Teaching Moments: Popsicle Sticks to the Rescue!

pemberton Campus Events, Indiana, Kokomo, Teaching Moments

Popsicle Sticks to the Rescue!Cindie Hudson, Lead DA Faculty at the Ross Medical Education Center in Kokomo, IN, campus has several good tips, which are tested and proven from her Dental classroom. An important preparation item: a cup of popsicle sticks, each one with a student’s name on it. You’ll see why in some of the next few suggestions!

Chapter Reviews – If there is a lengthy chapter, break the students into small groups of 3 or 4, and create the groups by drawing names from the popsicle sticks. Have each group select a specific topic in the chapter, put together notes and then share with the class. As each group shares, the students are creating their own study guide. For example, in a chapter on body systems, each group might take one system. Cindie would allow 30-45 minutes for this exercise. If it is a shorter chapter, she might ask each student to list 3-4 bullet points as study items on their own, and then she will call on them by popsicle stick draw. Each item has to be unique, so it’s an advantage to be called on early!

One of the reasons Cindie likes the group projects, where the group is selected by popsicle stick, is “it gets the students to partner with new people in their class, instead of their “buddy” or who sits next to them. It also gets them talking creatively with each other, which is good for brainstorming and their social skills.”

Another chapter review or study technique: Using the popsicle sticks, call the students to the board to write an item from the chapter which they think is important. No comment can be duplicated, so students called on later in the process, really have to dig. “This is a great activity for that point in the class when you can feel the students getting antsy or bored,” says Cindie. “It keeps them engaged, they help each other and they get to move around.”

Spelling Bees for terminology review: Draw 2 names from the popsicle cup. Call those two people to the board and give them a spelling word. Whoever writes it the fastest and correctly either stays until they are beaten, or gets to sit down. If you play that the winner stays until beaten, you can have a small prize, like a cute hand sanitizer or something from the dollar store. “I try to keep it healthy and stay away from candy, since we’re dental!”

Cindie has organized many of her activities and ice breakers to develop the social skills students will need in the workplace. “The dental community, at least in Kokomo, is a tight-knit place. More than likely, you will get your second job from someone you know, or even met in this class. If the students know each other, they will be able to recommend and refer each other,” says Cindie. “I really enjoyed last month’s in-service that Barb Westrick did on ice-breakers. I decided to start doing them every two weeks, not just at the beginning of the mod. Not only will it help the students to know each other better, but I think good dental assistants need to know how to talk and sympathize with their patients too. When a patient is nervous or fearful, the dental assistant can help to calm them by chatting with them, learning about them. Building that relationship can make the procedure go better for the patient and the dentist. So, like other skills, we practice that in class.”