Monday, March 12, 2012

Can't Take Things Back

When the weather seems even remotely chilly I require my students to take their coats outside with them. I don't require them to actually wear the coats, but I require that they have them. My reasoning is that if they have their coat and don't want to wear it, that is possible. If they don't have their coat but they do want to wear it, they are out of luck.

I feel the same way about the guidance I give them.I work hard to ask questions and prompt in ways that are vague and open ended. If my question or prompt goes too far I've lost the chance to see what they can do on their own.

Our calendar this month has a growing pattern, something that is a challenge for many first graders. In asking them about the pattern, I want to ask simply, "What do you notice?" I don't want to prompt more than that, at least not at first. If I say, "What do you notice about the bears?" or "What do you notice about their hats?" then I focus their thinking. In doing so I take away the opportunity for them to get to the idea on their own. In addition, I may miss some brilliant thoughts they have that never even occurred to me. If they have no idea about the growing pattern after a bit, I can ask the more focused questions then.

I can always give them more support as we work together but I can never take back the information I have handed them. If I give them the information first they have no possibility of getting their own their own.

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