Thursday, April 25, 2013

Listen: My Amazing Kids

My word for this year is LISTEN. I'm working on listening and responding as I teach and learn.

As I began this year of listening, I knew I would want to listen to all kinds of voices. After all, if I'm going to learn, I need to hear from all kinds of sources. In that first post, one source I listed was the kids themselves. I've been trying to listen to them. They've told me they like to move. They've told me that I sometimes spend too long on something. They've told me that I can be a pretty good teacher on some days. (Usually they tell me these things through their actions not words.)

Today we began our science unit on solids and liquids. My district sends us science kits to use - kits with teaching plans and all the stuff you need. It's great. Today I paired the kids up - each pair got a tray with a steel ball and a plastic spoon.

The pairs explored their two items and discussed how the items were alike and different. I made a chart so we could discuss their ideas.

As I listened to them and their ideas, I was amazed. My kids continue to surprise me. I love all of the differences they listed. We started with these, since it was easier.

"spoon is flat; ball is round" - Listening to him talk, I think he was trying to talk about the spoon being more 2-dimensional and the ball 3-dimensional. We added "sphere" as we discussed.

"You can see what you are wearing..." - The ball was very reflective, almost like a mirror. In the spoon, you could see yourself but you were blue since the spoon was blue.

Some really great ideas!

Then we moved on to similarities. Again, their ideas really surprised me.

"spin" - With a little torque, both will spin on a table.

"noise" - If you drop them, they will both make sounds. (The ball is much louder.)

"zero points" - No corners; both are curved/rounded.

And - for the record - they said "solid," not me. I have introduced the concept to them.

In recent days, as I have the great fortune to listen to their ideas, they have surprised me several times.

We were reading a story in our reading books. We were discussing how illustrations help us better understand the text. One girl said, "And we can make an inference. He didn't tell us about this but we can look at the illustration and make an inference." Wow. Someone was listening in recent weeks when we talked about inferences. Wow.

We read a story about bugs "hiding in plain sight," blending to match rocks or leaves or other surroundings so they would be safer. As we talked, I asked what we could learn about bugs from this particular story. A few kids said things about bugs hiding and so forth. Someone said, "Some bugs use camouflage." Wow. I commented on such a great word. Later, in writing about bugs, several kids wrote about bugs camouflaging themselves. Of course we had several variations on the spelling - but I got it. Wow.

My kids are amazing. Listening to them helps me see how they are thinking. And I continue to be amazed that I get to be with them every day. What a lucky guy I am!

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