Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Most Magnificent Thing About Young Learners

Today I attended the Lead4ward K-2 Learning Conference- The Most Magnificent Thing. I really enjoyed the opening Keynote Speaker- Ervin Knezek- and his session The Most Magnificent Thing About Young Learners, so I thought I would share my top 10 a-ha's for the session.

1) We need to give our students the opportunity to learn how to start. Kids who can't start, can't finish. We want to create independent learners. If we tell them how to start, we create dependent learners who have to constantly rely on us.

2) Do students need more than one way to start? Yes. They need at least 3 ways to start and they need to be able to apply those ways in different contexts.

3) What is the difference between "learning how" and "telling how?" It typically takes longer to let kids learn how, but more work in the beginning pays off in the end. Very little thought goes into the work when kids are told how to do it. If you do not have a lot of time to allow for "learning how" then at least give children a choice.

4) A really good question has more than one answer. Try to find at least 3 answers to every question. Sometimes there may be only 1 answer- so... have kids show it in 3 different ways, demonstrate 3 ways to solve it, model 3 ways to start, etc.

5) Kids learn only when they are given time to talk. When kids talk about what they know, someone is listening to them. When others listen, they suggest other ideas, add to the learning, offer another answer, come up with additional questions, etc. When others are listening kids can get to a better answer or a different answer.

6) When kids can defend what they are doing- they are committed to their learning.

7) Quote of the day- "My teacher thought I was smarter that I was- So I was."
                                                                                       -- a six year old

8) The notion that the first answer is the final answer does not help kids become good thinkers. We want to create fluency and flexibility in them instead. They need to know there is more than one way.

9) Mistakes matter! Trying again is the cornerstone of persistence. Teaching kids that it's ok to make mistakes and that through it all they need to stick with it creates fluency and flexibility in the younger years.

Ervin used the book The Most Magnificent Thing to illustrate this point.

Making the most magnificent thing turns out to be harder than the little girl thinks. She measures, hammers, fastens, and adjusts again and again, but the thing just keeps turning out wrong. 

Just when the little girl wants to quit, her assistant suggests a break. Bit by bit the mad is pushed out of her head, she relaxes, and starts to think clearly again. 

As the little girl looks back over each of the things she made she realizes some parts of the things are wrong, but some are quite right. There are all sorts of parts that she likes and can use if she tries again. 

Finally... the little girl knows how to make the magnificent thing. 

After much perseverance, the little girl finally finishes... 

You will have to read the book to find out what she made. 

10) Transfer means to use what you know in a new way. When we are rigid in our thinking and tell students how to do everything rather than allowing them to learn how on their own, they are only able to do things the way they are taught and no other way. 

We want kids thinking about literacy as well as other content areas. How can you get your kids thinking by implementing one of these a-ha's in your classroom?

No comments:

Post a Comment