers can get some tips from her assignments.  She offers pictures of them online as well as freebee resources!  It's a great site. Check this link out to see how the teacher taught a history lesson using tableaus:

Tableaus are a form of theater and acting.  They help with retention just as blocking helps people remember lines.  I remember that by doing an action repeatedly at the same time as saying my lines in the plays that I have been in, the action can trigger the lines in my head without me having to put forth any effort.  Movement promotes retention of information.

Now, for an anecdote of mine:

This is not quite a tableau, but it is a visual action that helps students remember the three states of water.  When I was in eighth grade, my physical science teacher taught me a trick, which involved a dance that I remember till this dance. I know that water can go from a solid, liquid, and to a gas because of this dance we did in his classroom and later my friends and I later did at the eighth grade dance (nerdy yes, fun INDEED!).
Dance Instructions:
  1. Have your students put their fists close together and shake them a bit while repeating "Solid".
  2. Then have your students raise and open their fists a bit and roll each one over the other (disco motion style) and repeat "Liquid".
  3. Finally, have them raise their fists above their heads with more space between them and have them rotate each hand in a circle and repeat "Gas."
This activity is great for visual and body-kinesthetic learners especially, but I think it is good fun that benefits everyone.  So, science teachers give it a try!  Tableaus are great for retention! Get your students to use movement to reinforce the knowledge they learn.

Please share your anecdotes for tableaus or any other interesting and creative activity you did in your classroom in the comments section under the share your anecdote page!  I welcome your advice, since those of you who have been teaching for a while are seasoned teachers.  Retention is an aspect of education that all of us try to measure in our students in order to see if they are learning.  This technique works so I hope you have fun with it in your classroom.
From teacher to teacher, enjoy.

Thanks for reading,
Aliana ~Theater Lover~
Future Teacher

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