David A. Sousa, Ed. D. wrote a book titled ‘How the Brain Learns’. What a wealth of information for anyone desiring to become a more effective teacher. His work involves the science of how a student’s brain learns and retains new information for short term and long term memory. After reading the book from cover to cover, I wondered if we, as instructors could adapt some of the ideas to hunter education classes and field day exercises. I looked to the section of the book using movement to enhance learning and found the hunter education manuals to be full of scenarios that have opportunities to incorporate movement. We must first understand what movement will accomplish for us:
- It involves the students’ sensory inputs of hearing, seeing, touching and smell.
- Increases interest because students will practice skills they will use while hunting.
- In some cases, it will reinforce prior learning with new experiences.
- It will lead to long-term memory recall of skills or attitudes.
- Movement increases oxygen to fuel the student’s brain for learning.
- Helps the student connect the dots between theory and practical application.
Some examples for using movement in the classroom setting and a field day are:
1. When showing how to hand a firearm safely to another, you can try this exercise:
Have the entire class and instructors stand in a circle. The instructor starts the exercise by properly handing the firearm to the student to their left and the student then passes to the next student and so on. This way all of the students are involved in the exercise and are moving. The students will model the safe procedure for passing the firearm and can be observed and monitored by the instructor as well as the other students.
2. Your students can complete this exercise during break times. It can be done in pairs or individually:
The instructor will place the inert firearms on tables for easy access by the students and number each firearm. The instructor will explain that the students will have to examine the data stamp on the barrel and write down the manufacturer, caliber and type of action if they select a rifle. If the student is examining a shotgun, they will have to write down the manufacturer, gauge, length of shot shell that can be safely used in that specific firearm and type of action. The instructor can call on students regarding a specific numbered firearm to discuss their worksheet and the information they collected.
Comment from Larry Macadow
One of the things that we do, in going through the 5 action types, with inert firearms. The Instructor goes through how to operate, load and unload one of the action types with a student with the rest of that students group observing and listening. After the first student has operated, loaded and unloaded that particular action, the student turns to the next student and shows them operation, loading and unloading and properly passes the firearm to them to physically do themselves. With another Instructor monitoring this activity down the line through the other students, the lead Instructor takes the next action type and starts the process over again with the first student. When each student has completed all 5 action types they have seen, heard, physically done and actually taught to the friend behind them. All senses have used by the students and their retention is dramatically improved. I was shown this method by another Instructor and I am not the least ashamed to say that I stole his idea and use it in every class now. Use as many senses as you can.
When I first started teaching the muzzle loading section, I wondered….. how you could actually show the students the loading process? The problem was that when demonstrating the proper and safe loading process, the only equipment we had to use was the barrel from a muzzle-loading rifle. The barrel was hardened blued steel! What I needed was a barrel that was clear so the students could see the “simulated” black powder filling the barrel and the bullet being pushed down the barrel and being properly seated. The added bonus was, having the ability to stop the bullet half way down the barrel and opportunity to explain: “When the bullet is not properly seated on the powder charge, the air space between the top of the powder charge and the bottom of the bullet is considered an obstruction, which creates an unsafe condition.” This training aide can be used in a regular hunter education class or a field day exercise where muzzleloading is offered as part of a live fire range.
Your students and their parents will be watching intently to this whole process. The responses I have received are “Wow that was pretty cool, can we do it again?” The benefits to demonstrating the proper seating of the bullet in the muzzleloader can prevent the possibility of creating an obstruction and to demonstrate the proper way to seat the bullet on the charge. With this visual aid, the instructor can also emphasize the importance of using a marked ramrod while loading a muzzleloader.
Always wear safety glasses and ear protection when shooting a muzzleloading firearm.
This is what the cap looks like when the firearm is fired.
This picture was photographed in a controlled environment for educational purposes.
How do you teach mezzleloading in your classroom? Please share your insights - when we learn from eachother our students benefit!
I was out scouting for signs of deer one warm fall afternoon; the leaves had just begun to turn into the vibrant color palette marking the change to a new season. While sitting and taking a break by a small pond, I noticed a small frog making his way to the water’s edge. The small frog encountered a barrier that impeded his forward travel. As I watched the little fella, he continued to jump forward only to run into the barrier and bounce off, only to try again and again, with the same result. From my observations, the frog could only jump in a forward direction. This behavior reminded me of when I first started teaching.
If the frog wanted to reach his goal, he would have to slowly turn one-step at a time, move forward, turn himself, and move forward until he navigated himself around the barrier. After going around the barrier, he then can continue in a new forward direction.
The question we must ask ourselves; Have we ever displayed the same behavior of the frog while teaching?
We have all been in situations where our teaching methods fall short of our objectives, yet we continue in the same direction producing the same results. When this happens, it leads to confusion for the students and ourselves. This should be a signal to change direction!
Positive steps to Change:
1. Write down the most important points of the lesson the students need to know.
2. Come up with a short explanation of the topic.
3. Design one or more hands-on exercises that challenge the students.
4. Gather all supplies needed, rehearse and practice the exercise before class time.
5. Introduce the lesson to the students and have them participate in the hands-on exercise.
6. After the class, sit down and evaluate the lesson with your teaching team. Make changes as needed.
Refusing to be a frog gives the instructor an opportunity to create an atmosphere where the students are active participants in the learning process. This will provide a meaningful learning experience for you and your students will love it.