TRANSFERRING INFORMATION: KIM KENNEDY AND TEACHING CHALLENGING CONCEPTS
Students have a difficult time taking concepts from examples and applying them. To help teach the concepts of acute and obtuse angles to her third-graders, Kim Kennedy uses a singsong voice, physical actions, and rhyming sayings to not only capture the attention of her students, but to help them learn memorable phrases they can use to trigger their memory. She gives them the example and has them participate using the same motions and voice. For example, she uses the phrase, “Acute and tiny less than 90” in a high pitched voice while holding her thumb and finger at an angle less than 90 degrees. The students copy her movements and voice. Then she stands up straight with her hands on either side of her chest. While saying the word “obtuse” with a very low voice, she pushes out her chest and opens her arms wide. The students gleefully copy her movements and voice again. She encourages them to use these motions and voices as needed so they can remember the information. Gradually, the students become familiar enough with the concepts that they discontinue using the sayings and movements. She’s had students who recall “acute and tiny, less than 90” during other math lessons on greater than and less than symbols, demonstrating their transfer of that knowledge.