Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Look at Learning



           Ruth and Stacey host the Tuesday Slice of Life on their blog, Two Writing Teachers.  Come visit!

             School is starting, and all of us are planning, planning, asking questions, making handouts, cutting out materials, and waiting!  Waiting for the most important thing, the students!  And how will they learn?  In a million ways.  I had a good evening Saturday with my granddaughter Ingrid who visited for a sleepover.  Our favorite thing, to eat at Noodles and go to Target.  I know that sounds rather funny to think that a trip to Target can be fun, but we go up and down the aisles looking at items, with Ingrid asking many, many questions.  What's that? How does it work?  Why are there so many _________ lamps, glasses, balls, vacuums, etc.?  This time I did purchase something for her, a scooter!  We planned to go to the little park near my home and rushed home to see how this new riding toy worked!  Well, we found out more than I had planned, and I learned something as a teacher, too.  When we got home, I realized that I would have to put the scooter together!  And, with Ingrid's help, we did!  

         It occurred to me that putting the scooter together was as much a learning experience for her as learning to ride it. She learned that first we must be sure all the parts that were on the diagram were there. And that we needed to take the steps one at a time, from number one to number two, and so on.  She knows how to read numbers, and she could see that the directions were labeled with numbers.  Luckily, the directions were mostly in pictures, so Ingrid could "read" those too.  She learned new vocabulary: bolts, wrenches, axles, tassels, wheel covers.  And she worked to tighten the bolts.  Although she wasn't strong enough to do all the tightening, she was able to turn the wrench and understand the feel of it.
         Both Ingrid and I were proud we had accomplished this task.  The reward--in the pictures!  My learning: how can I apply my own observations to all ages of students in the classroom?  Will the same kind of learning apply to "construction" of a piece of writing--a story, a poem, a memoir?  What are the tools' names?  How can a simple diagram make things easier, or does that apply?  Questions are flying through my brain.  I do "know" these things, yet the experience will help me re-look at my habits, and that is the delight of teaching, isn't it?   
        Additionally, I've been re-reading Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston. One part I read today connected to this kind of learning: The more process options people have at the disposal of their imaginations, the better. And later, The focus on problem-solving and causal processes should be taken up at every turn.  He goes on to give an example connecting to a passage from a book that a teacher brings attention to because of the character's problem-solving ability.  (page 33)  Ingrid and I had a terrific time at the park, by the way, and she learned more about scooter riding too!
Beginning to glide-evening!

Morning practice!


32 comments:

  1. Oh my word, what a cutie! Kids have far more ways of learning than we know. It boggles the mind sometimes. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Gigi-it was a good time, & she was so interested in the putting together as well as the riding!

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  2. Learning happens when we least expect it. I love those unanticipated learning opportunities--inside the classroom and out. Sounds like a lovely visit with your granddaughter! Enjoy the start of school, Linda!

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  3. I hope that this positive experience will help her tackle future tasks with enthusiasm and perseverance.

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    1. Yes, me too, Terje. It was much fun all the way through.

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  4. What a lovely experience for both of you, Linda! I could just picture the two of you deeply engaged in building the scooter together, enjoying each others company and looking foward to the successful launch. Adorable photographs, too.

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    1. Thanks Tara. Anticipation was a part I didn't consider in this post. Perhaps that's another key to motivation?

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  5. What fun for you both! I love the message that you can accomplish anything by tackling the project with a plan. That smile of accomplishment is priceless.

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    1. Thanks Elsie-all the good parts of learning were there, especially fun of course.

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  6. You make me seriously look forward to being a grandmother. It'll be a few years still, but look at all the fun in store! Learning by doing, by problem-solving, and by working together, all great tenets for teaching, too. Here's to a great start to your school year!

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    1. Thanks Margaret. Since my school is such a process school, this was a perfect segue into child learning for me. And it was delightful fun!

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  7. Linda, I love your enthusiasm for learning and teaching. I was able to picture you sitting with Ingrid as you laid out the parts, read the directions, and assembled her scooter. Here's to another wonderful year of learning and teaching!

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    1. Thank you Ramona-& the same to you. That's exactly what we did, & now I've been talking with others about the excitement in this one evening!

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  8. I remember putting Izzy's indoor kiddie motorcycle together. That nearly took the life out of me. Kudos to you for putting together a scooter that works with Ingrid!

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    1. I guess you could say I had to be a good model, right? Anyway, I am not too challenged by those kinds of directions so that was a help. It's also something I wish I had even more skills in! Maybe someday I can take a mechanical course (are there any?). Thanks, Stacey! I agree, there are loads of parts to use, like in your motorcycle!

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  9. One of our state standards is reading a technical manual. I have thought about buying something that needs to put together (something small!) and having them do it. Great problem solving activity. I have heard a lot of comments about Opening Minds....I may have to check out his books.

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    1. Leigh Anne, the Peter Johnston books are both helpful and inspirational. Try one or the other! I guess you're teaching older students because of that standard. One time I bought some inexpensive book shelves for the classroom & had my students put them all together! And if you have an Ikea near you, wonder if they'd donate something way on sale?

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  10. What a delightful day! I love how you weave Johnston's pieces in too. I've been meaning to revisit Opening Minds and Choice Words this fall. Thank you for the reminder. Love garden along the sidewalk and the pictures of the girls:adorable.

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    1. Thanks Lee Ann. My new home is in a nice spot, lots of flowers to see! And these are pics of the same girl, BTW, just 2 times, different outfits. Do return to Johnston-great words every time I read them!

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  11. It sounds like making the scooter was almost as much fun as her riding it! I would have loved to see the expressions on your faces when you discovered that you had to make the scooter. Children love this work - it is such "exploration" for them. I, however, am often caught off-guard. What a great project to do together. P.S. Your granddaughter is adorable!! I know you enjoy her company!!

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    1. I read and enjoy your posts avidly, Maureen, because of my teaching, but also because of the granddaughters (four and two). Yes, I don't think I even thought about what was "in" the box. Big surprise! But it was fun, you're so right! Thanks, Maureen!

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  12. What a great connection between Johnston's words and your experience. Her smile could melt your heart and I know that Johnston had just such an image in mind!

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    1. Thanks Anita, just happened to be reading that passage on Sunday! Serendipity!

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  13. What luck that Ingrid has you to not only spend time with and buy wonderful things like scooters, but that you involve and engage her in assembling it! She gets to be part of the process, not just get a present. Great pictures too!

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    1. Thanks Max-just the kind of thing we were discussing today! More projects and process are so good for all of us!

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  14. That is one lucky kid to have a grandma like you and what a great source of inspiration for true learning collaboration... you are a learner first and foremost... :)
    Bonnie

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    1. Thanks Bonnie. I am that, for sure. Hope you had a good night!

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  15. precious and what a phenomenal idea...it makes me want to get a toy and work this whole idea with our first graders...you always get me thinking

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    1. I suspect your class would be truly delighted, Nancy! Thanks! Hope you do it & then tell about it!

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  16. I love this! You know I love the growth mindset and allowing our brains to think of multiple solutions and to be able to see things in different ways is totally part of having a growth mindset. Instead of being stuck, we are able to problem solve by thinking differently.

    So great for Ingrid to have that experience with you. It's so important to talk kids through things because there is so much vocabulary to gain. I often suggest this to parents, it's one of the easiest ways to get more vocabulary to kids. Looks like you had fun, too!

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    1. Thanks Jen. That kind of mindset is very important, I agree. And the "hands-on" vocabulary learning is amazing. It was a fun time with Ingrid!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!