Sunday, February 24, 2008

Emphasizing the Process

Opening up my reader, I came across a great post by Carolyn Foote about what we celebrate.

" We celebrate the visible things, like winning teams or competitions, academic test scores, etc. But are we celebrating equally our daily academic successes? Are we celebrating lessons that work, transformative uses of technology tools to deepen understanding, a classroom that has struggled and is now finding its way intellectually?"

She definitely asks some great questions in this post. I added a somewhat wordy comment to her post which is below...

"Great Post. Celebrating the process almost never happens. We always reward and celebrate the final product. This happens as a theme in our society. What I have found to be successful…I explain to students “why” we are doing certain activities. I teach Science to 2-5 graders. Even with their young age, I feel that it is important not only to tell them “why” they are learning what they are learning, but “why” I am teaching the way I am teaching. Getting the students involved in my thought process begins to get them involved in the teaching process. Students begin to feel as if they are teachers also. They have an honest inside perspective as to the questioning aspect of teaching and learning. The process has been emphasized rather than the end product. The students have become more interested in how they learn as well as what they learn. Just as I question ideas, students are open to question ideas. Last week, a 5th grader decided to question “why” we were coming up with ideas to fix the beach erosion problem in Ocean City, MD, if Ocean City had already began fixing the problem. This began a 10 minute discussion with the class. Instead of sounding like a group of 5th graders talking about a topic, they sounded as if they were a group of environmental/geologic engineers discussing land conservation and ethics. It was a powerful 10 minutes. To sum things up…Until teachers make the process important, we will continue to celebrate the end product."

The entire education system is built around rewarding the final product. I believe we need to start getting honest with our students. Getting honest involves explaining "why" we are teaching the way we teach. Bring the students into the teaching process so they can own how they learn. The students can then question the process as well as the outcome. If something doesn't work, bring the students knowledge into the equation. Have the students come up with teaching ideas that they think will better enhance their learning. This sounds time consuming, but I think once the students understand their role in the learning and teaching process, real learning will bloom. Students in my science class have become more engaged in each lesson. I invite questions about the process. They dig that they have a voice. Until next blog...

Credits: Carolyn Foote's blog "Not So Distant Future" post What do We Celebrate?

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