Monday, November 30, 2015

What to My Wondering Eyes?

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post seems like November came and went and I believe I missed it!  My inspiration for this week was a trip to the movie theater.  I have been wanting for 497 days to see the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy.  My husband and I ditched the kids for a date night.  I had read the books over and over, seen the other movies many times micro analyzing and as we stood in line for tickets to the second part of Mocking Jay I had no idea what was in store.  After we purchased tickets we moved down the line to refreshments.  I was handed the drink cups and asked  if I wanted butter on my popcorn.  Ooh! ahh, no big surprise yet...that's when it happened.  I saw the drink machine.  Now, I must interject here that I am from a very small Midwest town and things get to us a bit after the bigger cities.  This was one of those things.  I was in charge of popcorn my husband the drinks. After I got the popcorn I turned to see my husband looking confused.  

"Where do I get ice?" he asked.  I looked and before I could experiment a young kid says, "just push your cup there", pointing to the lever in the dispenser.  ( small town) Then the lights flashed and the drink selections began. "What do you want?" He asked me.  I said, "I want Diet Coke."  Well then he pressed Diet Coke an tons of flavor choices popped up.  
"What kind?" He asked again.  "Regular Diet Coke" was my reply.
Then it was his turn.  He chose Coke and then many flavor choices came up. 
"This is nuts!" He said. "I just want Coke", the best part was him talking directly to the machine as if it understood.   

I have to say that was pretty cool.  But there was more to come.  I sat watching the previews and noticed that graphics on the screen were so amazing. A 3D quality without the glasses.  Crisp, clear, picture with a sound quality that literally made the hair on my neck stand.  These are the times random thoughts start swimming in my head.
Is this what my parents thought the first time they had cable color television?  Or what my grandparents thought the first time they same a television screen illuminated with life.  It stuck in my head and I started thinking about all the technological advances just since I was a child.  The Coke machine was sweet, I remember when we got the fountain pop machine in a gas station that we could do ourselves, I remember having soda pulled on a soda bar as a little girl in a pharmacy with one of the last working soda bars in the state.  What a difference in just 40 years.  
So I start thinking of my firsties and all of the advances that they will witness.  The things that their wondering eyes will behold, just like myself in front of a soda fountain that can make any flavor I want by simply pushing a button.  The awe I felt looking at the "magic" of it all.
The best part was my husband looking at me and saying," of all the choices we could have had wasn't it funny that we both chose the regular, the one we know and are used to?"  I thought about it. It is like my students they like to have the choice there but they usually choose the the choice they know, but they have the choice.  So within the "regular" apps we use I am showing them some "magic" and awesome within those apps that will give them the choice to choose a different way to create.  Even if they choose the safe and "regular" way I will know they had the choice, and I think that will be the thing to keep the wonder and excitement and a sense of adventure with our new technology.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ask A Deeper Question

Well another week has flown by and sitting last night with my 19 year old son (a freshman in college) I got my inspiration for this week’s post.  My son commutes to school this year and has been kind enough to volunteer in my classroom once in awhile.  That is where the inspiration happened.  I was sitting and talking with him about life, work, evaluations etc.  I looked at him and asked if he thought I was a good teacher.  He said, “yeah mom”.

Now, I took this with a grain of salt because he is my son and he knows where allowance comes from.  So I asked a deeper question.  “Why and how am I a good teacher?”  This is where he took a little bit longer to give me answer.   He said that sitting in my first grade classroom he had learned something he had never learned before.   I was kind of surprised and shocked to hear this still thinking he was being silly.  Yet I was intrigued.  I went on with the conversation wondering what he possibly could he have learned in the first grade classroom that he did not truly know?

He went on to tell me that the experiment I had performed in the classroom was so cool.  I remembered then that he had raised his hand along with the children while we voted on whether a pumpkin would float or not.   I remember him doing this and I thought at the time he was just playing along with the kids.   I know now that he truly was learning in the moment.

The question posed to the children was “will a pumpkin sink or float”.  We looked at heavy things then we looked at light things.  We looked at solid things and hollow things. With each part of the experiment we tried,  we thought out loud.  What did we think might happen with a pumpkin?   After we had dropped several things into a tub of water we were ready to do the pumpkin.  We did a thumbs up thumbs down. “Who thinks the pumpkin will float? Thumbs up. Who thinks it will sink?  Thumbs down.  As I gauge the room I noticed all of my children excited and ready to vote some thumbs were up, but many were down.  As we counted down I held pumpkin over the water, every face was anticipating what would come next.

The look of shock on all of their faces told me that they had just seen something that they had never imagined, including the 19 year old boy sitting in my classroom.

I asked him how could it possibly be in school no teacher had ever explained that a pumpkin with float.  He said he did not have me for a first grade teacher. I laughed.  Then he told me he now understood why an aircraft carrier can float as well.  This is something I had added into the end of my experiment explaining to my students as we looked at a picture of an aircraft carrier and talked about where the hollow parts of an aircraft carrier would be and where the air would be to keep it floating in the ocean.   Many of my students were excited to go home and drop other things in water to see what would float and what would sink.

Back to my living room and talking to my 19 year old son.  he told me it was cool how I talk to my students like they are people, not 6 year olds, not babies, but people.  He said I talk to them the same way I talk to him.  I asked what he meant.  His answer was a response to my initial question.  He said I don’t water down learning, I don’t give them little pieces, I show them then connect it to the real world.  He said it was cool and asked if he could come in an other free days to see what else he could learn in first grade.

I was so excited!  I have always believed children will rise to meet the expectation level you have for them. I do set the bar high, but hold a hand in the process if needed and allow the children who are already there to run with thoughts and ideas.  Differentiating doesn’t mean make it easy, it means meet them where there are and support the way.  

So the next time your child at home says “yeah mom”, ask a deeper question, you just might find out something you never knew.