Some teachers are so good at their profession they teach teachers and then write about it. Dorchester District 2 Socials Studies High School Interventionist Cary Nadzak is one such teacher. Her book Ã¬If It AinÃt Broke, Break It! Creating Organized Chaos in the ClassroomÃ® was published in December. It is her first published book, although she has four unpublished teaching manuscripts.
Ã¬If It AinÃt Broke!Ã® is a teacher resource book, Nadzak says. ItÃs filled with Ã¬ways for teachers to engage kids with weird stuff.Ã® By that she means itÃs a guide for teachers to spice up their lessons with non-traditional activities that make learning fun and teach life lessons. She calls it Ã¬Experiential learning Ã± real world application.Ã®
These unusual Ã¬hands-onÃ® lessons make classes go by much faster by using Ã¬kinesthetic,Ã® Nadak says. Ã¬You have to get into a different mindset . . . Whenever I assign something I do it first.Ã®
Nadzak has worked at DD2 three years and taught for 23 years at R.B. Stall High School in North Charleston, where she was the 2005 teacher of the year.
One of her instruction tests teaches kids bureaucracy firsthand by requiring red circles on the corner of the paper from specific teachers, and certain areas underlined or circled with a specified writing device and color.
Nadzak often speaks about teaching methods at summer conferences. She got the idea to write the book because conference attendees asked for her book, but she didnÃt have one then. Ã¬Teachers donÃt want to hear theory,Ã® she says. Ã¬Tell me what I can do tomorrow (in class).
Ã¬Faculties think itÃs stupid at first but realize the students are really learning. Learning doesnÃt have to be misery. You can enjoy it while youÃre doing it. Kids get more embarrassed not to do it after a while. It builds teamwork in the classroom.Ã®
According to Nadzak, one way of getting creative is to paint to music, write a Ã¬parts of speechÃ® poem about the music, and then write a paragraph about the poem. She also uses video clips to prompt students to write. Ã¬ItÃs just a more interesting way to write.Ã®
She also makes math students write math Limericks, but her favorite activity from the book is making Ã¬found poemsÃ® form magazine clippings. Ã¬ItÃs amazing what they see . . . the phrases they put together.Ã®
Special ed kids are especially good at making found poems, Nadzak says. She once took over a special ed class during her planning period when the position needed to be filled. Nadzak used the same materials for the class.
Another useful tactic, according to the book, is using dollar store items such as magic wands. Ã¬You can start small with something you feel comfortable with. Magic wands stop talking . . . You know what a kidÃll do for a Snickers?
Ã¬People are scared of groups. The more student-centered a classroom is, the more control there is. I donÃt like rows (of desks). When you have organized chaos in a room youÃre teaching kids to multi-task.Ã®
Nadzak says she began writing the book three years ago. Her sister in Salt Lake City, Tracy Vayo, did all the editing and graphics, Nadzak says. Ã¬It came out exactly as I envisioned thanks to my sister.Ã®
The book is used by a Fort Dorchester High School teacher and her very own daughter, the Rollings Middle School after school program director.
The book is available in person for $20 and online for $25 (includes shipping) at www.looneyteachr.com